I’m privileged to know Vennie. You’re going to hear a lot more from her.
You’ll see what I mean when you read her recent article (click below)…
I’m privileged to know Vennie. You’re going to hear a lot more from her.
You’ll see what I mean when you read her recent article (click below)…
Chelsea’s post rings so true my ears are still tingling.
If you have ever asked, “How could anyone choose to get into a cult?” sincerely, not rhetorically, you’ll find answers in her story.
Some degree of this is common — not rare — in most religious and SBNR organizations. Relationships with narcissists follow the same pattern whether they’ve got organizational and ideological/doctrinal backing or not.
If you met someone who said about himself the things that religions say about themselves, you’d correctly peg him as a narcissist.
So why do we accept organizational, authoritarian narcissism?
Maybe it’s the flip side of Stalin’s observation: “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”
Somehow when it’s SANCTIONED we accept as food what we’d otherwise reject as poison.
I think the same psychological quirk is responsible for the idea that killing in war is not murder. Somehow, when you murder by the hundreds of thousands or millions, you don’t think it’s as horrific as murdering just one.
Welcome to the syndrome of psychopathy-infected “morality”.
Getting into a cult is not a choice. It is a bait and switch.
It is like saying yes to piano lessons, then slowly over time being given drum lessons. When confused that person is told this is the way to become the best piano teacher the world has ever seen. That the drums add to mastering piano.
While learning drums they are slowly physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually abused. The mental abuse through brainwashing causes the student to want to trust their teacher, and believes learning drums will help them. The brainwashing decreases critical thinking skills and increases blind faith and trust in the teacher and/or their mission. Despite the intensity, they continues on. The bait and switch over time causes the student to tell themselves they made this choice and will brave the storm. They tell themselves this instead of admitting they are being horribly used and abused.
View original post 1,558 more words
Jesus was just so fucking smart.
I like thinking about his teachings in unconventional ways — because conventional ones (like the one spoofed in the meme above) were concocted by religious authoritarians who didn’t (and still don’t) give two hoots about our welfare as long as they have secure access to flocks of sheeple and all the goodies they afford.
Jesus said, “Do not resist an evil person” — but not because he wanted to let them freely do evil. He wanted them to stop. “Do not resist” is not “do nothing”. There are lots of ways to overcome evil. Resistance is just a terribly and deceptively ineffective one.
Resistance is wastage. Opposing forces cancel each other out. Not only does resistance frustrate progress in either direction, it creates pressure, friction and heat which, past a certain point, ignite explosions. Pressure hardens *dead* things. Heat combusts. Life refuses to be contained and incinerated; and if it fails to break out, it dies.
So resistance is a way of death. If life is our goal, then we need to operate by its methods: Continue reading
A couple of Bible verses from long past Christian days keep recurring to me, because I see them played out regularly. It’s really quite revealing.
Why would someone be obsessed with revealing his own mind? It’s even more curious when you consider the fools you’ve dealt with: They don’t even seem to know their own minds, but instead blather on about what they believe must be the case given what they managed to learn from other people’s minds. Don’t be fooled by the copiousness of the information they imbibed. Folly has nothing to do with quantity and everything to do with lack of quality.
Three things seem true about fools:
I originally thought that I’d post this article here, then decided to put it on my other blog. I thought it would still be interesting to those of you following me here. If you’d like to read the rest, just click here. 🙂
No matter what you think the truth is, and no matter what you think knowing the truth amounts to, here’s something that you can’t get around…
If you know the truth because others convinced you that it’s the truth, (“truth” meaning, simply: what you believe is true, whatever that might be,) your knowledge can also be undone by others. If the only reason you believe it’s the truth is that someone led you to believe it, they can likewise lead you away from believing it. (I’ve seen this happen first-hand in the pseudo-cultic group I used to be involved with. The founders must be turning over in their graves at how their work has been turned over on its head, lol.)
So, maybe you were led to truth, or maybe it was fiction, or maybe you got led away from truth or fiction. If all you’ve got for it is the word of others, no matter how many there are or how authoritative they might be, you don’t know what happened, whether you were led to or away from what, so in fact you don’t really know much at all.
