Monday, December 20, 2010

So This is the Begat

Every time I watch or listen to Alan Watts speak on reality I feel completely and utterly unraveled afterwards. I can never get enough of Alan Watts, or I should say I can never get enough of The Begotten.

My favorite quote: "Life is a bridge, pass over it but build no house upon it." Although I'm unsure about the source of the quote it has been attributed to Jesus (Isa), son of Mary on the Victory Gate at the Fathepur Sikri Mosque in India. It bears some similarity to the Christian relationship of being in the world but not of the world. The difference being that mainstream Christians are waiting for a glorious Hereafter whereas the Eastern concept brought up by Alan Watts is of experiencing the infinite Now without trying to hold onto it.Everything is constantly moving, changing, evolving so don't cling to it. This is why I'm constantly being drawn to the book of Ecclesiastes, which describes the impermanence of Reality as vapor. You can't grab a hold of it and keep it in place, so why try? Breathe in reality, live in harmony with its flow, be IN the world but not OF the world. Am I the only one who goes coco nuts over this? The constant flowing, reshaping, and overwhelming abundance of creativity of Reality/Life itself draws me in like moth to flame. I ramble on and on trying to come up with words to describe the experience of awe when realizing the immensity of  ____ until I realize both the futility and creativity of Naming the Unnameable.

Enjoy the dance of life but don't lean on it. Breathe it in but don't hold your breath.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why I love the South

99% of the time I leave my phone off while driving, but after seeing this I couldn't help but take a picture.

This is why I love living in the South. There's nothing like a dose of good ole' evangelism to start your day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

When Did You Choose to be Straight?

If you don't already follow Unreasonable Faith, then you're missing out. I love watching gems like these. Thanks to Daniel Florien at Unreasonable Faith for sharing this street interview video on choosing your sexual orientation.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are Christians the New Persecuted?

Nope, at least not here in the West. Christians in the West are just beginning to realize that as the world becomes more globally interconnected the walls which used to keep The Others out are dissolving. They are our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and relatives. We have to share this planet and tribalism no longer works.

"Christians are entitled to hold their cherished beliefs, but they are not entitled to impose those beliefs on the rest of us and certainly not entitled to seek to make their beliefs the law of the land!"

Actually you can replace Christian from the quote and insert any religious identity and the quote will still work. For example:

"Muslims are entitled to hold their cherished beliefs, but they are not entitled to impose those beliefs on the rest of us and certainly not entitled to seek to make their beliefs the law of the land!"

 Sound familiar? (Here's a hint.) Moving more towards a secular society doesn't mean that the citizens will lack values and morals, but it allows room for a multi-cultural society to prosper. We are rapidly becoming more and more interconnected with our global neighbors. If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest country in the world. Facebook! We don't live in comfy little bubbles of ignorance anymore which means if we want to live peacefully with our neighbors we've got to interact with them. Or we could go round and round making ignorant statements about each other stating how persecuted we've become. Christians in the West are far from being persecuted. (Squabbles over billboards and textbooks don't count as persecution. Sorry.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why I Can't Believe in Your God: Part 5- Final Thoughts

Believe me, I have nothing against the traditional theistic view of God. It just doesn't work for me anymore. It doesn't speak to me on an rational, emotional, and spiritual level. I've tried believing and I've tried wei wu wei (effortless doing), believing without trying to believe. Nothing. So what then? Am I forever doomed because I can't seem to connect with the god of the Bible, the Torah, or even the Qur'an? None of it resonates with me, but what does resonate with me is the spirituality of brokenness, of simply being human. I'm not talking about nature worship nor do I believe in supernatural healing energies, that all comes across as mumbo jumbo to me. What resonates with me is reality itself, not a hereafter devoid of pain and suffering but the here and now. I draw connectedness and meaning from my spirituality as an evangelical would from their religious beliefs. There's no need to feel disappointed for me because I don't "get it". The It I seek is behind and beyond the it we've created.
The reason why I can't believe in your god, in an orthodox set of religious beliefs, because it keeps me from experiencing the big picture. Religion that asks it's practitioners to be a better [insert believer here] will only move towards being what their religion asks of them. I've realized that any singular religion is but a limited expression, a singular experience, of the whole. It is part of the whole but not the whole Itself. But rejecting my submission to a singular religious identity doesn't mean that I reject the "values" within the religious systems. These same values exist across all, and outside of, religion because they are HUMAN values. So when I say I value honesty, mercy, compassion, humility, love, etc. these are not exclusive to any one faith (i.e. Christianity). THIS is what blew me off my Christian high horse when I started reading the Qur'an. Each of the faiths spiral towards their holy center without realizing that the center is the same as the edge! This is not to say that all religions are right or even worship the same god. I used to say this until I realized this only trivialized their unique experiences of Reality. What I mean to say is that regardless how strange our beliefs may seem to one another we still share in the Human experience. At any point, scratch that, at EVERY point in the spiral we are still human. I believe that any beliefs/ideas which strips us of our humanity and our basic human rights should be left in the past to rot with our ancestors.

Spirituality, however, spirals outward from the center (Ourselves) towards everything and everyone else with a sense of openness and connection to all life. Our sense of connection starts with our sense of self. Who are we? What makes up our identity and where are the borders? What do we believe? Why do we believe "X"? The difference between spirituality and religion I believe is the guts to question the world and narratives around us. Religion has an established narrative, a set lens through which you see and interact with the world. There's nothing wrong with narrative, if your religion is truly making you a better X then full steam ahead. I can't contain myself to just one narrative because I resonate with so many of them. But the reason is because I resonate with the human experience that the narrative represents, not the narrative itself.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Water Cooler Evangelism

I recently started at a new job a few weeks ago and I've been anxiously hoping to join in a water cooler discussion on religion and spirituality. I would start the discussion myself but I'm sure I would quickly alienate quite a few people before I finish my first thought. Anyway, I prefer listening to others discuss religion and spirituality than listen to myself rant (that's what this site is for). Here are a couple videos on water cooler evangelism, the first one made by yours truly.

Of course my video isn't as funny as this next one, I did however find the commentary intriguing. Why are people so reluctant to talk about their faith? Is it because the majority of believers weave emotion and identity with their faith?

Maybe there's so much pressure on Christians to proclaim the gospel that they rather not try unless they know they can secure a WIN for Jesus. Most unbelievers will hear you out but rather not be sold on anything. Sharing personal stories and experiences for the sake of sharing goes much farther than out right evangelism. Because in the end you can evangelize till your blue in the face (or martyred in a foreign country) the choice is still up to the end user. That's right, I said end user. The more people wear religion on their sleeve and treat it as a "life-changing" product the more people will see it as just that, another product. But be forewarned, if you don't meet your conversion quota the Evangelism Linebacker will get you!