Friday, November 18, 2016

Basic Definitions by Don Murray - A Conversation Starter for Maritime Progressives

God – The great Mystery that can never be adequately named.

God – the big-guy in the sky who is in control of everything and just might be out to get you.

Theism – belief in the big-guy God

Atheism – Not believing in the big-guy God. Often confused with not believing in any sort ot God.

A-theism – Very specifically not believing in the big-guy version of God.

Non-theism – Not as easily misunderstood as “atheism”.

Pantheism – God is everything, the whole universe.

Panentheism – God is within everything.

Polytheism – There are many gods.

Humanism – Human values are the foundation of life, not engendered or supported by anything beyond the human.

Religion – (original meaning) a system of beliefs, rituals and practices that enable us to connect and commune with God, the Ultimate Mystery.

Religion – (contemporary) An outdated set of dogmas and practices that fails to speak to our souls. 

Spirituality – An innate desire to commune with something beyond and grander than ourselves; God, the Ultimate Mystery.  

Mysticism – The feeling of intimate communion with or oneness with God, the Ultimate Mystery.

Fundamentalism – My beliefs are right, and yours are wrong; no questions asked.

Fundamentalism – can be religious, scientific, political and most anything.

The Material Universe – The body of God (Sallie McFague). About the same as panentheism. 

The psychic/spiritual Universe – the mind and heart of the Mystery that is real and alive and finds expression in each of us, if we are paying attention.

Energy -- The basic stuff of the material universe, the psychic/spiritual universe, thought, life, everything that exists. There is nothing that is not an expression of energy.

Energy = God – The scientist calls it energy, the theologian calls it God.. 

Psyche – our inner self which is part of the universal Self. The voice, our awareness of our inner being, is the voice of the Mystery of the universe urging us to be what is in us to be.

Evolution – The continuous development and growth from all that has gone before, starting with the Big Bang.

The Big Bang – The popular name for the minuscule drop of energy from which the universe and all that is evolved: itself a mystery.
Consciousness – the energy of the universe that is life and awareness (Eve’s knowledge of good and evil) within us pushing us to grow and become our own unique selves.

The nature of energy is to push toward consciousness.

Carl Jung – the Universe is itself in the process of growing in consciousness.

Carl Jung –  our consciousness enables the consciousness of the Universe to evolve. 

Carl Jung – The journey and goal of life is to become conscious, mature, fully human.

Jesus is an excellent model, even if he is only human and not God.

Jesus partakes in the divine, even as we all do – he being a big step ahead of most of us.

The Universe Story – everything, including humanity, has evolved from the Big Bang through 13.7 billion years. “You are a child of the Universe”. It is the universal, all uniting, story incorporating all others. “We were stardust, now we sing operas.” (Drew Dellinger. Need to check the quote.)

Bishop John Shelby Spong's 12 Theses

The Twelve Theses
1. God
Understanding God in theistic categories as “a being, supernatural in power, dwelling somewhere external to the world and capable of invading the world with miraculous power” is no longer believable. Most God talk in liturgy and conversation has thus become meaningless.
2. Jesus – the Christ.
If God can no longer be thought of in theistic terms, then conceiving of Jesus as “the incarnation of the theistic deity” has also become a bankrupt concept.
3. Original Sin – The Myth of the Fall
The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which we human beings have fallen into “Original Sin” is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The Virgin Birth
The virgin birth understood as literal biology is impossible. Far from being a bulwark in defense of the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth actually destroys that divinity.
5. Jesus as the Worker of Miracles
In a post-Newtonian world supernatural invasions of the natural order, performed by God or an “incarnate Jesus,” are simply not viable explanations of what actually happened.
6. Atonement Theology
Atonement theology, especially in its most bizarre “substitutionary” form, presents us with a God who is barbaric, a Jesus who is a victim and it turns human beings into little more than guilt-filled creatures. The phrase “Jesus died for my sins” is not just dangerous, it is absurd.
7. The Resurrection
The Easter event transformed the Christian movement, but that does not mean that it was the physical resuscitation of Jesus’ deceased body back into human history. The earliest biblical records state that “God raised him.” Into what, we need to ask. The experience of resurrection must be separated from its later mythological explanations.
8. The Ascension of Jesus
The biblical story of Jesus’ ascension assumes a three-tiered universe, which was dismissed some five hundred years ago. If Jesus’ ascension was a literal event of history, it is beyond the capacity of our 21st century minds to accept it or to believe it.
9. Ethics
The ability to define and to separate good from evil can no longer be achieved with appeals to ancient codes like the Ten Commandments or even the Sermon on the Mount. Contemporary moral standards must be hammered out in the juxtaposition between life-affirming moral principles and external situations.
10. Prayer
Prayer, understood as a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history, is little more than an hysterical attempt to turn the holy into the servant of the human. Most of our prayer definitions of the past are thus dependent on an understanding of God that has died.
11. Life after Death
The hope for life after death must be separated forever from behavior control. Traditional views of heaven and hell as places of reward and punishment are no longer conceivable. Christianity must, therefore, abandon its dependence on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. Judgment and Discrimination
Judgment is not a human responsibility. Discrimination against any human being on the basis of that which is a “given” is always evil and does not serve the Christian goal of giving “abundant life” to all. Any structure either in the secular world or in the institutional church, which diminishes the humanity of any child of God on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation must be exposed publicly and vigorously. There can be no reason in the church of tomorrow for excusing or even forgiving discriminatory practices. “Sacred Tradition” must never again provide a cover to justify discriminatory evil.