If you try to know the truth in a way that makes you independent, two things will happen:
Cutting your attachment to being led feels like cutting your tether to sanity and reality. It also feels like Continue reading
Check out my new page on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/MillardJMelnyk
I’m finally asking for help to support my work. Here’s a peek:
If you like what I write and where it’s headed, then help me go farther and faster! 🙂
Or if you think I’m headed for a cliff, then help me go farther, faster, and let’s get it over with! 😉
Either way, I’m definitely on a track and this little engine is just picking up speed.
This one’s a little Bible study on one of the most misunderstood concepts in the New Testament.
Yup, pretty mysterious. You probably haven’t heard a sermon on that passage recently.
For one thing, if Christ or God (translations vary) was manifested — revealed, made clear, displayed — in the flesh, what was there to justify? Isn’t revealing Christ in a human life supposed to prove the reality and the benefits of God and his power and prove the person as God’s faithful child? What’s wrong with that and who could possibly challenge it?
And why manifested “in the flesh”, but justified “in the spirit”? How do you justify something in the spirit?
Romans Chapter 7 is the key… Continue reading
Wow. What a piece of writing. I’m awed.
As to whether we love unconditionally, ever, I liked the way she answered it experientially. I think it isn’t as tough a question as we often think, though. It helps to make a distinction between intention and action.
Intentionally, unconditional love isn’t all that hard. Intending unconditional love, bliss, good fortune, etc., for another human being is no real stretch, especially for those we’re close to and care about. I think the problem is that we’ve been taught to devaluate and discredit the importance of intention. The road to hell might be paved with good intentions, but it’s not paved because people had good intentions — rather because something stopped them. Something made them lose faith that they could follow through on their intentions. So the road to hell is actually paved with good intentions that something killed.
What killed them? Continue reading
I don’t participate in the God Debacle anymore, because I find it profoundly lacking intellectual honesty on both sides of the question. The argument between atheists and theists has all the earmarks of a debate about a third party that’s standing right there and could speak for himself if anyone would just pay attention.
Atheists fail to ask a simple question: God, are you there and, if so, could you please show me? So easy. Which of you has sincerely done that? If not, you don’t have shit to say. You don’t eliminate the existence of God by countering arguments for his existence, any more than you eliminate me by countering every argument that claims I’m here. You don’t eliminate the existence of God because of lack of evidence, especially not when you insist that “evidence” be limited to what by nature has no bearing on the question. You don’t eliminate the existence of God by putting the burden of proof on others. That’s like a scientist who refuses to look for sign of the undiscovered because no one can convince him that there’s anything to find. Why not? Because they have no evidence? LMAO! What a freaking joke, especially since we’re not talking about inanimate materials buried deep in mountains or retiring species hidden in remote ecosystems. Atheists are eager to hunt for those, but probe for an allegedly ubiquitous quarry? Not so much.
After all, we’re talking about a being who could answer for himself if asked but, ironically and for the most part, atheists really don’t want to ask. They seem afraid to ask. Or maybe they’re afraid they’ll get an answer. Or maybe they’re afraid they won’t be able to tell whether they got an answer or not. All this airy-fairy spiritual stuff is just so hard to put your finger on with any certainty, you know. Give them cold, hard science any day and they’ll be content, even happy. Is it because specimens don’t talk back, let alone express will or present existential difficulties? Bugs would say, “Eh… COULD be…”
“Believers” fail to believe a simple proposition: If God is real, he can speak for himself — and not only can he, but he does and he will. The hypocrisy of the unbelief involved in Continue reading
What’s to be done with idiots?
We all know that every trouble of the world is some idiot’s fault. Just ask anyone. Regardless what the problem, idiots are behind it, screwing things up for pleasure, pain, or profit.
My lifelong perplexity is why so few of us want to do something about it.
Maybe people are afraid of becoming idiots themselves, I’ve wondered. Then I realized the folly of my question. They aren’t afraid of becoming idiots… they’re afraid that they already are, and that engaging with other idiots will only highlight their own idiocy in sharp relief. So, they walk the other way, leaving idiots to foul the place at will and compromise the safety and happiness of everyone else. Turning backs and blind eyes to it is weak, callous, and cowardly — its own kind of idiocy.
