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Why Do I Open My Mouth


steve
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So I was talking to someone the other day at my new job. I really don’t know this person but he just happened to be sitting next to me and someone just happened to make a comment about God. Of course I had to be sitting next to that guy that always makes a comment back. You know who I’m talking about. He’s the one that makes comments that are really not related or more to the point take what you have said out of context. It should not have surprised me then that what he said about God was very odd to me.

He said, ‘God wouldn’t work here, He would not put up with the way things are run.’

I opened my big mouth and said in response, ‘why do you talk as if God were a person?’ It was at that moment I know the next five to ten minutes were not going to be good.

He replied, ‘because He told me so, and because He walked in the garden of Eden.’

I almost fell off my chair. Do people still think that, I ask myself? And more than that, do they really think that God is talking to them? That blew me away. I know that when I go to mass on Sunday (Anglican) the meeting is full of personal talk about God, but no one really thinks that is so do they? Certainly we are past the point of thinking that God is a being who we can converse with as though God were a taxi driver. Aren’t we?

I guess that I have just not been in touch with some of the more ‘fundamental’ people of our faith lately. I am well aware that they are out there, I just forget that I might meet one of them.

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I live in the Bible Belt, so I have encountered many people that believe the Bible as te completely literal, unchanged, unbiased word of God. In an English class we were talking about the Biblical allusion to Mary Magdalene in Toni Morison's Song Of Solomon and our teacher talked about how several Gospel's were taken out of the Bible by the Catholic Church and combined to make the Apocraphia and there was this girl who was getting so upset because she was so sure the Bible had NEVER been changed. She was so mad, despite the historical evidence that contradicted her. I was shocked, but then I guess if you've been raised to think one way it's rather difficult to think another.

My best friend is Jewish, and she just laughed and told me that the Jews had figured out that the "body of God" wasn't literal a long time ago, "that's what the Talmud is for."

The whole personal talk with God thing that we people do, I think is more of the human need to communicate with our creator, whether or not he has "ears" to hear us. It's the act of communiation that's spiritually important.

I hope that you and your co-worker's differences in opinion won't make work too difficult, I know people with fundamentalist points of view can be (and usually are) quite stubborn!

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oh steve....i really understand.

 

i think sometimes that i have more in common with liberal jews and muslims than i do fundamentalist christians.

 

i have had conversations that have brought me to tears - conversations where i am equally armed with scripture and experience and knowledge -but am just so overwhelmed at the vast expanse of 'the other opinion'.

 

i came to think some time ago that being progressive meant that i would have to respect every voice. i believe that i do my best to do this, and i also know that i often fall short by judging - but i try.

 

you should hear the stories i've got...i'm a yoga teacher and have studied all over north america. trust me, you don't want to be a canadian christian yoga teacher visiting in texas. nor do you want to be a young jewish liberal lawyer dating in vancouver (this being the experience of my best friend recently, some interesting stories worthy of a new thread "experiences of the spiritual dat-er"). between us, my friends and i could be starting our own website ;)

 

it's all tricky stuff, i hope work goes ok for you in light of what happened. i'll be thinking about you, keep us posted :)

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You may be making an assumption that being a progressive Christian means not listening to God. I sense that God does speak to us, but there are a few different ways to think about it :

 

1.) God's like a person, separate from us, lives in heaven, working the giant prayer switchboard in the sky (perhaps your coworker thinks of it this way)

 

2.) Just like in the first scenario, except in order to cut down on the switchboard activity, God picks just a few people to speak to (Jesus, Moses, The Pope, Jerry Falwell, etc.)

 

3.) God doesn't speak directly to people. God leaves signs (beauty of nature, design of the universe, loving people, fortune cookies, etc.)

 

4.) God is both the creator and the manifestion of the universe (all that is, all that isn't); therefore, we are manifestations of God. This means that we all have a divine self that need only be realized. Our divine self is like a drop of water in the ocean. By itself, it is just a single drop, but in the ocean it is the ocean. The divine self is everything that God is, but it lives in a single piece of creation, only our singularity is just an illusion. If you accept this, then it is easy to see how God could speak to a person. The divine self speaks to the ego self. The trick is, learning to quiet the ego self in order hear the divine self.

Edited by fatherman
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Hi, Steve, I sympathise. Like you, I didn't realise that GENUINE literalist fundies still existed until I started posting on the BBC Christian Message Board. it's still my favourite for some wide-ranging knock-about debate and there aren't so manmy hard-line fundies there a now as there used to be, but I can recall some people who really did think God was a listening, deciding , reacting preson who struck dead people who blasphemed agianst him, who saved people from accidents (presumably when he wanted to, not everyone!).

 

The frustrating thing in trying to discuss anything with them is that if you point out a contradiction or ask them anything they can't answer they say 'If you can't accept God Almighty as your Lord then I cannot discuss this with you' or, even worse, 'I must stop this discussion. I feel the Enemy is at work here...'.

 

I think it's well to remember that often they're repeating standard responses from their church. Often you will find a contempt for intelligence or intellect is often displayed.

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4.) God is both the creator and the manifestion of the universe (all that is, all that isn't); therefore, we are manifestations of God. This means that we all have a divine self that need only be realized. Our divine self is like a drop of water in the ocean. By itself, it is just a single drop, but in the ocean it is the ocean.

 

Fatherman, I agree with you. I have always believed that "God's light lives in all his cretures" (from The Secret Garden) and that all creations carry the finger prints of God. Once people realize this, they can see the harmony in all living things - something some fundamentalists are blind too.

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It must either be something about where I live or something about me... but the thing that ALWAYS ends up getting argued about is the whole apocalyptic "end of the world" hysteria. I always end up in arguments with people who think that everything that happens is a sign that they and their friends are getting raptured in a few weeks. I must have "critic" stamped on my forehead or something because it seems as though people always start the conversation with me as if they already knew that for me eschatology was de-mythologised a long time ago. Strangly enough, I almost think that "fundies" these days are more concerned with whether or not you are ready to be raptured than whether or not you follow Jesus. Then it always happens, I end up in so many words letting on that I believe that the entire futuristic/ "end of the world" scheme was invented by the early Church, projected back onto Jesus and then abandoned it when the literal "end" and "second coming" failed to happen as they expected. In other words, I don't really believe any of it...

 

Though it never ceases to amaze me just how cruel people can be with people who don't believe what they believe.

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I think you're quite right about the origin, and istory, of the 'end of the world' scenario, pacigoth.

 

I think it crops up so much wioth fundamentalists nowadays (Revelation, etc.) because it's a vivid image for persuading pweooe to take the Bibel literally. Once they get you to do that, everything in the Bible is literaly and historically true, Noah, Jonah, etc. and you can't use any modern theology. Neat!

 

It is also terribly anti-intellectuial. It samacks of 'we may not be able to read theology books but we've got something you haven't; nyaaah!

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