Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Evolution of Theology: Devotion vs. Experience

Monotheistic religion as we know it today is a series of dogma and traditions that have formed guidelines for us to follow with the promise of being in the presence of the Divine in the afterlife.

With our good behavior or at least a contrite heart during our bad behavior, we can have the expectation of meeting ecstasy for all eternity. Or at least whatever our traditions teach us eternity to be.

We are a member of our chosen religion today based on our devotion to that set of transmitted guidelines.

When we break bread we do it in the name of the Lord. We shall take our pilgrimage to Mecca and pray a certain amount of times a day and we shall avoid certain types of food and rest on certain days all in the name of devotion to a certain ancient set of rules told to us most of our lives.

If you were raised on a desert island your whole life and as a small child knew how to forage for food and had shelter and had no human contact, do you really think you would know Jesus....or Allah or Jehovah for that matter?

The only reason you know anything about your current religion is more than likely because either you were taught it by your family or later in life you searched and thought it was time for something different.

This is the tragedy of modern religion.

Very few people base their religious life on their own personal experiences.

The reason being that the current establishment would frown on this type of experience. Why try to have a personal experience when you can just share in the one we tell you about.

The problem is that very few would know who to seek out such a personal experience. Where would one begin to find the path to their own personal experience?

I can tell you the very first step.

Want to have one.

The Evolution of Theology:The Direct Religious Experience

In the Christian Gospels, Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say I am?" We hear a variety of answers from one of his disciples stating that he thought Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead, to Peter making what became known as the Great Confession where Peter states that Jesus is the Son of God.

The question then would be how would Peter know this to be the truth.

It would appear that he knew from his direct personal experience he had with Jesus.What he saw with his own eyes and felt with his own heart and mind.

He truly experienced Jesus.

If you were to be asked the same question, who you would say Jesus is?

If you are a Christian person, you would probably reply just as Peter did. But if you would, would you be doing it with the same experiences?

Sadly, probably not.

Like all monotheistic religions, they are based on a passed down written and oral tradition of historical figures interacting with divinity.

Generations of people having a direct experiences with a world beyond this world.

Where are the current religious experiences, where is modern man's personal experiences with the Divine and religious ecstasy that we've been told so much about?

The visions of the Transfiguration, the Great Prophet being taken into Heaven on his great steed or Krishna transmitting visions of True Reality to Arjuna on the battlefield of the mind.

Are we even seeking religious experiences?

Do we think that going to Temple or Church is a true religious experience? Are we in the true presence of God or feel the Divine within us or are we rapped in a mass trance and brainwashed by the stories we've been told from childhood?

If you were asked to describe God would you do it from the tradition of what you've been told, would you say what you think he's done for you in your life, or would be able to describe a true personal individual experience that is unique to your life?

When St Paul was yet Saul on the road to Damascus, he had a personal experience with the Risen Christ. The way we knew was not just because he told people, we knew because he was changed.

So the first way you can know if you've had a personal religious experience is because you would be changed because of it,truly changed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Evolution of Theology III:The Realization of the I Am

In the book of Exodus tells of Moses and his vision of the Almighty. When Moses asked who he is God replies He is the great I, AM. The ultimate statement of self awareness and self sustainment. The Jewish people for thousands of years took the term I AM as an identification of divinity and 2000 years after Mt Sinai, this same term used by Jesus of Nazareth would be used against him as a statement of blasphemy by comparing himself to God.

There are seven times in the Gospel of John that Jesus uses the "I AM" statement and each one is an expression of power and unity. I am the bread of life, the good shepherd and most powerfully, I AM the resurrection and the life.

Amazingly moving claims of Jesus showing His awareness and enlightenment as a Son of God.

A complete and evolved person. One with the Absolute.

But were the teachings of Jesus in His I AM verses to show us that He is worthy of worship, or was he trying to show us all what we could become.

The words "I AM' used by Jesus are a declaration of ultimate truth that has similarly been ecstatically realized and uttered by other evolved beings including the master gurus of India who lived before and after the time of Jesus. The Isha Upanishad says: "That absolute Self abiding in the transcendental effulgence, verily, I am He."

Elsewhere in the Upanishads we find, similarly, the sacred truth-affirmations Aham Brahmasmi ("I am Brahman-Spirit"), Ayam Atma Brahma ("This Self is Spirit"), and Tat Tvam Asi ("Thou art That"). The scriptural mantra Aham-Sa or 'Ham-Sa (literally" I am He") are potent Sanskrit syllables that possess a vibratory connection with the incoming and outgoing breath. Thus with his every breath man unconsciously asserts the truth of his being: I am He!

We see in Hindu texts the unity with man and the divine.

Is this what Jesus was trying to teach us in the Gospels?

Was He trying to show us that he transcended the duality between God and man and reached the next level of spiritual evolution, not equal, but united with the Eternal God?

