Your Death Theology

death-cult-leunigThe horrors of fundamental and even of moderate Islam are obvious. But when Christians criticize the supposedly sacred ideas and writings upon which these Muslim’s support their horrible ideas (the Qur’an and Hadith), the Christians’ ignorant irony is laughable.  The above cartoon by the famous Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig captures that same tragic irony that I also expressed in my 2010 post “Your God is weird!”.  Death theology, Exclusivist theology, Tribal theology and all such wrong thoughts must be fought constantly — sacred or secular.  Freedom is from stupidity is not a right, it is the tenuous fruit of constant effort.

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Noam Chomsky & The Scottish Vote

scotland2Today is the Scottish vote — exciting history! Yet this issue will really tell us nothing more about the nation-state than so much more in our news.

At the bottom of this post is a great interview with Noam Chomsky where he uses the Scottish vote issue to discuss several of the deep, complex political phenomena feeding this vote.  Chomsky puts today’s event in perspective to the rest of the world, as is his specialty.  He is brilliant.

Noam Chomsky (wiki) has taught me much through the years. I haven’t always agreed with him, but then that means nothing. His last line from the interview was one of my favorite.  He made it after many, far-from-subtle attempts by his clearly leftist interviewer to get him to give a aphoristic nugget of socialist wisdom.

“there are no illuminating single phrases that capture the complexity of human life”

Oh I loved that. And among his many anarchist insights he also discusses:

  • the tension between regionalism & centralization
  • the inherited disaster of imperialist borders
  • how Capitalism would be an improvement over what we have today, but still inferior

Pic source: amttravel.com
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Why Christian Eschatology Matters?

EschatologyEschatology is a religion’s view of the endtimes. In my last post, I compared a Hindu Vaishnavite view with the common view held among mainline Protestant American Christian churches. To put that view in perspective, I recently updated my chart on the “Varieties of Christian Eschatology” which I first made in 2009 — take a look if you’d like by clicking on the image.

But why does eschatology matter? There are good reasons not to care: First, very few of my readers believe any religion’s end-time stories. And second, most Christians themselves don’t understand the various eschatologies and don’t really understand theology at all and probably don’t care. (See my post called, “Most Christians Don’t Believe“).

Religious professionals (pastors, priests and such) do seem to care, however. And they preach them to their congregations and use them to help tell their parishoners how they should act in this world, the proper role of Israel and Jews and other political positions. So, for those Christians who listen to this stuff, eschatology matters.

But why should eschatologies matter to religion-free folks? Well, we can point these Christians to more benign eschatologies (see my post on “My Favorite Christians”). Or better yet, in seeing so many various views these eschatological Christians may start to understanding how man-made these theories are — all of them.

Questions to readers: What view were you raised with or believe now? Which view do you feel is most dangerous, and why?  All corrections or suggestions welcome.

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Hindu vs. Christian Eschatology

Hindu_Xian_Eschatology

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My Secret Mantra

Let me share a story from decades ago when I learned a secret mantra!

The Meditation Center, Mpls

The Meditation Center, Mpls

As I explained in this post, I trained for two years at a Yoga Center in Minneapolis (now called “The Meditation Center”). After my first year, my progress had qualified me for initiation and without initiation, further training as a potential Raja yoga teacher (my track) was not allowed. Initiation was considered an honor. In the private initiation session, the teacher would whisper your secret Mantra to you, one you’d use in years to come as you strive for higher states of consciousness.

I was, as always in all my religious years, both excited and skeptical. What would this secret mantra be? Would it be all it was cracked up to be? How could it be any more than just some random Sanskrit word?

The magic, we were told, was two fold:  (1) The guru picks the words to specially match our temperament, our spiritual needs and the energy of our chakras. (2) Sanskrit is a sacred language and indeed, the sounds themselves carry a power that we can’t imagine. We were to have faith.

Dr. Arya, my  guru

Dr. Arya, my guru

I dressed well and bought some flowers and fruit as traditional gifts to my guru. I sat in meditation in a room by myself until I was called to meet my teacher.

The guru and I meditated together a short while and then he came to my ear and whispered my three secret, personal magic words — my ticket to the divine.

I worked with those words for several months. Hell, they were just words, no magic. Embarrassingly, I forget what they were: OM HRIM HUM, or something like that. Oh yeah, besides, you are suppose to never tell anyone your secret words.

The huge cognitive investment of time and money on courses, of bowing and presenting flowers to my teacher and of practicing with faith for months were not enough to help me hallucinate the magic. Sure meditation had fantastic affects of quietness and the ability to watch my mind, but no “higher consciousness”, no seeing the world as it really is. Yet I kept my disillusionment private and it would not be for several more months before I left the group.

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What is “Life”

article_imgEveryone feels like that can tell you what “life” is. It is pretty obvious. Well, unless you get near the edges of the definition.

My son just started High School here in the USA and is taking his first biology course. One of their first assignments was to decide if a virus is alive. My poor boy had to put up with his ‘ole man lecturing him on the arbitrary nature of the word “life”. He felt that “life” was an idea that needed to be discovered, but quickly saw that “life” is not a concrete thing, but an abstract word created by people that masquerades as a concrete thing.

He soon realized that to decided whether a virus was a form of life, he needed an arbitrary man-made definition of “life”. Next, he saw that the definitions everyone put forth were fuzzy and loaded with assumptions.

Like the words “religion” and “patriot”, people generally feel they know exactly how to use the word “life” and intuitively know what it means until they are up against things on the edge or people who don’t agree with their use of the word.

 

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“The Wedding”: a Polish movie

WeddingCouchsurfing in the UK this summer, we spent time in Wales with some fun Poles.  Wesele (“The Wedding”), 2004 by director Wojtek Smarzowski, was one of their recommendations for Polish films I should watch (see wiki).

I did not enjoy the movie and would not recommend it. They told me it was about a stereotypical Polish wedding — so that part was educational. But that wedding and the side stories were about a culture of Vodka, bribery, meaningless tradition and sexually-erotic wedding games.  All cultural elements that I detest.  The movie made me want to never visit Poland. I rarely write negative reviews, but thought it would be a good exercise.

I’ve added it in my “other” category in my index of film reviews, because I can’t imagine watching another Polish film very soon, unless someone can recommend a Polish film that matches my tastes.

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