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Craig V.

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  1. Craig V.

    Have ANY of your beliefs ever changed?

    Wow, thormas, your degree and all that exposure to differences, what an experience. I went thru the "Baptist Holy War" at SBTS, all the faculty got purged over three years by the Fundamentalists. It sounds like you have had your share of upheaval and disappointment in the faith too. Thank you for sharing with me. I am hoping that I am not too naive, but again I have been very impressed with what I have come across so far. The Jesuits have an enormous retreat facility here in Wernersville, PA (visible from the parking lot of my St Johns UCC Church), and I have been looking at their website to join in on some of the educational conferences and presentations they provide. Again, thank you, and if you do come across anything of interest, I welcome it: craigv@comcast.net Yeah, Ross Douthat (NYT) and Steve Bannon (!!) have been on the warpath! Thanks, Craig
  2. Craig V.

    Have ANY of your beliefs ever changed?

    Thormas, given your remarks about your Catholic background: What, if any, difference do you feel about Pope Francis and the Jesuits? I realize that the Jesuits are only one of 30 or so Catholic orders, so they still must exist with the legacy of Augustine and asceticism et al, and it seems as if Pope Francis is constantly under siege. As a Protestant, I knew about some of the Jesuit legacy of arduous devotion to so many diverse human beings, achieved across continents and across centuries. Of contributions to education, arts, and science. (Educating Voltaire, Castro, Hitchcock, and Joyce). But during his visit to the US, Pope Francis really impressed me, which lead me to the Jesuit Values, which impressed me even more. (St Ignatius devoted relatively sparse text in his "Exercises" to “sensuality and carnal austerity” . . . but when it comes to my own big sin (I am overweight and used food to medicate emotions) there is a lengthy 552-word section which addresses “Rules to Put Oneself in Order As to Eating” Ahhh ha.) The Jesuits appear to prove that the teachings of Jesus are sustainable and workable. The Jesuits appear to prove that religion is not doomed to gravitate into becoming an organ of power and fear, of “sex police” or holier-than-thou Wesleyan Puritan enforcers of dignity. To anyone, Protestant or Catholic, the Jesuit legacy suggests that a better faith and richer life awaits those willing to scrutinize ascetic “Christian” orthodoxy. I feel affection for Pope Francis. Same, in following Fr. James Martin, SJ. Do you think my viewpoints about the Jesuits are naive? I would appreciate your Catholic or ex-Catholic perspective if you have the time. Thanks, Craig
  3. Craig V.

    Have ANY of your beliefs ever changed?

    Hello PaulS, thank you for the topic and invite, quite on my own mind. I believe you saw and commented on an earlier thread where I referred to my experience. The convergence of the Jesuit Values, humanist UUA principles, and any good categorization of the 37 parables of Jesus and Sermon on the Mount. A real trinity to live by. But what has been my most radical experience is the result of my disability three years back. I essentially have been on sabbatical. And the resulting writing project that is the product and result (deferred from my SBTS experience when a professor made the case that Paul's "thorn in the flesh", his "messenger of Satan" was homophobia . . . . . . has lead me to unexpected, nearly inconceivable findings: that "Apostle" Paul was a fraud, a canard. The case, the proof of that, is unassailable. Weblink below. I know that seems inconceivable, but it is 100% solid. Spooky. And the reaction among my clergy friends and a seminary professor has been wildly unpredictable and goes right to your topic. Neuroscientist Dr. Kathleen Taylor explains how this can happen. Beliefs involve connections between neurons, our “cognitive web” or “cogweb”. Usually, our perceptions are “subservient to reality”. But our deepest intangible value-laden beliefs, foundational references, can “filter incoming stimuli or distort the cognitive landscape, a warping effect", what she terms "a black hole”. The more visceral emotional potency of Paul’s writings (ie. his emphasis on “human depravity”) produced strong and deep “cognitive webs”, gnarled and tangled with Augustine's “Original Sin” which influenced our upbringing, in ways that Jesus’ teachings did not. It matters less that there is reduced guilt and shame today, rather it is why some beliefs go unexamined and did not get the academic scrutiny deserved. Paul seemed sacrosanct. The title of Dr. Taylor’s book quoted is “Brainwashing, the Science of Thought Contol”. I did not expect that among some clergy who I had regarded as brave , progressive, and cerebral, they would run away in fear --- literally in one case, my pastor back at Calvary UCC who avoided me for an entire summer. In the case of another (D.Div.) though she agreed and sent me more material to support it, it was evident she was flummoxed by it, then lost her job (her parish). Based upon her reaction and advice, I then read four books, including Taylor's, that dealt with religion and neuroscience, and added text that goes beyond the proof of facts and truth, that helps to deal with cognitive disruption. Paul, hopefully you and your other readers have indeed changed beliefs as you expect. And that we are eager to keep scrutinizing faith and knowledge. But the bigger or more radical the belief change, the more that Dr. Taylor's concepts dealing with cognitive disruption and anxiety (not intelligence or education) will become the main factor. Thank you, Craig https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/vPpSZWMNfwFfEASy5leE1Y1zIuD2qMHnQIMCaP5ukGx?ref_=cd_ph_share_link_copy --------------------
  4. Craig V.

