religion


I was having a very interesting conversation over on Dreamwidth with my friend notasupervillain in the Comments section of my last Musings post (July 24, 2019). It grew into a post-long exchange. I have taken my part of the conversation and reproduced it here, cleaned it up, and expanded a bit. I’ve left the original exchange as is in the Dreamwidth Comments.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not young enough to be absolutely certain I know the truth. The shades of grey multiply with each year. But that’s okay. The things that are important are beyond those kinds of thought processes. We can feel around their edges, if we try real hard and remember they’re always changing shape anyway.

—from my original Musings post of July 24

I’ve known many truths, but they keep shifting as time passes. So, I’ve stopped trying to hold onto them and I certainly don’t try to convince anyone of their validity. Not like I used to when I was young. Whatever works for as long as it works.

This shiftingness of truth applies even to (or especially to) religious faith. I’ve long maintained that faith is experiential, not received wisdom. I don’t reject received wisdom out of hand—often it is quite valuable—but if all you have is that received wisdom, faith is never going to withstand the rigors of living. Once you’ve crossed that boundary of experience, though, faith has the ability to adapt and change. If you let it. Some people are so wedded to a single interpretation of spiritual experience they can’t see beyond it and try bending all of life to their rigid mold…until it breaks. Adapt or die.

I’ve never been religious, but I consider myself spiritual. That spirituality is fostered and sustained by numerous experiences I’ve had that convince me there is something in the universe besides materiality. Some of these experiences I’ve had alone, some with others, some have been creepy, some have given me great comfort. But they are the basis of my faith.

Now, because I am who I am and always questioning, I’ve long-since reconciled myself to the fact that they may be illusion, “mistaken identity,” brain chemistry, etc., etc. As I have more and more experiences, though, it gets harder to deny that something weird is going on. But I try to stay flexible with it, not confine it. I let it seep inside me, grow and change—I stay mindful.

If I was a strict Baptist or a Catholic, for instance (and as I understand it from some strict Baptists and Catholics of my acquaintance), I might have to consider some of these experiences as manifestations of the devil (because they believe all ghosts and other things are evil spirits trying to fool us into thinking we’ve been contacted by our deceased loved ones, etc., etc. ad nauseam). If I believed there was one God who was just and righteous and ruled over everything, I might ask myself, “So why did He allow the Holocaust to happen?” and it might shatter (or at least erode) my faith.

But the one thing that I know absolutely is that I don’t know what rules the universe. It may be nothing, it may be a lot of somethings, it may be one something in many aspects, it may be something I can’t even conceive of in with my limited human POV. I don’t even know if it’s a just universe. I know what I feel and what I’ve come to believe, but that hardly constitutes proof that someone else can take to the bank of faith. All I can really count on are my experiences, not the received wisdom of a religion or religions—which are always filtered through limited human perception anyway. That wisdom may point me down a path, but I am always going to have to be the one who walks that path and decides for myself what I see. Those experiences are not something you can hand off to someone and say, “Here, this happened to me so you should believe as I do.” If they haven’t had their own experiences, it’s not going to stick. But that hasn’t stopped many people trying to do just that through the centuries.

I know that I do not know, and I have my experiences, which allow me to feel comforted—if not always comfortable—in the midst of a vast uncertainty. They allow me to adapt and change, and to keep seeking answers, following paths, being surprised when new things occur to me that I hadn’t considered before, and moving forward.

Random quote of the day:

“Sunday: A day given over by Americans to wishing that they themselves were dead and in Heaven, and that their neighbors were dead and in Hell.”

—H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science.”

—Henri Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

—Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, Kindness and Compassion

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

1. Let me thread you a story…(1-18)
2. We had us a preacher once named Mike Spike Huckleberry who liked to preach fire and brimstone and “superior” values.
3. He set up church in his house and called it the God’s True Will Church of Everlasting Superiority.
4. Trouble was, this ain’t a fire and brimstone kind of town. At least not in the sense of damning everyone to Hell.
5. But Mike Spike, well, he was one self-righteous sumbich. Not a speck of love in his Gospel, only judgement and damnation.
6. Some folks in this town ate it up with a big spoon cuz some folks love an excuse to feel superior to others.
7. And if they can fool themselves into thinking God is backing their claims to be chosen amongst men, that makes the poison more delicious.
8. For a time it seemed Mike Spike was going to take over the town. Most people didn’t hold with his message, but he shouted real loud.
9. Sometimes those who shout loudest and insist they’re being persecuted if you disagree with them can hold sway.
10. Cuz good-hearted folk just can’t believe that someone will preach about God and still hold evil intention in their heart.
11. It took a deal of cowering and doubt and good folks second-guessing their motives, but the tide finally turned on Mike Spike.
12. Billy Budd Gibbons, he of the All Souls Love Congregation, asked God to show us a sign if we should follow Mike Spike’s ways.
13. People lost count of the lightning strikes after 48 turned Mike Spike’s house into a deep, dark pit of char.
14. Mike’s daughter, Hectorine Huckleberry-Skanklebrass, spokesperson for Mike Spike, missed the deitific barbecue.
15. She was at her own home next door with her husband, Winnie, doing some cowering of her own in the basement.
16. She and Winnie did some considering while they cowered, afraid the Lord might have a postscript for them after finishing with Mike Spike.
17. They left town in an awful hurry. No one much was sorry to see ‘em go.
18. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile God’s ways to man. Other times it’s as clear as a flash of lightning.

This story can also be found on Twitter @downportalville.

Random quote of the day:

“It is hardly to be believed how spiritual reflections when mixed with a little physics can hold people’s attention and give them a livelier idea of God than do the often ill-applied examples of his wrath.”

—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms, Notebook A, 11

 wrath4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“I am a man of religion, but religion alone cannot answer all our problems.”

—Dalai Lama, Twitterfeed, 6/25/17

 religion4@P@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“I find it truly stunning how many people can shrug off stuff like this, preferring instead a tiny, cramped cosmos just 6,000 years old, scheduled to end any-time-now in a scripted stage show of unfathomable violence and cruelty. An ancient and immense and ongoing cosmos is so vastly more dramatic and worthy of a majestic Creator. Our brains, capable of exploring His universe, picking up His tools and doing His work, seem destined for much greater tasks than cowering in small groups of the elect, praying that some of our neighbors will go to perdition…

—David Brin, commenting on the discovery of Homo floresiensis at McMedia.com, 27 October 2004

 cosmos4@P@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“I conceive of God, in fact, as a means of liberation and not a means to control others.”

—James Baldwin, “In Search of a Majority,” address delivered at Kalamazoo College, February 1960

liberation4WP@@@ 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“The writings of Copernicus and Galileo remained on the Index until 1822. Three centuries of obstinacy; it really is touching.”

—Albert Camus, The Notebooks, 1942-1951 (tr. Justin O’Brien)

 banned4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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