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Return Of The Unclean Spirit


MOW
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A couple of months ago we discussed the Assassin Parable in the Gospel of Thomas.

 

I'd like to discuss another parable ,this one from the canonized scriptures . I'm nearly 55 and I've seldom heard the " The return of the unclean spirit" read from the pulpit or discussed in sunday schools. I think its because this parable of Jesus doesn't seem to have a resolution , or a "happy ending" .

 

"When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest: and finding none , he says" I will return to my house from which I came ". And when he comes , he finds it swept and in order.

 

Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself

and they enter and dwell there ; and the last state of that man is worse than the first" ( Luke 11: 24-26 NRSV )

 

I think it has something to do with "Resist not evil" concept but I'm not sure .

 

Any thoughts on this ?

 

MOW

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I'd like to discuss another parable ,this one from the canonized scriptures . I'm nearly 55 and I've seldom heard the " The return of the unclean spirit" read from the pulpit or discussed in sunday schools. I think its because this parable of Jesus  doesn't seem to have a resolution , or a "happy ending" . [...]

 

Any thoughts on this ?

I think the stock interpretation is: be careful casting out demons, lest they come back in greater force when you're not paying attention. Or in depth psychological terms, denying a habit of mind or behavior only pushes it into the subconscious where it can regroup, strategize, and surface stronger than before, or in other forms.

 

I was really struck by the fact that the sayings about the divided house are interleaved with this story in the larger context of Luke 11. The juxtaposition of these two themes suggests to me that a "demon" is not a being that comes from the outside to inhabit a "house," but rather a split-off, suppressed aspect of the "house": in other words, a "house divided against itself." Denying the demon's existence avails nothing; it will always find a way to transform and assert itself. But the trick is that demon thrives on the darkness, on being hidden from the light of consciousness, which is why the name of Jesus is the only thing that can dissolve it.

Edited by FredP
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I found a blog that says something pretty similar to what I was taught in the past, which is - if a person, having repented (cast out a "demon") does not follow thru with that repentance (meaning a change of behavior, surrounding himself with fellow Christians, bolstering his faith, etc ...) will open himself to more troubles in the future (8 "demons" return).

 

The blog says this:

 

The Gospel for MONDAY, October 24, 2005 (James of Jerusalem)

 

Matthew 12:43-50

‘When an unclean spirit goes out of someone it wanders through waterless country looking for a place to rest, and cannot find one. Then it says, “I will return to the home I came from.” But on arrival, finding it unoccupied, swept and tidied, it then goes off and collects seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and set up house there, and so that person ends up worse off than before. That is what will happen to this wicked generation.’ He was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly his mother and his brothers were standing outside and were anxious to have a word with him. [47] But to the man who told him this Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand towards his disciples he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’ – The New Jerusalem Bible

 

Seven Other Spirits

A good start with no follow-through will leave the new Christian worse off than before.

 

A Reflection

This is the same Jesus who, looking down from the cross, said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son,” referring to the disciple standing near her.

 

In the world of metaphor that populates the gospels — the Bible — we cannot clutch at exact meanings, because that exactitude isn’t present. But the meaning is.

 

Jesus isn’t declaring that a moment’s inattention will open the door to a multitude of new demons, any more than He is dismissing his family. He is, rather, illustrating a point; and that point is almost always that our mean earth-bound thoughts are far too constrained to encompass the truth of His words.

 

The clean-swept soul must be opened to the Spirit; the Spirit-filled disciple — all of us — must open up to the world, to be a witness for Jesus of Jesus’ compassion and a stalwart for Jesus’ justice.

 

The very Jewish notion of family must break away for the Chistian notion of Family. Not lineage or blood-relations, but linkage with the Father, and relations made in the Blood.

 

I don't know how true such an interpretation is. I'm enjoying the question and plan to keep googling. :D

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I found an amazing blog (not the one from my last post) that breaks Matthew 12 down, verse by verse. Each verse is a link to a seperate blog page that offeres an alternative translation of the verse, as well as the greek words that have been translated and whether they are correct translations or are perhaps a bit off.

