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Dungeness
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Dungeness, that was no “tribute”! That was merely a simple factual description. Spencer was saying that those folks “held that faith was more important than evidence”. They believed that “faith was a sign of character”. At least that is what his words conveyed, and that is what I took him to be wanting to convey. Since this is a 3-party line, I'm including Spencer's lead-up paragraph: When a child died in a tragic auto accident, the desire to question "why" or to claim the world was not worth living in, arbitrary and cruel, to stop functioning, stop living is strong. The capacity to have faith that somehow life was worth continuing, that we should all be kind to one another and move forward, that there was a greater power watching over even the child who died, their soul, were powerful psychological tools that kept these people moving forward in difficult, horrific circumstances. That was when I stopped criticizing them for being ignorant. I think in the context of these earlier remarks, the "faith is more important than evidence" becomes more tribute than simple factual description. It becomes a coda to Pentecostal affirmations in the face of loss. The positive tone resonates with us and becomes more meaningful than a simple statement of unsupportable faith.. Most telling to me is Spencer's final sentence: that was when I stopped criticizing them for being ignorant. At the very least, the Pentecostal belief in the power of faith is suggestive of hope and positivity - not blind dogmatism.
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For most others (including, probably, the Pentecostal Christians in your particular example, so bravely battling their horrific situation), faith equals blind faith, and is no better than some deadly narcotic that momentarily dulls the pain but can -- and often does -- end up consuming their whole life. I hope Spencer will forgive me for hijacking a thread addressed to him. But, I want to disagree with the above follow-on comment that the Pentecostal Christians are "probably" succumbing to blind faith or that their affirmations are chimerical, or mere band-aids, or purely narcotic. It seems to me at least somewhat off-the-mark as well to suggest they should be internalizing something more evidentiary, that they're hoodwinking themselves instead of summoning their own internal strength, or that they're consuming their lives with the "quick fix". Hopefully, my own bias hasn't crept into this perception. It does seem to me though that Spencer's conditional faith may well be no different from the Pentecostal's at all. A Pentecostal believer's practice could be just as rigorous. He may believe and feel strengthened by each act of faith and measure success in whatever benchmarks he sets for his spiritual growth. He may look critically at his preparation, examine his sincerity, or redouble his effort if those measures fall short. To seemingly posit he's not doing that, that his faith is blinder or somehow more flawed that another approach which resonates with us, is a problem with the lens we're using. In the case of a child's death, I view Spencer's observation about affirmations in its aftermath is a beautiful statement of Pentecostal faith : ...to have faith that somehow life was worth continuing, that we should all be kind to one another and move forward, that there was a greater power watching over even the child who died, their soul, were powerful psychological tools that kept these people moving forward in difficult, horrific circumstances. Evidence doesn't exist for the goodness of "God" or the efficacy of platitudinous prayers for the "departed". But neither is there evidence to posit the universe is governed by some cruel, arbitrary system of chance that's completely unknowable to mere mortals and only partially to the brightest and best of scientific minds. In these circumstances, Spencer's tribute seems very apt: A town of Pentecostal Christians I knew for many years held that faith was more important than evidence. Faith was a sign of character. Faith in the midst of doubt.
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Not that I’d ever presume to judge someone who tried to cope with the loss of their child in whatever way they saw fit, with drink or drugs or faith, but I’m afraid this does not really work as an argument in favor of faith per se. Hm, I'd argue that it does. We live with pervasive doubt and fear and it's life-preserving at times. It's a healthy, discriminative armor that keeps us from being duped by others; from hanging onto our pet theories and illusions long after we know they're moth-eaten; it nudges us with distress signals when we throw caution to the wind; or whispers "Oh no, you don't..." when we start to chase after the next shiny object. But, doubts and fears are mostly those of the other kind. You over-analyze, procrastinate, fault-find, or, overwhelmed, fail to act at all. You see phantoms and imagine dark scary things where none exist. It afflicts not just the paranoid and obsessive. How often is a major step, a crucial time-critical decision overlain with a thousand "what if's" or "if only I had". Even inconsequential ones. Make any choice, review any action, devise any plan and in retrospect, an objection, a tweak, a make-over will flash before you that could've improved the outcome. Or imagine disasters because perfection wasn't achieved. A life affirming faith --whether religion based or not-- can be the counter-balance to the negativity of our minds, to those doubts and fears that can be our best friend but more often are our own worst enemy.
