Posts Tagged ‘Love’

All We Need Is Love(…..and Law,…..and Truth)

May 18, 2012

As I’ve progressed through my life I’ve realized certain things that seemed self-evident actually require further exposition and explanation. Growing up as a child of the 60’s and the 70’s many of the people of my generation became very acquainted with the phrase, “All you need is Love.” It was the height of the hippie era and life actually seemed quite simple and direct with that wonderful appealing mantra. “Yes, all we need is Love and the world will work, the world will be better, our Universe will be Grand.” An old rock group “The Beatles” even had a song called “All You Need Is Love.” I want to abandon, change, or modify that singular concept.

I now believe that we should actually expand that Ideal to include Law and Truth. A trilogy of Ideals that are all completely intertwined and are in fact ONE IDEAL.

LAW: Somehow, someway the Universe needs, wants or has A STRUCTURE. It has a bottom line, it has a remedial and corrective force in our lives that propels us ever upward toward greater and greater goodness. We can call this Man-made Law, Natural Law, or Karmic Law.

I believe that Man-made Law is like a reflection in a pool of water. Man-made Law is just a mere watery reflection of God’s Law. In the end it is found wanting. It’s less than perfect and in fact seems to rely quite a bit upon punishment instead of remedial, corrective teaching. Still, temporarily, it’s the best that we have and the best that we can currently understand.

More attuned to God’s Laws and acting more as a true “mirror” is Natural Law. Most of this is observable by mankind in his everyday environment, i.e. Nature’s Law. When we look at our external world we find the discoverer of real world Laws: Newton’s law of universal gravitation, Newton’s law of heat conduction, Gauss’s law for magnetism, Faraday’s law of induction, Faraday’s law of electrolysis, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.

If I understand these correctly, most of these laws are immutable. I can’t fly, I can’t go backwards in time, I can’t create a perpetual motion machine. However, if I work within the laws, I can fly in an airplane, I can learn from history, and I can become a steward of God’s earth and energy.

Last is Karmic Law. True Law. The total embodiment of Law. The will of God made manifest. What goes around, comes around. What you sow , you also shall reap. Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule. This Karma is both a backward correction and a forward momentum. It is a Universal Mill Grindstone that grinds down to make a renewed substance in refined Spiritual Flour. It also works like a Universal Weaving Loom that is constantly creating new weaves of Love and Opportunity. The one(the mill) is wearing and grinding down the supposedly useless weeds into a Renewable Spiritual Nourishment while the other(the loom) is building newer and finer tapestries of Spiritual Cohesion and Fabric.

This is why it’s important to understand science, it’s describing our world.

This is a good point also to show the main connecting point between two supposedly opposite institutions, Religion and Science. In various degrees both are interested in the…..

TRUTH: Both Religion and Science want to know how the world works. While religion frequently expounds on the truth, science tries to discover it. For one, it’s self-evident and for the other it’s a frontier. While one(religion) may appear delusional the other(Science) can appear as Godless. I don’t just gobble up the dictates of religious authorities and I also don’t believe in a world of just rocks, stars, and DNA. In actuality we are all trying to find the Truth whether we are religious scholars or scientists. We all want answers that really are self-evident and that are real.

As I expounded in my earlier post, Truth is like light. It broadcasts and illuminates everything everywhere. We all seek the truth and we all have various ways of concealing our own falsehoods. Besides the song “All We Need Is Love,” one the songwriters of the Beatles, John Lennon, wrote another great song of Spiritual Ideals called “Gimme Some Truth.” The song is really a plea for honesty, sincerity, earnestness and justice. It’s a simple plea from a single man on the state of the world.

Part of my point here is not any exaltation of the The Beatles or John Lennon but to illustrate that these ideas and Ideals are actually very common. These Ideals are sought out among Rock Stars, Religious Scholars, Scientists and everyone. Everyone wants to know the Truth. Everyone knows a little bit of truth.

LOVE: I could write a ton of words about this subject but it’s actually our greatest life lesson. It will permeate every facet of our lives as Mother, Son, Spouse, and Elder. We will each change seats in our lives and take up the different positions to learn new facets of Love and Connection. As I stumble through this life I keep finding myself in each of those different positions and marvel at the thought of each new assignment. “Oh, this time I’m the Good Son, now I’m the Good Dad, soon I’ll be the Good Grandpa(I hope I can do it).” Try as I might to write it down and capture it in a phrase or a word, it just doesn’t translate, it has to be lived.

These three Ideas are actually ONE IDEAL that are all absolutely interconnected and inseparable.

To understand how these truly do fit together we need to understand that actually each precept overlaps the other:

We can be responsible, structured, scientific and lawful and still be unloving.

We can be Truthful and still be a loveless being.

We can be Truthful and still be irresponsible, unruly and unlawful

We can Love another but still be unfaithful and untruthful.

We can Love another but still be irresponsible, unruly and unlawful

Although I could probably make an analytical Venn diagram of these three components I think that the point is made that these three are all part of ONE IDEAL. To have one without the other is a short selling of Spirituality And God.

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend upon the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.

