Tag Archives: dogma

God’s Will???

I know it has been a while since either of us has written here, but admittedly it is sometimes difficult to come up with ideas to write about there. And since I am the one who thought that on a subject as broad as spirituality, it would be easy….I was wrong. In spite of that, sometimes an idea just falls in your lap, like this one…

I have a friend who emails quotes to me from time to time. Most of the time I think they are cute, smile, and hit the delete key. Today’s email kind of slapped me in the face, and said get busy (not really, I am not crazy, emails do not talk unless they have a video or animation embedded and then it is only sometimes).  So, thank you my friend, those quotes not only work personally, but professionally as well.

“To profess to be doing God’s will is aform of megalomania.”     -Joseph Prescott, aphorist (1913-2001)

While I have never really thought of it in these terms, I have to admit that Mr. Prescott was on to something. Who are we to think that God talks to us and needs something from us? The very idea of carrying out God’s will suggests that either God needs us to do something for him. God is supposed to be all powerful, all knowing, all encompassing….so if that is true, what could he possibly want from his creations? Honestly, I can’t think of one stinking thing, but I can think of several that I want from him.

OK, now that we have established that God does not need a thing from us, let’s go back to the fact that God may or may not talk to us. In most cases in modern society, if one of us starts talking about God talking to us, the rest of society labels them as crazy. Then we lock them up, medicate them, and send them to a therapist to look at ink blots, talk about their parents, and try to judge just how connected to reality they are. And in most cases, I am going to say that yes, this is the right course of action, and hopefully helps that person live a better life.

Now that we have discovered the practical side of me, let’s look at the completely emotional side. I do believe in a God/dess of some sort or another. My definitions of these things are rather fluid and hard to describe, so let’s just go with the word Deity, which is a nice all encompassing idea. Within my personal beliefs, I do think that Deity talks to us. Not in words, and not really directly, but through nature and each other. The rainbow that sometimes appears after a storm, that is to remind us that we are usually better and stronger after we have survived a struggle. Sometimes a friend stops by and says just the right thing to make us feel better, understand something that was confusing us, or just shows us that someone cares. So, in a way Deity does talk to us and care for us.

There are religions, like our friends at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who recently visited us and believe that God is speaking with their leaders regularly and giving them new commandments and revelations for them to follow. I do not agree with them, but will never deny their right to practice their beliefs either. Why would God choose to speak with them and not other religious branches who are just as dedicated to following the word of the Bible as they are? If God created all of us, why would he turn his back on any of us?

Many times we hear God the father, which suggests that he is a parent to all of humanity. If one believes what the Bible professes, God is the creator (parent?) of everything. Now I am a parent as well, and I know that no matter what my children did, I would not be able to turn my back on them. Even if one of them committed murder, which is one of the worst crimes we can commit against each other, I would be there for him. I may not stand up and defend his actions, and I would not take responsibility for them either, but I would not turn away from my child. If I knew about it ahead of time, I would do what I could to stop it, but not turn away after the fact.

Now that brings up an interesting idea. If God is a parent type Deity, then would he/she interfere with what we are doing? On the one hand, it is said that all humanity has free will and God will not interfere, but then we have some people saying that they are following the will of this god, that god, or the other god….so who is right? And how do we know what God wants? Every single material that we have that may possibly be divinely inspired has been given to us through human minds, mouths, and hands….therefore it is colored by our own experiences and beliefs, this included. Which means that the information may be right or it may be heretical, depending on the exact views of God. Since he has not made an appearance on Earth since the Garden of Eden (or some other long ago event, time, or place depending on your beliefs), it is not possible to ask him. The original stone tablets with the commandments on them have been lost to time. They were supposed to be written by the hand of God, and might clarify things for us.

Since a direct line to God is not possible, I guess we humans struggle along as we normally would and decide for ourselves if God has an agenda and should we buy into it, or is that agenda some other person’s? In the mean time I think that I will continue trying to be a good person: love my neighbors, my children, my family, and my friends; try to be more patient, since each of us is different; try to be more accepting of things I may not agree with but do not harm me; and basically try not to harm anything in this life…

What are you thoughts, God’s will or Free will?

Aphorisms for Heretics

Aphorisms for Heretics

 

In keeping with the spirit of the ‘Practical heretic’, the following are a few thoughts about religion in general. Some are obvious, some are less so, but all have at least the quality of (hopefully) being thought-provoking. It’s good to think, the exercise is good for the mind. I hope you enjoy them, and I would appreciate reading your own thoughts and comments on any that catch your eye.

1. God is infinite, Humans are finite; no human is equipped to understand the infinite.
2.   No Scripture ever was delivered from Heaven already printed.