 

Here would be an alternative translation to verses 43-45 of Matthew 12:

 

"When an impure spirit comes out of a man, it goes through worthless positions, seeking a place to stop but gains nothing. Then he realizes, I will return to my family from where I came; and when he arrives, he finds leisure, cleanliness, and order. Then this [bad behavior] will be carried on and invites in many more useless attitudes to govern it: and the resulting condition of that man becomes meaner than his beginning. This is how it is with this over-burdened generation."

 

Here is some of the commentary regarding these verses from the blog. Reading the entire thing (quite short) is worth it imo.

 

When we remember that Christ is simultaneously refering to not one spirit, but three different forms of "evil spirit" at once--the cast-out devils, the evil words and acts that come out of people, and the need people have for "proof"--it is really quite an amazing statement. It is also filled full of misleading translations.

 

Click here for the blog page. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the verses at the right to go to the individuals pages discussing each verse.

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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There was recently a conference concerning exorcism at the Vatican. Wouldn't we have liked to be flies on the wall for that?

 

Several interesting things have been said here concerning a process that may be of central conceptual concern to those of the Judeo- Christian faiths. It is self-evident from what you all have said that this is one of the first-last occurrences that Jesus spoke so mystically about, That this phenomenon actually occurs is of no doubt to me for I am convinced that I have observed it on many occasions. I believe that many others have also, but usually it doesn't register to people in the normal flow of life because most of us have been conditioned to not acknowledge its reality when it occurs since it is of a "supernatural" nature; and, in a logically oriented and science-based world such things are forbidden.

 

But yet there is so much first-hand evidence for its pervasive existence. Physicists are currently actively exploring concepts of multi-dimensionality (realities betond the four dimensions with which we are familiar). Developments in this enterprise may open-up avenues of knowledge that could expose theories regarding possible "hiding places" for the malignant forces in the universe.

 

Jesus and his disciples are thought to be the first coherent group of individuals that possesed the abilities to "cast-out demons". This is one of the central themes of the NT. It is a significant portion of the "good news"that has been passed on from that time. It is one of the traits, if not the most significant one, that set these people apart from all those who had preceeded them in history, and that enabled, at least in part, the founding of a new religion.

 

In another thread, it was observed that under dualistic systems of belief the world and cosmos naturally include malignant and evil forces, and that they may move from place to place at will to work their destructive magic. Demons would be a worldly version of the inclusion of such dualistic and malignant forces in the affairs of people. But eliminating them periodically does not insure stability in civilizations' structures. They have the ability to always return despite our best efforts to cast them out, for they have the mysterious ability to spring out of the darkness and devour humanity's spirit in new and unexpected ways.

 

In the OT there are many laws and proscibed ritualistic practices that Hebrews were directed to follow lest they be led into or fall into practices that would enable uncleanliness to be attached to their lives. "Mikvah" or ritual baths were a feature of early Hebrew temples. And even today, bathing facilities are a feature of Mormon temples. Muslims are obliged to wash their feet before entering holy places. Christians baptize to symbolically wash uncleanliness from the soul.

 

Unclean spirits are thought, in many cultures, to be spirits that dwell in the darkness under the earth and that most conveniently leap into innocent people through their feet. There are several instances in the NT where ritual foot bathing is featured. These have carried forward into present day practices among the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

 

The ancient Chinese practice of binding and shrinking womens' feet may also be related to this concept. Smaller feet would logically promote a diminished opportunity for evil to enter female family members. This is all really just a more westernized and categorized compendium of practices to ward-off soulful malignancies, really not so much removed from more ancient tribal practices that we consider superstitious and heathen in today's cultures that mainly functioned in ways to appease these malignant influences and shield community members from their effects.

 

This all goes to show that things never really can be changed forever in the realities that we have been introduced into. And it is evident that this situation has not appreciably changed from the beginnings of human existence. It has only changed in context.

