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Rodge

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Rodge last won the day on March 10 2016

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About Rodge

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  1. minsocal, human language is a metaphor for personal experience. The synonyms for "pain" that you submit are metaphors for internal experience, not precise descriptions. Language is filled with descriptive words that lack precision and specificity. We can be specific about the temperature of a room in degrees Fahrenheit. We cannot be specific about how "warm" a room feels. We can be specific about the percentage of clouds in the sky and the shapes of the clouds and the frequency of light waves reflecting off the clouds and frequency of light waves penetrating the unclouded sky, but we cannot be precise about the amount of awe that the sight inspires in us. There are realities that we share, permitting useful debate. We can use a thermometer to resolve a dispute over the temperature of a room. We can use measurements to determine the the presence or absence of certain colors in the sunset, to determine if it is more or less variety in colors than last Thursday's. But there is no way to settle an argument over whether the rooms temperature is too warm or today's sunset is more beautiful. "Warm" and "beautiful" have meanings and are useful in discussion, but they are imprecise and subjective. We can testify to our experience, but we cannot assert it as a fact for others.
  2. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BillM, I don't want to send text as a Private Message; I want to send a PDF file of a document with a complex format including graphics. With regular e-mail, I can just drag the file icon into the e-mail and it incorporates the content of the PDF file. With Private Message, it just copies my computer's address for the PDF file, not the PDF file itself. However, you can e-mail your request to RodgePC@comcast.net. Of course, that would reveal your e-mail address to me. If you'd rather not do that, I would understand, but I'm not seeing any other way to get the PDF document to you. I think this experimental draft would clarify how "God-talk" can be incorporated into a service without a claim of institutional truth regarding the existence God. I don't seem to be having much luck trying to describe the possible result in words alone.
  3. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BillM and soma, You refer to "Personal Messenger" and "PM" as if I should know what you're talking about. I don't. Can someone explain?
  4. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BilM, What I know if that human consciousness is a great blessing. This knowledge provides me guidance about how to achieve meaning in my life, and a moral compass for my relationship to others. If there is a theistic God, it would make a great difference in how I view and respond to the blessing of human consciousness. But the gift of human consciousness makes it possible for me to conclude that the concept of a theistic God is probably bogus. So, what does it add to acknowledge "the Ground of Our Being"? What difference does it make to me to accept or reject such a construct? None that I can see. So, I conclude that a religion that proclaims a theistic God or some sacred "Ground of Being" to offer little appeal. But one that recognizes how profound is each person's faith, such a church offers substantial and demonstrable value to me as a community that allows me to learn and grow through sharing our personal faiths
  5. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    soma, My background is in journalism, so I am particularly sensitive to communication, To me, the importance of capitalizing or not capitalizing "unity" is not grammatical but in the message it communicates. It sends a message if I would capitalize "Cat" every time I wrote it. It is not simply my expression of a personal reverence for cats, but an assertion to the reader of a special qualities of a particular species. Most Christian churches, and even this web site's 8 Points use capitalization to point to something profound.\and special. Not just nature, but Nature. Only a claim of something beyond nature justifies the capitalization. My challenge is not to say there is nothing beyond it. I just say that it can't be shown that there is or is not something beyond it, so the capitalization is just a personal statement of faith. Often, when I say such things, the response is, "Everyone understands that is it just an expression of faith, not a claim to real truth." The problem with that excuse is that most people don't understand that. When someone says, "The world is coming to an end Aug. 13 and you'd better prepare," that isn't just a statement of personal belief, it is a claim to an absolute truth. Churches are full of people who believe that their church promises God cares about them, or that the ultimate power in the universe is the presence of God's love throughout creation, or that God will protect you from the bite of a poisonous snake. The 8 Points as written proclaim that there something beyond our understanding that is not simply unknown, but is an unknowable reality.