– Albert Einstein

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Love

May 11, 2012

This is the third of a series of posts with a soon to come final summation.  The first two posts dealt with Law and Truth.  This post is about Love.  I should say that I am no expert on Love. In fact, Love is the principle of what people are supposed to learn from this earthly experience.  Again though, it’s not mine to own but I have some things to share.

I have three ideas of Love to share here.

First Part. I’ve read a book called “The Art Of Loving”, by the renowned psychologist Erich Fromm(http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Loving-Erich-Fromm/dp/0061129739/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336741193&sr=1-1).

As I pondered this great book by Erich Fromm I realized that love as we commonly understand it has primary and secondary meanings.   Usually we imagine Love as a couples romantic Love or family Love. In Mr. Fromms book he highlights other loves of Brotherly Love, Motherly Love, Self-Love, and Love of God.  Even two of these are Family love.

I pondered his ideas and realized that there was in fact an infinite or near infinite variety of ways to Love.  I realized that Love should be practiced in any interconnectable capacity.   I realized that there are different degrees and levels of Love to be practiced and used by all of us.

Sticking with the idea of family love I could see that we should strive to be good and loving Mothers and Fathers.

I could see that we should be good and loving Daughters and Sons.

We should strive to be good Aunts and Uncles, Nieces and Nephews.

We should strive to be good and loving Grandmas and Grandpas, Grandchildren and Cousins.

While we all know of blood ties and relationships to various family members, I don’t think we understood the opportunities and responsibilities of loving all within the family(In certain ethnic families this is automatic but here in America we often have far flung and separated family ties that inhibit our love instinct) .

If we expand the Universal Net Of Love we can see that we can be loving individuals in all of our relationships.

Are we good Neighbors?

Are we good Co-workers?

Are we good Teachers and/or Students?

Are we good Citizens?

These last four examples are other ways in which we wouldn’t ordinarily think of these relationships as Love situations.  But, if handled deftly and with awareness instead of mechanical and  arbitrary motions, a greater understanding of the world can be known.

Part of the point here is that we tend to think of love as high and mighty, big and important without realizing the true Love opportunity unfolds around us everyday and in every way.

Second Part. My friend Ed and I were talking one day and he shared with me the true nature of the love for our respective children.   He explained to me that, “the kids and teenagers don’t even know how much we love them.  They think that love is birthday parties and teen age infatuation.”  Being a new parent at the time I just nodded my head, “Yea, you’re right.” He continued on, “If you think of the love that we have for our kids you can see that it’s a pure Love…..it’s not romantic, it’s not sexual….it’s not driven. It flows and falls off of us to our kids.   There is nothing we wouldn’t do for our kids. Nothing.”   I sat up now and realized exactly what he was talking about, “Yea, that’s absolutely true. I’ve never really loved in this way before.”   When Ed left later I pondered his message for a long, long time because I realized that it was true.  The Love that my wife and I have for our kids is totally different from anything I had ever experienced. It is in fact one of the most pure and selfless loves we can give.

Third Part. In my late twenties, my mother and I were talking one day and the subject was about a local boy who had made a big mistake in his life and everyone knew it. His actions made him the local pariah.  He was being scorned very much by our local village. Unfortunately, no one wanted to know him or even be around him.   I felt sorry for him(bleeding heart liberal) but understood the hatred of the community.   The amazing part of this whole story was that the Mother of this boy was absolutely certain that he didn’t do these things. She was absolutely defending him to the bitter end. This was even more confounding in the community because all the facts indicted and convicted him. It appeared to be a tragedy upon a tragedy.  Soon the local people couldn’t stand to be around her either.  It was a loyalty and love I couldn’t understand.

It wasn’t until I became a parent and I reflected on my friend Ed and his story that I finally understood.  The mothers love was absolutely Unconditional.  I realized too that this must be how God loves me! More and more I realized the absolute vehicle of motherhood confers a certain love that is magnified a hundredfold over our other understandings.

When I think of the function of Motherhood and how pre-life decisions are made I wonder how we could ever do what we do?

I have this image of God speaking to a soul/spirit and conferring with them of their spiritual curriculum this time around,  “Angel #99, I have a special mission for you this time to fulfill one of my main objectives.   This time I want you to be Steve’s mother.”

Angel #99 says, “But why? What’s in it for me?” God gives an infinite love and sternful expression all at the same time and says,  “Your job this time is to give absolute, unconditional love to Steve.  You’ll care for him, cloth him, feed him, and defend him no matter what. You’ll love him the same way I love you, with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole soul.  Any questions?”

“Yea,” Angel #99 says, “why do I have to do it. I don’t even like him.  How can I do this?   Isn’t this asking a lot of me?  Maybe someone else can do it.”

God laughs and says, “You and Steve are perfectly suited for one another.  Your respective life lessons go hand in glove.  You needn’t worry, the chemical, biological and instinctual feelings will take over.   Soon….very soon…you will see what I see in Steve and you will also see more clearly exactly what I see in YOU.  I’m not asking you to do anything different or even asking the impossible. I’m just asking you to love someone like I love you.”

Angel #99 shuffles the feet, flaps the wings, and says, “In God we trust, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Happy Mothers Day,

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. 
               – Abraham Lincoln

Truth

April 27, 2012

I believe that Truth is a very important component of Spirituality.