 

The dualistic nature of reality can never change and will always do damage to G-d's creation on earth. The role of human beliefs have, however allowed us to devise practices to ameliorate or even delay and limit the effects of natural destruction. But it is always there whether we wish it to be or not.

 

flow.... :unsure:

Edited by flowperson
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Thank you Fred, Altheia, and Flow for your comments. I think I agree with Fred that, the "demon" is a suppressed , split off part of the personality. I also agree with Flow that there are other realities that we are unaware of. Dr Scott Peck (GRHS ) in his book" People of the Lie "and a more recent book that I can't remember the title of, decribes his participation in exorcisms.

 

I don't know if you are old enough to remember the movie "Forbidden Planet"

starring Walter Pigeon, and Leslie Nielson. The Krell, an incredibly "advanced" civilization on another planet goes so far in their technology that they make a great machine which allows them to create by mere thought. They all are than destroyed by invisable "monsters frome the Id" , their unclean spirits, which the Krell probably thought they had advanced beyond ,but were still present.

 

One of the most memorable lines from the movie for me is when Dr Morbius(Walter Pigeon) says " My poor Krell , they could have no idea what was destroying them"

 

I thought about that movie as I read this parable again , and also when I read

the exorcism of the Geresene demoniac in the book of Mark .

 

MOW

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What I appreciated about that second blog that I linked is that it lists the original greek words used.

 

The words used for "unclean spirit" in that particular scripture are "akathartos pneuma." Akathartos translates as "foul, uncleansed and morally unclean" and pneuma translates as "blast," "wind," "breath," "the breath of life," and "divine inspiration."

 

The word "daimonion" is the word usually translated as devils or demons. That word is not used in this particular verse.

 

So "when an akathartos pneuma goes out of a man ..." translates in my mind to something like "when the unclean breath of life goes out of a man ..."

 

When that which "animates us" (our inspirations, our breath of life) comes from wickedness, evil, or selfishness, then we can be said to have an "unclean spirit".

 

I asked my husband what he remembers being taught the scripture meant. Basically it was that if we stop commiting "morally unclean" acts (clean and sweep out our "house"), but do not replace what we once were with such things as love, compassion, faith, etc ... then when the "unclean spirit" tries to return (as temptation always does) it will find the house empty, swept, unadorned and ready for occupation. Furthermore, giving into temptation or returning to our previous unloving behaviour often leads an individual to decide "I've 'fallen' and I may as well 'eat, drink and be merry...'" So the "unclean spirit" has returned bringing 7 of its closest friends. :rolleyes:

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I think the whole thing of unclean spirits or demons is a nice little bit of metaphor for some personally taking on or being part of evil. Jesus acted (and had to act) within practices understood at the time. At the time, epilepsy was considered to be demonic possession, now we know it to be electrical discharge from the brain. Several very well known cases of exorcism were cases of mental illness or even Tourette's syndrome. I read of the cases of possession that started the Salem witch trials, some of these are believed to be caused by a rye mold with characteristics similar to some hallucinagenics. Jesus also spat on the earth and used the mud to heal a man of blindness. Why not just heal him instead of making him walk around with that soggy mess on the eyes. My understanding of that behavior was that it was an act clearly understandable in the times and prob. had some folk healing aspects.

 

The idea that there are those still believing in exorcism in 2005 is staggering. IMO, it tells more about the anti-scientific forces in society than about "evil spirits" (often treated in mental institutions by anti-psychotics). If you tell a suggestible person to behave in a certain way they often will. And suggestible people will believe it helps them.

 

Yes, I believe there are parts of reality that we can't/ don't understand and that there are still mysteries in the universe, but I also believe that there are powers of suggestion and so on that explain many of these (but not all) and are not so darn convoluted.

Occam's razor, essentially.

 

--des

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The idea that there are those still believing in exorcism  in 2005 is staggering. IMO, it tells more about the anti-scientific forces in society than about "evil spirits" (often treated in mental institutions by anti-psychotics).

