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Harry Potter *WITH SPOILERS* in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #44
Right. So here's my point. Fiction often has its heros being a bit bigger than real life and a bit better than we really are in order to inspire us to being better ourselves...toward the ideal. Harry is so darned normal and failing, that he doesn't live up to the epic scale of being a hero the books' popularity would seem to make him. He wasn't even a flawed tragic hero of the Greek sort...he's just so normal.

I'd have liked him to be a bit more ultimately, if he was this amazing wizard a cut above all others. The books set him up to be a bigger than life hero, a savior for his kind, but in the long run, it was sheer dumb luck and the perpetual assistance of others that enabled him to survive and defeat evil. He was almost wholly hapless and useless in himself. Despite himself and how faithless, fickle and failing he frequently was, he won out, ultimately, but I don't see why he deserved to do so. It feels like a hollow, somewhat non-sensical victory on this level. I don't really believe in him.

These are mighty weird books, the more I think about them.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Harry Potter *WITH SPOILERS* in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #43
How embarrassing...third time's the charm.

[ Saturday, July 28, 2007 21:28: Message edited by: Synergy ]

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Harry Potter *WITH SPOILERS* in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #42
Gah...buggy board.

[ Saturday, July 28, 2007 21:27: Message edited by: Synergy ]

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #363
So, I've been out of the loop intentionally for a week while I read Harry Potter, since at least one spoiler showed up in the first sentence of a post I saw at a quick glance on the Active Topics page, much to my irritation.

I see this topic shows no signs of slowing. Paron my tacking onto this post as I catch up on several pages of new material. These comments begin in response from around page 10.

Stillness, I can argue against the tradition of hell from either within Scripture or outside it. You're right, according to Scripture, hell is figuratively cast into a lake of fire and destroyed in Revelation, showing that the lake of fire is not the same thing as hell, and that what it does is destroy what hell is/does. To believe any of these things is literal, rather than metaphorical of experience and state of the soul I think is unfortunate at best. The common take the mystical and drag it down into the concrete where it becomes fearful and binding. So it has always been.

I would fully agree that America and western civilization in general is in a decline of sorts, and yet at the same time, we are shedding so much of the hangups and constrictures which we also need to let go of. You can run a police state and largely control behavior like Christianity attempted to with its moral terrorism, but this does not change a person from the inside out, or leave anyone free and happy. America in particular is clearly in a state of growing decadence that comes with the affluence and unfortunate spirit of individualism/selfishness that we have so strongly promoted. America is not likely to long be on top of the world much longer. That position will probably fall to China. As population and city density increases, along with better media coverage, we do get more shootings and violence than before, but not necessarily more per capita. It seems like more because there are many more of us than in the past.

But I can also see the detachment, disillusionment, and isolation that our new generations are suffering. We are doing lousy parenting in this country, because we pursue materialism over relationship and family as a whole. The Hispanics are much more family oriented in America than caucasians. They have more children and stay closer together. They will be the majority by mid-century as a result. Caucasian population in America and Europe is in net decline because we have so few children, being so busy indulging ourselves instead, and seeing children as a cramp on all our glories intentions for what we expect to get out of our lives.

So, I would wager we are more in agreement about the decline of the west at present than you might think. I don't attribute it to the failing of Christian dictatorship morally though. I see it as the inevitable messy period of anarchy as spiritually, we in our adolescence shed the childish bonds of the past and explore haphazardly until we find our true path in liberty and mature wisdom. The world may get messier for a time before we grow up another step, but like adolescence in real life, it's the only way to get there. It's a promise for better things to come instead of a failing. The childhood state of Christendom brought the stifling Dark Ages to Europe. The sooner we shed ancient superstitions and fear-mongering to get on with adult life, the better.

This is not to promote amorality. I believe in precisely what the Jesus guy appeared to be describing-the inner rule of love through spirit within the heart/soul, rather than externally by control through laws, religion, priesthood, ordinance. The degree to which Christianity was unable to embrace this true "liberty in Christ" that Paul raved about, and went on to fashion Judeo-Christianity with a lot of law and new law mixed back in, is the degree to which Christendom came to inflict the world as much as it blessed it. It has served its purpose, and the light is moving on, as I see it. The bathwater is very sullied. Time for some new water.

A lot of prophecy in the Bible speaks of ages to come in which fresh water (symbol of the Spirit) flows out into all corners of the earth. Astrologically, some speak of the Age of Aquarius beginning on the earth. If you want to see that as correlation, the earth shifts into a time of Aquarius, the pouring out of water upon the earth. I see this as a very messy, necessary time of transition for us, and therefore both scary and very hopeful. The typical Christian, as ever, sees doom and gloom and things just getting worse.

quote:
Originally written by Alorael.:

