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NORM last won the day on October 21 2016

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About NORM

  • Birthday 02/25/1959

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    Religion, politics, drama, good friends and good times. Living life to the fullest.

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  1. To me, the character of Jesus (real or not) is as an advocate for the defenseless, hope for the downtrodden, and champion of lost causes.
  2. One of the first things to strike me as I transitioned from evangelical Christian to Jewish is how unremarkable Jesus' Jewishness is. I was prepared to look down on Jesus, but ended up having a lot more respect for him, as a Jewish man, than I ever had as a confessional Christian. Confessional Christianity, I think, has been so remiss in understanding how much Jesus' message was intended for a Jewish audience, that key elements of his message - or, rather, the message attributed to the character of Jesus, if you like - are lost on the evangelical mind. Whether or not you believe Jesus was an actual person is irrelevant to the pedagogical message of the gospel accounts, I think. From my perspective, the writers of these books were attempting to paint Jesus with the credentials of Moses, David and Elijah (Bishop Spong has done an excellent job illustrating this in several of his books - especially, Liberating the Gospels - Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes). In so doing, they can advance newer theological improvisations based on the person of Jesus as mystic, reformer and candidate for Moshiach (the Jewish version, not the Christian). When you spend a few years going through the Jewish Festivals in order, as I have done, it is very plain to see how the stories in the gospels line up - particularly when you place them in their proper order (again, refer to Spong). I say all this to illustrate a point that has been made many times on this forum; we glean what we can from the religious totems and writings. From a Jewish perspective, the gospel stories describe Jesus as the new Moses, set to liberate his people from the scourge of Roman occupation. The destruction of the Temple put a damper on those plans, so the newly emerging Jewish followers of Jesus fizzled out, and the first evolution of a Reformed Judaism died before it began in earnest. The next generation of followers of Paul, embracing the populist philosophy of Hellenism, grabbed the gospel stories for their own, gradually purging all sense of Jewishness from them. So, now we have an opportunity to forge a new understanding, while clinging to the comforts of the traditions built over the centuries around all of these ancient religions. Inclusiveness seems to be one such innovation. NORM
  3. Interesting perspective. I suppose if every Christian who doubted the veracity of most of the supernatural parts of the theology weren't allowed to use the copyrighted symbol, their populations would be fewer than my Jewish brethren! Ha ha. Frankly, calling oneself a Christian these days in America isn't exactly the bon mot it once was, what with all the hijacking by the AltRight. Personally, when asked my religion, I usually say "evolving." NORM
  4. Ok, I finally was able to read the entire thread! First, Bill, I am very, very sorry to hear of the loss of your granddaughter in such a tragic, and unexpected way. No granparent - or, even parent, for that matter - should outlive their grandchildren. No mere words of sympathy will ever repair the scars of their passing. Secondly, let me preface my comments by letting you know where I'm coming from, for those who don't remember me from a couple of years ago on this forum. I do not think that the Bible is anything other than a collection of writings by men beginning in about the 7th or 8th centuries, BCE. I do not think it is divinely inpired, or a direct communication from any deity or other supernatural being. It can be at times frustratingly fractured and incomprehensible, and at other times profoundly prescient in its understanding of the human condition. I've read the Bible through in its entirety probably 15 or 16 times. Not of my own free will, I should add. My parents were Baptists, and insisted on reading the Bible through every year as long as we were living under their roof. In fact, I learned to read from the King James Version of the Bible. My first grade teacher, on the first day of school, asked each of us to say aloud the longest word we knew. Mine was "circumscision." And, I knew what it meant. I think that the idea of G-d is contained within our beings (mind - consciousness), and explains why we describe the deity (any deity, really) in largely anthropomorphic terms. It also explains why, when you put the Tanakh in historical order, it reveals an evolution in the concept of who or what G-d is. In earlier writings, G-d is distant, wrathful and "jealous" - quick to anger, and unforgiving in judgment and punishment. Then, you see this deity begin to "repent" and "change his mind." Finally, in post Babylon captivity, you have the G-d of Israel pouring out blessings and almost human-like