    Why I Am Not a Progressive Christian

    Yes, Romansh --- Indeed I have a post-progressive view (I think my 80-pg renunciation of Paul and Pauline Christianity would earn me the heretics' fire a few years ago) and yes, I believe in the service clubs. I was president of my Key Club (Kiwanis for young men) and in Kiwanis. Was moderator of a weekly Sunday radio program on current events, sponsored by Kiwanis, for years in the LA area. But as was said above, too often we have "thrown out the baby with the bathwater when disavowing religion" there is something special about the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, or even the Mormon Beehive (noting the horrible drawbacks in other aspects, which I mentioned, and got me excommunicated). There has always been something special to me about the parables. Not just in terms of the content, but in the style of teaching. The parables stimulate the neocortex (heart, empathy, compassion) with appeal to reason (justice, fairness) and do exactly that so distinctively. A wonderful change from religiosity. The Nicene Creed focused on Paul’s Religion, while it skips Jesus' most remarkable and gifted achievement: Which is, that Jesus perceived that traditional religion of asceticism and astringency was not righteous or productive. To maximize perpetuity of control, it enshrined myth and denied life. Jesus reversed that. In the Sermon on the Mount he takes the Torah and infuses it with reason, caring, desire, and love. His revelation is of holiness which is not based on fear or contempt and goes even beyond the equity and justice of the Psalms . . . to a morality driven by empathy and compassion. Think how radical that was to perceive, the contrast to heartless conformity and restriction. A catharsis and revelation that Jesus, himself, must have felt excited about. Jesus introduces us (our Judeo-Christian tradition, I do not know enough outside of Western tradition) to the authentic Supreme Being. His therapeutic wisdom, not blood, is the real agent of redemption. Miracles, healings, even the resurrection are not denied but tend to distract. The a-priori value in what Jesus taught, standing alone, becomes even more clear and compelling, to set us free from selfishness and greed, to radically advance human community. The Jesuit legacy reflects this. Thank you, and to PaulS too, for your comments. Thanks, Craig
  5. Craig V.

    Why I Am Not a Progressive Christian

    Hello Romansh, I agree or sympathize with much of what you are saying. My concern is not so much the 8-points definition, which you are reconciling to. None of us have proof of the divinity aspects, or what degree divinity applies. For me, the exciting concept is convergence between the Six Jesuit Values, the UUA Seven Principles (unitarian universalists, ie humanists), and any well-done categorization of the 37 parables of Jesus and Sermon on the Mount. There is convergence which I refer to as "the real Trinity". The positive value of those principles does NOT require metaphysical connotations in Jesus, though it does not deny it either (frankly, debating/guessing is of less interest to me). Actually, I believe the UUA Principles are the finest extract of Jesus' moral teachings that can be found --- far better than my UCC creeds. And only 12% of UUA members consider themselves Christians, or believers is some degree of divinity of Jesus. So that coincides with some of your rationale as well . . . what's sacred or not. As some might know based on my earliest post, I believe "Apostle" Paul was a fraud, a canard. "Romans" is the 90-proof vodka that dominates "Christianity", the Gospels only the chaser or mixer in Paul's cocktail. And I believe the fraud evokes Matthew 7:13-23, that nearly all believers would be misled to doctrines which grew "thorns and thistles" (ie Calvinist indignation, elitism, intolerance). That passage also says Jesus ultimately returns., and on that day "Then I will declare to them, I never knew you, go away from me, you evildoers". As Gomer Pyle said, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise". The point is, Jesus disowned what would become of the church in his name. It would be easy for me to give up on Christianity, except for my prior life as a Mormon and Southern Baptist, where I experienced the radiance of brotherly love and service in the Beehive. Qualities which also apply to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I believe that type of community, or agape, is the life of the era of the Didache, of the early communal church . . . and it is what maximizes what we as human beings were designed for. That does not depend upon belief or creeds or communion. While the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith turned out to be a charlatan, and there is that toxic Mormon sexuality so well dramatized in "Angels in America", I still retain much enthusiasm for the Beehive (where most of my family remains). Frankly, the UCC where I find myself now, is so atrophied and anemic that while it tries to be progressive, it is unsatisfying. It straddles both Paul and Jesus, afraid to alienate anyone. Yet back at the UUA, shucks, you hear more about Native American Totems, or Paul Bunyan, than you do Jesus. Still in terms of some creed or list, as you are reconciling to, I like how the UUA and Jesuits both parallel the teachings of Jesus, with or without the "Sacred" or "Divine". And one of the Jesuit values is about allowing for a wide diversity of faith and belief traditions. Thank you, Craig
  6. Craig V.

