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Yoga and Meditation Increase Narcissism

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14 hours ago, JosephM said:

Jesus didn't come to condemn the world but rather to show a way to walk perfect before God.

However, Jesus didn't come for the world, to either praise or condemn it. He was a Jew who came for Jews with the specific intention to preach the coming Kingdom. He was not presenting a perfect walk to God, he was calling on God's chosen people, already in covenant with God, to prepare for the Kingdom: as this was expected in the lifetime of his followers; there was no time to perfect anything. 

Jesus was wrong, the Kingdom did not come and the communities that followed him had to adjust and, thereafter, it is perfectly valid for the Christian community, which is now in it for the long haul,  to talk of the 'Christ' of their community and the (his) Way to walk before God.

14 hours ago, JosephM said:

It is a spiritual truth as in reality one would be merely judging oneself and bringing condemnation on oneself

Exactly, that's why I distinguished between 'judgment' or the condemnation of others that is motivated by self (centeredness) and judgment rendered for others, on behalf of others, that points to the possibility of 'new life' or the inherent danger if one doesn't seize the opportunity. I think Jesus 'judged' this way in his words and actions and condemned the judgment of the Pharisees and Scribes which condemn the other but did not offer life. 

13 hours ago, Burl said:

My issue is with a partial or a selective reading of scripture.  One should read as accurately as possible, and certainly not with the idea of finding support for a predetermined personal opinion.  As to judgement, which is several complex word families with many meanings, I would suggest starting with a general dictionary such as Eerdmans.  The theme runs throughout the entire text, and it is not easy to develop an informed opinion.

Seemingly, many Christians make the opposite mistake by reading the gospels as a unit and combining the stories to create a fifth or their own gospel (as in the birth stories at Christmas). I agree, it is best to have a fuller take on a particular gospel but there is nothing wrong, within that, of selecting particular texts to make a point (carefully). Plus, the gospels themselves are predetermined opinions or beliefs and support for these beliefs are sought in the OT and presented by the careful arrangement or rearrangement of the deeds and words of Jesus. Nothing wrong with that but it should also be okay if we do the same with our beliefs or ideas (again carefully).

Dictionaries are obviously helpful but we have also been talking about the inadequacy of words and the need to stretch words in order to better 'speak' of a reality that is too rich to be captured by words. Such a word is judgment and another is incarnation. Many scoff at and dismiss the notion of incarnation in the 21st C. I do not accept the understanding as it is commonly presented (God down to man) but understood in a new way, it holds interesting possibilities. The dictionary definition (a person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit) can be helpful but on its own, doesn't get us very far.  Even Spong's idea of God as a verb, a noun (defined as a word used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things) as a verb (defined as word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence) opens up new possibilities, new insights and new understandings. 

Sometimes, we have to go for it, as long as it is sincere and with great care. As Uncle Ben said to Spider Man, "with great power comes great responsibility."

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On 26 July 2018 at 10:37 PM, thormas said:

I agree with the idea of turning the other cheek and forgiveness for many of the slights of the world that we all encounter in our lives. However, suffering and pain are not merely to be accepted. As the co-creators, we (should) seek to enhance life, to relieve suffering and pain and, where not possible, seek to comfort those who suffer. And where, suffering is caused by the evil that men and women do, we (should and do) seek to put an end to those actions and stop those who cause evil and suffering in the world.

I didn't say that suffering and pain were 'merely to be accepted' - I agree that we should seek to enhance life, to relieve suffering and pain and otherwise seek to comfort those who suffer. I understand that we all feel a need to put a stop to (and even condemn) those 'others' who we believe cause the terrible evil and suffering 'out there', but what Jesus teaches is that we have enough work to do on our own thoughts, words and actions that seek to avoid undeserved pain, humiliation and loss to ourselves (and those in whom we see ourselves) by inflicting it 'justifiably' on others, either directly or indirectly.

Instead of condemning the murderer or the apparent inaction of others in putting a stop to injustice, therefore, we should examine those moments, for instance, when we mutter insults in anger or frustration at small inconveniences and injustices: such as someone cutting us off in traffic, or when we describe others in language that invites pain, humiliation and loss directed towards them. Yes, these seem so insignificant compared to the apparent evil 'out there', but it is our own thoughts, words and actions of anger, fear and retaliation masked as 'justice' that we are most certain to stop.

On 26 July 2018 at 10:37 PM, thormas said:

There is other pain and suffering we do not and should not ever accept: that which is caused by others because of their lack of love from bullying and racism to war, rape and murder

How do you propose we actively refuse to accept it? By 'justifiably' condoning or causing pain and suffering to those who would cause pain and suffering? Is that Loving no matter the consequences? I'm not saying there is an easy answer, or that we should stand by and allow bullying, racism, war, rape or murder to happen at all. But individually we need to recognise that our lack of love in return - whether in condemning the person(s) directly or indirectly with our thoughts, words or actions, or in condoning or demanding pain, humiliation or loss inflicted on them as 'justice' - is not the way to God.

Despite what seems to be the case short term, on a long term basis we will not stop bullying with bullying, war with war or murder with murder...only with Love no matter the consequences. Yes, there will be pain, humiliation and loss, and much will seem undeserved - but there will be anyway, and seeking to avoid it ourselves (believing it to be undeserved) invariably inflicts it on others, who also seek to avoid it and in doing so inflict it on others, etc... The difference is that we can become aware of when this occurs and choose individually to 'accept' rather than deflect the pain, humiliation and loss that comes our way - neither condoning nor contributing to it in any way, justified or otherwise. And we can show others the same path.

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16 hours ago, possibility said:

I didn't say that suffering and pain were 'merely to be accepted' - I agree that we should seek to enhance life, to relieve suffering and pain and otherwise seek to comfort those who suffer. I understand that we all feel a need to put a stop to (and even condemn) those 'others' who we believe cause the terrible evil and suffering 'out there', but what Jesus teaches is that we have enough work to do on our own thoughts, words and actions that seek to avoid undeserved pain, humiliation and loss to ourselves (and those in whom we see ourselves) by inflicting it 'justifiably' on others, either directly or indirectly.

Instead of condemning the murderer or the apparent inaction of others in putting a stop to injustice, therefore, we should examine those moments, for instance, when we mutter insults in anger or frustration at small inconveniences and injustices: such as someone cutting us off in traffic, or when we describe others in language that invites pain, humiliation and loss directed towards them. Yes, these seem so insignificant compared to the apparent evil 'out there', but it is our own thoughts, words and actions of anger, fear and retaliation masked as 'justice' that we are most certain to stop.

No problem, I accept the clarification and the agreement.  However, I disagree that that is what Jesus teaches us or that is all he taught (once again, not sure what you are actually saying about his teachings). Again, we are to be the Good Samaritans, we are to be the Good Sons (in the Prodigal Son parable) and Jesus himself, 'condemned' the actions and words of the Scribes, the Pharisees, those who passed the injured traveler, the Rich Man, etc. Or, if condemn is too strong, he passed judgment or indicated that certain words, actions, attitudes were wrong: not in fulfillment of the 2 commandments. This (and what I have been saying) is not inflicting anything on others.

