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Monday, July 15, 2024

What Is a Human?

 Epictetus answers - A rational and mortal being. He also tells us he/she can act like a wild beast and lose the promise of rationality and lose oneself, lose our humanity. When does one become as a wild animal? We act gluttonously, lewdly, rashly, filthly, inconsiderately .. When we act contentiously and harmfully and passionately and violently, to what have we declined? To wild beasts.

Therefore, it is upon our shoulders to get in control of ourselves and to be the person God had in mind when He created us. It is essential we become aware when the beastly rears its ugly head in us, and to send it away and refuse to sink into that dark place 

I think of Jesus extending the commandments. Not only should we not murder, but we also must avoid anger.  Not only should we not commit adultery, we should not lust. Etc. And if we even have something in our heart against someone, we need to stop what we are doing, even worshipping, and go clear it up. 

In so many ways Jesus would have agreed with Epictetus. How about you?

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Great Spirit

This morning in my meditation I was asking what am I now to do in my remaining years? I heard guidance to write this down and share it.

There is a Great Spirit that speaks in the depths of souls and has done so from the very beginning of humanity. It calls out the very best of us. It calls out to love, to be joyous, to be kind, to be generous, to be curious, to be creative, to celebrate this Great Spirit in everyone and everything, and to endeavor to be like It.

But It also made it so that we have to work to go beyond appearances. Much like an athlete in training, we have to stretch and flex and develop our spiritual strength. 

The Great Spirit is urging us vigorously to awaken to this NOW. 

It is time to realize the many religions are various attempts to awaken us to the spiritual truths in somewhat similar ways. The details vary as do cultures, but there is Truth to be found everywhere.

It is time to stop making slight differences the stuff of  prejudice, hatred and violence. It is time to stop dividing people into groups and judging them as a group, aka prejudice. 

We are all humans. We all are kin to God, The Great Spirit. We all have greatness of soul. Teach this to one another. Awaken this Truth in as many as you can.

So said The Great Spirit of God to me this morning and asked me to share it with you. I pray you contemplate these words and implement them in your life. God Loves you and so do I.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Why I Don't Believe in the Virgin Birth

Recently I shocked an evangelical friend of mine, when I told him I do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, actually of anyone. It occurred to me this morning I might share my reasoning with you.

Long ago I had the realization that God gave me intelligence and expected me to use it. 

I began to question and explore.

 So here is a brief outline of my thinking.

 Paul wrote between 52-64 CE. The only thing he said about Jesus' birth was he was "born of woman under the law." He surely would have said something about a magical birth, if it were being talked about. 

The next writing we have is Mark who starts his Gospel with the baptism. Not a word about a virgin birth. All three baptism stories have Jesus see a dove or spirit and hear a version of Isaiah or Psalms saying he is my son. Indicating he did not know that before this time. 

Then there is the episode in Mark 3 where his mother and brothers want to take him away "for he has gone out of his mind." That does not seem consistent with Mary being made pregnant by God. It seems that story does not develop until The Way has moved fully into the Greek/Roman world where they already had such stories. 

For these and other reasons, such as the genealogies in Matthew and Luke all through Joseph, I am pretty well convinced that Paul spoke the truth

Saturday, July 6, 2024

A Really New Idea to Me

 He did not speak to His disciples of His resurrection, His ascension, and His parousia as three distinct acts, since the event to which He looked forward is not identical with any of the three, but is composed of them all. The resurrection is, at the same time, the ascension and parousia, and in the parousia the resurrection and the ascension are also included. --- Albert Schweitzer, "The Quest of the Historical Jesus"

Wow! I never even considered this as a possibility. My mind is whirling.

I can see this as possibly true. All three were contained in this multifaceted event. 

It goes on to say:

 "Jesus spoke of the future of His work and His teaching in a way that implied the consciousness of an influence to be continued after His death, whether unbrokenly or intermittently, and the consciousness that by this influence His work and teaching would be preserved from destruction and the final victory assured to it."