    Ecumentalism

    This place is evoking less my seminary classroom with spirited, but respectful even loving debate. And more the "Lord of the Flies" or some sort of Man-Cave rivalry. The classroom was at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary . . . .and ground-zero of the "Baptist Holy War" during the Fundamentalist takeover. Yet I do not remember ANY insults, not one, from my time there. Despite the faculty purge, and student sit-ins, and protests. Civility never disappeared. David, I am sorry you have received the majority of the insults. On the other hand, you have said some provocative things to them too, a normal human reaction to the jaundice that got pitched your way. Your ideas have merit and I am looking forward to finishing your 24-pager today. Some of the advice offered to pare down some of the elaboration, I think is constructive and would serve your intent. I would have suggested it as well . . . .but not in the manner nor degree of this insensitive WWF brouhaha. Thanks. Peace. Have a good Sunday. I had to skip church, 8 inches of snow. Dogs were happy about that. .
  7. Craig V.

    Ecumentalism

    Thanks! I read and know the OT well. But I believe that Jesus INTRODUCES us to the Authentic Supreme Being . . . for the unassailable rationale above. I try to keep this to myself at church, and don't want to offend anyone here, but it was my endorsement of the beginning of the John Moriarty video that David posted.
  8. Craig V.

    Ecumentalism

    Hi David, I will have to watch more later, I got only to the "Walk Naked to Tara" illustration, the video is over an hour so I saved it. (I am too overweight for that advice!!) But so far, I agree. Here is my take on the value of our Old Testament: some of that tradition was edifying, some morally implausible. Too often a tyrant-god emerged, capricious and vindictive (the “meat coming out of their nostrils” bully of Numbers 11), a flash-angry martinet telling Moses or Joshua to “show no mercy” or “leave none breathing” in their conquests. Those San Bernardino mujahedeen, husband Syed Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik “feared Allah” and conformed to piety with such superior devotion that their six-month old daughter becoming an orphan was part of their plan. Since the Old Testament describes our shared Abrahamic deity as a barbarian who seethes about slack commitment and commands genocide and slaughter of infidels, he has to be impressed with Syed and Tashfeen. Ugghhh. It is criminal to attribute much of the OT to God! It has nonsense fit for the “Trump University School of Theology” . . . myth as repugnant as Ezekiel’s special barley cakes [Ezekiel 4:12]. Thank you, Peace, Craig
  9. Craig V.

    Ecumentalism

    Thormas, I am guessing that David is pleading for more tolerance about his writing style, and yes, It is starkly elaborate if not too obtuse for this lamentable Twitter/Facebook age.. David, I opened up your email and am half-way thru the 24-page work you sent me, thank you. I had so much junk from my denomination this week, that I did not notice it until yesterday. I think the analogy I would make, rather than to LGBTQ tolerance, is that you stylistically evoke the Gospel of John, as opposed to that of the synoptic gospels. I had seminary teachers that were rather dismissive of John, being written much later than the synoptics, and it was already somewhat compromised due to that lateness, and John seems obtuse in parts, but there is beauty and mystery too. You are a student of other faith movements, and looking for an approach to connect in those directions, and sometimes ambiguity serves a good purpose in that. Especially since God and much of what we discuss here is bound . . . in reality . . . thankfully . . . to be much more Unfathomable than we can possibly expect by our relatively primitive tangible conceptualizations and traditions..
  10. Craig V.