However there is more to the story, our story than Jesus. He believed the world, as it was known, as it had been, was ending. It did not - so the communities that followed him had to adjust to the new reality.

I am not saying we should not examine the moments to which you refer, rather I agree that we should and, further, these examinations (what I have called judgments) are with us from our earliest moments: 'we don't use that kind of language, we don't call people name in this family" or "use your words, not your fists" or "don't lose your temper, take a deep breath" and that's why we ticket, fine and have classes for reckless or drunken drivers. Yet, we still must condemn the actions of the murderer, the terrorists, the rapist, the school shooter, the drunk driver who kills another and such others and stop them from harming still others. Our own words have not caused this horrific actions and when we stop them it is not out of retaliation (that's why we have laws) or even a cop's personal anger or fear: it is for the safety of the innocent and, also, in our system, for the offender. 

Edited by thormas

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16 hours ago, possibility said:

How do you propose we actively refuse to accept it? By 'justifiably' condoning or causing pain and suffering to those who would cause pain and suffering? Is that Loving no matter the consequences? I'm not saying there is an easy answer, or that we should stand by and allow bullying, racism, war, rape or murder to happen at all. But individually we need to recognise that our lack of love in return - whether in condemning the person(s) directly or indirectly with our thoughts, words or actions, or in condoning or demanding pain, humiliation or loss inflicted on them as 'justice' - is not the way to God.

Despite what seems to be the case short term, on a long term basis we will not stop bullying with bullying, war with war or murder with murder...only with Love no matter the consequences. Yes, there will be pain, humiliation and loss, and much will seem undeserved - but there will be anyway, and seeking to avoid it ourselves (believing it to be undeserved) invariably inflicts it on others, who also seek to avoid it and in doing so inflict it on others, etc... The difference is that we can become aware of when this occurs and choose individually to 'accept' rather than deflect the pain, humiliation and loss that comes our way - neither condoning nor contributing to it in any way, justified or otherwise. And we can show others the same path.

Good Lord, isn't it obvious? Take something as simple and as destructive as bullying, we can't think of or don't know how a parent, a teacher, a friend, a stranger can actively refuse to accept or tolerate such behavior on the part of their kid, their student, their friend, even a stranger? I have no idea what you mean by justifiably condoning or causing pain to those who cause pain. If my kid ever bullied another child, I would have talked to her, we would have discussed why she did it, how the other felt, how she would feel and on and on. Where is the causing of pain to the one who bullied? 

However, if someone tried to kill a child, we would not sit down over tea and discuss his feelings. We would stop him! The priority is to stop such actions, it is not to inflict pain on another  which sometimes is inevitable. Stopping such actions is doing for an innocent what they cannot do for themselves. And, because we have laws, we have the rightful authorities do it rather than have vigilante justice. There is no lack of love in return, there is first and foremost the need to protect the innocent and stop the evil that another would inflict on that and other innocents. Lack of love? Do you think parents, teachers, cops, firemen, soldiers, and so many others do what they do because they lack love? For many, it's called service (to and for others).

As you should have noted by now, I have not advocated for anyone to demand or inflict pain, humiliation, loss or death on anyone else. Rather, I have said, that those who cause harm, especially great harm and suffering on others.......should be stopped. I said they should be treated properly by officials or those responsible for there care, I am against the death penalty for reasons previously noted and discussions on 'mental' hospitals, prisons, rehab, etc. is something we have not discussed in any detail. Evil or horrific actions are condemned and should be, shouldn't they?  Who is going to say, rape, serial murders, child molestation, tax evasion, bullying another to the point of suicide are not to be condemned?

As for the person, the ideal is that they are stopped and treated humanely. However, in earlier posts, I noted that ordinary, everyday people, when reacting to such people, 'see' something, 'know' something: that this is not truly human behavior, that this is not how humans ought to act, that this is not.........human. Not really human! And this is revealed in their language. Then I tied this, in what I consider an academic discussion on this site, to a Christian anthropology: simply that human is (a verb) to be done and it is in the doing that one becomes truly human (and I specified that I was not merely using the term human as species). Further, that by their actions, they are known: that if one does not love (again using a Christian theology), they are, in some real way, not what they are born to be: human. They have not realized or actualized this potential and, in that moment (and perhaps longer, depending on their action), they are less than they could be, they are not yet truly human (and I stated that this potential is never losses even with death).

There is a difference in degrees in our humanity. This, in this academic discussion, in no way implies, suggests or supports inflicting humiliation or pain on anyone. As opposed to those who bullied Kierkegaard in the streets, I have not suggested people run after others shouting, "not human, not yet human, monster, animal." So, I never advocated fighting bullying, murder, child molestation or rape with like actions - how absurd that would be. We stop it with Love but Love is active, involved presence: sometimes pointing out what is not right, not acceptable, sometimes shouting "Hot" to save a child from a hot oven, sometimes it is judgment (as I have used the term) as with the child who bullies, to talk, to educate, to open eyes, to present possibilities and the problem or the danger if one continues to bully (for example less and less friends). And sometimes, Love must step in and stop another from doing lasting harm or harm unto death. And the consequence is that one can die in pursuit of such service. 

There is indeed much that is undeserved: cancer, birth defects, parkinson's, measles, a hurricane right on top of you, and on and on. It is undeserved but there was no mention or advocacy for inflicting it on anyone else?? 

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Thormas

Please try not to take my comments about general human tendencies and behaviour personally - they are in no way directed towards you.

We want to believe the best of humanity and of society, including their laws and procedures. When you speak of society and humanity in general, I believe you speak of the best of us - the ideal. Those who don't live up to this ideal are anomalies - 'they' are individuals whose thoughts, words and actions temporarily position them apart from humanity as an idealistic whole. They are redeemable (as are we all), but have strayed nonetheless. You believe yourself to be a member of this idealistic whole, and those thoughts, words and actions that might lead you astray are frequent diversions in an otherwise virtuous life.

Please don't read judgement into any of these descriptions, either. I once saw the world as you did, and the fact that I no longer do is a change that I would not necessarily claim to be an improvement, either. I believe you to have a clear understanding of reality: of the world as a whole, of humanity and of your own capabilities. 

When I speak of society and humanity in general, though, I speak of our weaknesses and fears - our mob mentality, instinctive tendencies, interpretation of laws and procedures that make it easy, justifiable and even necessary to withhold the love we are capable of giving. I believe that being fully aware of these fearful tendencies in ourselves as well as in others is a key to compassion and unconditional love. I include myself in this view of humanity, because I want to be honest about how far I am and can go from unconditional love in each of my thoughts, words and actions. Those actions that strive to be 'Christ-like' I see as individually so. They stand apart from both my sense of 'self' and of 'humanity' because I understand them to be frequent acts of courage in an otherwise fearful life. 