As I’ve studied various spiritual tomes, religious tracts, bibles, Near Death Experience books I’ve come across a theme that recurs over and over again.   In the hereafter nothing is SECRET.   Everything is known.  Everything is understood or can be understood.

Now that is a thought that both scares me and highly intrigues me.

It scares me because I don’t really want the things of my life to be public knowledge.  I don’t want my indiscretions of selfishness to fly as a flag from the tallest mast on the biggest ship in the widest ocean. YES, I”M AFRAID THAT PEOPLE WILL SEE ME AS I REALLY AM.    Some of that is very, very good because sometimes I am very, very good.  But I am all to aware of the multitude of times that I have let  down my brothers and sisters.

The good part of a hereafter with no secrets is all man-made political and spiritual systems will be laid bare as provincial, ego-building systems. The Universal truths will be self-evident and undeniable. Spirituality will be plain and forthright. TRUTH will be as evident as the clouds in the sky, the streams through the wilds, and the trees in the forest.  In short, incontestable, undebatable.  I believe that I will finally have real answers to real questions of the Universe and God’s world.   I WILL UNDERSTAND THINGS.  Reality won’t be open to interpretation.   All the different positional sides of people will enable us to see ourselves as ONE.

I believe that there are two kinds of Truth: Provincial Truths and Universal Truths. The provincial truths are those that are primarily geographic, local and temporal.  The Universal truths are true despite geogaphy or time.   They are true everywhere, all the time, for all people.

Provincial Truths can further be broken down into true or passing for true(talk about doublespeak).   A real provincial truth is usually small personal, geographic and timely. The love of my family is a provincial truth. It’s real to me but but does not carry over to other people, other places, or other times.

The false provincial truths are provincial truths trying to pass for Universal Truths. These are truths that the religious, the political, and particular try to pass off as “We Are The One”.  In short, it is various groups trying to “co-op” and “incorporate” the truth to their personal use.

The discovery of a false provincial truth can be seen by trying to take it to another part of the world and imparting that truth there.    If it appears at all self-serving or self-directed then it could be met with jeers and disdain.   “You believe what?” they would say.  It becomes a propositional  truth that has to be sold.

The Universal truths can be recognized everywhere, all the time.   Truths that are Universal can be recognized as, “whatever you do unto others will be done to you”, “As you give you gain in understanding”, “you must first save yourself if you would save another.”  These are truths that can usually be recognized by all people, anywhere, anytime.

It will behoove us to learn NOW to be as honest as possible. If upon entrance to the hereafter we try to carry on as we did on earth our foolish lies will pervade our whole existence. We will be embarrassed that we can’t face the truth.

Imagine a world in which every mistruth exposes us as a long-nosed Pinocchio, or the naked Emperor upstaged by a child(“The Emperor’s New Clothes“). Could we live with our lies emblazoned like NEON signs on our forehead? Don’t you think that we would grow mute if we couldn’t tell the truth. If every word we uttered was an attempt to amend and modify our world to our selfishness wouldn’t we see the need to change?  If our normal shortcut answers failed to help us wouldn’t we try to align ourselves to Universal Truth?

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.

                                                                     -Elvis Presley

Spiritual Book Review: “Your Life….Understanding the Universal Laws” by Bruce McArthur

April 20, 2012

This particular post is a kind of trilogy of understanding that I’m recently embracing and hope to share with others.  We know what Love is, is there more?

Bruce McArthur has undertaken an adventuresome book.  The full title is “Your Life: Why It Is the Way It Is and What You Can Do About It – Understanding the Universal Laws” by Bruce McArthur.   It’s too long of a title to have as the name of this particular post.  Compared with the wisdom and insight of this book the lengthy name is inconsequential .  The book is ISBN #0-87604-300-7 and is about 276 pages long.

Bruce MacArthur was an Electrical Engineer and an Executive.  He pondered that state of the world and had the courage to wonder “How does it work?” He was familiar with the teachings of Jesus and understood learning the lessons of Love.

In his introduction he makes a very clear case for his questions and searching.  He sought to know how the Universe works.   What is the Spiritual Structure of this world?    What is the bottom line?

He begins his case with  the thought that God’s Laws must be Universal and unmutable (unchangeable), they must apply equally  to everyone.   He makes the analogy of electricity laws.  He learned these laws of electricity in his youth and realized that they were so perfect he could imagine and design whole circuits with nothing but pen and paper.  Upon leaving his study he could then build these circuits right every time, the first time.  He knew too that these electricity laws were equally good in India, Ohio, or Sweden.  The electricity laws are Universal. From these simple electrical explorations he realized that God’s Laws must be like this.   In fact, he again realized that even the mere electricity laws were part and parcel  of God’s Laws.    Nothing is separated, nothing is isolated.

He began a more earnest journey to know these Universal Spiritual Laws and eventually found the  teachings of a spiritual healer that imparted these laws sensibly.

In short, but not all, some of these Laws are:

“As you sow so shall you reap”

“Like begets Like”

“There is nothing by chance”

“As you give you gain in understanding”

“Spirit is the Life, Mind is the builder, Physical is the result”

These are but a smattering of his so-called research of the Universal Spiritual Laws.  In the back of the book he lists 32 separate laws that should be applicable in one’s life.  They are very good laws.

