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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

God Is Love (Unconditional Love)- So Where Did the Idea of Satan Come From?

 Last night a woman walked out of my Bible study at the homeless shelter. She insisted that God did not create everyone, that Wrath created people and they were created to be evil and had no good in them.  I had never met someone so devoted to such an idea that she ran from the idea that God is Love and created/creates everyone.

This morning I was praying and the insight that came to me was that some people are highly invested in scapegoats. They therefore feel no need to forgive others. Anyone who they perceive as having caused them hurt and pain are bad and evil to the core.

On the other hand, a young man that had come a couple of times, and had mentioned a severe childhood that still tormented him, and he asked me what my grandmother had done to me. Then he was astonished I was able to forgive her. I to!d him if I could do it, I knew he could too. He asked if some things  just aren't forgivable? I asked him what Jesus said on the cross. "forgive them for they know not what they do." His eyes widened and he repeated that several times and suddenly applied that to his situation. I saw the beginnings of inner freedom right before my eyes. I saw God working in his heart. Thank you God.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Blessing and Curse

 Technology is a blessing and a curse. We have access to so much and are mostly relieved of drudgery. Yet we are constantly being programmed, hypnotized, and isolated from one another and the challenges of life. We are examples of Pavlov's  experiments.

We see it wherever we go. Families at dinner "together," but all engrossed in phones or tablets, so not communicating with one another, not developing conversational skills, not debating and thinking. We see it as people are walking with full attention to their devices.

We see it as people take on the opinions of whatever news they watch, and call the "other" channels evil liars. We see it when people are out demonstrating for something opposite of their values or opposite of what is good for them. They are propagandized, hypnotized , not using critical thinking, and not aware of it either.

All of this puts our freedom in jeopardy. I think we need to quickly pivot. We need to teach critical thinking skills. We need to encourage time limits to use of devices. We need to teach people some hands on skills such as gardening, woodworking sewing, cooking, etc. We need to encourage time in nature, quiet time, contemplation, conversation, open debate of ideas, etc. 

I encourage you to think on these things. Debate them with others with different viewpoints. Put down your devices at least several hours a day and reconnect more deeply with real people and places. Think new thoughts. Challenge yourself. Let life be the adventure it is meant to be.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Growth Leaves a Trail of Destruction

 It is ironic. Often to learn something new, an old idea has to go. Often, maybe always, we leave a trail of shards of previous understanding lying on our path.

I think of Paul saying when a child, I thought as a child. Our Santa Claus, Easter bunny, fairytale childish ideas lay strewn behind us. 

Human knowledge has mountains of discarded shards. No longer is Mt. Olympus home to the gods. No longer is the earth the center of the universe.  No longer do witches cause crop failures. No longer a zillion things.

Yet, here we stand, often refusing to learn in order to protect whatever idea we hold dear. 

I long ago had the flash of realization that the the immense intelligence that created the universes, who imbued me with a bit of that intelligence, would not be upset at me for using it. Indeed, if God even could be upset, it would be more likely for not using that intelligence.

I get confounded by those educated people, for example, who insist the Bible is inerrant and infallible. Even without scholarly study, it is obvious that the Bible is full of contradictions. Theology is also a bundle of contradictions. Knowing this does not mean throwing the whole thing out is the only option, but just in case it is the only option, pretend there are none and attack anyone who points them out.

Okay, just a couple of examples. Genesis 1 & 2 are very different creation stories. Theology says Adam and Eve are the first two peop!e. So who were the people Cain went to in order to find his wife?  Genesis 1 repeatedly says that God declared every speck of creation good. Augustine, in the 5th century CE made up original sin, which has tortured people ever since. Compare what is written in Acts about Paul and what Paul says about himself. Compare what the Gospels and Paul say about when Jesus became the son of God also about his birth. Did you know they are very different? I could go on with countless examples, but you can find them on your own. 

For me, the Bible is still full of inspiration, guidance, and sacredness. It tells me a faith story written over centuries. It shows me relationship to God in various times and places. It reminds me how central God is for humans to come to know and follow. It reminds me how intimately we live and breathe in the divine and can be guided and inspired directly. 

Perhaps the flaws are perfect, for they require us to think and get engaged with our spirituality at deeper levels, as we strive to learn what the ancient people were trying to say.