That I believe my worldview to be more accurate is only a symptom of my worldview. That I see the seeds of pain, humiliation and loss in almost every thought, word and action is no reflection on you, nor is it a criticism of 'humanity' as such. It is what it is.

When you say that 'bullying must be stopped', for instance, I understand that you personally would not advocate the many and varied methods of 'stopping' that bullying that often cause harm to the so-called 'bully'. What I believe you mean is always the most 'ideal' way of preventing any further harm, and I'm sorry that I haven't made that understanding perfectly clear.

What I'm reacting to, therefore, is not my sense of your personal values, but the words 'bullying must be stopped', and what that can and often does mean, in my worldview, to the fearful, mob-like majority. 

When I mean you personally, I say 'you'. When I mean my view of humanity in general (which is rather less idealistic than your own), I say 'we'. I'm sorry that this has not been clearer.

FWIW, my personal reaction to my child being bullied (and it has occurred many times) is to teach my child to understand various reasons for the bullying behaviour, including that child's sense of self-worth, their own past experiences of bullying and subsequently learned methods of coping and protecting themselves from harm, which can then harm others. My child is then able to communicate from a place of awareness and compassion, instead of as a victim. It's been surprisingly effective from the age of seven to fifteen so far...

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On 7/27/2018 at 9:55 AM, thormas said:

However, Jesus didn't come for the world, to either praise or condemn it. He was a Jew who came for Jews with the specific intention to preach the coming Kingdom. He was not presenting a perfect walk to God, he was calling on God's chosen people, already in covenant with God, to prepare for the Kingdom: as this was expected in the lifetime of his followers; there was no time to perfect anything. 

Jesus was wrong, the Kingdom did not come and the communities that followed him had to adjust and, thereafter, it is perfectly valid for the Christian community, which is now in it for the long haul,  to talk of the 'Christ' of their community and the (his) Way to walk before God.

Exactly, that's why I distinguished between 'judgment' or the condemnation of others that is motivated by self (centeredness) and judgment rendered for others, on behalf of others, that points to the possibility of 'new life' or the inherent danger if one doesn't seize the opportunity. I think Jesus 'judged' this way in his words and actions and condemned the judgment of the Pharisees and Scribes which condemn the other but did not offer life. 

Seemingly, many Christians make the opposite mistake by reading the gospels as a unit and combining the stories to create a fifth or their own gospel (as in the birth stories at Christmas). I agree, it is best to have a fuller take on a particular gospel but there is nothing wrong, within that, of selecting particular texts to make a point (carefully). Plus, the gospels themselves are predetermined opinions or beliefs and support for these beliefs are sought in the OT and presented by the careful arrangement or rearrangement of the deeds and words of Jesus. Nothing wrong with that but it should also be okay if we do the same with our beliefs or ideas (again carefully).

Dictionaries are obviously helpful but we have also been talking about the inadequacy of words and the need to stretch words in order to better 'speak' of a reality that is too rich to be captured by words. Such a word is judgment and another is incarnation. Many scoff at and dismiss the notion of incarnation in the 21st C. I do not accept the understanding as it is commonly presented (God down to man) but understood in a new way, it holds interesting possibilities. The dictionary definition (a person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit) can be helpful but on its own, doesn't get us very far.  Even Spong's idea of God as a verb, a noun (defined as a word used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things) as a verb (defined as word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence) opens up new possibilities, new insights and new understandings. 

Sometimes, we have to go for it, as long as it is sincere and with great care. As Uncle Ben said to Spider Man, "with great power comes great responsibility."

 

No need to be so subtle.  Jesus condemned the pharisees because they used religion, what was holy, to hurt and exclude people.  Every one of us is capable of using what is holy to hurt "the other", and our natural inclinations as a human being are to do just that.

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1 hour ago, FireDragon76 said:

No need to be so subtle.  Jesus condemned the pharisees because they used religion, what was holy, to hurt and exclude people.  Every one of us is capable of using what is holy to hurt "the other", and our natural inclinations as a human being are to do just that.

It was not natural for others to misuse religion to hurt others. For example, Jesus (I know you might be able to excuse him because you believe him to be the Son of God, however, he was human), Mary, the alleged Joseph, the brothers and sisters of Jesus, his disciples and even Paul, who we could accuse of misuse when he was Saul but then changed. Plus we have countless others throughout history, most unknown to us by name, who never misused religion (actually if they had, we probably would have heard about them, like the Pope, Luther was against).So there is no natural inclination if so many can go against it what is their (so called) nature. There is no natural perversity, no original sin so defined by Augustine. There is only one sin, the original one of self-centeredness that presents in many ways. We are not born with a 'stain' we are born to a world where self-centeredness, big and small reigns and we are to greater and lesser degree nurtured in the way of the world. And we need help to 'overcome' the way of the world, but we need help for most things in human life. And help has always been here, even before the Christ (or was God not present to humanity?) and many were and are oriented (led, encouraged, cajoled, educated, challenged) from the get-go to love, to self-less ness and sin/selfishness is overcome because they, regardless of their religion, have chosen love (again, to greater and lesser degrees). The Christ put a spotlight on the God who was always with us: Jesus revealed what and where God already was.

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4 hours ago, FireDragon76 said:

No need to be so subtle.  Jesus condemned the pharisees because they used religion, what was holy, to hurt and exclude people.  Every one of us is capable of using what is holy to hurt "the other", and our natural inclinations as a human being are to do just that.

I believe a natural motivation as a human being is not to hurt or exclude people, but to protect our own interests - as Thormas says, our self centredness. We attack others when we sense a threat to our interests, to the 'solid foundations' of our world, and we will use whatever we have at our disposal in order to regain control of our situation.

Religion was the 'power' that the Pharisees wielded, and they misused it in the same way that the popes of Luther's time (and many others) misused it: to protect their own interests and remove any threats to their sense of control (over themselves as well as others). It's what it seems Trump has been doing with his power, almost on a daily basis. It's what we would expected most (but not all) people to do with the power or ability they have - especially if, for instance, someone starts shooting nearby...

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11 hours ago, possibility said:

Thormas

Please try not to take my comments about general human tendencies and behaviour personally - they are in no way directed towards you.

We want to believe the best of humanity and of society, including their laws and procedures. When you speak of society and humanity in general, I believe you speak of the best of us - the ideal. Those who don't live up to this ideal are anomalies - 'they' are individuals whose thoughts, words and actions temporarily position them apart from humanity as an idealistic whole. They are redeemable (as are we all), but have strayed nonetheless. You believe yourself to be a member of this idealistic whole, and those thoughts, words and actions that might lead you astray are frequent diversions in an otherwise virtuous life.

Please don't read judgement into any of these descriptions, either. I once saw the world as you did, and the fact that I no longer do is a change that I would not necessarily claim to be an improvement, either. I believe you to have a clear understanding of reality: of the world as a whole, of humanity and of your own capabilities. 