In my teens, I despaired that I could do much about idiots. I contemplated and rejected suicide, so instead Continue reading
A recent meme proclaimed “Capitalism Kills Love” and I agree. In fact, capitalism is a theory that assumes that God and love are irrelevant.
That got me thinking about how we regard the universe. Our sciences regard humans as the supremely “intelligent” species, and everything besides “life forms” as inanimate. In other words, dead. It and our other “knowledge” disciplines regard humans, life forms, and the universe itself largely as potential menaces that must be conquered and controlled to ensure our survival and safety. And if we don’t regard them as such, then we must be demented to want to conquer and control things that pose no threat and enable our existence six ways from Sunday. Either way, no love there.
What if we’ve got it all wrong? What if it’s all alive, intelligent (in ways we’re still too dumb to understand), and friendly? What if it all just wants to play, but we keep freaking out on contact, killing it, subjugating it, imprisoning it, and exploiting it?
What would happen if instead of trying to secure safety, abundance, happiness, and the rest that we aspire to, we invited them instead? What if we omitted the “or else?” What if we afforded others — “animate” and “inanimate” — the same consideration we’d like when they want something from us? Do we presume that the universe doesn’t want us happy?
I think that’s exactly what we presume at a very deep level; which is why it’s so difficult to truly be happy and believe that happiness is our birthright.
It’s not that we don’t want to help or give. We just don’t want to be forced. We want to make the decision ourselves and be appreciated when we do. We want the opportunity to connect with others and show that we appreciate them by sharing what we can. That rule shouldn’t change when the shoe is on the other foot.
Maybe we’re not living abundant lives because life is resisting our demands and manipulative machinations, waiting for our invitation. Maybe that invitation is what it really means to “have faith.”
We usually think that temptation comes from without, but only a small part hails from circumstances or other people. The brunt of attractive or repulsive tempting force originates within. It takes a fair bit of narcissism to think that our integrity is the main issue in a given situation; more so to hold the situation or others responsible.
So, the “way of escape” from temptation is primarily a matter of perspective: first a recognition of the route through a given situation, not a task of altering the situation to make a way through it. The situation, of course, needs altering — we don’t live in Eden — but we can’t clearly see to remove specks from other eyes until we take the logs out of our own.
Temptations aren’t about enticements or tendencies to Continue reading
The Christian church says a lot about redemption, but demonstrates a glaring lack of competence to redeem. The proof? Christians invest far, far more into arguing that they are redeemed than showing and living it.
The church’s version of redemption is:
Here are the hoops. Jump through them and you will be redeemed.
Ask yourself: Who does the redeeming in that model?
The arguments about redemption across innumerable schisms within and between Christian sects, often euphemized as Continue reading
I often hear atheists and skeptics raise the “lack of evidence” objection to the possible existence of God. I’ve rarely–never, actually–seen any take time to consider how it would feel to be right there, presumed imaginary, then dared to “prove” their existences.
Think of your most intimate, vulnerable, secret self, the one you would only allow your most trusted lover to see. Or maybe you’ve never let anyone see it. Maybe you hardly let yourself look that deeply at the unclothed, raw, tender you.
Now visualize yourself putting that deepest, most sensitive part of you on display, Exhibit A atop the evidence table in a courtroom, you the defendant in a case against your own existence, with skeptical, judgmental eyes surrounding you, looking for reasons to declare you a fraud.
What makes us think that God faces anything less vulnerable in revealing herself to us? Why would it be less fragile a moment than that first, tentative disrobing of a virgin by her lover? Why would God reveal less than her most delicately sensile side to us?
God might be omnipotent or unassailable, but none of the ancients claimed that she is impervious, let alone insensitive. These aren’t the brutal days of Moses and Pharoah and burning bushes. These are days when, according to Jesus, God and her children move like an exquisite, gentle breeze–warm and soft as breath.
Think about that the next time you wonder where God is hiding. Maybe we should think more about why God hides than where. And maybe we’d do ourselves a favor to consider whom God is hiding from. Like lovelorn lads, pining and hunting for the “right one,” heads spinning with all that she will be to them, rarely do we wonder what we will be to her.