Here we are 2,000 or so years later and various versions of his teaching are still here. I'm going to have to contemplate all of this!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

1776 and Us

 July 4, 1776, the official birthday of our nation, is a joyous and sacred day. Courageous and visionary people dreamed of a new kind of government, and surprisingly they did something about their vision. They wrote The Declaration of Independence. They fought the greatest power of the day and won independence with farmers, builders, and other ordinary people. Great men led them, including the incredible George Washington. Then they wrote the landmark document, The Constitution. They realized some more was needed, so they wrote some amendments. It developed and grew and became the place in the world where dreams could come true.

John Adams said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The quote above haunts me more and more. Christianity seems to be unraveling. Marxism is on the rise in the world and in subverting our foundation. Youth are being taught false history and to hate our country. 

It seems to me that it is time to wake up, to think, to stand for what once made this place great. I often think of my long ago political science professor who said, ""You can tell which country is the best by which way the borders leak."   From the very beginning, people with a dream were drawn here. I'm not talking about the current invasion - I'm talking about orderly and lawful immigration. Remember the history of the Roman Empire, weakened by bad emperors and declining morals, finally taken down by the barbarians flooding the borders. 

God bless the American Dream. Will we have the courage of our visionary founders, or will we go down as a failed experiment, a footnote in history?

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Are You Upset?

For what, then, has god made you responsible? For that which alone is in your power, the proper use of appearance. Why then do you then feel upset about the things which you are not responsible for? This is only bringing trouble to yourself.                            --- Epictetus

 In these turbulent times, it might be a good idea to listen to what Epictetus has to say. I see and hear all manner of people extremely upset over things they have no power over and often things said that are unverified or distorted.

So and so says XYZ and another says LMN. Pundits then say opposite things about them, and people rage, not being present at the event and not being privy to any inside information to verify, or being too lazy to research. Extreme ravings ensue. 

That's where we are now - polarized.

Before we get upset, let's do some research, listen to all sides, think, use logic, sprinkle with common sense. Take a breath. Calm down. 

Once that is done ask - Is there something I can and should do about it? Is it mine to do?  Do I have expertise in this area? Do I need to learn more?

Say it's a Constitutional issue. Read the Constitution. Listen to arguments pro and con. Think about it logically, not from left or right bias. 

Say it's a religious issue. Do some research perhaps in history, archeology, the study of ancient languages, etc. There are mountains of book, podcasts and YouTube videos from actual scholars. Before you upset yourself, get informed.

If you are still livid, you are in your limbic brain and not using your cerebral cortex. Don't make any decision out of emotionality. You are likely to make things worse. 

Taking responsibility for our own reactions or responses is the sign of maturity and wisdom.


Thursday, June 20, 2024

Greek Stoics

First say to yourself, who do you want to be: then act accordingly. -- Epictetus

I keep reading and hearing that Paul added Platonism and Stoicism to his teaching and understanding, perhaps to make it more palatable to the people of the Roman Empire and possibly because it was already part of his worldview. He was a Jew and a Pharisee, but he lived his life outside of the Jewish homeland. He was a Roman citizen.

So I have been rereading Greek philosophy. I had not read Epictetus, except for a few quotes here and there, so I started reading his Discourses. I am now excited about his ideas. The Stoic ideas he presented are very much in alignment with mine, or maybe I should say I am in alignment with him.

The quote at the top of this entry is a simple and profound idea, one of a huge number of thoughts worthy to deeply consider.

Beginning to consider it, I wonder how many have asked themselves what they want to be. Not just career wise, but more importantly as a person. What principles do we stand on?  How do we act in life? Who are we?

Once we begin to get clarity, then action is necessary, unless we just want to be empty windbags. Practice a thing and it becomes part of us. What should we practice? I suggest kindness is a good beginning. Taking responsibility for yourself, not blaming, is essential. Focus on what you can do and do that and do it well. Be the best person you can be.