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Hm, I think the Gods of Commerce stopped listening to their better angels a long time ago. My career was software. But the malaise you speak of is very familiar. It's called proprietarization. It's the vendor's dark art of making their product partially or totally incompatible with competitors. You tweak the design every few years for good measure. Keeps the dogs nipping at your heels a few steps behind. Want to buy a cheaper, better, different... can't. You're stuck. You take what Microsoft or Big Blue or Honeywell has bolted on under the hood and keeps under lock and key. When "standards" and the "open source" movement started gaining ground in the software world, an IBM tout once remarked infamously on its rise: "Better be careful. You could get locked into that open source stuff."
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Any normal person reading this will not say that Jesus is referring to the SHABD just because he says “wind” and “you hear its sound” It is a huge stretch of the imagination to say he was referring to shabd. Why? God, word, spirit, sound, etc. could only be expressive attempts to describe the creative force behind all phenomena. Different times, teachers, languages would all shape and twist the final written outcome. If it exists, how could you capture an transcendent, all-encompassing power with human language. Metaphors would have to fill in the blanks. Then wannabe's would re-interpret, dilute, misstate, and generally mangle even those attempts. Real understanding of God, Allah, Christ, consciousness, the creative force, etc could only be gained experientially. Otherwise, its meaning will forever be "blowing in the wind" I suspect. For all of us...
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"How many of you actually feel the pain and suffering of the world. Why is it okay to just sit and meditate and find peace and joy in one's own inner world and then continually talk about it even though its not actually helping others. It seems like a selfish ego to me. I'm very far from perfect and I know that but at least I do care about the suffering of others. I think most do and we wall some part of it off too. Of course, we try to help, offer support silently or maybe actively if lucky, reach deep into ourself to say or do or say something that eases pain. It's connectedness and humanity that's innate within us, not the separative ego. In the end though you have to be strong yourself, be at peace within, stable, in control of raging emotions and a mind out of control. Then you're equipped to help. However far we miss the mark, I think the mystical practice's aim is to do just that. Control the mind, eliminate the "ego" rather than enhance it, listen rather than talk. It's not some self-absorbed, reclusive withdrawal from the world or the suffering of others. "Ascended Masters in Himalayan Caves" are a product of the imagination"
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Must be great fun enjoying all this inner bliss but there is a maybe. Maybe its some kind of hallucination that strong beliefs can influence the brain to manifest. My mystical understanding is very limited... ok, near non-existent. But wading in anyway, I've read that nothing external is real. It's illusion, Mithra -- a word from the Vedic tradition. Only your experience of the external is authentic. (corrections from mystics welcome!) So your enjoyment of the ice cream cone is what's real; the cone itself isn't. You may see it, touch it, savor it. A thousand people may tell you the cone is real. But like an intoxicating dream, when you've awakened to a higher reality, the cone is gone, the dream companions are gone too. All that's left is your experience and memory of something that never was. So, if you derive bliss from a transcendent experience, what's the harm? As long as you don't disturb the peace, dupe innocents, support Trump, and still dutifully pay taxes, it's benign. You may even save yourself from Prozac, start eschewing the latest garbage TV, laugh more... . By the way a true mystic is the first say, "Sure, it could be a hallucination. But it makes me happy 24x7. Try it if you like and, if it doesn't work for you, drop it like glass from the hand. Look for your own bliss".