My own thoughts: electricity laws and Universal Laws share other common attributes.   Like electricity laws the Universal Laws are impartial, they shock, harm or alarm exactly alike or the can build and shine a light unto the world.

Addendum: I haven’t referenced the teacher healer by name because while I give credit where credit is due I realize that Mankind desperately wants to play the “My guru is better than your guru game.”   If each of us searches in the same manner that Bruce McArthur has, we can actually see more, be more and understand more.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Life-About-Understanding-Universal/dp/0876043007/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319457949&sr=1-1

“There is an orderliness in the universe, there is an unalterable law governing everything and every being that exists or lives. It is no blind law; for no blind law can govern the conduct of living beings”
      -Mahatma Gandi

Astrology: The Mirror

September 16, 2011

These are my observances, thoughts and opinions of Astrology. First, what Astrology is not.  It is not the daily horoscope as commonly found in the newspapers.  If you pay a dollar for advice you will get a dollar’s worth of advice(shades of instant karma).  If you read the daily advice column you can usually be certain that it won’t be about your exact concerns and problems. Dear Abby doesn’t apply to everyone all the time. Why don’t these columns and horoscopes work?   Because each and every human being is different and unique.  Every Astrology Birth Chart is different. Even the stock market page advises each person to consult a broker for real financial advice.

In my opinion(which varies with much of the Astrological community) Astrology is not a  psychic instrument and  forecasting the future can be difficult and challenging.   In short I don’t particularly find it to be a great instrument in predicting the future.   However it can be useful nonetheless.   Just as I might look at the weather forecast or the stock market trends or the political landscape I can possibly draw likely scenarios of the future.  I just can’t do so with certainty.   Three days out and the weather can completely change.  There are too many variables to read to make completely accurate predictions.  

It is not a religion but is it part of the spiritual as we all are. It is not science but it is mathematical and exact. Between religion and science it has become an outcast of the modern world. 

 In truth Astrology shares much in common with psychology. The famous psychologist Carl Jung used Astrology. A fair amount of psychologists use Astrology.

The stars do not determine our fate, they mirror our personality and reflect our likely dispositions. Our fate is still determined by us.

What the Astrology Birth Chart does do is to mirror our world.

The actual birth chart is like a snapshot of the most important moment of your life, the moment you were born. Truly the most significant moment of your life.    If we had a big enough camera and snapped a picture of the universe from the exact time and place of your birth the picture and the birth chart would look the same.   It would show exactly where the Sun, the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars were at that exact time/spot where you were born.  This is why it’s a mirror.  It’s a reflection of how you view the world. 

So why is Astrology so hard to understand?   One, because all of the planets and houses need to be understood in their own context and in relationship to one another.   This would require homework for the true student to understand the whole picture. Another reason it’s so hard is the planets describe ourselves as energy.   This is a difficult idea to understand. It’s even more difficult to describe.  How do we describe a waterfall or a bonfire?  How can we describe steam or electricity?   How can we describe a hurricane or a sunny summer day.  But in our lives we all know people who are like emotional waterfalls, fiery bonfires, hellfire hurricanes or beautiful sunny days.   Any worthwhile system takes time to get a comprehensive view.

It worth it for each individual to have their own chart calculated and interpreted by a reputable Astrologer.   Only by doing this can others understand.  It’s a soft science in that judgements and interpretations are determined just as a psychologist does in his evaluation with patients. It’s a science in that the Birth Chart has to be calculated from the persons exact time and place of birth to determine that exact placement of the planets at the time of birth.   Several books have to be consulted to calculate the chart(an ephemeris, a table of houses). The cost is minimal compared to the knowledgeable information.

A QUICK ASTROLOGY INTERPRETATION OF MY CHILDREN(please read to the end)

I can’t go over both of the children charts and there is too much in each chart to post on even one site.  I have culled from the interpretation of a book called “The Only Way To Learn Astrology”. This is actually a very common book that can be found in any New Age bookstore or even in Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Only-Way-Learn-Astrology-Second/dp/1934976016/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316101288&sr=1-1

Here is their birth data.   In using the book a person would read up on a planet/house combination and see if it fits the respective individual. The relevent parts that pertain to them I will have in bold and italics print.

Date                     Time             Place

Daughter:

Jan. 5, 1993,   10:31 AM  EST,  Port Huron, Michigan   Placidus House System

Son:

Aug. 6, 1993   08:10 AM EDT,  Monroe, Michigan   Placidus House System

For my example I have used the Moon indicating the mother figure(also the sign of Cancer) and the Sun/Saturn representing the Father figure.

First my son:

He has a Moon in Pisces in the 8th house. The 8th house and PISCES sign are both indicative of secrets.   PISCES is also related to the 12th house of things hidden from others.   This 12th house is also the house of secluded or private institutions like prisons, mental institutions, monasteries or hospitals. For our purposes it means an absent mother or secret mother.

My son has the Sun in the 12th house(house of secrets or isolation) which can also mean an absent or secret father.

My daughters information is even more direct and with one exception is quoted exactly from the book with the relevent page and line numbers.

MARS IN CANCER Page 171, line 9 of the paragraph

“Mars in Cancer can lead to an early separation from the mother”

SATURN IN THE 12TH HOUSE Page 216, Line 9 of the paragraph

“With harsh aspects, your father may have faded out of your life early”

Her Moon is in Gemini which could be interpreted to mean two mothers.