  6. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BillM, You wrote: "But as to why 'we' need...well, that is a question that, ultimately comes down to each person." That's my point. We each decide what to believe, and inevitably are highly influenced by our needs. Of course, one person may need for there to be an afterlife and another person may need to have a physical explanation for everything. Hence, their needs can lead to very different beliefs. A theological God may be very real to one person, and I don't deny their reality to them. I just object when they decide that their God must be real for me.
  7. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    In connection with a adult education class at my church, earlier this year I wrote a church service intended to show what a testimonial-oriented service might be like, in contrast with our current proclamation-oriented service. That is to say, it reflects a celebration of personal, subjective faith stories without any claim to institutional, objective truth, but with a form and content rooted in Christianity. Since so much of the discussion here has been about abstractions, I thought there might be some interest in seeing how it might come to life in an actual service. I have created an e-mail address for the purpose of sharing something too complex in format to present here. This is not my regular e-mail address, so I can delete it easily if I start getting junk mail or abusive messages. If you'd like to see the service I wrote, just send a note to RodgePC@comcast.net
  8. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BillM, Very thoughtful comments, as usual, and I generally agree. However, I would offer my answer to your pertinent questions: "Has God died and should we leave him that way? Or should we resurrect him with new life, new terms, new concepts, and new meanings?" My response would be to ask, what is the need for "God" OR a replacement concept? What difference does it make, for humankind in general? Clearly a theistic God in its many (sometimes multiple) forms makes a difference as a giver of personal rewards and punishments. But what difference does it make if we think Divinity exists throughout nature, or we don't think that? Does it change nature? Does it change our capability to benefit from human consciousness? The answer to these questions is often a variation on the idea that it fulfills a human need, We need to feel a connection to something larger than ourselves. We need to find the Unity in the chaos that surrounds us. I think it is ironic that liberals blame conservatives for inventing theistic "God" to meet their human needs, while liberals seem to be doing the same thing with talk about "the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life." I applaud the validity of their faith to themselves, but I can't see the validity of even implying that they are onto a universal truth. (By the way, can you answer my question about sharing my personal e-mailaddress in any way on this site?)
  9. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    soma, I agree, in general, with all you wrote in your most recent post. Certainty about religious "truths" has done great harm. I just don't understand why you think there must be something beyond our ability to understand, and why you use capital letters to name it. Certainly "the unknown" has meaning, but it is not necessarily a single or unified thing, and does not require capitalization. Similarly, we can admire and respect "nature" without capitalization, or "reality." I would agree that it is a waste of human consciousness to go through life without reflection, and that reflection can deepen our experience. But that doesn't require creeds or philosophical theories. I don't disagree with the fact that you are expressing your personal faith, but your style suggests that you are presenting it as universal truths. The universal truth is that, as you suggest, we can't prove or disprove God. But the corollary is that we can't prove that symbolic "God" points to anything real, or to anything that requires capitalization. As moderator, can you tell me if there is any way I can let folks know my e-mail address without violating your rules?
  10. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BillM, I haven't taught Sunday School since one year on a 7th grade teaching team decades ago. We're fortunate at our church to have a member who started a twice-monthly class with the best format for a class that I have experienced. For each class, he selects one of Bishop Spong's recent newsletters and hands out copies of it. We then take turns reading paragraphs aloud, and then discussing what we have read. There is no advance reading requirement, so everyone is familiar with the passages being discussed. And the nature of Spong's writing encourages lively discussion. People come and go from meeting to meeting, but naturally the class seems to attract those who are comfortable with Spong's challenges to traditional orthodoxy. Still, often members can question or even disagree with Spong's conclusions about one point or another. Along the way, some class members wondered aloud what it would be like to attend a church service modeled on Spong's ideas. That inspired me to try my hand at writing a service based on my idea of creating a community where a wide variety of personal beliefs would be welcomed without reference to orthodoxy. The result was radical in that there was no worship of Divinity and no promise of God's rewards (or punishments). On the other hand, not saying something is not as radical as it might sound. I still could make use of a sermon based on the Gospel, I just referred to "the author of Mark" and offered the possibility of more than one way to understand a certain passage. I did not have to denounce the idea that a disciple named "Mark" actually wrote it, or say that it was wrong to read a passage literally. It was also possible to sing a theistic hymn with a brief introduction noting that it was the faith statement of the poet who wrote it. Whether or not this experimental service would have been effective is hard for me as the author to judge. I would be willing to share a PDF of it, but I don't know this web site's policy regarding the e-mail addresses of contributors.