When I speak of society and humanity in general, though, I speak of our weaknesses and fears - our mob mentality, instinctive tendencies, interpretation of laws and procedures that make it easy, justifiable and even necessary to withhold the love we are capable of giving. I believe that being fully aware of these fearful tendencies in ourselves as well as in others is a key to compassion and unconditional love. I include myself in this view of humanity, because I want to be honest about how far I am and can go from unconditional love in each of my thoughts, words and actions. Those actions that strive to be 'Christ-like' I see as individually so. They stand apart from both my sense of 'self' and of 'humanity' because I understand them to be frequent acts of courage in an otherwise fearful life. 

That I believe my worldview to be more accurate is only a symptom of my worldview. That I see the seeds of pain, humiliation and loss in almost every thought, word and action is no reflection on you, nor is it a criticism of 'humanity' as such. It is what it is.

When you say that 'bullying must be stopped', for instance, I understand that you personally would not advocate the many and varied methods of 'stopping' that bullying that often cause harm to the so-called 'bully'. What I believe you mean is always the most 'ideal' way of preventing any further harm, and I'm sorry that I haven't made that understanding perfectly clear.

What I'm reacting to, therefore, is not my sense of your personal values, but the words 'bullying must be stopped', and what that can and often does mean, in my worldview, to the fearful, mob-like majority. 

When I mean you personally, I say 'you'. When I mean my view of humanity in general (which is rather less idealistic than your own), I say 'we'. I'm sorry that this has not been clearer.

FWIW, my personal reaction to my child being bullied (and it has occurred many times) is to teach my child to understand various reasons for the bullying behaviour, including that child's sense of self-worth, their own past experiences of bullying and subsequently learned methods of coping and protecting themselves from harm, which can then harm others. My child is then able to communicate from a place of awareness and compassion, instead of as a victim. It's been surprisingly effective from the age of seven to fifteen so far...

There you go again. As I have said before, this is fun (and educational) for me. My exclamation points and caps (or the occasional, "good lord" - which was fun) are for emphasis and not out of frustration. In addition, I don't take anything personally for the simple reason that I disagree with your position and recognize the misunderstanding or mis-construals - which at times require emphasis to emphasize what I actually said :+}

However, I will read and comment later.

Edited by thormas

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28 minutes ago, thormas said:

Please try not to take my comments about general human tendencies and behaviour personally - they are in no way directed towards you.

We want to believe the best of humanity and of society, including their laws and procedures. When you speak of society and humanity in general, I believe you speak of the best of us - the ideal. Those who don't live up to this ideal are anomalies - 'they' are individuals whose thoughts, words and actions temporarily position them apart from humanity as an idealistic whole. They are redeemable (as are we all), but have strayed nonetheless. You believe yourself to be a member of this idealistic whole, and those thoughts, words and actions that might lead you astray are frequent diversions in an otherwise virtuous life.

Please don't read judgement into any of these descriptions, either. I once saw the world as you did, and the fact that I no longer do is a change that I would not necessarily claim to be an improvement, either. I believe you to have a clear understanding of reality: of the world as a whole, of humanity and of your own capabilities. 

When I speak of society and humanity in general, though, I speak of our weaknesses and fears - our mob mentality, instinctive tendencies, interpretation of laws and procedures that make it easy, justifiable and even necessary to withhold the love we are capable of giving. I believe that being fully aware of these fearful tendencies in ourselves as well as in others is a key to compassion and unconditional love. I include myself in this view of humanity, because I want to be honest about how far I am and can go from unconditional love in each of my thoughts, words and actions. Those actions that strive to be 'Christ-like' I see as individually so. They stand apart from both my sense of 'self' and of 'humanity' because I understand them to be frequent acts of courage in an otherwise fearful life. 

That I believe my worldview to be more accurate is only a symptom of my worldview. That I see the seeds of pain, humiliation and loss in almost every thought, word and action is no reflection on you, nor is it a criticism of 'humanity' as such. It is what it is.

When you say that 'bullying must be stopped', for instance, I understand that you personally would not advocate the many and varied methods of 'stopping' that bullying that often cause harm to the so-called 'bully'. What I believe you mean is always the most 'ideal' way of preventing any further harm, and I'm sorry that I haven't made that understanding perfectly clear.

What I'm reacting to, therefore, is not my sense of your personal values, but the words 'bullying must be stopped', and what that can and often does mean, in my worldview, to the fearful, mob-like majority. 

When I mean you personally, I say 'you'. When I mean my view of humanity in general (which is rather less idealistic than your own), I say 'we'. I'm sorry that this has not been clearer.

FWIW, my personal reaction to my child being bullied (and it has occurred many times) is to teach my child to understand various reasons for the bullying behaviour, including that child's sense of self-worth, their own past experiences of bullying and subsequently learned methods of coping and protecting themselves from harm, which can then harm others. My child is then able to communicate from a place of awareness and compassion, instead of as a victim. It's been surprisingly effective from the age of seven to fifteen so far...

Again, this is an academic discussion for me and I when I am speaking about laws, legal procedures and even human society, I am trying to make a point and it is not about dissecting these topics (unless that is the specific topic under discussion). I do have to include a 'good lord" here with your comments on the idealistic whole, frequent diversions and virtuous life :+}

The simple truth is that while I recognize your views ("of society and humanity in general, though, ..our weaknesses and fears - our mob mentality, instinctive tendencies, interpretation of laws"), I am not overwhelmed by this reality. There are fearful tendencies in some of us but not all of us and compassion (and love) is not only learned by experiencing or recognizing the worst we have to offer: it is truly and best learned by experiencing and recognizing and being thankful for the best we have to offer - because others gave us the best of themselves. I think knowing such love and compassion is the key, the only key, to being compassionate and loving unconditionally. I understand 'Christ-like' behavior to be on a continum from the ordinary, the everyday acts of many, and many more unknown, to those acts that rise to what we would consider courageous. For me, these actions define self and are (true) humanity, which is not all that uncommon in the world. What is 'Christ-like' it is as simple as smiling at 'the other' who is totally different than you and disarming them as they 'instinctively' return the smile; it is holding a door for a stranger, it is changing a flat for a family traveling on the road, it is a million acts of such compassion, such concern given by one to another in the course of the day - and it is not negated or overwhelmed by the true evil that some inflict on others and the world. Even Jesus, although the gospels don't dwell much on it, must have lived a life of small compassions in his everyday existence - or else he would not have been able to rise to the courageous when things went against him. He was aware of, but not overwhelmed by, the fearful tendencies of men and women in his everyday life of compassion or in his full moment of Love. 

We differ on world views: I don't see the world through the fearful lens, although I am very aware of that view and experience. I see the possibility of pain, humiliation and loss but I see the possibility and the actuality of something else that can (and does) overcome this.  

