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irreverance

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irreverance last won the day on October 11 2020

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About irreverance

  • Birthday 06/29/1969

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    http://www.evolvingchristianfaith.net

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    Beloit, WI
  • Interests
    Theology, philosophy, re-inventing Christianity, postmodern thought, postmodern culture, drawing, television, movies, dog training

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  1. Hi @Anona Maus! Good to see another Wisconsinite here. I'm in Beloit. I recommend looking at the websites for the denominations your looking at. See if you can find clues there as to where they're coming from. Sorry, but that's the best I've got.
  2. Contemplative prayer is something I strongly value. In case someone here is not familiar with it, I thought I'd share a video. Are there others out there interested in the contemplative tradition?
  3. Wow, where to begin. So much has changed, and I feel like I'm constantly in flux. So, I think I'm just going to go with my understanding of the role dogmatic theology itself. I'm not saying dogmatic theology is bad. I think it's a great way to help people connect with others who are similar so that they can grow together. But it can also become a tool to nullify spiritual growth. I used to look at dogmatic theology as an attempt to be "right". And I back in the day I looked at different theologies to see which one was more "right". Now, I look at dogmatic theology as a dialogue partner. It's not always right, and neither am I. In the places where I agree, I find it's good to talk with a friend who gets me. And when I disagree most, it can inspire me to pursue my own disagreement and develop it more, and as a result come to understand myself and my relationship to the Divine better. The power of that relationship comes not through submissiveness to dogma as the final word, but through honest conversation that is open to inspiration and growth.
  4. I just noticed the word "solely" in the title. That changes my answer a bit. I doubt that any religion has a claim to "solely" make the world better. Every religion has its dark side, and (outside of specific theological uniqueness) promotes values that are duplicated in other religions. I don't think you can say any cultural phenomenon (religion, political ideology, economic system, etc) can claim to have "solely" made the world a better place.
  5. The problem with discussing "Christianity" is that it's a diverse religion. I do believe that the more compassionate versions of the religion promote values that make the world a better place. I also believe that there are versions of the religion that promote tribalized identities that can become defensive and authoritarian in ways that do damage to the body of humanity as a whole. Part of the issue here is human development. When looking at faith development, we see that one's ability to identify with others increases as the ability to process one's faith becomes more complex. The most popular scholar here is probably James Fowler (Stages of Faith). We also have follow-up critiques that improve on his work, but I like to stick with his work because it seems the most accessible. For Fowler, faith progresses as stages of development. Here are the stages I think are most important in discussions: Mythic-literal stage: Arises in late childhood. It's very black-and-white. Parental authority is absolute. Conventional stage: Arises in adolescence. It's very socially-oriented, and the peer group takes on the role of primary authority. Individual-reflective stage: Generally arises as a result of "leaving home". Immersed in a foreign environment, it encounters perspectives vastly different than it was used to. Trying to sort it all out leads to the primacy of internalized authority. Conjunctive stage: Unusual before early 30s, the person has been wrong enough that the primacy of internalized authority breaks down. Now, the person is able to see potential validity in the perspective of others, which means a new openness to accepting without judgement their truths. It's important to note that movement through the stages is not mandatory. In fact, it appears that most Christians in the pews usually sit at the Mythic-literal or Conjunctive stages. So, we tend to think of that as representative of "Christianity". But what about the influence of certain Christian values on a culture beyond the bounds of accepted religion? Personally, I believe that many Christians outgrow their faith communities developmentally and then face a choice. Do they remain and keep silent? Or, do they just leave? I suspect that most probably leave and become "church alumni" (to reference JS Spong). As a result, we have people leaving the religious structure because they have actually grown in their faith. I tend to argue that the heirs to the Christian spirit in America is not the churches in general, but secular humanism. Here's the list of their principles from Wikipedia: Need to test beliefs – A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted by faith. Reason, evidence, scientific method – A commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence and scientific method of inquiry in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions. Fulfillment, growth, creativity – A primary concern with fulfillment, growth and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general. Search for truth – A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it. This life – A concern for this life (as opposed to an afterlife) and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us. Ethics – A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility. Justice and fairness – an interest in securing justice and fairness in society and in eliminating discrimination and intolerance.[27] Building a better world – A conviction that with reason, an open exchange of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children. When we look at the its ideals, though, we see something that seems to reflect an idealized version of American culture. I also believe that those could all be traced back to Christian teachings that tend to emerge in the higher stages of faith development. So, I would argue, yes, Christianity has largely been responsible for cultural developments that have made the world a better place (I'm not a fan of "forward" as if we're moving or progressing toward some particular state), provided that you look at how Christianity tends to take form at later stages of faith development. I would also argue that Christianity at the earlier stages of faith development has a tendency toward promoting antagonistic tribalism, which can bring a whole bunch of oppression and destruction into the world. And this is what people see when they argue that religion is responsible for making the world a worse place.