  11. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BillM, I like the jist of the approach describe as asking, "Here is what Jesus believed (or taught) about God...does this still ring true for us today?" In general, I prefer deflecting from a literal reading that particular words were or were not spoken by Jesus. I prefer asking, "What is the message embedded in the words that caused them to be remember and embraced into the Bible? Is that message still valid today?" I ask this question with the belief that sometimes the words were included because they represent a deep insight into the meaning of human life, and sometimes because they met the advocacy needs of a particular person or group in the emerging church. The term "Christian" is difficult for me, because it presents a problem but I don't know the solution. The word is clearly baed on "Christ," which I think is historically a theistic concept, and more recently seems to mean that Jesus is a bright indicator of Divinity within him. I would agree that Jesus is a bright indicator; I just don't see what it indicates beyond human potential. That said, I can't get used to a more accurate formulation of "Jesusian" or "Jesusite." What's a person to do?
  12. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    fatherman, you wrote, in response to me: "If you insist on a objective reality which can be proven then you've eliminated the possibility of faith." Wrong. Objective reality has nothing to do with faith. Faith is perhaps the supreme example of subjective reality. Faith is real to each of us. But the word "faith" has no content, nor does its synonym "belief." As you suggest, the meanings attached to "faith" are all over the place. There can be no objective test of such a scattershot group, but that does not make a person's faith any less valid for that person. Here's to faith, and to recognizing that faith is personal and individual, not external and general. With regard to objective truth, let me be clear about what I mean by that. I think the essential characteristic of objective truth is that it can be defined with sufficient specificity that it can be subjected to testing and verification by disinterested parties. That is also valid regarding claims of objective religious activity. One can test an assertion that the Pope operates out of Rome. One can test an assertion that some ideas in later writings of the early church do not appear in earlier wirtings. The characteristic of science is not that it declares absolute "facts," but that it presents claims for testing and validation, with the possibility of making changes, if the evidence requires it. Claims of religious actions can be subjected to that test. Claims of religious experience cannot. Or perhaps I'm wrong. Do you have a claim based on a personal religious experience that can be defined and tested objectively?
  13. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    BillM, First, I think it is obvious, on its face, that the author of John brings a strong philosophical/religious bias to his writings, which raises questions about the reliability of his writings as factual historical accounts. I think you and I agree about this. Second, it seems hard to deny repeated evidence in the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus saw his mission as evangelical, that his focus was on humans in interactions with other humans. Of course, one could argue that this was what the disciples saw and what they were capable of understanding and what motivated them, so of course that's how they reported it. But the very nature of inner life makes it difficult if not impossible to have any firm idea about the nature of Jesus's inner life. So for one, like the Buddha, to focus on inner life is a legitimate philosophical approach, but trying to base it on Jesus seems like a stretch. At least, I suspect that's how we both see testimonials like Soma's. Not to say that his experience is wrong, just to say that it raises questions about in what sense it is really Christian. Finally, regarding the implications of self-consciousness, I appreciate your clarification and I suspect that, here again, we are in agreement. Personally, I find it more useful to phrase the Golden Rule as "respect others as you respect yourself." I think that this approach echoes so strongly through the Synoptic Gospels that there is a high likelihood that it is an authentic message from Jesus. Such a strong likelihood, in fact, that any words of self-superiority or self-importance attributed to Jesus are highly suspect. I think that there is convincing evidence that Jesus called his listeners to be aware of and cherish their own blessing of spirituality, adding that part of respecting their own gift was recognizing the same gift in all others, which requires everyone to be actively responsive to the needs of others. Although we seems to be in agreement on many points, I think that each person's subjective religious truth is unique, as each person's body and experiences are unique. This is the failing of appeals that we should be loyal to "Faith." What faith? There is no single faith; there are as many faiths as there are people. So you and I are bound to disagree on some points, even in the context of general agreement. In this case, I have trouble with this that you wrote: "The metaphorical meaning of the Incarnation, for me, is that God comes down. . ." I don't challenge your metaphorical interpretation. But incarnation makes no sense to me, literally or metaphorically, because I am unable to make assumptions regarding the meaning of "God." "God comes down" is a very theistic phrasing, and theism makes no sense to me. I find it easier to comprehend formulations like "God is the force of love that exists within every atom." I can grasp the meaning of that assertion more easily than I can grasp incarnation. But what does it really mean to say that everything is everything? What would be different if love did not exist in every atom? How can the nature of nature be tested if there is no non-nature? In the end, to me, there is no concept of "God" that can be shown to be universally true, even if various concepts are personally true. Still, overall, I am pleased to see that we agree on so much.