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To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. No... no, you just enter the realm of "alternative facts". Chuck Todd memorably refused to do so: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/22/how-kellyanne-conway-ushered-in-the-era-of-alternative-facts/?utm_term=.59c04227d630
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This is why some people spend a lifetime seeking God, and never succeed in their quest. They are pursuing an impossible dream: to quench a thirst for divinity when the object of their desire doesn't exist. Some might argue that the "object of desire" does exist... just not as a material "other" in the realm of duality. And the quest isn't futile but we look in all the wrong places. They're an infinite number of dead ends. Religious rites, holy shrines, magic beads, psychedelic drugs, various charlatans, even our intellect.... all promise to slake your thirst. Some day... just keep on imbibing. But I think the mystic would counter that the answers are embedded in consciousness itself. Inside, not outside. Here and now. "God" is nothing other than consciousness itself. The exploration of consciousness will dissolve the notion of a separate being who comes out of the clouds to punish, or reward, or "take you home". You are home already but keep looking out the window... hoping it'll materialize out "there".
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Ah, beware the "pyro" lurking in the recesses of every rural psyche. It starts innocently. You start to enjoy, slowly begin to relish, then can't live without that "fire'y" satisfaction of seeing flames lick higher and higher. It stirs something primitive - the joy that comes of warmth; or maybe it's buried memories of group hunts and cooking wild boar; or sleeping well knowing beasties won't jump you in the night. Or yule logs and pagan rites. Or de-cluttering. Or vanquishing darkness.... I watched it work on a neighbor who burned occasionally, then regularly, once a week. Shifting winds choked me with smoke... even though he was acres away. Sometimes pleasant odors but increasingly acrid... the smell of something industrial. I could never catch what it was... even with powerful binoculars. She/he had an advanced case. Now, I admit almost succumbing to the devilish ways of "pyromania" for a few seasons. Then angst over global warming and flying embers and a possible runaway fire started to poison my joy. The final straw: a neighbor came each time to ask if he could add his own debris since "I already had one going". How could I really enjoy guilty pleasures if I was enabling others to go down this dark path... Then, it came to me.. I had three acres... and several groves of trees. Branches, trimmings, the odd piece of furniture, a bit of construction debris could all be broken down. Most just composted under the trees. It blends in nicely, near invisibly, in three treed acres. Above ground it becomes "yard art". Once in a while it needed to be broken down and buried like my old porcelain toilet that needed a good "dirt nap". Yep, I admit that too - now there are "buried bodies" all over my property. Out of sight but it's the natural order of things after all. And no global warming..
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Hm, I wonder what the scientific purist does when his checkbook's lost again and again. Does he slip and curse "Damn you God, why did you let me forget" as mere mortals do? Or his version something more like" Damn you brain, you'd think somewhere in your cold, hard synapses you'd have this nailed by now..." Maybe... but down deep we all know the "intrinsic" joy of blaming a real deity can't be matched.
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Now ZuZu is really biting back. I caught my dog Bitsy looking at a Tweet from @ZuZuRescueMe. It said you two were "spreading lies about her (like the crooked media with their spiderweb of fake news), even surveilling her every move on a doggy cam. Very bad (or sick) owners".
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For example, in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas literature there is an oft-told story of a guru who ordered his disciples to dig a large hole in a field, only to fill it with dirt again. Then the disciple was supposed to repeat the process: dig a hole; fill it back up. Eventually the guru saw that only one person was still digging, as all the others had quit this difficult, meaningless task Actually that story has its origins in Sikhism... just swap out the "hole digging" for "platform building": http://www.sikhmissionarysociety.org/sms/smspublications/theteachingsofguruamardasji/chapter1/#Training%20and%20Succession%20of%20Bhai%20Jetha Of course, I think the Sikh tradition might explain that persistence in carrying out a "meaningless" task as a insightful realization of its real symbolic objective. The bush leaguers throw in the towel, er. shovel, quickly. Last saint-wannabe standing gets the gold, or turban, or what have you...
