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John Hunt

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John Hunt last won the day on April 15

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  • Birthday February 24

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  1. Ps: I understand that the scholarly consensus is that John's gospel is the least likely to contain words that Jesus actually spoke. And the bulk of Christian scholarship, in trying to work out the exact meaning of the Greek text in the Gospels (both Paul and the gospel writers, generations later, wrote in Greek), is chasing the wrong camel, as he spoke in Aramaic. It’s a language that depends on inflection rather than a root grammatical system like Greek. “Body” and “spirit” can be the same thing, depending on emphasis. “Father” is not about gender, need not even be parenthood, but could imply universal creation. Even the Greek is often uncertain – “eternal” for instance doesn’t necessarily refer to time, it could just indicate a supreme quality. “Eternal Life” could mean “Abundant Life.”
  2. i guess we've been sacrificing to placate fearsome gods since we came down from the trees - this just happens to be the biggest sacrifice we've been able to think of. Unless we committed mass suicide.
  3. Hi Fuzzy Sums me up exactly!
  4. Particularly as the Bible itself is a bitterly-disputed selection of books out of many others over a thousand year period by flawed people (and different Churches still have different Bibles).
  5. agree, though think it's also done the opposite. And historically-speaking, for most Christians, the Bible hasn’t been all that significant. For the first few centuries AD it didn’t even exist, as such. For a millennia after that it was only available in Latin, which most people (including priests) couldn’t read, even if they were literate (which most weren’t). It was rituals, the sacraments, that were important on a daily basis. It was very much in the interests of the Church to interpret and mediate the Bible. The clergy walked in lockstep with the kings, who ruled by divine right, and in tandem they controlled the bulk of the wealth and the minds of the people. So the Bible, for them, was a problem. It’s a subversive book. Kings are overthrown, the Prophets call for justice, Jesus preaches on the evils of wealth, forgiving your enemy and turning the other cheek. Today, Christians are at the other extreme. As a whole, the Church Fathers tended to interpret scripture allegorically rather than literally. In the eighteenth century came the Enlightenment – the general idea that we could use reason to understand what’s going on, and determine our values and objectives, rather than accept divinely-ordained truth as authoritative in every aspect of our lives, whether that was administered through kings or the church. Critical analysis of the Bible began. Deists like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were key figures in founding the USA (Jefferson even produced his own version of the gospels, removing miracles, the supernatural and the Resurrection). The Great Awakenings of the eighteenth century were in part a reaction against these trends, taking the Bible as word-for-word inspired by God. Out of the Revivals, in one of the most regressive developments in Christianity, in the nineteenth century Charles Hodge, Robert Dabney and James Thornwell founded modern evangelicalism and the fantastical doctrine of biblical inerrancy. In part, to justify slavery, which they saw the Bible supporting as “some of the plainest declarations of the Word of God” (Presbyterian General Assembly Report 1845) – in which, of course, they were right. So now millions of people invest a lot of time “studying” the Bible, individually or in groups, as if it were a single, coherent, divinely-given text. Ritual and the sacraments are now incidental to most non-Catholics, the Bible is central. The trouble is, in each decade our knowledge about the Bible itself increases, as does our understanding of all the relevant areas of history, archaeology, cosmology, phenomenology, neurology and so on. Today, taking the Bible literally just makes it difficult for rational people with even a minimal education to take Christianity seriously. It’s the literary equivalent of believing the earth is flat. Best to start off reading the Bible in terms of legend and allegory, myth and legend, hagiography and poetry, memoir and fiction, like many Christians did in the first few centuries. Then you can be pleasantly surprised when it sometimes aligns with history.
  6. To come clean, the company I work with publishes some books that say otherwise (along with a load of gibberish, sure). One guy we publish for instance is Bernardo Kastrup- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bernardo-Kastrup/e/B004OFGCA4?ref_=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000 https://www.essentiafoundation.org/about/ He's a lot brighter than I am. I dunno. I try to figure out what I think by putting words down on a page, to see how they look. Talk to other people, see what they think. Sometimes even end up publishing the damn stuff.
  7. I'm not wholly convinced by the "it all ends when we die" scenario - the question of whether consciousness is entirely dependent on brain activity I think is to some extent at least open. Equally, I wouldn't bet on it, either way. The traditional Christian picture of heaven and hell doesn’t work any longer, and we haven’t found anything else to replace it. We don’t even ask the question any more. We’re afraid to ask it; we’ll hopefully be remembered, sure, by family and friends, but we know there is not going to be a shrine, or a tomb, where we’re spoken to, prayed for, as still happens in many parts of the world. The dead, for us, are in the past, not the present. Our roots are shallow. And it’s tough to find a meaning and purpose in life, to deepen your roots, if it all ends when you die. We’ve lost our connection with the natural world, with our ancestors, with the sense of life as a rolling stream which continues to include us all, past, present and future. Ironically, as science starts to suggest that reality is there in so far as it’s observed, we’ve