empathy for the poor and downtrodden. This sets the stage for the first century reformers like Jesus, the Galilean peasant-preacher-prophet-king. In my way of thinking, this provides great freedom to, in biblical terms, make mankind "Lord of the Sabbath" rather than the other way around. This is what, I think, Jesus was really trying to say: religion is yours to use as you see fit. If you imagine a deity that loves us all equally, and values each of us without judgment, then we can bestow the same blessings on our fellow human beings. "People want me to do everything for them. What they don't realize is that they have the power. You want to see a miracle? Be the miracle," the god-figure who looks an awful lot like Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty says. We have within us all the power of the universe. We have the power to embrace you in your grief, and be the miracle of healing to help you get through your pain at the loss of your granddaughter. In one of my adopted faith traditions, Judaism, when one of us loses a family member, we sit Shiva. People bake bread for you, and cook meals for you, and come over and tell you funny, sad and inspiring stories about your loved one. You are overwhelmed with the feeling that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in your grief. I wish folks in the Christian tradition would adopt this practice (there is something similar in Islam). NORM
  5. Interestingly, I simply rewrote the actual Hippocratic Oath that physicians take, adapting it to the "practice" of religion. It, too, focuses on actions rather than ideals. NORM
  6. Thanks, Bill. I am reading through your Sovereignty thread - wow, some powerful stuff in there. I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. I have some definite thoughts on the subject, but I want to read through all the comments first. I wrote Hippocratic Oath partly in response to some of what is happening in this most uncivil election process, and some of the really crass ways that religion - particularly evangelical Christian - is pouring gasoline on the fire. I have about a dozen more chapters to write in my next book, so hopefully, I'll be back in spades here. NORM
  7. I think that Jesus is a character in the story of life for a practicing Jewish man of the First Century CE, and has been imbued with elements of some type of radical reformation of the religious life of the times. If I call myself a "follower" of Jesus, then, I would expect to do the same thing within my culture and time - keeping in mind, of course, that the bulk of the story is fiction. NORM
  8. It's been awhile since I've posted in here, and with Bishop Spong recovering, I found myself perusing the PC website, and I recall how beneficial (and safe) I found this discussion forum as I was sorting through some things in my life. I write a blog, and have written two books, so I've been a little busy. I thought my most recent article might find some interest here. I'll post the link to my blog so you can check out some of my other articles. Here is my article. Let me know what you think. Hippocratic Oath for the Religious Religious practitioners of various types tout their religious views as the cure for the common man. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism and others all proscribe actions, teachings, incantations, confessions and remedies for making us better human beings, or simply providing a get out of h-e-double-toothpicks free card. Christians, for example, embrace the concept of Original Sin, Church Father St. Augustine of Hippo first popularized in 397-400 CE in a book entitled Confessions. It is a treatise dripping with descriptions of sinful, nasty thoughts (mostly of a sexual nature), deeds and contemplations that Augustine reasoned angered a “vengeful,” but forgiving, God. The traditional, Abrahamic religions of Islam and Judaism require appeasing a “jealous” god, and heap mighty burdens of guilt on their faithful subjects. All forms of prostrating, denying pleasures, obeying commands and sacrificing are required to keep their impetuous deity at bay. The Eastern religions bypass the guilt trip in favor of impossible goals of self-restraint and discipline as the price of admission to heavenly pleasures and oneness with his/her Holinesses. Those achieving the highest levels obnoxiously lord it over the rest of humanity. Of course, those who adhere to their deity’s demands religiously are rewarded with Brownie Points by the Almighty that enable them to treat the rest of humanity with scorn, vitriol and, in some cases, violent punishment, retribution and even death (in the name of _____________). This has caused a world of suffering for the poor slobs who either refuse to, or simply cannot believe, convert, genuflect, grovel or who willfully ignore the preaching and instruction of their gods’ words, predictions, proclamations, condemnations or commandments. Even more violence and condemnation are meted out to those who act in ways that diverge from the holy proscriptions divined from the heavens or written in THE BOOK. Homosexuals, for example, are the favorite target of almost every patriarchal, ecclesiastical group on the planet. It