Born of, part of and returning to the Absolute and Eternal Almighty.

Was Jesus trying to teach us that there is a part of us that is eternal? Part of us that is forever and is and will be united with the Living God.

Was Jesus trying to teach us to evolve to the next plain of spiritual existence.

We noted in prior posts that tragically, we do not think we need to evolve, but every enlightened being that has graced the Earth for thousands of years has tried to teach us that we do.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Evolution of Theology II

As we look at the evolution of a species, it's adaptation to environment is what prompted its evolution. We see no evidence that the evolving species took a particular role in the process other than just existing or becoming extinct.

But this is what will continue to separate humans from other forms of living beings. We think about evolution.

Descartes immortalized recursive thought with him famed "Je pense donc je suis" or more famously "Cogito ergo sum". I think,therefore I am.

Descartes showed us that the thought within a thought was what made us human. Recursive thought gives us the ability to be in the past and the future. It also gives us the ability to think about the past "us" and the future "us".

The new species of human beings, the evolved version of humanity.

When modern man reflects on the evolution of mankind, he spends most of his time looking into the past. He then looks at his present as the crowning jewel of the Darwinian process. But if we are to embrace the Darwinian model, what's next?

Nietzsche is his work, "Thus spoke Zarathustra," told us of the Ubermensch, the Above-Human, the next human. The evolved human that is the next link in a chain that goes not only into the past, but boldly into the future.

Not withstanding what evil people did with the concept of the Ubermensch, the thought of a being beyond the current state of mankind existed.

The question again is posed, how do we get there? Does a species even have the ability to make itself evolved and even more importantly, does it even want to?

Can a thinking, reasoning species even look at itself objectively enough to know that it even needs to evolve?

Tragically, I believe the answer to that question to be no, modern man sees no reason to evolve. He sees himself at the apex of existence and can think of nothing greater than itself.

Equally as tragic is the fact that this is not the case.

Technology is giving modern man the illusion that he doesn't need to evolve, because technology is doing it for him. Things are easier and faster and the access to information is at the fingertips, but the question still remains, how, or better yet, is this making mankind any more advanced?

Are human beings smarter than they were 100 years ago? How about 1000 years ago? We know again that technology is smarter and faster, but are human beings?

One of the purposes of theology is the spiritual and intellectual growth of mankind. The mind expanding exercise of contemplating the great beyond and a Creator greater than ourselves and us becoming closer to Him and more like Him.

As we discussed in our prior post, we see now why human beings haven't evolved as a species, but our foremost tool to do so hasn't evolved.

When theology doesn't evolve, nor does mankind

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Evolution of Theology

Theology and science have always appears to be at battle with each other. As if the purpose of one was to disprove the other. Hundreds of year ago one came under the sway of the powers that be and one didn't not. One had the ability to flourish and one remained stagnant. We all have the blessings of the flourishing of science and technology, but few have the blessings of theology. It appears that theology is the "old man" that the younger, hipper, more up to date just mock as if the evolution of one is quantum and the other hasn't moved in 2000 years.

To a certain extent, there is truth in that thought process.

I happen to be one of the few who believe that technology and theology are not polar opposites.

When the onset of modern medicine came into existence and those first ideas came in to play, it wasn't as if they remained static. When early medical practices were documented, we didn't "close the canon" on them and practice them the same way for hundreds of years.

We don't consider the first written medical of science books to be holy script. We allowed science and technology to evolve.

The question then is, why didn't we allow theology to do the same thing?

As mentioned earlier, theology because the property of the hierarchy and became the method of control. The hierarchy could then dole out their blessing and as they saw fit and it became the chosen method to control the masses. As heaven became more real by the teachings of the heads of the church, so to, did it admission.

The further technology advanced and the further away heaven got, the more science and theology battled with each other.

Now as I shared, I do not consider them to be opposites. Showing the world is billions of years old doesn't mean there was truth to holy scripture. It just so happened that the outlook of thousands of years ago was the mindset that translated holy text.

If no one knew that the world was round and no one knew that the earth wasn't the center of the universe, why would the writers.

Now we know that we've heard the reason they should have known was because holy text is the God inspired Word and of course God knew the world wasn't flat. So why didn't God tell the writers of the sacred text.

Before I move forward, I'm using the term "holy text" to refer to all religious writings, not just those of a Judeo-Christian mindset.

When science thought that bleeding someone or leeches was a good technique, we know why they use the term "practicing" medicine. We knew then, just like we know now that science and technology are advancing and that the methods used today may seem barbaric in a hundred years.

So again, why has theology remained virtually the same?

It's interesting to me that we use the word "practice" for both our religion and our medicine, but one is advancing and the other is not.

"Practicing," in medicine means advancing and "practicing," in our religion means staying the same.