What is the prospect of contact with us like from God’s side? God might love us; but does she want to? Maybe that’s the rub: maybe we’re afraid of what we are and what we’ll prove to be under God’s gaze. Maybe we’re afraid how she’ll react if she sees us naked, with nowhere to hide. Maybe that’s why no one can see God and live–not because glimpsing the divine image kills, but because the prospect of being exposed to her penetrating, consuming scrutiny mortifies us to literal death.
Maybe God graciously hides from us until we can bear the encounter.
One thing is clear: while God hides, we cannot see her, we cannot know her, and we cannot know of her. We might hear of her, but we’ll remain blind until further notice.
On the other hand, if God came out of hiding and revealed herself to you, how would you respond?
I can hardly get a straight answer to that question from skeptics and atheists. It’s as if they’re afraid to consider the possibility. In fact, it often seems like they’re dead set against allowing it, let alone honestly facing it.
If God revealed herself to you, what difference would it make? Any? Or would you chalk it up to delusion, consult a doc, and pop a pill?
Maybe there’s good reason for God to hide.
The Bible’s use of the metaphor of clothing is intriguing. Here’s a read on it that I guarantee you never heard from the pulpit… Continue reading
Prison is prison, whether it’s a bad job, a bad relationship, or literally trapped by exploiters or tyrants. No one likes the tyranny of money, but we can’t fathom a way to get free from it. So we do what all victims do having lost hope: we count it our savior.
Money is like an abusive husband — forcing itself on us, making itself first, always first. Love of money is love of a tormentor; but of course, we wouldn’t be so shallow and twisted. Not us! No matter that before we can do what we want, we have to take care of money. No matter that before we can give our children attention, we have to neglect them so that we can “earn” the “means” to concoct “quality time” with them. No matter that all they want are our bodies and hearts as near and for as long as possible, rags or riches regardless. No matter that before we can help others, our accounts must be full and content.
Take care of money first or it screams in our heads, drowning out everyone we care about, beating us up until food becomes a chore, sleep flees from us, and we dread each new day, putting on useless smiles, vainly hoping to avoid the next beating.
So, what can we do? More, of course. Just like any other abuser, money puts it all on us, promising that everything will change after more time, more work, more pain, more humiliation, more neglect of the very things that make anything matter at all, until we reach the magic tipping point: “enough.” Of course, “enough” never comes — not ever — no matter how much more we get.
When will we stop caving to tyranny, swallowing its bullshit, and slaving? Or did you think you were doing something else — following your bliss or living your dream, maybe? Judging by those who actually freed themselves from abusers, exploiters, and tyrants, we’ll liberate ourselves as soon as we stop caring whether freedom is “possible” and realize that — possible or not — it’s not worth living without. Not even for money.
The biggest single hindrance to hearing the voice of God is believing that we don’t already hear it.
Who gave you to believe that? Right–the same people who told you to come to them, that God tells them what you need to hear, so all that’s left is for you to listen. They’re so considerate.
Why do you go to your pastor or priest or guru to find out God’s opinion, when God has been telling you directly all your life? God’s voice isn’t lacking, nor is its volume, nor is its clarity. All that’s lacking is trust.
You already know, down deep where you hide from others’ scrutiny; where you Continue reading
LOL, not that I expect anyone to actually READ 70 pages, but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances. In another year or so it will be down to only 60 pages, HAHA!
This is still in draft. I’ve got one week to edit it. It’s a distillation of my last four years of research applied to the problem of high-risk interactions.
I didn’t realize when I started, but now I see that it’s applicable to everything from domestic abuse to terrorism, with civil protest, cults, age/gender/race relations, and probably a few more I failed to mention in between. It addresses the basic problem of making power-imbalanced interactions constructive instead of destructive. I’m really excited about it.
If you do brave the waters, please let me know what you think! All’s fair and all’s good. 🙂
(Note on Aug. 11, 2013 — The link above is the version I actually presented at the conference, a fair bit different than the one I originally posted here in June. I have no idea why anyone would want access to the draft, but here’s a link just in case: Constructive Engagement Paradigm DRAFT)
I’m headed to Trieste, Italy, to present a paper proposing a “Constructive Engagement Paradigm” at the annual conference of the International Cultic Studies Association. ICSA is a network including both professionals and non-professionals who are “concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic groups, alternative movements, and other environments.”