took mankind well into the second millennium of the Common Era before he realized that the holy words and proclamations of all the gods were just collected tales and moralistic stories written by lonely scribes who contemplated the wonders of the universe, and were looking for raison d'êtres. Later generations considered these contemplations, and turned them into dogma. Much, much later, these dogmas became doctrine, and religion was born. But by then, it was too late, because entire INSTITUTIONS were built around the deities – most particularly around the BIG THREE. The Revolutionaries of 18th century France and America sought to relinquish themselves from the bond of religious dogma that dominated and restricted enlightened citizens. They forged secular societies that relegated religion to the privacy of individual confessions, while maintaining their traditions and philosophies, but took them out of the public square. Secularization brought an end to the Holy Wars of previous generations. Every now and then, these old dogmas resurrect to condemn human behavior that doesn’t conform to the ways of old, or when encountering “The Others” who are different from “Those Whom the Deity Loves.” Worse, “reformers” determine that we must get back to the purity of the original ways, thus obliterating thousands of years of progress. The abuse of religion is its most heinous when it seeks to demonize those who are outside of the chosen faith. Radical fundamentalism is a dangerous and toxic brew that threatens the social order. Toward that end, I propose the following Hippocratic Oath for Religious Practitioners: I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: ... I will respect the hard-won scientific and cultural gains of our common society, and I will subsume such knowledge into my religious beliefs, and adjust my dogmas accordingly. I will apply, for the benefit of humanity, all measures which are required to live happily among mankind, avoiding those twin traps of fundamentalism and dogmatism. I will remember that there is art to religion, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the preacher’s wrath or the zealot’s fervor. I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call on the collected wisdom of humanity and other faith-groups when the tenets of my own are wanting. I will respect the privacy of my neighbors, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God. I will remember that when I offer counsel, I do not counsel a demon possessed, or moral inferior, but a suffering human being, whose illness or issue may affect the person's family and his or her personal stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for those within and outside of my faith. I will prevent ignorance whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure. I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body, as well as the infirm. If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life, love of family and friends, and my faith; respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act to preserve the finest traditions of my religion and may I long experience the joy of helping those who seek my help without judgment or condemnation. Here's a link to my blog: http://blog.philipleiter.com/ NORM
  9. Hello Starr15, I think you are correct in your assumptions as to the origins of the propitiation and atonement stories. It is rooted in humanity's barbaric past. I would recommend reading a book called Constantine's Sword by James Carroll. I read it at exactly the same point in my spiritual journey as you seem to entering. I recall that it at first made me quite angry, and then after looking up some of the bibliographical references, provided a LOT of clarity. NORM
  10. Yes, both the Amish and Native Americans name and "bless" the animals they use for food and clothing. NORM
  11. I think Hobby Lobby was duped into this course of action by clever tricksters. Just a hunch. They seem like nice people. NORM
  12. I don't think it is possible for it NOT to have been tampered with. Human nature and all... NORM
  13. No, it becomes a horticultural engineer. NORM
  14. It's pretty clear to me that this case was and is not really about women's birth control rights. When one reads the Majority opinion (particularly Alito and Thomas), you can plainly see that the Affordable Care Act is the real target. The hypocrisy I see is not between Hobby Lobby's religious views on abortion (there is nothing about the birth control in question that "causes abortions" - even the so-called morning after pill does not abort a fetus, it merely prevents ###### from completing its job in the uterus) and its investment strategy (the analysis of 401k structure is informative - Hobby Lobby probably has no clue, nor much control over what companies are invested in). The hypocrisy I see is a self-proclaimed Christian company who wishes to thwart our nation from making universal health care available to "the least of those" among us. I have read that Jay Sekulow, of American Center for Law and Justice, convinced Hobby Lobby to pursue this case in order to provide a new challenge to ACA. NORM
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