I think there is a difference between the superstitious types of belief in evil spirits as devils, and the metaphysical belief that everything that happens in the universe is intentional, and therefore spiritual, whether benevolent or malignant, in nature. Clearly, both these types of views are in diametric oppositon to the reigning scientific belief that nothing in the universe happens for any reason at all; but these two types of "spiritual" beliefs are as different from each other as night and day, and many people simply reduce them all to superstition out of a fear of being "anti-scientific."

 

If all forms of being and agency in the Cosmos are modes of God's being and agency, however limited, then everything in the universe is a spiritual reality. So, for example, on this view the medieval understanding of body as the outward form of the soul -- recently popularized by Thomas Moore -- would be much closer to the truth than the modern scientific view that spirits or souls (including human ones) are just ancient and naive ways of describing what are essentially nothing more than complex electrochemical processes. Furthermore, on this view there is no inconsistency between speaking of physical and mental illnesses, and speaking of maligant spiritual forces, because the phenomena can analyzed from either perspective, according to the scientific laws appropriate to that level of description, without having to deny the existence of the other perspectives. Scientific naturalism, on the other hand, denies the existence of all other perspectives, and reduces them all to its own limited categories.

 

Anyway, I haven't tried to present an argument here, everyone is free to believe whatever they like about it. I'm just opening up the possibility of a genuine metaphysical spirituality that isn't based on superstition, but is able to coherently account for illness, suggesstion, and great spiritual evil alike.

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Well I think you made some very good points here, Fred. Wished I understood them enough to debate one way or another. :-) One comment I'd make on spiritual malevolence (or whatever) and mental illness-- yes I agree that mental illness (or physical for that matter) is more complex than just some neurons and biochemical processes going on. For one thing we have a human being with all the things that have happened in his/her life, family dynamics, genetics, diet, sleep and exercise, and spiritual experiences. BUT then again I would not want throw mental illness back into the religious domain. I think bad things really do happen to good people. The experiences of some exorcists not withstanding. You might see some sort of conflicts on a Jungian plane being played out, I don't know. But I think most of what you see isn't some demonic realm or alteruniverse or somesuch but plays on the suggestibility of the subject. The subject must believe that there is such a thing and the subject must believe that the exorcist is doing something or this would never "work". If it does "work"--don't think that there is any evidence that you aren't just getting a sideshow.

 

That still doesn't mean there aren't some spiritual forces at work, but I think my experience with Christian Science has made me most skeptical.

 

 

--des

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BUT then again I would not want throw mental illness back into the religious domain.

But see, there is no "religious" domain as opposed to a "scientific" or "medical" domain -- that was the whole point of my codeine-induced attempt at explaining my view of spiritual metaphysics, which is that awareness and agency are part of the very structure of the universe itself. If they're not, then either consciousness is an illusion, and we are nothing more than biochemical machines; or consciousness is an anomaly, and we are aliens in an otherwise completely inert universe. Ironically, most folks who are "into" angels and demons and spirits, tend toward this "anomaly" view, which is both pseudo-spiritual and pseudo-scientific. If Occam's razor is your preferred approach, I find it most coherent to conclude that humans experience consciousness, purpose, intention, etc. simply because these are fundamental structural features of the cosmos itself -- just like scientific lawfulness and predictability and all of that. There's nothing magical about it. If we can accept this conclusion, even tentatively, perhaps we can begin to see more going on in the workings of nature than we previously thought.

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I would have to agree with Fred.

 

Except for the time factor, G-d's universe is everything that happens, all at once, and together; and, we are all a reflection of all that.

 

I believe that some things seem to be magical in their appearance and, perhaps, disappearance simply because we are imperfect and cannot see all that there is to see. But science and technology have been helping us with that and extending our collective reach of understanding for the last 400 years or so.

 

You also write well when you're on drugs!!!

 

flow.... :D

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I'm kind of leaning toward your way of thinking on this des. A couple of months ago I witnessed a man having a grand mal seizure in a restaurant . I had never seen that before( although I have a relative who used to have petite mal seizures).