It is precisely in the discussion of bullying that you should react to what I shared, my personal value, and how bullying 'can be stopped.'  Obviously, some others might have other, more fearful means but that is not the 'way' I suggested we stop bullying. 

I had one memorable experiencing of bullying when I was in high school: the kid, for no reason I could think of, started saying something about me. So, I simply turned the tables and gave him a taste of being on the other side; we remain friends. Did it destroy his self worth, did it lack compassion? No to the former but he got a taste; as to the latter, well it wasn't a punch in the face, I didn't trash his car or his parents' home, and, knowing this kid, I knew a heart tot heart wouldn't work - so I gave a little taste of what it was like to be me (the bullied). And, I didn't call him a snake or a  brood of vipers, like Jesus did the Pharisees.  When I was a teacher, I would work both players: I would talk to the bully and console the bullied but I would also not remain passive if it continued: I would step in and stop the bullying because of the lack of compassionate on the part of the bully was not acceptable and the continuing (lasting?) damage to the bullied. Sometimes compassion must make a choice for the bullied and it can be done without destroying the bully - as it is (should be) done for their sake also. Bottom line, given the horrific results of some bullying that lead kids to kill themselves, one cannot be passive or overly fret over a lack of compassion for the bully when an innocent is being destroyed. 

Good advice for your child but what if it continues.........what if she encounters a kid who is relentless? Same with fighting, I maybe got into one little kid 'fight' but when I was a teacher, there was a kid who started a fight at a dance; it was not going to be pretty and someone was going to get hurt - very badly (and I didn't think the parents waiting outside of the ER would want to hear how compassionate I was trying to be when their kid was beat up). So, I stopped the kid, it was over, I dealt with all parties afterward and things were back to normal - and like a lot that goes on in HS, it was forgotten.  

So we continue........

 

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5 hours ago, thormas said:

It is precisely in the discussion of bullying that you should react to what I shared, my personal value, and how bullying 'can be stopped.'  Obviously, some others might have other, more fearful means but that is not the 'way' I suggested we stop bullying. 

I had one memorable experiencing of bullying when I was in high school: the kid, for no reason I could think of, started saying something about me. So, I simply turned the tables and gave him a taste of being on the other side; we remain friends. Did it destroy his self worth, did it lack compassion? No to the former but he got a taste; as to the latter, well it wasn't a punch in the face, I didn't trash his car or his parents' home, and, knowing this kid, I knew a heart tot heart wouldn't work - so I gave a little taste of what it was like to be me (the bullied). And, I didn't call him a snake or a  brood of vipers, like Jesus did the Pharisees.  When I was a teacher, I would work both players: I would talk to the bully and console the bullied but I would also not remain passive if it continued: I would step in and stop the bullying because of the lack of compassionate on the part of the bully was not acceptable and the continuing (lasting?) damage to the bullied. Sometimes compassion must make a choice for the bullied and it can be done without destroying the bully - as it is (should be) done for their sake also. Bottom line, given the horrific results of some bullying that lead kids to kill themselves, one cannot be passive or overly fret over a lack of compassion for the bully when an innocent is being destroyed. 

Good advice for your child but what if it continues.........what if she encounters a kid who is relentless? Same with fighting, I maybe got into one little kid 'fight' but when I was a teacher, there was a kid who started a fight at a dance; it was not going to be pretty and someone was going to get hurt - very badly (and I didn't think the parents waiting outside of the ER would want to hear how compassionate I was trying to be when their kid was beat up). So, I stopped the kid, it was over, I dealt with all parties afterward and things were back to normal - and like a lot that goes on in HS, it was forgotten.  

I understand that your position as a teacher made you fearful of the repercussions should you choose not to step in, and I believe it is still possible to be compassionate while restraining or otherwise preventing damage (especially as a teacher, where your options for 'handling' a student are limited anyway).

You were protecting your interests - your position as a teacher requires you to protect the student being bullied as a priority, and ensure that the bullying stops without obvious harm to either student. You are motivated by fear, not necessarily for yourself but for your job: which includes your obligation to your students' future, parent expectations, the school, etc - this is perfectly understandable in the immediate circumstances. I would never expect a teacher who felt physically capable of stopping a fight to remain passive in this situation, even if they wanted to.

But the 'fight' only starts when someone retaliates, and continues only as long as either side feels 'wronged' and capable of 'righting' it. In retaliating, sometimes you get lucky applying a force that matches the one against you, and you reach a point of mutual respect. Often you fail to match the force, so the bullying continues, and your feelings of humiliation, powerlessness and fear escalate. Sometimes you tip the scales too far and become the 'bully'. 

It takes courage to 'stand up' to a bully. I think retaliation can be a risky option, and it's not the only one available. Bullying always starts small, so it's important to nip it in the bud. If the kid being bullied is offended or insulted by a slap to the right cheek, for instance - if he feels humiliated or oppressed by it, then he reacts with humiliation or fear, which further attracts the bully by offering him an opportunity to gain power and control he probably fails to get elsewhere. 

But if the kid being 'bullied' understands the reasons behind the slap - the powerlessness, fear or lack of control felt by the bully - and has cause to feel compassion towards their behaviour rather than humiliation or fear, then he has no need to react to the attack, and therefore doesn't feel bullied. He can even offer the other cheek - not out of fear, but out of compassion - confident that the pain, humiliation or loss is tolerable, and that he gives it freely. The fight then quickly goes out of the bully - he may laugh or try to pretend he got the upper hand, or even try to escalate it himself - but he'll know he didn't really get what he thought he wanted.

Compassion is not about giving someone what they want or what they ask for, but about understanding and addressing what they need - what their request or demand really means to them, despite how they communicate it.

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48 minutes ago, possibility said:

I understand that your position as a teacher made you fearful of the repercussions should you choose not to step in, and I believe it is still possible to be compassionate while restraining or otherwise preventing damage (especially as a teacher, where your options for 'handling' a student are limited anyway).

You were protecting your interests - your position as a teacher requires you to protect the student being bullied as a priority, and ensure that the bullying stops without obvious harm to either student. You are motivated by fear, not necessarily for yourself but for your job: which includes your obligation to your students' future, parent expectations, the school, etc - this is perfectly understandable in the immediate circumstances. I would never expect a teacher who felt physically capable of stopping a fight to remain passive in this situation, even if they wanted to.

But the 'fight' only starts when someone retaliates, and continues only as long as either side feels 'wronged' and capable of 'righting' it. In retaliating, sometimes you get lucky applying a force that matches the one against you, and you reach a point of mutual respect. Often you fail to match the force, so the bullying continues, and your feelings of humiliation, powerlessness and fear escalate. Sometimes you tip the scales too far and become the 'bully'. 

It takes courage to 'stand up' to a bully. I think retaliation can be a risky option, and it's not the only one available. Bullying always starts small, so it's important to nip it in the bud. If the kid being bullied is offended or insulted by a slap to the right cheek, for instance - if he feels humiliated or oppressed by it, then he reacts with humiliation or fear, which further attracts the bully by offering him an opportunity to gain power and control he probably fails to get elsewhere. 