  14. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    Soma, thank you for sharing your testimonial to your personal faith. As I have said before here, I think it is important to share our faiths, even if they are different and even if they don't agree with our own. I do have a practical question, however. You refer to "the lessons that he [Jesus] communicated in his life style, sayings and inner life." How do you go about separating that from the ability of witnesses to comprehend it and the tendency of the growing church to interpret and modify it? And a related question: How can we know what anyone's "inner life" is like?
  15. Rodge

    A Question By A Newcomer

    Fatherman and BillM, Fatherman said, "This notion that Progressive Christianity should be something is false." But the 8 Points outline the something that this site's version of Progressive Christianity is. I'm just questioning whether "Progressive Christianity" is the correct name for what this web site is. I think what is progressive is to recognize the limits of claiming universal truths about divinity, and recognizing that there is no way to determine which are superior to others. The 8 points generally seem to support this approach, but I think the first Point misses that mark by using terms to try to define a certain view of divinity and exclude others. Fatherman said, "But I disagree with your assertion that true Progressive Christianity should not include 'God and Christ'." And BillM concurred, saying, "David makes, IMO, a good point about relinquishing any God talk." But I did not say that the discussion should not include "God talk." To the contrary, I think I explicitly said that all sorts of testimonies about the existence and non-existence of God should be encouraged and valued. I just said that one should not be favored over another. I said that writing the 8 Points in a way that limits the discussion to "God talk" is problematic. It is valid to discuss one's personal belief in a theistic God, or a panentheistic God, or a non-existent God. I think I said explicitly that such discussion is valuable and helpful, so long as everyone is respectful of each other views. But I disagree when any individual, or the web site's goals, suggest that God of a certain nature exists, because such assertions cannot be supported. Fatherman said, "Jesus is saying that God is like a father." That is clearly a metaphor, because "father" has no specific meaning beyond procreation, and even phrases like "He was like a father to me" don't use "father" in the biological sense. And the image intended by this metaphor is clearly a theistic God, which presents a real problem for non-theists. I continue to insist that Jess's inner experience cannot be fully shared or explained, but only hinted at through stories and metaphors. At best, we get a glimpse of how the Jewish followers of Jesus understood his words, and perhaps we are reading some words Jesus used to try to communicate his experience to followers untrained in theology. If your comments are intended to express your personal testimonials to these issues, that's fine. But if you are offering them as facts to buttress an argument, I disagree. BillM said, "I think our ego must be secondary to how we treat others." This gets into morality, which is a whole 'nother discussion. I would just say that I think Jesus teaches us the importance of respecting the blessing of human consciousness in ourselves. And, since we are no more deserving of human consciousness than another person, we are obliged to extend this respect of the blessing of human consciousness to others. Otherwise, we are not following the teachings of Jesus; we are following the teachings of our ego. You suggest that our self-consciousness must be secondary to others. I disagree, because that suggests that we need not respect our own self-consciousness. I think the challenge is to try to find ways to respect both.
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