He shook violently and foamed at the mouth as he was on the floor. We knew enough to move tables and chairs out of the way, time the attack , and call paramedics, who finally came and took to a nearby hospital.

 

Despite our being 21st century Americans this was a frightening experience. Mothers grabbed children and left the restaurant , and others were literally paralyzed.

 

As Bishop Spong has suggested, if this happened 2000 years ago the results for that man would have been decidedly different.

 

 

MOW

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This is EXACTLY why I have this opinion. You see my feelings are not based on some theoretical argument that I might want to carry on. I could argue all I wanted for multidimensioned existence-- sort of find it appealing, gosh darn.

 

But I have epilepsy. Fortunately it is totally controlled by medication. But at one time it was not. I do not have grand mal type seizures but the ignorance and superstition of the populace is pretty amazing. There is also prejudice against people with seizures and various mental illnesses. People are really terrified by all this.

 

It does not help the already terrified populace to get too far beyond scientific theories. With science we have treatment, medications that actually control/stop these things; treatment that is enlightened and maybe in some cases progressive. Without, you have fear and prejudice. So what gets better "results"?

 

Either approach (or both all, don't say one domaine or the other, whatever), may be true. Maybe they all are. But what actually gets you the most humane best results?

 

I was also dxed as having a mental disorder. It was (not) treated by Christian Science. Doesn't work. My sister nicely suggested they were demonic possession. Doesn't work.

At some point I went to the most biochemically oriented doctor is Chicago. That was the most effective. He never asked me about my mother or got into any kind of discussion of anything. He figured out that my seizures were fairly untreated. Bang, one day sick, in about a month well. Just like that. I BELIEVE!!! :-)

 

--des

 

I'm kind of leaning toward your way of thinking on this des. A couple of months ago I witnessed a man having a grand mal seizure in a restaurant . I had never seen that before( although I have a relative who used to have petite mal seizures).

He shook violently and foamed at the mouth as he was on the floor. We knew enough to move tables and chairs out of the way, time the attack , and call paramedics, who finally came and took to a nearby hospital.

 

Despite our being 21st century Americans this was a frightening experience. Mothers grabbed children and left the restaurant , and others were literally paralyzed.

 

As Bishop Spong has suggested, if this happened 2000 years ago the results for that man would have been decidedly different.

 

 

MOW

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Des, we're talking about two completely different things here. You're talking about how to diagnose and treat mental and physical illnesses, and I'm trying to ground the reality of illness, suffering, etc. within a consistent metaphysical framework of good and evil. I'm a philosopher and a theologian, not a doctor. I'm not saying to bring in a priest to cure schizophrenia, anymore than I'd say to bring in a priest to split a neutron.

 

Sorry if I've bred too much misunderstanding about where I'm coming from...

Edited by FredP
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My son, who is now in his 30's fell out of a tree in our front yard when he was five. He started having seizures at the age of eight when he underwent emotional stress as a result of a nasty divorce. He was diagnosed with seizure disorder likely due to both the fall, and the stress. And as you both know seizures are really the brain's way of adjusting its electrical flows because of some sort of out -of-the-ordinary physical and/or organic disturbances. Kind of like electrical short-circuits or transformers blowing out.

 

It's also one of my pet beliefs that being constantly immersed in electromagnetic fields from before birth to death these days may also have something to do with our head and mood disorders. There's got to be some reason for the Amish to believe what they believe. But that all is another squirmingly full can of worms. Besides it all makes lots of money for pharmaceutical companies and I'm a stockholder. But, I digress.

 

You're both right, it comes out of nowhere and it is scary. Luckily a neighbor was a pediatrician and put him on dilantin immediately. He has since grown out of the seizure episodes, no longer medicates for it, and is quite normal.

 

This superstition thing and fear of the unknown could be the root of all evil, if one ignores money, but who can? This goes back to the beginnings of humanity. Shamans would commune with the spirit world in ancient times to help heal community members. And yes, as much as we discover about what we are and who we've been, the more we seem to not know much about our connections with/to each other and our environments and how that all may conspire to baffle and scare the bejesus out of us from time to time. Yes FDR, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

 

I believe that the following article might be apropo' to the discussion at hand. Enjoy!!

