Jan 24, 2016

Churches shooting field mice with elephant guns

They're surely out there this morning trying to get the hell out of things, places and people ... you can count on that.
So what exactly is our yearning when we seek the spiritual within the walls of our local chapels?

Better asked perhaps ...  Just what is it that our Christian congregations offer in their communities when someone outside the circle comes seeking light and knowledge?

Does the traditional pastoral offering have a real potential of satisfying the needs or hungers of those looking through the doors and windows of America's chapels and mega-churches?

Do our new adult children with our grandchildren in tow find something useful - something of much more worth than the literal-minded silliness of Jesus Camp?

The enduring power of religion is not as a social club or political/moral sign-waving publicity stump.  Rather, it ought to lie within the realm of a human need for meaning and purpose in living. The venue in life that seems to require endurance is more in the perceptive realm of mind and spirit and certainly not best served with the traditional literal-minded approach of moralizing.

When our non-physiological internal hungers flare up the void to be filled is not satisfied by lasagna, a hot bath or a good night's sleep. These kinds of internal hungers and dissatisfactions reflect not a lack of consumable organics, but a powerful uneasiness ... a restlessness with life. Our thoughts truly form who we are - what has and continues to form us.

When we think we are just worried about things, wanting things we don't have, dissatisfied with work, with marriage, with friends, our community, the economy or the government - even our favorite pro team that's never going to win a championship - we are thinking thoughts that are part of what forms us and recreates anew who we are every day.

Christianity as a valid 21st Century spirituality must offer something more than Sunday group and conformity-dominated worship with its hand-waving sighs of "Jesus" as the single important mantra. Families must be offered more than potluck suppers and the clichéd generalities  that create feelings of acceptance and belonging to the mega-church in-crowd that flocks together in pious self-congratulation every Sunday.

Further,  it should be no surprise that a hunger for something more powerful arouses not just laity, but the clergy as well. If being Christian means more than just going through weekly motions and repeating worn out slogans, then what ought to be offered is something responsive to that internal hunger. It's a hunger that cries out for something of substance and not rigid god and bible talk. It's a hunger for an experience that is barely verbal but more powerfully prompted from within by something Holy Spiritual (wholly spiritual).

And satisfying that hunger is possible. The means are there, within each of us. We do not need anyone standing at a pulpit or pacing back and forth on a stage to throw the book at us.

Satisfying that hunger involves one simple concept.

Take ownership of your spirituality just as you take ownership and responsibility to provide for yourself and your family.

Responsible citizens do not run to something external like a government for food and shelter dependency. Nor should citizens run to the local house of worship to for spiritual feeding and shelter - creating a dependency that is only a single step away from the fear, shame and guilt of the cult.

This is not what is obtained by splashing in the shallow waters of mega-church biblically-literal spirituality that, when all is said and done, shackles itself to the limits of literal-minded moral whining; to pretended "prosperity theology" that masquerades as the teaching of Jesus the Master.

Literalist church members who constantly imbibe in that inerrant Bible stuff wind up - you guessed it - "litarded."

The power behind our beliefs is not our ability to become educated in what the Bible SAYS, thereby permitting us opportunities to publicly display how well we can read or memorize verses. Power lies in what scripture, prayer, tradition and reason prompt within.

I'm not talking about being prompted to obey, conform and donate.

An un-spoken communal experience of what is divine both inside and outside our perception lies within the potential of every Christian congregation. It does however remain powerfully elusive - even perhaps hidden - while the emphasis on social behavior, conformity and financial contribution lies behind the flashing lights and cloying praise-songs.

Dec 21, 2015

My disagreement with you makes you an enemy of my country.

If you convince enough people that an enemy of the American way is setting up a system that could kill them, the violent hatred will take care of itself.

In retrospect in seems that  – going back 30-40 years – a change of political tactics, efforts more directed at personalizing differences of opinion has arisen. It’s a personalizing in most instances that deliberately avoids a discussion of issues in the interest of demonizing supporters of views opposed to your own.

Demonization: [Merriam Webster] includes the following: b : a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin

Our entrepreneurial honesty suggests that if we can provoke readers and listeners on the left and right in such a way as to get them to come back for more, we have found another way to make a living … to earn money. But does a free-market capitalism imply justification for the elevation of revenue and profit above the value of common good, common well being and of course common sense.

Lots of communicators have followed the money using as a tool, inflammatory charges that are pretended to be civic discourse. However, Civic Discourse seems to get  left standing at the starting gate after the bell has rung while Inflammatory Charges are running neck and neck into the final turn and already coming up the backstretch.