These sentences and interpretations fit nicely into their real lives because:

The children have never known their respective birth parents because my wife and I adopted them as infants.

It’s also possible to have one’s chart done online and to buy the books and read up the interpretations on one’s own.   It is absolutely important that the DATE, EXACT TIME TO THE MINUTE, AND THE PLACE BE EXACT. Even so I would still highly advise that a person consult a reputable Astrologer for the best interpretation.  When we look at ourselves sometimes we fudge the truth and this is another reason to consult an Astrologer personally.

nosce te ipsum     (Know Yourself) 

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
                                           – Aristotle

Spiritual Book Review: Dating Jesus

August 30, 2011

The Spiritual Book reviews actually covers ANY book that has any spiritual/religious insight or meaning.   Slight Spoiler alert: If you are an ardent believer in God and your personal faith and feel that your faith is sufficient than you may not want to read anymore.    I personally believe that God is working everywhere all the time.  I believe that God is teaching things in those individual religions for an individual instruction to fulfil that person’s total reunion with God.  Sometimes though God wants us to grow in other ways and we may have a path that is less than traditional. 

“Dating Jesus” was written by Susan Campbell and published in 2009.  In trying to write an honest review I have to be truthful about the less than good things about this book.   Please keep in mind though that I feel the book is meaningful and worthwhile to read otherwise I wouldn’t write a review at all.  

1. The book could have been longer, it was only 205 pages long.

2. She skips important and meaningful things in her personal life that probably had a direct impact upon her religious/spiritual values.

3. The larger development  about her faith is questioned as to whether it crumbled away or a full-blown spiritual realignment occurred. 

I believe that the editor and publisher should have compelled a greater input and direction for the answers to the above shortcomings.  

There….I got that out-of-the-way.  I don’t like being negative but at the same time if it’s the truth I can’t paint over it and let future readers believe that the book  is supremely great.  It’s just merely GREAT.

I admire Susan Campbell for her courage to write this book. It’s very honest account of growing up in a bedrock, good as gold fundamentalist religion from Missouri, the back bone of middle America.  This is not altogether a book about spiritual growth as much as it is a book about the spiritual realizations about her own faith that she was raised to believe in. She still believes in God, but differently.

As a child growing up she followed her faith and did as she was asked.  She was Baptised and then Baptized again.   He community, her friends were almost all belonging to the same church. She and her friends would proselytize door to door to find new members.  Frequently she made clear to others that belief in God and Jesus were not sufficient, that their church was the one true church. Any other church wouldn’t do.  She attended church three times a week.  That was an important facet of their social world.  She became an excellent Bible student and would attend Bible camps.   It soon becomes apparent that Susan Campbell does know her Bible because several Bible quotes are referenced throughout the book.  

As she states so aptly, “”So begins my memorization of vast snatches of the Bible-Old and New Testament. I can recite the books and the apostles and the Beatitudes.”  Her teachers proclaim, “that girl know her Bible.” 

Her realizations of unfairness and differences came as she watched her brother ascend to a beginning ministry position.   It was made clear that she could never do that or be that. Further dashed hopes were the differences in the sports area.   The boys were encouraged and applauded.  The girls were merely tolerated.  One was real and earnest, the other was just entertainment. When Title IX was enacted to promote equality in high school sports some things even changed.  It still took a long time to bring about even a semblance of fairness and equality.

The most important thing that I learned from the book is that in 1909, two bothers named Lyman and Milton Stewart, compiled a number of religious writings of the time and published them as The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. It was originally a twelve volume tract that essentially defined and gave birth to the beginnings of Fundamentalism.   These books were then sent FREE  to several ministers, missionaries, YMCA and YWCA  secretary’s, College Professors, Church superintendents and other like-minded leading Christians throughout the United States and the World.  While many of these ideas are  subject to great debate and controversy I believe that the authors intentions were sincere.   I am not an advocate of fundamentalism but  I understand now how these ideas became so widespread even though many themes have non-existent or debatable reference in the Bible and even the exaltation of the Bible. For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fundamentals.

The other main point of the book is when Susan Campbell goes back to Missouri and visits with her brother and his family.   They attend church while she’s there and she sees that it’s different….very different.   The church has modern musical instruments while her original church didn’t even have a piano.   The choir doesn’t have that familiar closed four-part harmony.  It becomes obvious that many members don’t really know their Bible, at least not like her and her brother did when they were kids.  

This realization becomes something that she realizes is lost.  Not just for others, but herself too.  She laments and regrets that at one time she had total and complete conviction, total religious understanding, total purpose and spiritual meaning in her life.   There was NOTHING grey or fuzzy or uncertain.   Her religious life had purpose, meaning and direction. 

In moving from children to adults,  in seeing reality intruding, we observe that things are not always what we have been taught. Sometimes, such as in Susan’s case, we question ourselves and the so-called values we’ve been taught.   We try to find real answers for real questions.

Many of the things Susan has been through have occurred in many others, myself included.  I applaud her courage and vision to dispense with the old even if she doesn’t have a replacement of new values and spiritual understandings.   That’s what takes real courage.   She didn’t switch, she didn’t just change religions or try something else.   She just evolved and grew.  That is FAITH.   She truly is letting go and letting God work it.  