That raises another question, I think, although it's really one as old as religion. Why exactly should one endeavor to behave as God wishes? God is presumably the one everyone should want to please, but let's say you don't. What incentive do you have if there's no everlasting torment awaiting you?
Exactly! If God is a god of Love, then God should and wants to be served out of love for his lovely qualities, not out of fear or tyranny. Christendom made God into a tyrant of fear. I believe the God originally apprehended (and vice-versa) by someone like Paul, was true to this characterization. The best picture of God is a family, with family roles, I think. If God is our spiritual father, so to speak, then He has a positiion of authority and responsibility for us. Good fathers instill love and loyalty in their children not by brute control and fear and inducing pain, but by setting a living example of the wisdom of their words and instilling them actively. Loving your children includes wise, but not excessive discipline. Being a father means you would never give your children up for dead, and would always be willing to see their return to your good graces. It also means tough love where necessary. The absurd concept of hell flies in the face of what good fathers actually do. If I can be a better father than the traditional Christian God-Tyrant, then the theology got screwed up. It is useful to note that little children often see Daddy as a nonsensical spoiler of their fun and freedom. I find it amusing that the little children of Christianity are obsesses with their sense of their free will and all the choosing they do, when God is portrayed as a Father and Hound of Heaven who apprehends us and shepherds us.

There is a Scripture quoting Jesus foreshadowing his death on the cross where he said, "If I be lifted up (on the cross), then I will draw all men unto me." The word "draw" in Greek literally means "drag." It's a forceful word. Jesus was saying something spiritually compelling was coming, and he was always pointing to the "Father."

As I see it, God does not punish, but God exists purposefully as our father in some spiritual context, and He is deeply loving and intentional on behalf of all his spiritual children. These are metaphors. In reality, I don't know exactly what, how, or where God is, but we have the earthly reality to shed light on the qualities of it. God is a family, and as a Father with authority and the bonds of unending love and mercy and good will toward all His children, something very good is to come of all of this for all of us ultimately. So I perceive. So I believe. There is a lot at the heart of Christianity I love and embrace. But man, they screwed the religion up subsequently. Good daddies don't roast their children or obliterate them for their childish rebelliousness and foolishness. They patiently craft the means to help their children learn wisdom and outgrow it, and they model healthy, loving behavior and are a living witness of the results.

Love sells itself ultimately. You don't need laws, morals, rules, dictators, punishment, or hell, to have someone love their spiritual Father. You just have to get to know Him and your heart will sell itself willingly. Love is the strongest binding force in the universe which nothing can destroy. Fear and tyranny can, and inevitably, always are destroyed. Why Christians had to go and make a tyrant out of the Father just betrays their childish age more than anything else really. We'll grow up and see it and Him better.

-S-

[ Saturday, July 28, 2007 17:20: Message edited by: Synergy ]

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Harry Potter *WITH SPOILERS* in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #40
The seventh book felt vaguely Lord of the Ringish to me, oddly. The wandering in the wilderness, the locket affecting its bearer negatively, Ron leaving the trio only to return later (like Sam leaving Frodo, which only occurred in the movie) and other passages and moments really reminded me of Tolkien quite a few times. I wonder if JK is a fan.

Has anyone noticed what a brat Harry is for at least the last half of the series? He's a fickle and irritable friend at best, romantically inept and detached, and sadly lacking in faith and trust for the benevolent Dumbledore...too quick to believe the worst about him. Why he's so beloved is a bit beyond me, because he's such a moody, untrusting soul, which ironically is more true to his miserable upbringing than a lot of fiction would be with a heroic character in his position. The thing is, he wasn't very endearing by the end to me. He's too flawed a hero, and despite his endless run of incredible luck, rather than skill, he really doesn't fit the bill for a hero too well.

I expected something — more — from the final confrontation, something more chilling like the book five graveyard rather than a big battle where the castle is blasted to bits like the siege of Minas Tirith, complete with giants and spiders.

Criticisms aside, it was about as good a book as I hoped, but the forest was too drawn out and tedious, as well as more being shacked up in hiding in houses, which is so boring, and there was too much exposition late in the game, like Voldemort would stand there and listen to Harry's rationalization for why he is going to win instead of just killing him. It's the cheesy "talking villain" behavior you see in James Bond movies and so forth, but in real life it doesn't happen. The explanations were too convoluted, and it felt like Rowling was just contriving one thing after another on the spot to fit her intentions of the moment...which is probably how all the books have been written.

-S-

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #242
I'm waiting for the third book in the Trilogy. That one's supposed to be the best yet.

-S-

If a thing is an abomination to God in life, why would it not be so in the afterlife? Why is it not okay for people to put their children in fire, but okay for God to do it, not even mercifully, temporarily unto death, but hideously with no end permitted? Can anyone fathom that untold scores of millions have believed in and embraced this utterly revulsing impossible vision of a loving Deity for two millennia? Staggering, that people could accept such blatant absurdity and wretchedness and call it love and justice.

Do souls burn? Could flames torment them? Does anyone ever bother to ask obvious questions like this? I guess hell is a magical place where souls are embued with the bodies or the means to suffer the pains of fire, but not the damage and destruction of fire, so they can be sure to writhe in agony for all eternity. The God Who designed such a diabolical accommodation just for the torture of billions sure must be a most wise, wonderful, inventive Dude. Let us bow in reverence to this fiendishly imaginative torturemonger "whose mercy abideth forever" according to the Psalmist.