But if the kid being 'bullied' understands the reasons behind the slap - the powerlessness, fear or lack of control felt by the bully - and has cause to feel compassion towards their behaviour rather than humiliation or fear, then he has no need to react to the attack, and therefore doesn't feel bullied. He can even offer the other cheek - not out of fear, but out of compassion - confident that the pain, humiliation or loss is tolerable, and that he gives it freely. The fight then quickly goes out of the bully - he may laugh or try to pretend he got the upper hand, or even try to escalate it himself - but he'll know he didn't really get what he thought he wanted.

Compassion is not about giving someone what they want or what they ask for, but about understanding and addressing what they need - what their request or demand really means to them, despite how they communicate it.

possibility,

You have misunderstood and/or misinterpreted the situation I mentioned both in its particulars and also by the assumption that all 'fights' are the same.

I was not fearful of repercussions, I did what was necessary to stop violence and harm to a kid. Rather simple.

Compassionate is multi layered: for the smaller kid, for the onlookers and for the kid who is going violent. Further, it was not protecting my interests = you are projecting yourself into the situation and assuming motives and attitudes not in play - at all. It was not motivation by fear, it was motivated by preventing possible harm to others. You really don't know me, how would you, however I never feared for my job as a teacher. And when I mentioned the scenario of explaining why nothing was done to protect their child, fear again played no role; it was rather the possible scenarios that someone could have cared for a child but couldn't or wouldn't. Again, a simple human interaction and a parent's hope. 

A fight does not only start when someone retaliates, someone can not like how you look or the shirt he's wearing and cold-cock the other person: fight begins and ends in one punch and a hospital visit for the one attacked. And it does not only continue as long as either side feels 'wronged' - it continues, many times, for as long as it takes to protect yourself or another - until additional help arrives. This fight, or stopping the fight, in this situation was not about retaliation on my part???? And this goes to many/most bullying: the one bullied has done nothing, nothing at all and the bullying begins. So, I have no issue with a parent discussing why the bully bullies but if it continues and your child is at risk or simply has everyday ruined and is fearful of the next - something has to be done. Whether that is telling the principal of a school about the situation and threatening to sue over the bullying (talk about fear - it is there for schools) to giving another a taste of their own medicine - there are steps that can and should be taken. As for the risk of becoming the bully - I have never seen that happen. It might, I have never seen it..

I agree that bullying can be horrible but I have to tell you a slap up side the head is no longer bullying, it is assault, a physical attack on another (small, sure but in a school situation or schools sanctioned activities - not acceptable). And that's what I would have my lawyer tell the principal and the parents of the bully when we met and that, if it ever happens again (if they look at my kid sideways) - all legal hell will break loose. 

Sorry, but the kid has nothing to understand in the moment when s/he is slapped (and will they finally feel bullied when they get a kick to the kidneys, a fist to the nose, a push down the stairs, a full out beating on the streets?). I simply disagree: one can understand why another is a bully and feel compassion - but how long does this understanding and compassion have to last if they fear going to school or they are humiliated at all or could be physically harmed or driven to suicide - because sometimes all the understanding and compassion in the world won't stop someone? Where is the compassion that is driven to protect the one being bullied in this scenario? The fight might quickly go out of some bullies but not all bullies.

Compassion is also about stopping any or further harm to others (who also deserve compassion) and then addressing, with understanding, why the bully bullied. But, sometimes, just like the mother protecting the kid from touching the hot oven, you just have to say (or shout), "No!" 

None of this is simple but I lean to the innocent first.

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What P says sounds good but bullying is often more than simply a slap on the cheek that is resolved through non-retaliation and a bit of compassion.     Turning the other cheek is an ideal but its not necessarily always realistic.  Obligating a bullied child to be the therapist for their bully isn't necessarily an ethical thing to do.  As my pastor pointed out to me once, nobody can force you to be a martyr.   

 

That's why I appreciate the Lutheran distinction between Law and Gospel.  Sometimes the most sensible, beautiful sounding stuff can turn out to be quite problematic in actual practice.  Life is always more complicated.  Which is one reason I am not fond of the whole "Red Letter Christian" Neo-Anabaptist movement, which is really quite fundamentalist in tone at times.   I'm more of a Christian realist.

 

Edited by FireDragon76

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1 hour ago, FireDragon76 said:

The Lutheran distinction between Law and Gospel.  

So........what is this distinction, in your understanding?

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4 hours ago, thormas said:

So........what is this distinction, in your understanding?

" The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.”   - Martin Luther, Heidelberg Disputation, Theological Thesis #26

 

The Law is whatever in the Bible that threatens or accuses the conscience, typically by way of commandment.  The Gospel is whatever promises the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.   Jesus "turn the other cheek" is actually Law.   Law can be oppressive if it is misused. 

 

A bullied child should not be told they need to just turn the other cheek as their religious/spirituality duty, at least not right away until it can be placed within a wider context and is safe to do so.   I know people who were bullied because they were gay or transsexual.  Their bullying wasn't simply due to a lack of empathy but the powerful hold that ideology and religious teachings have on the human imagination.  Asking them to take their pummelings cheerfully wouldn't serve justice.

 

Here is more on Law and Gospel and the usage of these distinctions: https://www.livinglutheran.org/2017/04/luthers-preaching-still-preach/

Edited by FireDragon76

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On 7/27/2018 at 9:55 AM, thormas said:

However, Jesus didn't come for the world, to either praise or condemn it. He was a Jew who came for Jews with the specific intention to preach the coming Kingdom. He was not presenting a perfect walk to God, he was calling on God's chosen people, already in covenant with God, to prepare for the Kingdom: as this was expected in the lifetime of his followers; there was no time to perfect anything. 

 

Jesus was wrong, the Kingdom did not come and the communities that followed him had to adjust ...

I don't follow certain liberal scholarship in believing Jesus was a failed prophet (I'm in more agreement with N.T. Wright's scholarship).   The Kingdom is God's reign by grace in the human heart.  That is why Lutherans (and some other Protestants) distinguish between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, it is really just a distinction between Law and Gospel.

 

Since the kingdom of God has always been based on God's reign in the human heart, Jesus did not fail.  In fact, he was wildly successful.  Of course, the Kingdom suffers violence, of course it is oppressed. But it would be foolish to say it's a failure.

 

Edited by FireDragon76

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20 minutes ago, FireDragon76 said:

I don't follow certain liberal scholarship in believing Jesus was a failed prophet (I'm in more agreement with N.T. Wright's scholarship).   The Kingdom is God's reign by grace in the human heart.  That is why Lutherans (and some other Protestants) distinguish between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world, it is really just a distinction between Law and Gospel.