 

 

 

The Sexual Evolution of Disease

 

By DAVID P. BARASH

First published: Friday, November 4, 2005

 

In Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," two tramps wait to see if Godot will arrive. Today, in evolution's worldwide theater of the worrisome and real, we're all waiting to see if the bird flu virus will get around to attacking us big time. Godot never showed up; H5N1 just might.

 

On the other hand, if the dreaded bird flu pandemic doesn't appear, it may be due to luck, or the quarantine and slaughter of infected animals, or other public health measures, or sex.

 

There appears to be a curious connection between sex and disease, one that evolutionary biologists have only recently come to appreciate. Biologists have long scratched their collective heads about sex, starting with this conundrum: Sex isn't necessary.

 

Lots of living things reproduce by "parthenogenesis" (the development of unfertilized eggs) or by sending out shoots or buds. Not only does asexual reproduction avoid the hassles of sex, it also gets around a huge genetic drawback: Genes within a sexually reproducing creature enjoy only a 50 percent chance that they will be transmitted to any offspring, whereas asexual reproduction guarantees each gene has a 100 percent certainty of being projected into the future. And projecting genes into the future is what evolution is all about.

 

This 50 percent cost imposed by sexual reproduction had long troubled evolutionary scientists until British biologist William D. Hamilton came up with the idea that sexual reproduction might be a tactic in an evolutionary arms race between hosts and their diseases.

 

First, let's face the fact that there are many more of them (pathogens and parasites) than us (free-living organisms).

 

Pathogens and parasites seek to live at our expense; we seek to thwart them. If we stay genetically the same from one generation to the next, then we are easy targets for "them."

 

Enter sex. By mixing and matching our genes, sexually reproducing creatures bob and weave, creating new genetic combinations, confounding our pathogens and parasites by creating moving targets instead of sitting ducks.

 

Because of their generally short life spans, pathogens can evolve rapidly compared with ourselves; via the diversity-creating mechanism of sex, we level the evolutionary playing field. At least some bacteria, worms and viruses are unable to draw a bead on our descendants.

 

Maybe -- unlike Godot -- a bird flu plague will arrive after all. And if we succeed in dodging the bullet, we might want to offer thanks -- not only to veterinarians, virologists and public health workers -- but also to sex.

 

David P. Barash teaches at the University of Washington.

 

 

 

flow.... ;);)

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For what it's worth I've been thinking of a different interpretation of the parable itself.

 

Jesus often seems to offer contrarian views of how to solve life's problems. Turning the other cheek if struck, giving your coat if someone steals your shirt , going the extra mile etc. I'm intriqued by the notion that the casting out of the demon resulted in the man's condition actually getting worse, i.e. 8 demons instead of one.

 

Sometimes our attempts to fight evil using "common sense" result in

multiplication rather than elimination. This theme is explored in many ancient myths. The Sorcerer's Apprentice tries to destroy the enchanted broom by cutting it in half with an axe and it becomes two. Hercules tries to kill the Hydra by cutting off its head but two heads grow in its place . In the current war on terror it seems the more terrorists you kill the more there are

 

 

MOW

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Damn it Jim, I'm a doctor not a metaphysician. :-)

 

I read a neat thing once, have little idea where, but it talked about how various people would view a broken leg. From a physical view, the fall caused the leg to break. The nutritional view: lack of calcium caused the leg to weaken and that's why it broke. The sociological: The man had an argument with his wife went on the ladder and felt the pressures of work and marriage and lacking concentration fell and broke his leg. The psychological: The man was ambivalent about his various tasks and ended up not watching out what he was doing. The shaman's view: The man was bewitched with evil spirits who caused him to fall off the ladder. etc.

 

Anyway, they all could be right or one or some of them.