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For example, in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas literature there is an oft-told story of a guru who ordered his disciples to dig a large hole in a field, only to fill it with dirt again. Then the disciple was supposed to repeat the process: dig a hole; fill it back up. Eventually the guru saw that only one person was still digging, as all the others had quit this difficult, meaningless task Actually that story has its origins in Sikhism... just swap out the "hole digging" for "platform building": http://www.sikhmissionarysociety.org/sms/smspublications/theteachingsofguruamardasji/chapter1/#Training%20and%20Succession%20of%20Bhai%20Jetha Of course, I think the Sikh tradition might explain that persistence in carrying out a "meaningless" task as a insightful realization of its real symbolic objective. The bush leaguers throw in the towel, er. shovel, quickly. Last saint-wannabe standing gets the gold, or turban, or what have you...
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I have no doubt that's an impressive litany of beliefs that fly in the face of "evidence". But the evidence is certainly not compelling for the safety of GMO's. Certainly the insidious long-term effects of a host of substances weren't seen in many early studies. How about the cautionary tales of lead in paint and drinking water... or pesticide residues on crops... or mercury levels in seafood. Current scientific evidence can be a fragile reassurance without long-term studies. The French study on GMO's may be criticized but it left enough doubt that GMO's are banned in most parts of Europe and there are total or partial bans in over sixty countries. Hysteria... wanton disregard for scientific methodology? No, I don't think so.
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I have no doubt that's an impressive litany of beliefs that fly in the face of "evidence". But the evidence is certainly not compelling for the safety of GMO's. Certainly the insidious long-term effects of a host of substances weren't seen in many early studies. How about the cautionary tales of lead in paint and drinking water... or pesticide residues on crops... or mercury levels in seafood. Current scientific evidence can be a fragile reassurance without long-term studies. The French study on GMO's may be criticized but it left enough doubt that GMO's are banned in most parts of Europe and there are total or partial bans in over sixty countries. Hysteria... wanton disregard for scientific methodology? No, I don't think so.
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Der Mensch kann was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will (Man can do what he will but he cannot will what he wills).” My German is dated but but I think an alternative translation may be a bit clearer... any native speakers out there? Man can do what he wants but he can't will what he wants.
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Speaking of whining, I'd say fantasies that Sanders will fold up his tent and stand, bobble-heading, two steps behind Hillary at a rally just ain't gonna happen. Sanders is made of sterner stuff than Chris Christie. That cloying patronage about "what a wonderful campaign" Bernie's waged won't have him shuffling up to the microphone for an endorsement either. Sanders has the overwhelming support of the youth, a momentum that defies caucus tallies and super-delegate rigging, and now he has real political clout too. He can and should demand the Democratic platform reflect that. This is hard-ball... the kind Hillary knows well. Deny the political gravitas he and his movement have earned and take your changes with Trump if you must. Hillary will still win... Trump's numbers keep diving. Meanwhile Bernie will work to defeat Trump but on his terms, not those of Hillary's political hacks. Besides, phony endorsements and kumbaya photo-op's bring on dry heaves in a season where there have already been too many. Could anyone envision Bernie ever going gently into that good night... He's not the type to make a sad spectacle of a movement that deserves better. The issues raised are too important.
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"It would have been nice if the Sanders campaign had acknowledged the historic nature of a woman finally being the presumptive presidential nominee of a major party.A spokesperson could have said something like, We congratulate Ms. Clinton on gaining enough delegates to be the apparent nominee of the Democratic Party..." In the same spirit of fairness, Mr. Trump's supporters could whine: It would have been nice if they acknowledged... yada, yada... and said 'we congratulate Mr. Trump on his historic victory in becoming the presumptive nominee... Yep, he won it fair and square. " But to their credit, they didn't. Mr Sanders' supporters may view Clinton in much the same light. Instead of concentrating on issues, she hurled unconscionable smears at Bernie; refused to share a syllable of those little hundred grand honorariums for Wall Street speeches; ran her own little private servers in clear violation of policy; voted for war in Iraq over WMD and now promises a "no fly" zone over Syria... yep she'll show Obama and the rest of the boys how it's done. Clearly she's a deep well of "foreign policy experience" and unquestionable trustworthiness. Honest as the day is long. I think Bernie and his supporters' demurral is a good thing for the Party and the country.