  6. Dialectics in a nutshell: Affirmation-->Negation-->Negation of Negation...which becomes an Affirmation...
  7. I think addressing racism involves many layers. Here's my really quick answer off the top of my head: First, recognize that racism (or any other form of bigotry) is ultimately an expression of fear. The answer to a fear-based problem is not more fear, which will cause them to become defensive, close down more, and dig in. That means while addressing the problem, it's important to avoid triggering fear in the audience you seek to open up. Second, rather than responding aggressively through force, find positive ways to affirm diversity that is attractive rather than repulsive. Third, rework cultural narratives. Narratives are the structure of the meaning-making process. Leverage the narratives that exist in a society and use them to gently affirm and encourage an ever-opening mindset. Fourth, accept you are playing a long game, not a short game. Bringing about cultural change doesn't happen quickly. And if it looks like it's happening quickly, that means the likelihood there is opposition that has been marginalized and lost its voice, which is boiling under the surface ignored. Make sure the problem is being addressed openly and honestly in a way that facilitates healing as you go rather than cutting off "the problem" from the conversation.
  8. For what it's worth, several years ago I did a series on my understanding of hell from a progressive-Christian perspective. I have it on my blog in audio format. Here are the links to the blog articles. https://evolvingchristianfaith.net/2014/06/what-the-hell-do-we-do-with-hell-part-1/ https://evolvingchristianfaith.net/2014/06/what-the-hell-do-we-do-with-hell-part-2/ https://evolvingchristianfaith.net/2014/06/what-the-hell-do-we-do-with-hell-part-3/ https://evolvingchristianfaith.net/2014/07/what-the-hell-do-we-do-with-hell-part-4/ (Note: If it is not appropriate to post links to my blog, especially since the audio has a plug for my book in it, please remove this post and let me know.)
  9. Here's some results regarding atheist and spiritual/religious bRaiNzz. Short version of what the data says (in this one, single study): "The more analytical you are, the less you believe in God." "The more empathetic you are, the more you believe in God." His theory, then, is that religion/spirituality promotes empathy. Of course, my big question is this: are we looking at the chicken or the egg here? Could it be that the more empathetic people are drawn more to religion/spirituality? For what it's worth, I don't think it has to be either/or, but rather hast the potential for a self-reinforcing loop.
  10. I like to think of God as being at once... The life-giving Source of Creativity The loving Way of Interpenetration The Abysmally Absolute Other
  11. "A theology where creativity, imagination, and embodiment is centered allows for theology to not be a thing that ends arguments, but rather opens up possibility for more conversation."
  12. I see progressive Christianity as an approach to Christianity that takes seriously developments in the world around us. We don't prioritize tradition over insight. Yet, we don't simply accept new insights without critical thought.
  13. I guess I see the main hook as being the general topic itself: The relationship between the Bible and Science. If someone from a more moderate perspective were to put a website together that was intentionally geared at helping people from a more conservative perspective appreciate science, it would be easy enough. In order for it to work best, I think that teasing blog articles could get attention and lead to signing up for a regular email. That email (which goes to private accounts so people could read in secret) would create a narrative over time designed to empower readers to question their current worldview. Your thoughts on how this could be done?
  14. I think this science vs religion divide is a major problem. But I think that part of the problem is that certain religious communities reject science and therefore delegitimize it as a source of truth...unless they get sick and have to go to the hospital. So, it's nearly impossible to overcome since they are exposed to the narrative from an early age. We see this rejection of science as an issue with how to prevent the spread of COVID and whether to accept vaccinations. I don't think the resistance to science is that unpredictable. After all, if your primary authority is the Bible, and you have been told "if it's not all literally true, then God either doesn't exist or is a liar", anything that contradicts it in any way, by default, is a lie. I think the solution is to ... Promote higher education. The experience of "leaving home" is huge developmentally when it comes to shedding old authoritative narratives. Create online transitional spaces. Not everyone can go to college. Online services are nearly universally available. I think most people are curious and want to know more about what's outside their bubbles, but they don't want peers who can pressure them to know. Online, they can learn new ways to approach religion and science. I suspect that one of the reasons that people leave Christianity and embrace atheism (this is an assessment, not a judgement) is because of the rigidity of the either-or worldview. Either you believe in God or you don't. Their former community of faith didn't have the mechanisms to help people to grow in a healthy way from literalism to metaphorical thinking and openness to alternative truths.
  15. Merry Christmas, everyone!
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