And to be fair, my life has been more than interesting of late, what with car troubles, illness, temporary census jobs...so much so that when I sit at my puter at night, the last thing I want to do is try and be informative on my blog. You guys deserve, at the very least, coherent sentences. ;)
So I had quite the conversation happen after my last post (I have some awesome friends). A few questions were asked, and I thought I'd put them together here instead of trying to put them in the comments.
"Maybe I'm overstepping here, but I couldn't quite grasp what you feel about this statement you have made about deity being beyond our experience. Do you feel comfort in this knowledge, or insignificance, or freedom, or simply satisfaction in being able to articulate the way you understand deity? Or something else? Anyway, I'm just curious how this makes you feel. Or perhaps the answer would contain spoilers for your next post..."
You're not overstepping at all, and it's a very good question. So good in fact that I had to seriously ask myself and try to hammer an answer together. Let's see if I can get it...
There's a part of me that reacts to it like I would a star going nova, or the Yellowstone Supervolcano, a detached awe. I cannot effect this in any way, so it is relegated to knowledge in the back of my head. When I do bring it forward to think about, it's scary, beautiful and humbling.
There's another part that reacts to it with hope. The human experience *now* isn't the same as it was 1000 years ago, and won't be the same as the one 1000 years from now. I have had experiences where I've touched something other, something greater than myself, and while I don't know what exactly it is, I like to think that it's some little facet of deity. As we look farther out and deeper within, we learn more about what's possible and we become capable of *more*. Hopefully a time will come when humanity grows past its infancy and becomes able to communicate more directly with whatever it is that's out there.
Then there's the sense of security. I have found a definition that fits me. I like it, it makes sense to me. This is a very basic and selfish part, as it's completely about what makes me feel best about my life and the events that have happened in it. It's also fluid and evolving, so I don't feel the need to defend my view when challenged.
And last, but not least, is an overwhelming sense of awe (not the same as the detached awe above) that I have touched or been touched by something so vast it defies comprehension. I feel that deity wants us to grow, learn, change...become the very best we are capable of, and will help us if we but become perceptive enough to notice. It is this connection that helps me put my feet on the floor on the bad days, and makes the good days all the brighter.
I hope that helps explain things...it did for me! ^^
Diedre then said:
"I googled "petrified religion" and didn't come up with any good explanations. I could wager a guess, but could you explain what you mean by this?"
A petrified religion is one that does not change with the society. A simple example of this is when the "Great Mother Goddess" became an agricultural deity after farming was invented. The religion and the deity(ies) involved changed as not only the culture, but as science did.
The Abrahamic faiths have been tied to their respective books for thousands of years, and each change that happens is often seen as a massive dogmatic shift that results in a sect breaking off to remain with the "good old days".
The books still say things like, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," (gee, thanks...), "Man shalt not lie with man as with a woman," there's all sorts of "shalt not's" that frankly have no place in this modern world. We shouldn't even be having the conversation about gay marriage, but because the book says, we are. There are people who believe that dinosaur bones were placed by Satan to trick us into believing the world is older than the Bible says it is. Really?
Not being able to reconcile what's in front of our faces with our spiritual systems of belief just leads to a lot of unhappy people.
Mr. One Eyebrow Priest says:
"And finally the resurrection completely ruined it for me. I think I may have asked my sunday school teacher about it. I don't remember the answer if there was one. I asked "If Jesus is God, then he can't really die, can he?" I remember at some point being told how wonderful it was that God was willing to experience death for us. But that didn't make any sense to me either. If you give your life to save mine, you do it for keeps. God wasn't playing for keeps, he got to take back any marbles he lost and go home. What is the meaning of sacrifice if nothing is lost?"
I really just wanted to comment that most of Christianity shares echoes with religions of the past. There are dozens of "So In So's descent into the Underworld" stories from different cultures around the world. There are also a ton of sacrificed son/sun deity stories too. Most often the Son was the symbol of the eternal changing of the seasons, birth in spring, youth in summer, maturity in fall and death in winter to return again in the spring. My problem with the Jesus incarnation of the story is that it became a linear, one time event, instead of remaining cyclical.
(Please don't mistake my dissatisfaction with the Christ story with my feelings for Christ as a person, real or otherwise. As a teacher, he had some truly wise and amazing things to teach, and if more people truly strived to be Christ-like, meaning that they love one another as he loved us (as a god is capable of love), then the world would by necessity be a better place.)
Descent into the underworld stories always bring something to the deity that takes the journey. One of the most famous stories is that of Inanna from Sumer. She learned the "darker" side of her powers, which was probably a metaphor for the necessity of death to continue the life cycle of life/death/rebirth. Odin hung on the World Tree for nine days and returned with the runes of power for his people.
Jesus earned the ability for humans to go to heaven through his descent, reversing his Father's decision at the garden of Eden. The issues I have with this story stem from how petty and jealous Jehovah seems. He got mad when the first people gained the knowledge of good and evil (essentially becoming like him, which was three hims to many), and condemned the species to eternal damnation. Later, after drowning the world, smiting a bunch of people, pillars of salt, death of the first born, etc, etc, he decides that he'd rather give people the chance at salvation. So instead of just changing his mind, he goes through the complex process of making a part of himself human, then has himself killed.
Now humanity has the opportunity to go to heaven, but not only do we have to be good, but we also have to make sure we keep god appeased. In other stories about the underworld, a person simply had to live a good life, their relationship with their deity(ies) was separate. You did the dance, killed the chicken, lit the candles, yadda, yadda, yadda, you were good with them. In Christianity, even the "virtuous unbelievers" go to hell. I do not like that.
Well, that went on way longer than I expected, but it was fun, and I hope you enjoy reading it. I also promise to try to get to the rest of the stuff I promised a while ago (heh) sooner rather than later. And as always, thank you for reading, I appreciate it.
Till next time, be well,