Even with all the things that I think I know, I pray that I will be able to discard my old ideas and rise to new understandings. I know that even now I’m relying on old ideas that are probably just a bridge to new understandings.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 stars,    ********.  

Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl.      ISBN:    978-0-8070-1066-2

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
                                          Confucius

Faith(102)

July 1, 2011

A famous entertainer had developed a habit that upon arising in the morning and taking care of the morning preparations he would stand in front of the mirror and recite special affirmations.   These were personal and uplifting and filled with love and appreciation.  He was a great star and had great faith in himself and his abilities.  Unfortunately his life ended with less than satisfactory results and social approval.   I’m purposely not revealing the name so as to not besmirch the individual.  The reasons I cite him in this post though is because I question “What went wrong?”    If he had faith how did his life end differently than what he would have wanted? I’m not sure if he had faith of if he was living in an illusion.

A  young adolescent boy about nine years old was asked one day “Son, what do you think faith is?’  He looked up and said plain as day, “Faith is something you believe in even thought in your heart you know it really isn’t true.” <(Source Unknown)   It’s hard to really pinpoint exactly what faith really, really is.   We know it when we see it but again it’s not really something you can hold in your hand.

According to Merrium-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of FAITH

1
a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2
a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

I am intrigued by 2b(1) “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”

When I think of Jesus baptism  and his travails in the desert for forty days and forty nights, wasn’t he examining his faith?   When he prayed in Gethsemane and expressed that this cup be taken from him, was that doubt?

Faith is the belief in something outside of ourselves.  In many ways it is denial.  It is living outside The Consciousness of Now.  It is Future Redemption. It is Something More, a Greater Reality and Something Ahead and Something in the Future.

Again I say the our faith has to have Substance.  It must be Real.  It must be made Whole. The Entertainer was in some ways living an illusion, maybe his faith was misplaced(himself), maybe he also had contradictory thoughts throughout the day that voided his faith. Many many people have had misplaced faith and illusions.  Many of my friends and relatives have invested heavily in dreams, illusions, hopes and fears that I could see were bound for failure.   Frequently too, after the fact, they politely let me know when I had believed in a false Ideal. I also have seen people express great energy, vision and faith and proved me wrong.   Are those having the greatest faith just madmen living in institutions?  Are those that live in a purely materialistic, faithless world living on an island?  Should our faith be more practical? Now comes some of the favorites words that I like to say, “I don’t know…..”

I invite your input here about illusion, practicality, and faith. What are your experiences?  This is something that I need further imput on. It’s something that I am constantly trying to figure out.  Do I lack faith or do I just not want to believe in the wrong. I obviously do have faith because I have endured many, many trials in which I realized “Yes, Yes, you were right in your convictions!!”

I do have an absolute faith so allow me to quote from one of the most direct, simple, practical visionaries of our time:

I am looking for a lot of men who have infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.

                                                                        -Henry Ford

Empathy(102)

June 28, 2011

After my teenage introduction to empathy I proceeded along in life and more growth.   I did try to be empathetic with various individuals and although I was better than before I realize now that I was still a novice.  It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I got my next lesson in empathy.  I hate saying there are empathy skills because that goes against the whole grain of humanness.  Skill and empathy shouldn’t be in the same sentence.

I had joined for a short while a group that tried to help people with their problems.  This volunteer group was a group that was started around the local university in the 1960’s.   Their basic modus operandi was to take anonymous calls from people who seemed to be immediately experiencing problems or depression.     There was a rotating crew to handle the phone lines.  A caller might get a different person every time.  Dependency was to be discouraged but if people needed to call back again then so be it.

When this group was started it was at the height of Viet Nam, political upheaval, emerging drug use and experimentation,  the arrival of birth control  and with it free love.   Broken relationships, bad drugs trips, social disorientation were common everyday events.  The calls were anonymous for both caller and receiver.   Part of the reason was to ensure confidentiality.   The other reason was to help people open up and also to keep people from being dependant. If its anonymous it goes to the grave and no one knows. I heard about the group and it sounded like a great helping and learning opportunity.

I attended the two-day orientation and sat down in the auditorium.  Methods, rules and expectations were discussed for the potential members.  I was assimilating these things when the next most important life lesson in empathy occurred before me.   They proceeded with onstage demonstrations of caller/responder episodes.   Since it was visual and there didn’t need to be any phones they had the caller/responder sit back to back.  This aided us, the audience, because we still wanted to see them speaking but also it helped us concentrate on the voices as supposed phone calls.

I listened to the first caller and she was having a relationship problem.  She was pouring her heart out and the responder was giving these short, terse answers.  Now this is where the first disconnect with me came in.  I didn’t understand what was going on.  Truth to tell, the problem as I saw it was that the responder didn’t give any answers and I didn’t understand that.   As a man I’m a problem solver, a fixer, a repairer of anything with only baling wire and duct tape.  In a quick man’s synopsis I surmised that she should “dump the bum.”

