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All you need is love… and maybe a little wisdom

This morning I replied to a Tweet that said the important question is whether a person is “alive” before death.

I suggested that it might be more fruitful to talk about being “awake” before death because to imply that someone isn’t alive – i.e. dead – seems a bit judgmental and final.

“Awake” and “asleep” are softer terms than “alive” and “dead.” And rarely do strong proclamations or insinuations do any good in helping ourselves and others.

So afterward, I walk to my local parish. And funnily enough the theme (and wording) for today’s Mass was about the soul not dying!

It made me think…

What did Jesus really say? The Bible has so many additions, glosses, translations, contexts, versions, and deletions that sometimes we can’t be sure. Even scholars and linguists quibble over the precise meaning of biblical terms (probably partly why I never bothered to learn Hebrew and Greek).

Dead Awake

Dead Awake (Photo: Wikipedia)

After a short while I came to the tentative conclusion that we’re all different and have unique roles to play in the grand scheme of things. So even someone who seems spiritually “dead” could be doing something vital. And even someone who seems spiritually “alive” could be out to lunch on other important issues.

Instead of a “this or that” approach, I think it’s more realistic to view people as complex, evolving creations. This involves a multi-dimensional or, if you like, a multi-factorial model of consciousness instead of a binary one.

With a multi-model we would be less inclined to judge and more open to finding out the inherent strengths in others. And more importantly, we might be better disposed to love, even if the “dead” or “sleepers” irritate or harm us.

Now let me be clear. I’m not talking about being a doormat. Nor am I suggesting we don’t defend ourselves or speak out against perceived injustices. I’m just talking about making practical instead of ultimate judgments.

For sure, I steer clear of people if I have reason to believe they’re borderline and possibly violent. You get people like that in big city churches. But I don’t hate them. And I don’t think they’re hell bound or simply going to disappear at death.

Loving people who have insulted or hurt us is not always easy. It might take a while to work through our own resentment. But I find that choosing to love usually works best for everyone, provided it’s done with discernment.

Discernment is a Catholic term with two related meanings. On the one hand it means finding out God’s will for us. On the other hand, discernment is learning to recognize the good and evil influences acting on our souls. Like anything, sincere seekers tend to get better at this over time.

So what will you choose?

Related articles

 We gather together to share our faith (helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com)

 Sermon: It Finally Happened, Acts 2 (grantspasschurchofchrist.com)

 Be a Good Steward (danpolecheck.info)

 New Bible Study, “Dynamic Studies in Hebrews” by Fred Scheeren, Helps Readers Who Long to Live a Life More Pleasing to God (prweb.com)

 6th Sunday of the Year: Choosing the Lord with all our heart (studyprayserve.com)

 We Were Made For Something Greater (faithandfootsteps.wordpress.com)

 God Hates Pride (challies.com)

 We’ve handed over Buhari’s death wishers to God – Community leader (vanguardngr.com)

 Overcoming Your Fear of Death (pakalertpress.com)

 Scripture Verse Of The Week ‘Philipians4 Verse 4’ (mylordmyfriend.com)


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EP Today – When teachers get creepy

eptoday-copyWay back, when Earthpages was a website instead of a blog, the main page had a feature called “EP Today.” Some of my early web pals might remember this.

I’ve decided to go back to that name for commenting on current news and general interest stories.

So here it is. Our first reinstallment of EP Today!

Today I’d like to briefly touch on the (imo) silly idea of the perfected being. The more I get into the spiritual life the more I recognize the importance of humility. Also, to think that someone is more evolved or pure than another may carry potential dangers. Some gurus and charismatic figures can really disrupt family relations.

I remember living in a small town about 100 miles out from Toronto. A group of local devotees would drive every weekend, abandoning their spouses and children, to be with a high profile NYC guru. That’s a pretty long drive to make every weekend!

At a gathering designed to welcome and orient potentially new disciples, some devotees’ family members showed up and openly spoke out. They said the guru was stealing the hearts and minds of their loved ones. I was surprised. The concerned family members seemed almost angry. And I must admit, back then at my young age, I leaned toward the side of the devotees whose manner suggested that their families just didn’t quite get it. They weren’t enlightened enough to understand…

But about 25 years later, I can empathize with the complaining family’s perspective. Imagine if your wife or mom was rushing off every weekend to be with a NYC guru? Wouldn’t you be a bit concerned? I would.

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The difficulty, as I see it, is this:

Most gurus claiming to be perfect often emanate some kind of soupy, numinous power. It’s not clear like the Holy Spirit. But it’s still there. A buzz, if you will. And sensitive but naive followers pick up on that buzz and are impressed. They’ve never encountered numinosity (spiritual power) before. Or perhaps they’ve never experienced anything better. So they believe, mistakenly, I’d say, that the guru’s ‘light’ is ultimate.

To me, true spirituality isn’t hero worship or getting spiritually drunk or stoned. Instead, it involves realizing that we carry each other, and on many levels. Healthy spirituality is not a one-way street with some pampered, contented teacher at the top, supposedly raising up disciplines who are far beneath them. No. The dynamic is multidirectional. And anyone who says otherwise is probably naive or, if they’re squatted at the top of an unhealthy guru-disciple relationship, an egotist and possibly a mind-abuser.