My paper describes an alternative approach for engaging with people stuck in problematic relationships. It isn’t specific to “cults,” but I figure that if it works with “cults” it can work with just about any kind of abusive relationship. (I don’t like the term “cult” for the same reasons that I don’t like other thought-terminating clichés.)
Here’s the abstract that was accepted, landing me a spot at the conference; although when I submitted it, I called it Group Involvement Integrity Paradigm: ICSA 2013 Abstract – Constructive Engagement Paradigm
Here’s the conference flyer, if you’d like to check it out: Annual Conference, Trieste, Italy
Attendees represent an impressive spread from around the world. I’m one of over 100 presenters. My first paper and my first presentation, but hopefully not my last!
Wish me luck! I’ve always been terrified of public speaking, but I’m oddly confident this time. Should be fun! 🙂
Update: Here’s the draft of my paper, all 70 pages! If you do brave the waters, please let me know what you think! All’s fair and all’s good. 🙂
I’ll update this with the final version before I leave on the 1st…
Paul the Apostle wrote quite at bit about the death of Jesus Christ. Many people (who care to wonder about such things, LOL!) think he referred to the physical death of Jesus and his supposed separation from the Father. That’s pretty unuseful to anyone but theologians. Paul wasn’t writing about physical death on a cross or separation from God, but something fundamental that we participate in–or should, anyway. Besides, how can the Christ “die?” Riddle me that, preacher.
I suspect that the willingness to face realities that take us beyond our hope, knowing that there is hope we’re unaware of nonetheless, is an element of the death of Jesus Christ. The “death” isn’t a separation from God or from life but from the security of the known; a step we take connected with life, trusting God, into the darkness of what we have yet to learn. We refuse to let the limitations of our meager hopes stop us. God is much greater than our hearts and our hopes. Like Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, hope that is seen is not hope. Abraham believed in hope against hope: hope in God against any hopes that made sense to him at the time as he contemplated–not denied–his own body, “now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.”
When we face “impossibilities,” we need to check whether they are truly impossible or just Continue reading
This is the kind of inflammatory piece I like to write from time to time. Check that. I hate writing them, actually. I hate the fact that they need to be written. I hate the bullshit that makes them necessary. And I hate feeling angry. But, given the shitty situation we find ourselves in, I’m happy to do something about it.
I’m amused by people’s reactions when I speak out about hypocrisy. Yes, I have a right to lambaste hypocrites. You do too. Don’t fault me because I exercise mine while you shrink back, intimidated by yours. And, no, I don’t need to be kind or nice or polite to hypocrites. How did I or anyone end up owing them that–as if an overabundance of kindness, niceness, and politeness on their part created a deficit? Seriously? Hypocrisy is assholeishness. Only assholes look you straight in the face and tell you one thing while they know they’re going to do another. Are you kind, nice, and polite to the assholes in your life? If you are to their faces, I bet you go home and vent about them behind their backs; so how deep does your kindness, niceness, and politeness really go?
Christians are pansies for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few. Continue reading
The more we trust, the less reassurance we need, and the more implicit our expressions of affection become.
For one thing, the more secure we are in a relationship, the safer we feel to move out from the relationship into the world, because we’re less afraid that something will go wrong with the relationship if we pay attention elsewhere for a while. On the contrary, the relationship becomes our safe haven from which we can explore and dare, as well as our refuge when we inevitably run into trouble. Our trusting partners and comrades also support our move outward, enjoying their role in our growth and expansion, instead of interpreting the shift as a signal that we don’t recognize their importance. This is what happens of necessity when parents have children: less time for face-to-face attention and more collaboration of two as one, facing their children together.
For another thing, deliberately testing love is a way to honor and celebrate it. Why do best friends Continue reading
I’ve been getting out and meeting people lately, something relatively new for a reclusive homebody like me. I met with a great group of people last night to discuss an interesting topic. What happened took me by surprise.