    Shades of Grey

    My own upbringing would indeed seem pathological. My Mormon mother caused a scene in a theater when I was ten years old, yelling out disgust about Jack Lemmon's "Under the Yum Yum Tree" All the other patrons applauded and laughed as we left the auditorium. I was a Mormon missionary. Later, l I read too many history books about Joseph Smith and became a Southern Baptist. Later I went to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. and then due to the Baptist Holy War, and faculty purge, a professor's influence took me to the UUA (Unitarian Universalitsts). Here and now in the USA, the grey zone seems to be reducing radically, the black and white polarization due to Donald Trump. My UCC pastor and friends send out so many posts on Facebook that express outrage. Sometimes I would like to hit the "like" button but I do not, because then all my prior Southern Baptist and Mormon friends would be offended if they get notified.
  11. Over the last week a new page was added, the section titled "Aargh!! What's that Sizzling Buzz inside my Head?" This blends in some more of the cognitive neuroscience involved in changing very deep and visceral beliefs, into this topic. It is a new page 28. My D.Div. friend I had mentioned was supportive and sent me back more material to add to it. Her feelings of being perplexed were that none of these considerations were adequately covered in seminary, which is exactly what I felt as well. It seems strange and jarring, one feels queasy until there is enough time and substantiation, for the cognitive (beliefs) to adjust. Anyone wanting to see that dialog, contact me at my email address on page two of the manuscript. Every once in awhile a topic comes along, where it is worth setting aside the defense of the "man cave" to consider. This is the case here. Thank you for your interest! Craig https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/vPpSZWMNfwFfEASy5leE1Y1zIuD2qMHnQIMCaP5ukGx?ref_=cd_ph_share_link_copy --------------------
  12. Dear Readers: This matter impacts deep lifelong beliefs across our cognitive landscape. It is disruptive. It is not like reading an article in the New York Times. Or a seminary dissertation on a narrower subject. More about cognitive disruption is in the appendix, pg 102, from neuroscientist Dr. Kathleen Taylor. The truth and facts are proven easily in just a few pages, for those unencumbered by Western tradition. The length, the 80 pages, is to help the rest of us get through it responsibly. Is that really worth your effort and interest? The cognitive mayhem? Perhaps only for a minority. The best approach: try out the first 14 pages. That takes about 35 minutes to download (via Amazon cloud) and read. On page 14 the reader is asked to take stock of their anxiety level and stop reading if they feel uneasy. Take that seriously. Dr. Taylor would agree. So would one, befuddled D.Div. friend of mine. This is not the standard narrative. The conclusion correlates to Matthew 7: 13-23 which justifies this exhilarating, life-changing experience. Thank you for your interest. That's All, Folks!! https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/vPpSZWMNfwFfEASy5leE1Y1zIuD2qMHnQIMCaP5ukGx?ref_=cd_ph_share_link_copy --------------------
  13. Yeah, I agree. I suppose those advertisements for Bishop Shelby Spong's new book (published by affiliates of this site) would say the same. My background is included in the first 14 pages, and I am not at all offended, thormas, if you are not interested. On breaking tradition, sometimes less extended education is handy. I have pre-ordered Spong's book, regret his stroke, and will miss his influence in the future. By the way, Spong's rationale on Paul's homophobia gets the full treatment in my work . . . and if you think about it, that powerful "thorn in the flesh" is conceivably what has caused this entire mess, Original Sin, Human Depravity, et al.
  14. Hi, thormas. I am the author of the download, the essay. That will be more evident for those who download it and look at it. So my summary to Burl, were highlights of my own manuscript, as he requested. But to repeat, for such a topic, so deep and embedded in our tradition and beliefs, a nearly inconceivable surprise, it is shocking. Thus my priority is to ensure no believer reads it if they are too bound by tradition to handle it successfully. I want it to be faith promoting. I am very active at church. It has boosted my own faith and made me feel much more optimistic. But if one feels queasy already, based on what appeared earlier above, thanks for checking it, but please leave this topic and don't worry about it further. Even if you do download it, there is a point on page 14, where the reader is asked to take stock of their anxiety level, and stop reading if they feel uneasy. It is AFTER that point that the evidence will really disturb those who are not up to it. So, perhaps that is the best idea: download it and read thru page 14 and see how you feel?? Or leave now if you feel it would only be troubling, or are not interested. Because for something this radical, this mind-blowing . . . . to digest this examination requires one to read and then time to think about the entire, 80-page case. Thank you, good night! Off to (conventional, normal) church tomorrow, Craig
  15. Thanks for your interest, everyone. You need a chance to read thru it and think about it. Trust me, I have been thru this, excerpts will only create anxiety. Sorry about the length, but we need to consider this topic from several angles. We are dealing with hundreds of years of a grand delusion. Every part of you will feel that this is alien and strange, even though ditching Paul is a cause for jubilation, and Matt 7:13-23 foretells our situation. (thormas, which article? let me know the page. but I will retire for the night). Thank you.
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