lost the sense that life is there in so far as it’s witnessed; that our life is real in so far as it’s real to others, in the relationships we had and can continue to experience. ‘I’ simply won’t exist anymore, other than maybe in people’s memories." - The universe is inhumanly vast, probably amoral, indifferent, and the only meaning in it is one we create for ourselves. And that probably is the best we can do. Which, actually, is why I'm quite attracted to older religions, like ones that honor the ancestors. Our memories are what we're left with, and pass on. Our sense of responsibility to them (and to future generations) is a better moral guide than believing in various vagrant gods. I think that in order to live, rather than killing ourselves, we need to find some kind of meaning/purpose in life. I think, as far as Christianity goes, the teaching of Jesus on the kingdom of God here on earth now (in so far as it's possible to know anything about what he said or whether he lived etc...) is the best there is. The Church turned all th\t upside down, inside out, and I think Christianity today is the worst of the major religions, epitomized by voting patterns in the USA. But there's still something there in the idea of the kingdom of God on earth, now, to be worked for, that is something I could commit to. But, hey, as soon as I think I'm being too much of a burden, can't look after myself, figure I'm going to lose my memory, would want the option of suicide before that actually happens, whilst I'm still aware enough to do it. The idea of being a vegetable, in a care home or on life support or whatever - that nullifies everything good that's happened to me in my life so far.
  8. I think that sums it up. Prayer works, across all traditions. I think of life crudely like a soap bubble. It materializes out of space-time foam and floats free, like a feather on the breath of God. For a fleeting second, threads of biology, history, culture are knitted together by personality. We have this microscopic moment to enjoy, and through a few simple actions hope to leave the world a fraction better than we found it. The actions are hopefully defined by love, which represents the fullest form of self-awareness that we know of. Developing this is cultivating a state of mind we call prayer. As the sacred scriptures of Zoroastrianism say, the world's oldest major religious tradition (in the sense of being "organized", in terms of beliefs and structures, so distinct from paganism, shamanism etc): Prayer is the greatest of all spells, the best healing of all remedies. Zend Advesta I guess prayer is neither an offshoot into fantasy, nor a conversation with a God out there in our own image, but is perhaps the most basic way of thinking, an internal dialogue between the two hemispheres of the brain. The right half is artistic/creative, the left more academic/logical. Both are needed to create our picture of reality. We dialogue between the two, between the God we might believe has helped bring us into being, and can help us achieve the impossible, and the knowledge that we’re just basically chimps who’ve bootstrapped themselves up out of their comfort zone. We go back and forth between the two halves to find the best course of action, questioning who we are, and where we’re going. Seeking guidance from our better self. Sitting in silence, paying attention to our thoughts, we can see them generating our feelings, our emotions. These are not physically real, they don’t “exist,” but they create our reality, they prompt our actions. They put us in touch with the creative life force behind us, behind everything. Hey, I’m hopeless at this, we all struggle with it, but it’s what being human is about. We’re messed up, confused animals, trying to get to the next step. Sometimes we even prefer our pets to other people. They don’t have our kind of problems. Mind you, it doesn't work for me....when many decades ago I lost the sense of being able to talk to God directly (or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, in my wilder moments, could never actually figure out which one it was meant to be), I lost something which I've never got back. I envy my relatives who do pray, know who they're praying to, and believe their prayers will be answered. But there's a quote from Eckhart - “Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go.”
  9. Got the email notification for this, thanks....
  10. Thanks Paul, sorry to be so dumb. John
  11. By that, Paul, you mean a notification on the site? I haven't had an email notification from the site, prompting me to look at something....just wondered if that kind of thing was possible. Without, it's something I just don't remember to do (looking at the site to see what's come in, and if there's anything specific to me).
  12. Interesting, pretty basic stuff. It's easy enough to say "different sources, different perspectives," which rather begs the question of why we should think either source/perspective is actually talking about something vaguely historical. You can find numerous contradictions in the story of Noah's Ark, for instance (two pairs of animals in one instance, 7 clean and 1 unclean in another; the 40 days or 150, etc..). And no doubt you can explain why there are two versions of the story there. But it doesn't alter the fact that a worldwide extinction-level flood within the last few thousand years is a complete impossibility.
  13. This looks like an old thread, and without some notification that there's an answer up here it seems very unlikely that the person concerned is going to see it. Is there some way of getting a notification system up here when a response comes in?
  14. Great letters. I'm not sure I've got the hang of the site yet (incompetent in all this stuff). Is there a way of getting an email when a reply has been made to a topic you've logged into? Out of interest - anyone come across the Essentia Foundation? I think it's just been set up. Seem to be some serious people there, talking not from a religious perspective, but a "mind before matter" one.
  15. Still is. Ironic how it parallels history. All we need now is for the Americans to buy Greenland, invade Mexico....
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