I usually do pretty well at finding out what a gathering is about and how to contribute in ways that add rather than detract. Last night I was stymied. It was frustrating. I don’t like throwing wrenches into gearworks, especially when I’m the newbie, but all I could find were wrenches.
By the time I was next to last to talk, I felt at a complete loss. So, I decided to be honest, take the risk of being the token downer for the evening, and did my best to say something genuine, no matter how it did or didn’t fit. Afterwards, I wasn’t so sure; silence might have been the better part of valor. I even explained my “believe first, ask questions later” policy. That was ironic, given that I talked about it precisely because I couldn’t find a way to do it.
I couldn’t process the situation quickly enough to handle it better at the time, but this morning I realized what the problem was. It had to do with energy and creativity.
Jesus said that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. When I’ve encountered truth like that, and when I’ve seen others encounter it, a single, simple reaction marks the event. We laugh. Laughing is the sign of something so unexpectedly cool that we have no other way of reacting. It’s what comedians do to us.
Truth that sets us free is never the same old same old. It’s not familiar. It’s not just a new shade of orange — it’s a kumquat or a life jacket. It doesn’t occur to us if we don’t need liberation; but if we do, then we need unfamiliar, surprising truths. There are lesser ones, I’m sure, but I’m also sure that there’s no good reason to settle for them. When you find an angle that makes you laugh, you found one that was worth looking for.
As I listened last night to people sharing their insights, I heard familiar ideas and methods; but boredom wasn’t the problem. I was frustrated by lack of enthusiasm, by ideas and methods that were familiar to them. These were truths that they hoped would improve their lives. Liberation didn’t seem to be an issue, nor was laughter very evident.
When we follow recipes, prescribed methods, regimens, practices, etc., we hope to achieve goals by using a corrective or aid. The ends are defined, the means are defined, and so the only question is whether we’ll do what it takes to “get there.” This is the opposite of liberation. This is achieving better conditions inside the same old, familiar prison.
Liberation cannot be prescribed, because it eliminates prescription. Liberation is not a matter of achieving defined goals, but of opening unfamiliar vistas to entirely new ranges of possibility, freeing us to choose the goals we want to achieve and how we want to achieve them. In other words, liberation frees us to create.
Creativity, by its nature, is unauthorized. Therefore, creativity works against status quo and political correctness. Creative acts and their products can coincidentally line up with social norms and mores, but concern for that alignment doesn’t inspire them. Pressure to fit in only hampers creativity or, at best, acts like an irritant provoking pearls of creativity to form in reaction.
Creativity necessarily and unavoidably involves danger. This is why artists and creative thinkers in any sector get socially marginalized, especially during their most creative periods and for their most creative efforts. Associating with them is socially risky. If they do become publicly recognized, they get accosted with that strange contradiction we call “celebrity,” an incongruent celebration of lives that we have no intention of personally engaging with, but which we enjoy making a ruckus over, occasionally titillating ourselves with the fruits of their labors for short periods under contrived circumstances.
In that society is dehumanizing, creativity is intrinsically anti-social, because creativity is a life-engendering assertion of not only the human spirit but the human individual. Essential to creativity is a defiant, independent self-affirmation that challenges the very predication of society. Creativity is an act of violence, not against humans or humanity or any other valuable reality, but against the myths that occupy human psyches in opposition to the dignity and sovereignty and power of the single living being — the sanctity and sacredness of one.
Creativity can do what strength in numbers cannot, enabling one to overcome many. Even if the many physically destroy creator and creation, they cannot destroy the creativity that creator and creation embodied. The most that the many can do is destroy physical traces and block them from individual and collective memory. The energy and resources that this destruction and erasure require only affirm the power and consequence of the creativity they tried to obliterate. When everything is finally revealed as it truly is and was, the supremacy of creation will blare and its triumph will be complete and absolute.
In order to get creative, then, we must be willing to stand alone, do something that no one else will do, and risk the dangers of blowback and fallout. Creativity is daring. You feel it when you get around it, a completely different, defiant energy that’s absent when people play it safe or busily follow directions.