As science, medicine and technology are important to our physical and intellectual bodies, so to, religion is important to our spiritual and psychological bodies.

If we expect theology to remain relevant to the upcoming generations, theology will need to evolve.

A way that religion can evolve is by us "practicing" it. Now that doesn't just mean attending a local service or gathering. It means studying sacred texts and seeing how they pertain to evolved and more scientifically educated society.

One of the science/theology battles is evolution.

Using the theory of evolution, where does science see the next step in the evolution of mankind?

Most people, scientific or not, have a very self centered version of the future evolution of mankind. Most see modern man as the end all of the evolutionary process.

For all intents and purposes, Java Man may have thought the same thing about himself.

It is possible that the next evolutionary movement of mankind maybe from an intellectual or psychological level. It would be tragic that theology would not be a part of that.

But if theology remains static and holy text is not looked upon as an instructional manual, but as a distant worshiped set of guidelines, I feel that the evolution of theology is far off.

Now religious people often call their texts "living". I have many people call the Bible a "living" book. That it can be read and have todays circumstances be resolved in the depth of the texts.

I believe this to be true. But we are still talking about applying it to the same person. The question is how do we take holy scripture and have it make us evolve?

The only way theology can evolve is by having mankind spiritual evolve and this doesn't just involve being a nicer person, even though for most that would be quite an evolution, I'm talking about taking mankind spiritually and psychologically to the next level of evolution.

Technology is racing forward and mankind is not. So as advanced as we are claiming to be, we are not. Technology is advancing and of course it's creators are doing us a great service, but sadly mankind is staying the same with just more things to play with and more access to things and information.

Let the battle end. The only way mankind can evolve to the next level of existence is though theology.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Obama's Green Agenda will Fail

With the Deepwater Horizon tragedy setting off shore drilling back for years and now the Japanese disaster doing the same thing for nuclear power, we should expect the Greenies to be taking a victory lap and cracking the champagne. We can expect fuel prices to rise as we continue to depend on foreign oil and viable alternatives are taken off of the table.

The part that we sometimes forget is that the suppliers of foreign oil are in the business to sell it. And as we demonize OPEC and the likes as people who can't wait to gouge us at every opportunity and just hearing it's going to rain changes the supply lines and then of course the prices, the reality of the issue is that we are customers and this is business.

If I may be so bold as to use the addict and drug dealer analogy, when the user stops using, the dealer doesn't win, he losses and he will do whatever he can to keep a customer even if that includes changing or lowering the prices.

Now I know that maybe analogy stretched and their maybe numerous reasons the addict stops and stops completely, but we know we as a country are unable to completely stop using oil and that's certainly the last thing OPEC or any oil producing country wants.

So as much as the Left wants Global Warming, The Deepwater Horizon Disaster or the tragedy in Japan's nuclear plant be the tipping point for a green agenda, it will never happen.

The reason it will never happen is because the dealer from the east doesn't want his drug, he wants his money.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Union of Unions

unsustainable debt brought about by union entitlement, we are seeing a mass mobilization of union forces throughout the country. And now with other states looking into the same economic conditions and potentially the same legislation, we are seeing unions even more united nationwide.

The question to ask is why? Not why from the standpoint of union membership declining and therefore so are union dues. Not from the standpoint of union member not wanted to pay their fair share of pensions or health care. Not even from the view that union hierarchy is worried about the power they yield from union dollars being funneled into political capital and the member expense.

The reason the question needs to be asked of why private sector union member are coming to the aid of public sector union members is what do these two groups even have in common?

Being born and raised in Eastern Pa and living in Bethlehem Pa, I was raised hearing the stories of both steel and coal and being proud of the legacy of these great and nation forming industries. We often spoke of union forming events of history in the coal regions from the Molly Maguires to the Latimer Massacre, to the Battle of Blair Mountain and the proud history of our forefathers fighting for fair wages and safer working conditions.

We were proud of the blood and steel and coal that made these people hard and the country great.

So now back to asking the question. What do these people from the steel and coal unions, the policeman and firefighters who risk there lives daily for the protection of us all, have to do with the teachers union or the state office workers?

When Michael Capuano(D-Mass) used the term “get a little bloody” when referring to mobilizing the union troops to support the public sector unions, he was trying to bring back memories of the proud legacy and sometimes violent past of the battles some of the forefathers of these unions fought.

So why would the person who risks life and limb, why would the person who’s generational connection to the history of this great country travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to walk arm and arm with an office worker or teacher, who biggest job hazard is paper cuts and that the school year maybe extended and couple weeks because of snow days so you don’t get the full three months off in the summer.

If the answer to this question is, because my union fat cat bosses told me to, they not only have obstructed the democratic process by supporting democrats who fled the state to avoid voting, they have irreversibility destroyed the history and legacy left by our greatest generations.