As author Robert Wright has said,
The point is that Americans who wildly depict other Americans as dark conspirators, as the enemy, are in fact increasing the chances, however marginally, that those Americans will be attacked.
… But the more incendiary theme in current discourse is the consignment of Americans to the category of alien, of insidious other.
So if I as an American citizen have a problem with other Americans or non-Americans who disagree with me, am I justified in consigning those who disagree to a status lower than my own civil-liberties protected life?
Am I justified in condemning those who disagree with me to a status of “less-than”, “not as worthy” and “deserving of destruction?”

Again from Robert Wright,
If you convince enough people that an enemy of the American way is setting up a system that could kill them, the violent hatred will take care of itself.
This is the core of the problem.

Contempt, rejection and advocacy of the termination of ideas as things viable in civic discourse is fine so long as it addresses ideas. But can you personalize your contempt and rejection of what you believe are harmful ideas and transmute that personalization into a public advocacy of termination of persons who are the targets of your contempt and rejection?

The backbone of civic decision-making is compromise of ideas, plans, and actions … spiced with the attitude that the will of the people is not represented by any one political perspective or absolute. The back-breaker is the notion that one perspective is holy, sacred and able to withstand any challenge to its ideology and that any other perspective – and it’s supporters – need to be eliminated. We might take umbrage at the idea, but does not the recent violence make us look like someone other than who we think we really are and what we are about?

… protests were violent, in which death threats were issued to Salman Rushdie, including a fatwā against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on February 24, 1989.

“Arthur”, one might ask, “how dare you compare us to our most hated enemies?

One more from Robert Wright,
My own view is that if you decide to go kill a bunch of innocent people, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re not a picture of mental health. But that doesn’t sever the link between you and the people who inspired you, or insulate them from responsibility.
Wright source: First Comes Fear

Nov 21, 2015

Americans Behaving Badly

Slowly the mist of the hypnotic dream world dissipates.  
Now awake and alert, our eyes see the real world, the hypnotic dream world competes only as a memory with the reality of here and now.  
Here and now, awake fully at last, we find ourselves as a nation mired in or coping with the most destructive global acts in decades. 

While we've slept, driven by greed for power and wealth, liars have been busy deprecating our good name, sacrificing our children's blood to false causes and fumbling their way to the economic ruin of our country.  
Be brave, but be afraid.  
9/11 generated fear and anger. The more we pondered 9/11 the more our fear receded and our angry outrage came to the front. We united one with another, found our resolve and responded to a president who spoke to our tragedy and our inherent national strength of will.  
Be brave, but be afraid, he started saying.  
We began again moving forward with our lives, grounded in our new resolve and outrage. Be brave, but be afraid, he continued to say. Our president continued the tough talk and we responded. Yes, yes ... we will do something about this.  
Be brave, but be afraid.  
Then, curiously, the more he talked the tough talk, the more we began to hear how afraid we should be. Tough talk from our protectors coupled with should-be-afraid talk from our protectors.  
Be brave, but be afraid.  
Soon we became used to a double menu of tough talk and fear talk.  
Be brave .... be afraid...  
When finally the blend of be brave and be afraid had reached its culmination in war, we saw first hand what happens when tough talk and fear talk are blended. We saw how we had - by remaining silent in the face of tough talk and fear talk - gone along with our leadership's stampede application: It's right to be brave, but better to be afraid.  
Driven by tough talk and fear talk, we watched as our sons and daughters became the instruments of manipulation of our toughness and our fear.  
We watched and gave silent consent as tough talk was replaced by the kind of talk that stampedes voters - authorizing the biggest mouths to take drastic actions that serve the mouth more than the body.  
Be brave, but moreso be afraid.  
We suffered more attacks ... we looked for leadership ... our leaders jumped around what they pretended was the empty seat on the lead horse and to this day are still riding off in all the wrong directions, lying all the way. 

We are left to confusion about whose hat is white and whose isn't.   
Be brave, but be afraid.  
It's time now, in the light of truth and the obvious, to bring the stampede to a halt. The big bulls up front are liars and leading us in all the wrong directions. Too many of us see the lies, see where liars have taken us, see what has been done in our name.  
Be brave, but be afraid.  
Too many of us now see the kind of "credit" we have earned as a nation by the actions of the stampeders.  We are now being asked to support the bigoted cowardice and grand-stand decision-making of politicians who have little if any hands-on experience in global reality
It's time to rein them in.  
Be brave, but be afraid.  
It's time for us to get out of our stampede mentality, tell the liars to shut up, take away their clout and call on each other to do the right thing.
It's time to fire the stampeders.  
It's time to stop being afraid.  
It's time to start being brave.  
© Arthur Ruger