Creative energy not only seemed lacking last night — it seemed blocked. But that wasn’t what frustrated me. I felt unable to do anything about it. I had no clue what to do. I usually have at least that. I looked around the table and listened to each person as they spoke, hearing their sincere interests in something better, felt one with them in that, and yet felt like nothing we said made a dent towards getting what we wanted. Not that I’m always supposed to have the answer, of course. I’m just a guy. But all of us can and should contribute to an answer; otherwise what are we doing here? I hope that I can do better next time.
I’m learning that I don’t need to know hows, whys, and wherefores before I commit myself to something good. That’s what following our bliss/following the Spirit means to me: first commit to the good that I love, then cooperate in the process of figuring out the details. That’s the sequence that honors me, the good, and everyone else involved.
Reverse that sequence and we become slaves to how, when, where, and what. That might not sound so bad, because we’re so used to living that way: governed by and even at the mercy of forces, times, places, and things. Not only is it no fun being wagged, it tends to not make much sense. Our sense of meaning, purpose, and personal power are much enhanced when we start with why and make the decisions ourselves. We sure were conditioned to operate otherwise, though.
What good reason could there possibly be to want something good while thinking it isn’t going to happen? Or what reason for thinking it won’t happen if we’re sure it’s good? Why wouldn’t it? If it’s good, why do we even question Continue reading
It just occurred to me this morning how simple it is to identify God and “God things” (an expression my Evangelical friends use, as in, “it’s a God thing.”)
We get to identify God for ourselves, not others. That requires us to–guess what–trust others to identify God for themselves. What a novel idea! 😉
(FYI, I posted this on our Facebook Group Awakening Together: an experiment in trust-based community just this morning. Please stop by and check it out. We’re a lively crew!)
I can say that God “spoke” to me, but that doesn’t mean that I heard what God wants to tell you. If it sounds like God to you, it’s because God is “speaking” the same thing to you. If it doesn’t sound like God to you, either God isn’t “speaking” that to you, or I’m listening to a different God, or Continue reading
I’m drawn lately to work on a blog I started a while back but haven’t paid much attention to. I can only write so much in a day, so my posts here will probably slow down somewhat.
Crushing Shit and Shitty People is my lab for exploring how to deal with the dark side of life. My premise: anything is easy once it gets fun.
Why can’t dealing with evil be fun? If it could be, life would suddenly be a gas! And why shouldn’t it be? We seem to believe more in the power of evil than we do in the power of good.
If you knew that every time you faced evil you’d crush it, wouldn’t that be outstanding? Would you need to pack a weapon to feel powerful, then? Would you walk around with jaw clenched, hyper-alert, able to trust only under special conditions? Would you smile more? Would you be more relaxed and approachable? Would you feel happier?
I think it’s worth a look. Check it out here .
I’m looking for people who want to go farther spiritually than just explore the light side.
Too many are afraid of the dark side. It’s real, and we need to learn how to deal with it effectively. Most modern spiritual writers completely ignore it.
Wait. I’ll take that back. Most writers relegate it to confines so tight that it leaves the darkness of exploitation, abuse, and violence all kinds of room to do whatever the fuck. The darkness of exploitation and violence has covered the earth for millennia and met little resistance, except for that of other violent exploiters, even now.
Being the change we wish to see in the world is the first step, but just the first. Who wants to explore the second with me? Paul the apostle called it overcoming evil with good. Continue reading
Yes, I know what day it is. 🙂
I considered delaying this, but all the reasons to wait were bad ones.
Pleasantry in the name of love is easy to accept, even when it’s insincere. Harsh truth is almost always resisted, even if given truly in love. We go so far as to claim that love cannot be harsh, wrongly blaming the harshness we feel on the truth-teller. Once felt, we rarely bother to question its true source.
Why post something “negative” on Valentine’s Day? Because I awoke at 5:30 AM this morning and it came to me then. I assume there was a reason for that. Besides, if it’s lost on you because my timing seems irksome, you probably need to hear it more than you think.
I wish you all the love in the world today. Even if I didn’t, it’s already yours. It has already been given to you. You are loved.
Faced with love, you question beliefs. Hypocrite.
Faced with truth, you condemn the messenger. Hypocrite.