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"Waeniger whaere Mehr" Waeniger waere Mehr (German: "less would be more")
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You would probably be diagnosed with some post-traumatic stress... hm maybe a movie. Seeing "The Birds" at too tender an age comes to mind. In one scene "Lydia (Jessica Tandy) visits a neighboring farmer to discuss the unusual behavior of their chickens. She discovers his eyeless corpse." The linkage with your sudden fear that they could "peck their prey's freaking eyes out" is significant. Maybe you were hushed and told to get back to bed without another "peep" after a subsequent nightmare. Or suffered a schoolyard bully flapping his arms and calling you a "chicken" Or... never mind. I'm too chicken to make suggestions among the churchless... people have been tarred and feathered here for less.
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Halleujah, amen, praise the righteous! The only thing I'd add is that everlasting DST could reduce incidents of "lesser PTSD"...the sleep disruptions; the angst as that dreaded transition to even darker mornings approacheth; the hyper-vigilance of waiting through long winters for the blessed coming of DST. Yea, verily...
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So we shouldn't blindly accept that a personal conscious experience tells us something about reality outside of the confines of that consciousness, not without persuasive evidence that such exists Nor should we blindly reject that it could. What if you're really sleeping and your only reality is a dream world with a few, brief moments of lucidity and dim memories of wakefulness. Many share these compelling glimpses but they fade and once again are immersed in the dream. It's a phantasmagoric world, careening wildly out of control, with little or no understanding of ourselves, or our consciousness, our minds, full of surreal events, hatred, pain, disease, helplessness, and death waiting at the end. It's sad and there's no pervasive evidence of a reality outside this life which is "nasty, brutish, and short". Except for the glimpses... The skeptic is right - there's no evidence - but he is lost himself in the dream. The most virulent will frame the argument so only the materialist's evidence matters and scoffs at the idea of controlling the mind and perceiving anything outside the phenomenal. In fact he dismisses the scantest mention of the transcendental and likens it to theories of "little green men". He dogmatizes with the vehemence of the holy roller. The wakeful doubtlessly perceive the illusory power of the dream. But there's still no demonstrable evidence for those still dreaming. There never will be.
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O deity of the unholy, unchurched ones...hear our prayer: may Pastor Crowder steer a few closeted fundamentalists here in the righteous direction of "doubt".
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Apparently believers have nothing better to do than seek out unbelievers to preach to. It seems that calling your blog "Church of the Churchless" is tantamount to putting up a brightly lit sign saying, "Religious nuts welcome!". Like moths to a flame, believers fly to where their tedious, trite, self-serving drivel will be most annoying because preaching to the choir gets no response. Religious faith would sooner die than listen to reason, and this obstinacy, moronic and fanatical as it is, is the pride and joy of the believer. Gosh, I'm so glad you didn't name names! I don't mean to sound ad hominem but that response comes across as dismissive, truculent, and totally unfactual. There's such a wealth of opprobrium: "pathetic", "religious nut", "trite", "drivel", "obstinacy", "moronic", "fanatical". In some circles they'd call it an "attack dog" tactic. Bark, threaten, lay down suppressive fire. All from behind a fence and then retreat quickly if anyone nears, has a conciliatory word, doesn't do an immediate about-face to wherever the hell he came from. They're so quick to the reflex that there can never be any common ground. Growl, curse, put-down,.. Don't address any of the issues, they deserve no civility, no quarter will be given. That's for wimps. The world is black and white, either "nut" or "unchurched". If there's a whiff of the infidel, then by the gods of reflex, they're gonna get bit. If you don't like it, stay the hell off my street!
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