The second caller/responder came on.  This caller was “higher than then a giraffe.”  A drug induced dialogue ensued.  The responder basically inquired on the caller’s safety and security. He asked what drugs the guy was on and if he was going to be OK.   The druggie rambled on and he sounded like he was lonely.   Again the quick, furtive responses were given and then the caller finally hung up.   In my mind I couldn’t figure out why the responder didn’t say “Hey dummy, don’t do drugs. They’re against the Law.”

The third caller came on.  He said that he sometimes contemplates suicide. In fact though he was still far from suicide.  The responder made the inquiry if that was an immediate condition(possible suicide) and found out it wasn’t. Again the responder replied in short “Uh huh” answers.   He listened and listened and listened.   There was no solution.  This guys life was a mess.  I didn’t know what I would’ve said.   Finally the call ended.  It did appear that the caller was feeling differently after the call.

The mediator came out and asked what had happened, did anyone notice anything.  A woman to my left said “He didn’t gave any answers.”   Everyone starts talking, “yeah or neh.”   I’m thinking it’s a failure, where’s the helping hand.  As the sound tones down the mediator says, “We don’t provide answers.  That’s Ann Landers job.   What we do is try to give people their voice,  we let them talk and that’s why they called.  They want someone to listen to them without judgement, acrimony, or fear.”  My second “empathy lesson” light was coming on.

The Volunteer Group’s job was helping people through right now, to carry on to tomorrow.  They didn’t believe in answers because of several reasons. Each human being should discover their own answers.  Frequently no one right answer exists.   None of the people were licensed psychologists or counselors.  To provide a so-called answer was against the law.   Instead references and directions were made for various forms of professional help if people were open to it.

To summarise the Group’s philosophy, they Validated people and they recognized their problems as real and urgent.  The means to reply wasn’t to give answers, it was to listen and communicate the worth of the individual. Their talking style was to say, “I understand, I feel for you, you’re important, your feelings are important, your ideas are important.”  That doesn’t mean that they never used the NO word, they did.  The object was to allow the caller to Vent their immediate feelings, to somehow come to grips with their own problem after a sometimes emotional discourse and then the caller could begin to SOLVE their own problems.   Frequently it would never make it that far.

What I learned was that solutions were out.  The other person’s thought’s and feelings are just about more important than anything in the world.  To facilitate this dialogue certain words and sentences are used to compel the caller to talk EVEN MORE.  The best way to get them talking is for the responder to talk almost as little as possible and to use momentum pushing words.   I’ve made list of the phrases and words and sentences that best accomplish this.  These are not my own but they do push the caller along. These are the MAGIC WORDS:

un huh

yep

really?

you don’t say!

tell me again!

for true!  (a southern expression)

what did you do next?

that must have been terrible, (or heartbreaking, difficult, taxing, frustrating, unbearable, embarrassing)

I hear that!

why!

what then?

you feel how?

I’ve done that too, many people have!

me too! (indicating their not alone)

whose says?

Each sentence is about 5 words or less. It’s important for the caller to go through the emotional catharsis first and then IF a solution can be found by the CALLER  they can make it their own.  Most of our solutions will be useless.   Again as I stated in another of my posts this is why therapy takes so long. The therapist is trying to guide the patient to their own conclusions.   This is the only way they can own them.

“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.”

                                                                                                                 – Chinese Proverb

When you listen, what do you Honor?

June 13, 2011
I’m trying to tell her but she just doesn’t get it.  She brushes me off. I explain again. I try to make her see how crucial this is to me.  I become more emphatic.  She ducks and dodges and weaves from my finest arguments.  Finally, I really am arguing and she is too.  Our voices get louder and more and more sarcasm enters the picture. Finally we both are in full-fledged battle.   We break apart……and lick our wounds. 
 
It’s taken me a long time to understand how most of us have learned to communicate with one another.  We learn from our parents. We learn from TV and the movies. But most of those experiences don’t really reinforce positive communication.  From the media, movies, and TV world, positive communication is not good drama or entertainment. A most striking example is the English Parliament where insults and embarrassment appear to be the standard fare. The resolutions appear disappointing if people resolve things without acrimony.
 
Frequently when people discuss things, their focus can be on winning, scoring points, laying down the gauntlet, embarrassing their opponent. Sometimes it can manifest as absolute and total denial.  People want to preserve their identity and their illusions, particularly about their own image. Especially in America where we definitely have a whole sports culture that says that winning is everything. Every issue is engagement.
 
In marriage, relationships, and sometimes the work world this doesn’t work well.  We can’t run over our spouse, dominate our kids, and do whatever we want. 
 
One way to have a more adult relationship is to be “continually & willfully mindful” of what we are saying and what we are doing. I call this CWM.   When I fix this thought with a little axiom I can then fix it in my mind.  This CWM can be hard to do since our upbringing has indoctrinated us by TV and Movies to act less than our best.
 
Recently(the past two years), I’ve been trying to not honor power, force, sarcasm, winning and self-righteous behavior. Not that I consciously honored them, that’s my point, but that I have been taught to honor them.  I’ve been trying to pay attention to how I talk, how I sound, what I mean when I say certain things. 
 
I’ve made a list of conflict resolution arguments that I stay away from. Most of this list if from TV, Movies and personal experience. It’s a lengthy list of “don’t do’s” for avoiding arguments and staying on track, getting what you want without resorting to boorish behavior. It’s difficult to do.
 