3.   Prophets should keep their mouths shut.

4.   All Religions are equally right and equally wrong.

5.   Never trust anyone who tells you to check your brains at the door.

6.   Willful stupidity is common, but that doesn’t make it right.

7.   Never stop thinking.

8.   Never stop learning.

9.   Killing someone over a religious dispute will not change their mind.

10.  ‘If’ and ‘why’ are the two most dangerous words in any language; use them often.

11.  Authority should be questioned often, and the answers checked.

12.  Women have souls.

13.  Men have souls.

14.  Humans have sex. It’s natural. Deal with it intelligently.

15.  Stupid mistakes are regular occurrences; fix them as quickly as possible.

16.  Respect must be earned.

17.  Loyalty must be given intelligently, and withdrawn when necessary.

18.  Ask questions and listen to answers.

19.  Love is the highest good.

20.  When proof is available, ‘faith’ is not needed.

21.  Life is a process, not a result.

22.  Hatred and grudges are a waste of energy. You have better things to do, I hope.

23.  Murder is common, but that doesn’t make it right.

24.  The definition of what constitutes ‘sin’ changes from place to place and in different times.

25. Dogma is for people who have stopped thinking

26. The Infinite includes everything, even the things you don’t like.

27. A true God has no need to be defended by humans.

28. Be practical; the bills must be paid.

29. Be honest, it’s easier.

30. People gravitate to the gods they can handle.

31. ‘God’ has no religion.

32. Tolerance is challenging.

33. Help where you can.

34. Accept help when you need it.

35. You are responsible for the care and feeding of your own soul, no one else’s.

36. Pointing out other people’s faults does not change your own.

37. Happiness is a conscious choice.

38. Accept responsibility.

39. Forgive yourself first.

40. You cannot quantify a deity.

41. There is no mercy in nature, but nothing is wasted, either.

42. Polytheists do not start religious wars.

43. Monotheism is impossible–every person has their own definition of God.

44. The difference between a ‘cult’ and a ‘religion’ is social acceptance.

As thoughts occur to me I may be adding to the list, or you may have suggestions for others. Please let us know what you think? Have a great weekend, folks, and may you find your peace.

Religious vs. Spiritual

I thought that sitting down to write the differences between being religious and being spiritual would be easy, but let me tell you that I was wrong. Dictionary.com defines them as the same thing essentially, but I have issues with that. I do believe that there are plenty of similarities between the two groups, but there are also some vast distinctions between the two.

Religious and spiritual people both deal with an aspect of themselves that not everyone accepts, the spirit within and the connection to God, Deity, Goddess, Great Spirit, and the many, many other names out there that describe some aspect(s) of the infinite. But here is where I see the difference being made. Religious people allow others or an outside influence to define their relationship with what is infinite where as spiritual people tend to study the infinite from more than one angle and accept that there is more than one view of Deity.

This is not to say that all religions are bad or evil, they are not, and have in fact done some positive things for society. Religion was the first science. It was a way that ancient man could explain and control his environment. Granted most of it was not accurate or in some cases even close to what reality is, but it was a start to discovering why things did and do what they do. While science may have developed on its own, it may not be as advanced without the foundation in religion. Religion was the first laws, and in many small tribal societies the religious leader was also the judge of the law of the land since both were intertwined. This does not mean that I support such a system; laws should be secular so they apply to everyone, no matter what religious or spiritual practices they may be involved with.

Getting back to the more spiritual side of things, specific religions really do not matter much. The stories in religions teach the same basics: love one another, be a good neighbor, give to the needy, help out in your community, take care of your home, and take care of your person. So if these are the lessons that we all seem to think that we should learn, what is the purpose of religion? Many times the nitpicking of the small differences between religions seems to lose the more important, albeit more generalized messages of love, peace, and support. Some, not all, religious people have lost sight of that message and are breeding hate and contempt in place of love and peace.

Another point about organized religion is that there is a support system available to help individuals make moral decisions according to the beliefs he or she was brought up with. Spiritual people tend to be disorganized, in that they do not gather in one spot to worship or necessarily have a hard and fast dogma to measure their lives by, but a more general sense of right and wrong. While most of the time the spiritual person may not care that the support of a group is missing, and in fact enjoy it, there are times where support from a like minded spiritual group would be beneficial for guidance if requested or at a minimum, support.

Is there a moral to this story? Sort of. We should all learn, religious, spiritual, atheist, whatever to accept where that person is along their journey. We should accept that that person knows themselves and has chosen the path that is right for them. We should also try to be the best that we can be by loving ourselves, our households, and our neighbors. Be the peace that you would like to see in the world.