 

Fred, I do find some of this a little heavy for me. Gee, this is humbling. Always thought I was smart. ;-)

 

--des

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Damn it Jim, I'm a doctor not a metaphysician. :-)

:lol: That des, she's a clever one.

 

I read a neat thing once, have little idea where, but it talked about how various people would view a broken leg. From a physical view, the fall caused the leg to break. The nutritional view: lack of calcium caused the leg to weaken and that's why it broke. The sociological: The man had an argument with his wife went on the ladder and felt the pressures of work and marriage and lacking concentration fell and broke his leg. The psychological: The man was ambivalent about his various tasks and ended up not watching out what he was doing. The shaman's view: The man was bewitched with evil spirits who caused him to fall off the ladder. etc.

 

Anyway, they all could be right or one or some of them.

That's a helpful way of looking at it. Even the shaman is intuiting something correct, even though he would explain it in a superstitious way. To these views, I would of course add the metaphysical view -- I should say, one metaphysical view -- the world as we experience it exists in a state of ignorance and separation from its true Source, which manifests itself in the limitations, frustrations, and lacks inherent in all the different views of the situation. (It's the metaview of all the other views!)

 

Fred, I do find some of this a little heavy for me. Gee, this is humbling. Always thought I was smart. ;-)

I don't think it's a matter of schmartz, so much as of what you've immersed yourself in. I just happen to have a bizarre obsession with this stuff, so I inflict it on everyone else.

Edited by FredP
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For what it's worth I've been thinking of a different interpretation of the parable itself.

 

[...]

 

Sometimes our attempts to fight evil using "common sense" result in

multiplication rather than elimination. This theme is explored in many ancient myths. The Sorcerer's Apprentice tries to destroy the enchanted broom by cutting it in half with an axe  and it becomes two. Hercules tries to kill the Hydra by cutting off its head but two heads grow in its place . In the current war on terror it seems the more terrorists you kill the more there are 

Excellent observation -- especially the idea that to really eliminate evil from a situation requires a deep understanding of it that goes far beyond "common sense." It makes me think of the Taoist idea of understanding one's enemy well enough to make him essentially defeat himself -- which I take to be one of the many meanings of the Cross.

 

Also, and this ties into my original thoughts on the parable, a deep understanding of one's enemy always involves a deep understanding of oneself -- many times they are one and the same. I think our attempt at eliminating terror has been so miserable precisely because, as a society, we utterly lack this kind of deep, spiritual self-understanding. I'm not saying that terrorists are simply victims of socio-economic injustice and everything is our own fault, or something stupid and reductionistic like that. But on a deeper level, the repression and denial of evil in ourselves does create an inner split that manifests itself as polarization in the global community, and differentiation and self-identification of people into roles of good/us and bad/them. Surface "common sense" ideas about guilt and blame are utterly hopeless to diagnose such realities....

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des, you are smart. Some of us just like using big words to try and convince ourselves that we are too!

 

MOW, I believe that your observation regarding the multiplicity of evils is right on the money. If you will remember Jesus' sayings about when we will enter the kingdom, it's full of contrarian and positive-negative comparisons, such as not being able to tell male from female, top from bottom, last from first, etc.

 

My take is that when we are observing the multiplication of such duplicities (big word alert !!!) we are observing a degree of the unraveling of an ordered natural reality, and the possible onset of chaotic episodes. However, this is not always a bad thing. Not too long ago a man named Cary Mullis, a really far-out hipster, was awarded the Nobel Prize for creating something called the PCR process. It allows for and enables the unlimited copying and replication of genetic material, natural or engineered. This discovery has been used extensively for a decade now to improve our lives in countless ways.

 

Fred, I have maintained for some time now that we are all a reflection of the universe around us. It is hard-wired into what we are, 95% darkness, and 5% light. And you know what evil lurks in the hearts of men/women. If you don't Lamont Cranston does (aka The Shadow).

 

Oh, and the brain is composed of 90-95% glial cells and 5-10% electrical signal transmitting neuronal cells. The electrically conducting cells are uniformly immersed in the glial medium.