 
It’s important to not:  use sarcasm
It’s important to not: use knee jerk reactions,  in responses or baiting.
It’s important to not: change the venue, “Another thing you did…”          
It’s important to not: use name calling, “Doodlehead, Crazyman,…”
It’s important to not: use Demonizing or Polarization, “You did..,” Us vs Them
 
It’s important to not: use one-upmanship behaviour, “At least I am…….”
It’s important to not: use a negative tone, another form of sarcasm or disdain
 
It’s important to not: use a cavalier manner or attitude 
It’s important to not: use impunity, “That’s too small to even worry about!!”
It’s important to not: Gesticulate, arm waving, finger-pointing, giving the finger…
 
It’s important to not: use tagging, “Yea, Jim is that way.”  indirect positioning
 
It’s important to not: use inverse tagging, “I’m the good one.”
It’s important to not: use Short Shrifting to undermine others 
It’s important to not: use  Buckshot Charges, “You did A, B, C, D, & E.”
It’s important to not: use Blanket Denial, “It’s ALL WRONG, the WHOLE PACKAGE”
 
It’s important to not: use Stonewalling, (defensiveness) 
It’s important to not: use Stiff-Arming
It’s important to not: use “So What” Answers, People’s feelings, ideas & opinions count
 
It’s important to not: use Brush-Off Answers
It’s important to not: use Plausible Deniability
It’s important to not: use Punt, Fumble, Out oF Bounds Answers
or Arguments
It’s important to not:…………..
 
There are an endless supply of bad arguments and answers.
 
I’ve been trying to shift to good responses, earnest responses, and real answers to real questions.  I found that it wasn’t enough  to just agree with GOOD ANSWERS.  It wasn’t enough to just try to work with people.   I had to HONOR the sensible way out.  I have to lift that good measure up as an ideal and make it and keep it real.  
 
I realized from my list of conflict resolution arguments that it’s real easy to mess up and it’s extremely difficult to stay on track and resolve things honorably. 
 
The things that I HONOR now are civility, kindness, dialogue, others input, truth no matter the source.  It’s important to value the merit of ideas regardless of another’s high or low status.
I’m willing to take the short disappointments because now I’m playing the long game.  Not as a game but as a way to treat others and myself honorably and respectfully. 
 
P.S. This is a work in progress for me.
 
Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.
                                         -Mary Wortley Montagu
 
 
The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.”
 
        -Socrates

Empathy(101)

June 4, 2011

I was thirteen. I knew as much as any other thirteen year old boy which was almost nothing. We were crossing the football practice field on the way to my house.  My friend Jon was recently broke up with his girlfriend.  “What am I going to do now?”, he said. The breakup was not his idea.  He had been sullen and quiet all day. “I was really starting to like her a whole lot!  Do you think I should call her again in about a week?”   I started to say “Yea” but I didn’t really know and in fact I actually didn’t really care.   I didn’t really know what to say so I punted and said, “Gee, I don’t know.” I didn’t know anything way back then. Jon clammed up again.

We finally get to my house and sit down at the kitchen table. My mother comes in, says ‘Hi”,  and proceeds to take care of the dishes she had washed earlier. I’m talking to Jon and he really isn’t responding. My mother senses that something is wrong and asks Jon point-blank  if he’s OK. He blurts out that “Nancy and I broke up with each other.   She wants to see other guys.”   My mother just looks at him and then she says, “Really, did you want to talk about it?” He says “Yea.”  She sits down and him and her start talking.  He starts talking about Nancy.

I just sat there.  My hands propping up my head, my eyes going back and forth with their words.   I didn’t really want to do this.  I didn’t even know it but I was afraid to “go there.”

At this point an amazing thing happened.  I started to see. I listened and saw that my best friend, Jon, actually had very strong feelings for Nancy.  I saw that my Mom knew how to talk to him and how to listen to him.  I saw my friend and I saw my Mom in a totally different light. They talked for about 40 minutes.  For sure my Mom had talked to me like that before but she was my Mom, that’s what Mom’s do.  I didn’t know she could talk that way with others or that it was even acceptable. 

 My Mom saw a need that wasn’t food, wasn’t warmth, and wasn’t security.   She saw that my friend needed some solace, he needed a balm.  Her words weren’t magic, in fact I can’t remember one sentence that stands out from my memory.  She somehow managed to find out how he was feeling. More importantly she allowed him to vent his feelings and to validate them. She listened to HIM.  She affirmed that many people have had the same feelings. She shared some of her own experiences and knowledge of boyfriend/girlfriend stories.

He still didn’t feel great, but I could tell that what my Mom had said, had made an impact on him.  Finally he turned to me and said “lets go back to my house.” We left and made our way across the practice field.  Jon turned to me about halfway across and said without judgement that “the way your Mom let me talk and explain myself was the way I wanted you to talk with me.”  At the time I fumbled some sort a of an apology.  Inside I knew he that was right. What good are your friends if they can’t lift you up or support you?   But for me at that young an age, I didn’t even know what the word was for what had happened.  Later I learned the word was Empathy. The word means “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another(Dictionary.com).”

My Mom showed me.

My friend told me.

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.
                                                              -Meryl Streep