Since the kingdom of God has always been based on God's reign in the human heart, Jesus did not fail.  In fact, he was wildly successful.  Of course, the Kingdom suffers violence, of course it is oppressed. But it would be foolish to say it's a failure.

I didn't say he failed, just that, if indeed he was, as many serious biblical scholars state, an apocalyptic prophet, he was wrong: the Kingdom was not established in the lifetime of his followers. I actually have no problem with this as I recognize that he was a man and also that he did (seemingly) say "only the Father knows." 

Not in the heart: Jesus preached the establishment of the Kingdom on earth (as was the Jewish hope/expectation) and that it would be done by God.......not man. It was a Kingdom not of the heart (this seemingly suggests that man had something to do with its establishment); it was the Kingdom of God, here and now. 

Seemingly we disagree with Jesus' take on the Kingdom given what we are both saying. For Jesus, in the Kingdom, there would be no violence or oppression because the old had passed away and God's reign would be established. However, never said he failed.

 

Edited by thormas

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15 minutes ago, thormas said:

I didn't say he failed, just that, if indeed he was, as many serious biblical scholars state, an apocalyptic prophet, he was wrong: the Kingdom was not established in the lifetime of his followers. I actually have no problem with this as I recognize that he was a man and also that he did (seemingly) say "only the Father knows." 

Not in the heart: Jesus preached the establishment of the Kingdom on earth (as was the Jewish hope/expectation) and that it would be done by God.......not man. It was a Kingdom not of the heart (this seemingly suggests that man had something to do with its establishment); it was the Kingdom of God, here and now. 

Seemingly we disagree with Jesus' take on the Kingdom given what we are both saying. For Jesus, in the Kingdom, there would be no violence or oppression because the old had passed away and God's reign would be established. However, never said he failed.

 

Those scholars ignore certain elements of the Gospel narrative and they over-literalize Jewish apocalyptic imagery.  N.T. Wright is careful to point this out in many of his works.

Jesus did see the Kingdom as a present reality.  He does after all say, "The Kingdom of God is among you" (Luke 17:21), and earlier in Luke 11:20 he states that the power of exorcism he has is part of the inbreaking of God's Kingdom.  He did not merely see it as a future reality.

Edited by FireDragon76

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2 minutes ago, FireDragon76 said:

Those scholars ignore certain elements of the Gospel narrative and they over-literalize Jewish apocalyptic imagery.  N.T. Wright is careful to point this out in many of his works.

Jesus did see the Kingdom as a present reality.  He does after all say, "The Kingdom of God is among you" (Luke 17:21, and also earlier in Luke 11:20).  He did not merely see it as a future reality.

I don't think they do (plus, which specific scholars?): there is a legitimate disagreement among some scholars but I think it is a bit much to say scholars purposely ignore certain elements of the gospels.

Actually there is a tension is Jesus's sayings about the Kingdom already present and the Kingdom still coming - but indeed it was seen as a physical Kingdom, established by God. However, we see it differently, of necessity it seems, since the Kingdom was not established in the lifetime of his disciples.

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25 minutes ago, thormas said:

I don't think they do (plus, which specific scholars?): there is a legitimate disagreement among some scholars but I think it is a bit much to say scholars purposely ignore certain elements of the gospels.

Actually there is a tension is Jesus's sayings about the Kingdom already present and the Kingdom still coming - but indeed it was seen as a physical Kingdom, established by God. However, we see it differently, of necessity it seems, since the Kingdom was not established in the lifetime of his disciples.

I find that a sad view for any Christian to hold on to.  If the Kingdom did not exist in even a seminal form with the disciples, then I think this whole business is a waste of time.

Jesus was not merely reiterating Jewish expectations of his time.  At least we should be able to recognize him as an original thinker.  Even scholars like Don Cupitt  (of the Jesus Seminar, whose scholarship I don't agree with) recognize that Jesus was capable of being a creative synthesizer of his own religious tradition.  

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22 minutes ago, FireDragon76 said:

I find that a sad view for any Christian to hold on to.  If the Kingdom did not exist in even a seminal form with the disciples, then I think this whole business is a waste of time.

Jesus was not merely reiterating Jewish expectations of his time.  At least we should be able to recognize him as an original thinker.  Even scholars like Don Cupitt  (of the Jesus Seminar, whose scholarship I don't agree with) recognize that Jesus was capable of being a creative synthesizer of his own religious tradition.  

I think a lot of it can be a waste of time, but can't an idea of a kingdom to come  simply be an aspiration rather than a concrete prediction?

Personally I think Jesus was somewhat aligned with Jewish expectations of his time AND a proponent of some original thought, but not necessarily only one or the other.  

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13 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I think a lot of it can be a waste of time, but can't an idea of a kingdom to come  simply be an aspiration rather than a concrete prediction?

Even Jesus says the time hasn't been revealed to him.  Too much is made of his "failure" as a prophet, in light of this.  He does prophesy the destruction of the temple and a calamity falling on Israel but that's far different from accurately predicting the end of our present cosmic order, something that the text does not necessarily suggest (but some more radical scholars, operating within a certain Christian paradigm in the background, do seem to presuppose as a necessary criterion for authenticity).

Edited by FireDragon76

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20 minutes ago, FireDragon76 said:

....He does prophesy the destruction of the temple and a calamity falling on Israel but that's far different from accurately predicting the end of our present cosmic order, something that the text does not necessarily suggest (but some more radical scholars, operating within a certain Christian paradigm in the background, do seem to presuppose as a necessary criterion for authenticity).

Or later writer's attribute these words to him but he never actually prophesy such at all.

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On 31 July 2018 at 9:03 PM, thormas said:

I was not fearful of repercussions, I did what was necessary to stop violence and harm to a kid. Rather simple.

...It was not motivation by fear, it was motivated by preventing possible harm to others. You really don't know me, how would you, however I never feared for my job as a teacher. And when I mentioned the scenario of explaining why nothing was done to protect their child, fear again played no role; it was rather the possible scenarios that someone could have cared for a child but couldn't or wouldn't. Again, a simple human interaction and a parent's hope. 

I'm not talking about conscious fear - the kind of fear you might actually admit to - such as in extreme or life-or-death situations. I'm talking about subconscious fear hidden by structures. When we have internalised the structures of behaviour that our job requires, for instance, we would automatically never choose to do anything that may risk our job, thereby ensuring we never have to consciously fear for our job. This is how we 'eradicate' fear. We have constructed all these eternal, definitive but essentially abstract concepts of family, society, nation, religion, laws, expectations, language, labels, meanings, etc that give our world a sense of stability and safety it wouldn't otherwise have. As long as everyone around us adheres to these structures and expectations, we believe that we have no need to fear. It's only when we recognise all these structures for the illusions they are that we are confronted with the true fragility of our existence: we recognise that we are vulnerable creatures that must rely on the delicate balance and cooperation of the entire universe in order to simply live out our brief existence, let alone achieve anything. Then we can start to understand the subconscious fear that motivates us to build and insist on the 'actuality' of these structures, as well as the unlimited potentiality that is available to us when we have the courage to see beyond them. But again, this my worldview, and I don't expect you to agree.