 

As with most things such happenings are always a double-edged sword. Deep understandings of such processes have always had the potential to cause limitless destruction or unlimited good. Of such things myths are composed and passed on.

 

flow....

:rolleyes:

Edited by flowperson
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>That's a helpful way of looking at it. Even the shaman is intuiting something correct, even though he would explain it in a superstitious way. To these views, I would of course add the metaphysical view -- I should say, one metaphysical view -- the world as we experience it exists in a state of ignorance and separation from its true Source, which manifests itself in the limitations, frustrations, and lacks inherent in all the different views of the situation. (It's the metaview of all the other views!)

 

I wish I knew where that little thing came from, oh well. Yes. In grad school in a language class we had to tape kids and look at what they said from a Piagetian standpoint. You know this was a Swiss psychologist who analyzed what kids said and saw and how it was different from adults. Anyway, I noticed as I was doing this that there were ranges to animistic thinking, that is that objects have feelings and act in response to things. I clearly knew that the light bulb did not give light "for us", as one of the kids said. But the idea of the sun or moon giving "us" light, though it doesn't jive with my scientific ideas did jive with me on some more emotional/ sensual level. So that's what I wrote the paper on-- how we as adults retain some animistic thinking at some level. And it is more "poetic" isn't it? Which is truth on a very deep level.

 

 

>>Fred, I do find some of this a little heavy for me. Gee, this is humbling. Always thought I was smart. ;-)

 

>I don't think it's a matter of schmartz, so much as of what you've immersed yourself in. I just happen to have a bizarre obsession with this stuff, so I inflict it on everyone else.

 

Well true, I do have to split my time a bit to teach (or attempt). :-)

 

--des

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In grad school in a language class we had to tape kids and look at what they said from a Piagetian standpoint. You know this was a Swiss psychologist who analyzed what kids said and saw and how it was different from adults.

Piaget pioneered the whole notion of "cognitive development." If you liked Piaget, you might enjoy James Fowler's Stages of Faith -- kind of a Piaget-ish approach to faith development, how people view God, meaning, etc. at various levels of understanding. I read it in college, back before I actually got it.

 

;)

 

So that's  what I wrote the paper on-- how we as adults retain some animistic thinking at some level. And it is more "poetic" isn't it? Which is truth on a very deep level.

Well, that's the $1,000,000 question, isn't it! Is the "poetic" sense of somehow belonging to God and to the universe in some way, really "truth on a very deep level," or just a comforting lie that happens to have evolutionary survival value? At last, the question that logic can't answer. You know the answer, but not in your mind.

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In olden days, when Celtic priests (who were also required to be poetic storytellers) wished to tell the ancient stories of the people to them, four of them would bind themselves to a large tree, and were faced to the four principal directions, north, east, south, and west.

 

They would then recite the stories and poetic sagas of the history of the people, sometimes for days on end, until the issues at hand were understood and reconciled to nature and to each other. This might be viewed as an intermediate step from the shaman- oriented form of spiritual communication, into the more abstract forms of priesthood that were initiated and adopted by rulers and their communities in the metal ages.

 

Contrary to contemporary belief, the Celts originated in Germany and Central Europe at about the same time that agriculture became the norm rather than hunting and gathering. Many think that they were native to the British isles, but the Celts' belief system migrated there over the millenia. Since these islands were effectively insulated by water from the waves of barbarian conquerers during the bronze and iron ages, they tended to preserve the poetic traditions in the more remote reaches of the isles such as Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

 

Yes, poetry and song are closer to our origins as humans, and closer to the heartstrings of our souls. Is there any surprise in that?

 

It is also interesting to note that musical structure is evident in the spatial and sequential organization of biological entities such as proteins, amino acids, and DNA. Hmmmm, wonder if that means anything when certain music sends shivers up and down my back with sensual rhythms? Yet another global common thread that ties all humans, and likely other forms of life together at basic levels.

 

flow.... :rolleyes:

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