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Sticky Questions (Point 6)

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I feel that something I might say below may end up being misinterpreted and taken "too personally". I hope that's not the case. I just like sharing my answers to these questions, but honestly everyone is different, everyone sees the world differently and God differently. I'm not here, nor anywhere, with the intention of forcing my beliefs on anyone. I hope that's enough of a disclaimer.

 

 

1. What makes the search for meaning and purpose in today's world an important undertaking?

 

The same thing that makes it important at any time in the span of history.

 

The fact is, the world can continue on undisturbed if no one ever sought out the origins and meaning of anything. That to me brings the search for meaning and purpose down to a completely subjective experience. Its importance is completely unique to the person doing the seeking, or not doing the seeking as the case will sometimes have it if that search for meaning and/or purpose is deemed unimportant by any particular individual. My husband, for example, is Agnostic... he believes in God but no longer subscribes to any particular faith. He was raised Christian by his family, but has no interest in pursuing spirituality in adulthood. He understands something higher exists, but searching for it? Just doesn't hit his priority list.

 

For me though, I couldn't imagine going a single day without seeking, and the relevance of that seeking and searching is completely personal. I think I'd have a lot of trouble putting it into words.

 

 

2. In what ways does "absolute certainty" keep us separated from God and our neighbors?

 

Because no one knows for sure, as much as any of us would like to believe otherwise. God is too big, too vast, and too eternal for someone in a mortal, finite life to understand His nature and everything about Him in 100% accuracy and completeness. There are just so many things wrong with being "absolutely certain" of anything or everything.

 

Absolute certainty also cuts off learning and growth. And I've said it before: Once you stop learning and growing, truly this is when you die as a human being. You might keep on physically living but your mind and spirit are truly dead the moment you cease to learn. In absolute certainty, we essentially prescribe for ourselves an outlook on life that involves no learning whatsoever. What more is there to learn if you are certain of everything, afterall?

 

This would have a negative impact on a person's relationship with God (you can't grow closer to God if you reject everything He's trying to teach you or tell you) and it also has a negative impact on our relationship with the people around us because people develop the tendency to ignore the unique ideas, values, and beliefs of others since they must be "wrong". Absolute certainty creates situations where those who are "certain" look down on those who have a different perspective, and it creates division and breeds negativity, rather than fosters support, love, and positive social interaction.

 

The two greatest commands of all were to love God and to love each other. The concept of absolute certainty threatens both of these things as we close ourselves off in a box, and hang a "do not disturb" sign on the exterior.

 

 

 

3. Do you believe it takes more faith to live in ambiguity or more faith to believe in a dogmatic faith? Why?

 

Mm.. I've come face to face with this question before, and I'm not a fan of it. It requires me to make a judgment about others that I'm simply not comfortable making. At the same time, I crave to talk on the point at least based on opinion. I disclaim up front that anything I say in the following opinion is not a judgment, I'm always fearful it might sound as such... it just happens to be how I relate to what I see around me. I've tried to write it in as vague a way as possible to prevent misinterpretation.

 

As I said in a previous pots, both dogma and "freedom" (I'd rather use that word instead of ambiguity) are capable of holding similar problems. I don't necessarily consider one so horrible and the other so "righteous" to be able to say "Those of dogma have a lack of faith."

 

That being said... I do believe current-day dogma and even a good chunk of scripture itself is both corrupt, incomplete, and just plain wrong in some ways. And I often stop to ponder why more people don't see what I see. Obviously the answer is clear: We are all different, and we must all relate to God and relate to each other in unique ways. No one is going to see the world as I do, not ever. But some things seem so obvious to me, and some things that I do not believe seem so obvious to others... it makes me stop and think: Who is right, and does one of us have more faith than the other?

 

Origen once said that literal and historical interpretation of Biblical scripture was for "simple believers of simple mind," that strict interpretation was for those individuals who were not of spiritual maturity and couldn't grasp the deeper meaning of God's words. I have to say that I have trouble disagreeing, and I don't agree with these words with the intention of insulting others, but rather I do see literal face-value interpretation of the words attributed to a Being Who is so absolutely infinite that we shouldn't really be able to comprehend Him completely in one, or many over, human lifetime.

 

Most of our current-day Christian dogmas are a result of literalistic, face-value interpretation of scripture that has been errored, altered, and incomplete (in my own opinion and study). To not see beyond the words and their literal value, when in fact that literal value may be stifling to the spiritual community as a whole (or even potentially dangerous -- ahem, Uganda for example..) does seem to me to contain a certain lack of faith.

 

It is my opinion... while at the same time trying to impress the fact that I am open to the fact that some people who follow dogma and literal values may in fact be far more faithful than I, and that I am not here to pass judgment but to give an opinion (no matter how disliked)... that it appears to take much less faith to follow dogma, rules, regulations, and direction about God, than it takes to go straight to the source and ask the big questions, and listen carefully for the answers and directions -from that source- which is far above man.

 

That being said, there is more to the story than mere appearances... I believe that dogma and scripture both can be great tools in our spiritual guidance, either serving as a magnificent "jumping off point" of study and relationship with God and each other, or even taking us far in our spiritual growth in and of themselves -- as long as there comes a point where we must exit the "control" of dogma and hierarchy, and turn to the Source of all Sources and ask the questions we struggle with the most of the God of all Gods, and not of man.

 

As long as dogma is used as a tool, and not as something more detrimental... I truly don't think there is any difference between dogma and ambiguity in the long run. We are all trying to get the same answers and get to the same goals...

 

In conclusion? I believe that it takes the most faith to live the way you feel God is asking you to live, and that's basically that.

 

 

4. How might the words of these two scholars Mitroff and Bennis apply to religions of our day? "If humans cannot control the realities with which they are faced, then they will invent unrealities over which they can maintain the illusion of control."

 

I'd prefer to know the context of the quote in question, but as it stands I suppose it is accurately applied to a lot of world religions. People can't control what other people think, and belief is a form of thought that is uniquely held in our own minds. People can't control unique thoughts, so instead they set out to create external rules in an attempt to maintain control over beliefs as a whole. This is essentially the birth of dogma for me.

 

I don't set out with the mindset that dogma is accurate by nature... I believe the majority of dogma will always end up being a farce designed to siphon people in one particular direction, and if the dogma contains truth, it is purely either by accident, or because the individual as a follower has managed to interpret the meaning behind the dogma in an accurate and meaningful way.

 

Humanity is a species that wants to control it's environment, and unfortunately it's people as well. It is sometimes necessary in some aspects of society, but I don't believe religion is one of those necessities. I believe we create illusion through religious dogma that keeps people ignorant. They stop seeking true knowledge of God, and they die spiritually. This is the biggest tragedy of all.

Edited by ada
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