Archive for September, 2006

“Religion” vs. the spiritual life

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

As usual, my mind starts brewing when reading stuff by the folks over at MindonFire.com, which usually leads me over here after making long comments over there to finish my thoughts. :). In one post, the question of the day was “What is religion?” In terms of the book we are reviewing together by Sam Harris called The End of Faith. I tried to answer that as best I could, but only briefly.
I just want to make this statement: Religion is the destroyer of the spiritual life. If anyone wants to live a thriving spiritual life, they must throw it out. It is a sinking ship – if you stay on it too long, you will die spiritually.

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Overview of The End of Faith

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

Over at mindonfire.com, it’s author John Remy, inspiried by some of his regular readers, decided to band together and read a book relating to spiritual issues in our world today and talk about it, either on their own blogs, via comments on his, or meet together in person. I thought this was a great idea, and decided to read the chosen book and try posting some thoughts on it of my own on this site. The book that was eventually chosen was The End of Faith by Sam Harris.

The book was tough for me to read at first (as one of the regular visitors at MoF, Miko remarked). Harris is very acidic – he regularly uses insulting ways to describe people of faith and their beliefs, but like Miko also said, there must be something true here that needs to be heard or understood. I couldn’t agree more. I got so mad I had to put the book down for a while. I eventually skipped to the end to read his “solution” to faith, got a good laugh, felt a little better, and then proceeded to read the rest of the book.

Overall, I actually enjoyed the book, because it had some very thought-provoking sections, which might make people think “huh?” because I best define myself as a “moderate” Christian, which he attacks even more than fundamentalists. Anyway, if you’re interested, read on… Read the rest of this entry »

Analogy of Religion

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

“Religion” is a hard thing to define. Here’s Dictionary.com’s take:

A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

From my perspective today, the key part of this definition that makes it called “religion” is after the word “usually.” The phrase before that is what I would call a “faith-based worldview”, but combined with what comes after, it becomes what I would call “religion.” Religion is a combination of a faith-based worldview + a human owned and operated institution. The bad part is the human owned and operated institution.

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Thinking inside-out

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

I was just reading a though-provoking post over at my favorite spiritual blog mindonfire.com. It was about being moved spiritually, out of nowhere, by a familiar song. John talked about this experience and then asked the readers what they would do with it. Having a similar experience, I tried to explain what I thought was going on and gave an example of this happening in my life, but forgot to answer the question. The gist of what my guess was going on is that music is a vehicle for spiritual truth combined with myth gleaned from both the melody and the lyrics, and we are sometimes moved spiritually by the messages in it. (You can read my comment for more details)

What I began to think about was the benefits of this mode of communication. I believe that this is the divine speaking to us, not unlike Jesus did when speaking in parables. The one obvious benefit is complex spiritual truth understood instantly. This is a great benefit, but I believe there is a second and no less important benefit.
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Socrates and World of Warcraft

Monday, September 11th, 2006

I was reading the Symposium (Plato) and I came across the speech by Socrates which has come to be known as “The Ascent.” I was absolutely astounded by his insight. I read a similar description of this concept long ago by another author I greatly admire — C.S. Lewis, who was talking about the same subject – love. The idea is that all objects of our affection, whether they are people, places, things, causes, etc. are all pointers to greater objects. Once experienced, they appear to be not as wonderful as you thought them to be — their reality comes crashing down upon you and it is no longer so beautiful a thing as you once imagined before you had it. Read the rest of this entry »

Living the way I was designed

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

I realized the other day that in order to live well, we must live in accordance with how were are designed. Since we are multi-dimensional beings, being both spiritual and physical, it stands to reason that we are designed to live a certain way in both parts.

First of all, it is important to note that we are in fact, designed. This is an easy observation. We are not a product of evolution from a lesser life form and the sum total of millions of years of random mutations that ended up being the incredibly complex thing we call human today. I’m not debating exactly how we came to be or how long it took, I’m just looking at myself and saying that it is pretty obvious that I am the result of an intelligent, conscious designer, not the result of unconscious random forces acting on rocks and water that eventually become human. There are many parts of me that tell me so — I have a hand to hold, grab, and manipulate objects, I have senses that allow me to interact and receive feedback with the world around me. I have skin that allows me to live in certain environments and not others.
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The self-preserving nature

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

I’ve been thinking about the players of my inner life for days now. I’ve been trying to figure them out and what role they play. The self-destructive nature, my spirit, my self-preserving nature, the conscience, the will, etc. There are so many pieces, and I might be missing some, but I want to at least try to make sense of it all. For today, I want to settle on one piece — the self-preserving nature. So far I have determined there is a self-destructive one, so I believe it is reasonable to assume that we also have a self-preserving one, or else we would have died out as a species a long time ago. Read the rest of this entry »