So many sham gurus and questionable spiritual leaders seem like bullfrogs posing as kings and queens. They rule from tiny little mudponds, like that creepy turtle in Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle. And until an oppressed turtle speaks up, the kingpin or Queen Bee will keep scamming cash and mental energy from the gullible and inexperienced below.

Would anyone in their right mind really want to have anything to do with that?

 People Theorize What It Would Be Like If Dr. Seuss Wrote Erotic Novels and Now Our Childhoods are Ruined (cheezburger.com)

 Health and Technology (forwardthinking.ashford.edu)


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Today’s Top Tweet – Arrogance of some mystics?

Okay I’ll admit I just looked over this article, giving it a quick scan. But what I seemed to see is a view that I used to hold until, ironically, I got a little closer to God.

The author says that mysticism and holiness are not disconnected. And on that I’d agree. But to say that holiness depends on mysticism, I think, is a mistake.

Image via Wikipedia

Again, I used to think that way. But as I get older it seems that some people just “have it” without being terribly introspective. These people can be quite active and not sitting in a dark room meditating all day.

I think one of the biggest dangers of mysticism is self-aggrandisement. And the second you start thinking you’re better or closer to God than others because you have religious experiences, well, you’ve lost it my friend.

Simple as that.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ John 20:29


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Today’s Top Tweet – Can you petition the Lord with prayer?

I was happy to see this (tweeted) web page today. We need more talk about parapsychology. Awareness and intelligent debate about parapsychology and its link to spirituality (and nuttiness) could help those overly invested in the medical perspective on self and others.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-psychiatry. Far from it. Medications can help, short and maybe even long term. But anyone concerned with their overall health would be wise to consider alternatives. Different approaches might enable some to discontinue their meds. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but over the long haul. And that would be a good thing. Not only would their bodies like it. Others on our planet would be happier too (see Drugs in the Water).

Glancing over the articles in today’s tweet, I see a problem that often crops up with parapsychology research: The method does not match the madness, if you’ll pardon my pun.

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakur...

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakura shrine. from original to remove black space (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take, for example, intercessory prayer. One article concludes that intercessory prayer has no verifiable effect on health. But this begs at least two questions:

  • What kind of intercessory prayer?
  • What kind of health?

Intercessory prayer takes different forms. One is vocal (or internally vocal) and the other is more contemplative and quiet.

For me, the latter is more effective. I often liken vocal prayer to using a squirt gun to put out a fire, while contemplative prayer is more like rolling out a heavy duty fire hose. Kids play with squirt guns. Adults risk their lives with fire hoses.

Mind you, all prayer is good and we’re all different. At the same time, I think there are differences in power between vocal and contemplative prayer.

But I could be wrong. Only God knows for sure.

The second question – What type of health? – is actually related to the first.

Intercession may not be visible to everyone. But I believe it helps us, psychologically and spiritually. And contrary to what some religious people say (especially those who pass themselves off as saints while behaving more like angry nuts), I believe intercession is a multi-directional interpersonal dynamic. It’s not just one-way.

Intercession may involve degrees of effectiveness but my analogy of squirt guns and fire hoses is only that. An analogy.  Life is far more nuanced than putting out a fire.

And it takes all types to make life complete. 🙂


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Today’s Top Tweet – Earth at night

OPINION

Part of me is tempted to go into the usual New Age preachy theme about how we’re all one and if we just came to realize this, there would be no war, no senseless killings, no crazed truck drivers, no hostages fearing their death…

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

But honestly, I don’t think it’s that simple. I believe there is evil in the world and that it furiously wants to sow discord. All you science-bots out there who think a new pill can save humanity can believe what you want. But I think you’re wrong. I don’t believe evil will ever be eradicated. And those who can recognize the difference between good and ill must take a stand.

Jesus talked about prayer and turning the other cheek. And in the ultimate sense he’s probably right. But in the course of history, if every good person merely prayed and turned the other cheek, I don’t think humanity would last that long. Evil would sweep the globe in a very short matter of time.

While no one perspective can solve our global problems, I do believe that the total dynamic is tilted toward the good. That means all the forces in existence, taken together, including pacifism and activism, will turn things out the right way.

This isn’t blind belief. I have reason to believe in an all-powerful God. Yet I realize not everyone does. To me, that’s their poverty, not mine.


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Major update to entry on James Randi, the Canadian/American debunker of spiritual and paranormal truth claims


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Today’s Top Tweets – with a dash of humor this time

A little late today. These were gathered this morning but it was laundry day at home, so just getting time to post my favs now.

I like this first one because it reminds me of an ancient Greek play where all the women go on strike in protest of their men going to war, if I remember right.

This one is not scintillating but it does provide good coverage, clearing up some common misperceptions about Catholicism.

No kidding…

A scary thought. Lets hope it’s more hype than fact. One thing no one would consider—all paper ballots and going back to counting votes manually:

I did my doctorate in psychology and religion, so this story is of special interest to me. I think it’s done quite well. Especially as you read through toward the end.

It’s a crap shoot, I guess:

A lot of folks blame Christianity for many social ills. But this article suggests that Christianity has within it the seeds of redemption… not only spiritual but also social.

Pretty self explanatory. Is natural always better? This article asks:

A new twist on the old “monkey at a typewriter eventually coming up with Shakespeare…” if they type for all eternity, that is:

Here’s the song the above points to. I think it sounds like XTC before morphing into the Beatles. But then, XTC did sort of copy the Beatles style at times. Bottom line… people are still better musicians than machines. 🙂