Surrounded by suffering, you fault the sufferers. Hypocrite.
Claiming the cure, you make the sick seek you out, then force or connive them to pay.
You extol the virtues of service and sacrifice while defending principles of self-interest.
You claim to be strong in a world that you paint as a dangerous place.
You claim to care but can only trust with difficulty.
You pretend to know God or Good while fearing the power of people.
And in spite of all this, you refuse to grieve. Instead, you say it can’t be otherwise.
Many people read those words to mean, “Don’t let yourself get into debt, except for loving each other.” Others read it, “Take care of all your debts, so that love is the only one remaining.” Read the quote above again and see how you interpret it.
The emphasis of both those readings is debt. What’s up with that? Why presume that we already have debts, or that the first priority should be to minimize or eliminate indebtedness? Sure, debt is an important issue, but more important than love? Judging by our relative attention to them, love takes second chair. Interesting emotional gravitation. Besides, that’s up-to-zero thinking. What about after becoming debt-free? Do we spend much time thinking about that, or is it about as real to us as pearly gates? Or, do we never expect to get there?
Many people, especially Christians who respect Augustine and Aquinas and Luther believe that we start life indebted; or, at least, that any innocence we began with as children was lost soon after because of “sin.” And so, Jesus died on the cross and paid our “debt of sin” for us. The larger society might not follow this line of thinking, and it doesn’t need to, with school loans, employment, house loans, car loans, “consumer” loans, duty to God, country, community, family, our fellow man, and a zillion other ways to obligate and indebt us at its disposal. Our societal paradigm–how parenting, families, school, work, church, military, and government actually work–effectively claims that we start out owing everything to everybody. Then, it claims, we must work hard to pay the debt off.
That’s actually what “earning a living” is all about. In other words, we don’t deserve Continue reading
This is an intentionally ire-raising piece addressed to everyone who loves to talk about God and love but remains clueless about what they are.
So, you who love to talk, answer me this. If we have God’s love in our hearts, why do we need laws?
“Well,” you say, “we do need laws: God’s laws!”
Right you are, but those are supposed to be written on our minds and our hearts. At least Jeremiah and the writer of Hebrews thought so.
So, if God’s laws are written on our hearts and on our minds, why do we need any other laws? Continue reading
(This was written specifically about the Christian Church, but is no doubt applicable to other religious institutions.)
Does the church lie? Of course it does.
Is the church a liar (insofar as we can consider any organization or movement to be “a liar”)? Indubitably.
No, I’m not just being pugnacious or cheeky.
The church claims to be the bastion of right, goodness, and truth. Any authority with such claims assumes two key responsibilities, simply by taking its stand:
The church does neither and yet claims authority by virtue of righteousness and defense of truth, the two very things that should ensure its wild success–not dismal failure–in both key responsibilities. Let’s look at the easier, second key responsibility first. How hard can it be to honestly admit one’s shortcomings?
Shortcomings indicate failure to meet expectations. Being honest about our shortcomings implies three things: Continue reading
The Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment.” 1 John 4:18
So, authority that involves punishment is a stranger to love, because love banishes the fear that empowers such “authority.” Obligation and duty motivated by fear of authority or the consequences of resisting authority have nothing to do with love.
Authority that puts people in fear, forcing them out of love, is an evil substitute for real authority. Obligation and duty are evil substitutes for care. The fact that authority, obligation, and duty seem necessary, even inescapable, only shows how weak and corrupted our thinking is.
Therefore, it is wrong to obey authority out of fear of what will happen if we don’t. According to the Bible, that kind of “obedience” and “duty” take us out of love, so they are false. They are cowardice. They are sin.
For as long as I’ve been trying to understand truth, at least since high school sophomore philosophy, I’ve struggled with three terms: trust, belief, and faith. The more I’ve asked and read about them, the muddier the waters have gotten.
I’d like to propose some very simple and clear definitions for these important terms. The definitions aren’t original, nor can I cite my sources. They were distilled from my personal wrestling with the angel of clarity. I feel I’ve won the match. You can let me know if you think a return bout is called for.
Trust: a sense of safety that determines the range of Continue reading