As for the risk of becoming the bully - I have never seen that happen. It might, I have never seen it..

Most bullies I have encountered either had previously been bullied or were currently victims of bullying or oppression in a different environment (at home, previous school, bus, street, etc). Others were taught 'survival' strategies (ie. gaining the upper hand) by a parent, older sibling or 'mentor' who had been a victim of bullying, out of concern for their safety, or taught to fear or feel threatened by a certain type of person, attitude or behaviour, and to take steps to counter, control or eliminate that threat. Bullying starts with fear - it doesn't just happen because someone suddenly decides to be mean.

I agree that bullying can be horrible but I have to tell you a slap up side the head is no longer bullying, it is assault, a physical attack on another (small, sure but in a school situation or schools sanctioned activities - not acceptable). And that's what I would have my lawyer tell the principal and the parents of the bully when we met and that, if it ever happens again (if they look at my kid sideways) - all legal hell will break loose. 

I am aware of that - I was citing the example from Matthew 5 of an action that is intended to insult or provoke without physical harm. Let's not get the lawyers involved just yet.

Sorry, but the kid has nothing to understand in the moment when s/he is slapped (and will they finally feel bullied when they get a kick to the kidneys, a fist to the nose, a push down the stairs, a full out beating on the streets?). I simply disagree: one can understand why another is a bully and feel compassion - but how long does this understanding and compassion have to last if they fear going to school or they are humiliated at all or could be physically harmed or driven to suicide - because sometimes all the understanding and compassion in the world won't stop someone? Where is the compassion that is driven to protect the one being bullied in this scenario? The fight might quickly go out of some bullies but not all bullies.

Am I supposed to be afraid? Am I supposed to think that what I've been teaching my children may eventually get the snot beaten out of them or leave them at the mercy of bullies, unless I also teach them when it's 'justified' to either strike back or seek protection? My children are well aware these options are available - I don't need to tell them that. Fight or flight is an instinctual response. They've even taken the option at times - and copped a detention or two from school, but no reprimand from me in those situations. I'm not insisting they choose compassion over fighting back - I'm only making them aware of the bigger picture, so they understand they have a choice to seek an interaction without fear, violence, hatred or oppression on either side. This is about awareness. It's less about the action they choose than the choices they have available.

By the way, what leads you to believe that there would be a situation where all the understanding and compassion in the world won't stop someone from causing harm?

Compassion is also about stopping any or further harm to others (who also deserve compassion) and then addressing, with understanding, why the bully bullied. But, sometimes, just like the mother protecting the kid from touching the hot oven, you just have to say (or shout), "No!" 

What you describe here is addressing fears first and compassion second. Nothing wrong with that, but let's be honest about what it is.

None of this is simple but I lean to the innocent first.

You talk about these situations as if you are viewing them objectively. From your position as a teacher, or as the one bullied, I understand that you did what you believed was most effective and most compassionate within what was required of and available to you in the situation as you saw it. And you are confident that the vast majority of human beings (including myself) would probably 'justify' your actions and would feel 'justified' in the same actions in those and similar situations. But that doesn't make it an objective view. 

There is frequently more to each situation than we choose to be aware of in the moment. The decisions we make to block that awareness are often so ingrained that they occur in our subconscious - like driving a car. They make it easier to choose instantly from the unlimited potentiality present in each moment by limiting our awareness of that potentiality. We position ourselves as teacher, as witnessing adult, responsible for the children involved as well as onlookers, answerable to parents, conscious of our limited capabilities in the moment. We can't afford to be as compassionate towards the bully as to the bullied, we don't have time to consider how they got to this point in their life, because we are obliged by our position in that moment to determine (judge) and then prioritise the 'innocent'. We seek to prevent pain, humiliation and loss (ie. to love) hierarchically because our position in time, space, society, etc prevents us from loving unconditionally.

But I am not in that moment now, and I was never in that moment. It means that I'm in no position to 'judge' the actions or decisions of the individuals who were in that moment. The moment is in the past, and nothing I do or say now will ever change that moment. But it also means that I am free to view the situation without obligation: while everyone is driven by their position to protect the one being bullied, I am at liberty to feel compassion for the bully in my experience of interacting with the situation as described at this moment. 

That doesn't mean I have no compassion for the one being bullied. In my position as a parent, as someone who works in a school, who has experienced bullying, etc - I completely understand and recognise the need to protect the 'innocent', to put a stop to the violence, and to prioritise compassion for the one being bullied. I have never said that the one being bullied should have done anything differently, or that you or anyone else in these situations should have done anything differently either. Neither am I denying the one bullied any compassion at all. They have plenty of compassion from you and others, both in that moment and in this one - and all of it fully deserved.

But I believe I am called to love unconditionally, to be aware of where there is a lack of compassion, and to be 'God' in that moment - to express God's love wherever love is lacking. If this expression of love occurs in a different spacetime, I don't believe that lessens its significance to 'God' as such. If it is not in keeping with what I am expected (by you or anyone else) to do or say given my position in a given moment, then I will wear whatever consequences that may bring. But I won't be afraid to love the unloved.

Here is what interests me in this moment: given that the compassion I might express towards the position of 'bully' in my present interaction with a situation you experienced in the past cannot actually affect the situation or the past itself, do you believe it has an impact on your present interaction (or anyone else's present interaction, for that matter) with the same situation?

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8 hours ago, FireDragon76 said:

I find that a sad view for any Christian to hold on to.  If the Kingdom did not exist in even a seminal form with the disciples, then I think this whole business is a waste of time.

Jesus was not merely reiterating Jewish expectations of his time.  At least we should be able to recognize him as an original thinker.  Even scholars like Don Cupitt  (of the Jesus Seminar, whose scholarship I don't agree with) recognize that Jesus was capable of being a creative synthesizer of his own religious tradition.  

You are making misleading statements or, at least wrong-headed assumptions: I didn't say or suggest what you have written in your first line, rather I spoke of the 'present' and 'not yet' dimension of the kingdom that is present in the gospels and in the saying of Jesus. If you don't know this, there is not much anyone else can do. Further, this tension is not a big concern if you think of the seed or any of the growth parables. However, the point stands that Jesus spoke of the Kingdom (the fullness of the Kingdom) being established in the lifetime of some of his disciples..........and it didn't happen.

And, he wasn't only reiterating Jewish expectations but he was in agreement with those expectations. He wasn't a man out of time, he was a Jew of the 1st C CE and he was fully aware of the hopes of his people, including their expectation and longing for the Messiah. That he was also original or unique is obvious, especially in his understanding of who or what the Messiah would be. I have not said or implied anything about his 'creativity' or that he was not a unique figure in history. Furthermore, even in his originality he was a Jew, who came to fulfill the law and announce the Kingdom.

 

Edited by thormas

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