Even the law God gave Moses said, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" in essence. The punishment of Christendom to follow far far, immeasurably far exceeds the crime, yet their own New Testament says from the mouth of Paul, "Where sin did abound, grace did much more abound." I guess eternal broiling is bountiful mercy indeed...if you are of the inclinations of Diocletian, Elizabeth Bathory, Vlad the Impaler, the Marquis de Sade, Joseph Stalin, or Joseph Mengele. Those fine folk were merciful though. Eventually you died from your torments. God mercifully keeps you alive forever so your punishment is sure to fit your gross crime of failing to kneel before such a malignant tyrant in the first place and embrace the warped doctrines and rituals maintained in His name.

How many Christians can dance on the edge of a razor?

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #239
Sure.

The first hit I came up with using these four words in Google: "Egyptian fire afterlife religion" gave me:

'"The Damned.

Not all the dead, however, were allowed to share in the life-giving rays of the sun during the night. The lowest level of the underworld was reserved for the damned, those who had not successfully passed the final judgment. These unfortunate individuals become identified with the enemies of Osiris and Re, and are consigned to the Hetemit ("Place of Destruction"). There they suffer decapitation and dismemberment, including removal of the genitals and heart. They are suspended upside down, with their severed heads between their feet. Other scenes show them being boiled in cauldrons heated by fire-breathing snakes, or being incinerated directly by such serpents. They are doomed to spend eternity submerged in the "Lake of Fire." Perhaps worst of all, not only are their bodies subject to torture and destruction, but so are their bas. Scenes from the underworld depict the bas of the condemned dead, represented by the ba-bird hieroglyph, being boiled in cauldrons. Through these means these unfortunate Egyptians, whose crimes are not known, were consigned to oblivion."

found here.

I really am not a complete moron, you know.

-S-

Nothing new under the sun. The Egyptian "Lake of Fire" predates the Christian one by up to 2.5 millennia.

ADDIT: Jehovah/YHWH of the Old Testament had this to say about committing one's children to fire:

“And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin," (Jer. 32:35).

The word "mind' here is actually more akin to "heart". The heart of YHWH found it an abomination to commit one's children to fire. Yet the more loving and merciful God of the New Testament is eventually said to have that plan exactly in store for uncounted billions of his own children. How do you spell "hopeless contradiction"? "I will punish you sorely if you do it, but I can do it for all eternity to my own kids and call it my justice." Who can serve such a brutal tyrant and torturer?

I believe so many Christians have been so harsh and vindictive, and ultimately justified Inquisitions and bombing abortion clinics, because of what belief in a God of eternal torture does to your psyche deep down. We become like the God we believe in. Your God char-broils billions of his own babies. I guess you could too, or the psychological equivalent.

Fire in scriptures is actually quite a fascinating study, and not remotely as negative as Christian doctrine became. God Himself is a consuming fire and to enter into God is to step into a flame and forever be set alight and transformed. Fire is a symbol of purification in scripture, something to destroy that which is corruptible and purify that which remains, like gold. I love the symbol of fire in a spiritual context. It is only in literal, ancient superstitious application that it becomes a device of punishment and horror.

[ Saturday, July 21, 2007 18:15: Message edited by: Synergy ]

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Harry Potter in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #51
Well, I just finished the first five chapters. I believe I will enjoy the reading of thee booke over the period of a few days. There are many things in life all the better for the prolonging. I am not permitting myself to read even the chapter titles or view any pages ahead.

Meanwhile, may a thousand Cruciatus be visited upon the vermin who moronically posts any spoilers which may be accidentally viewed on the Active Topics page. I will have to go back to today's threads after I finish reading the book to see if what I already saw at the quickest glance was the spoiler I think I saw, or merely more screwing around. The problem is that I cannot dare to check without risking more spoilage. This is not a topic to screw around with without being blazingly, immediately obvious, people. Do NOT invoke my wrath. I will hunt you down like the dog you are.

Oh, and have a nice day. ( : D

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #237
So, if we are to agree with Stillness that people are getting worse and more amoral, by the third iteration of Monotheism, we should see yet another level of horrific punishment tacked on for good measure...though it is hard to imagine what could be worse than an eternity packed like bricks into a kiln. Unless it's enduring a lifetime of listening to Slarty's naggy nitpickery. : P

So, permit me to be more precise, since we love picking at scabs on the baby in the bathwater here more than observing the bigger, and untainted point of the matter. The Egpytians were the most particular early civ which had a concept of fire as punishment in the afterlife. Various Mesopotamian cultures introduced concepts of punishment and judgement in the afterlife in general, judgement day, the god Yahweh, the creation account, the Noah story, as well as a hell inhabited by demons and tormentors. Those religions have all pretty much died out, but the rather unoriginal Hebrews and Christians managed to seize upon and tailor these "pagan" notions and integrate them into their monotheistic religion, which persists most bafflingly to this day complete with these ancient, fearful, superstitious kinds of beliefs. That would amaze me more if I hadn't grown up with that kind of thinking myself, and seeing how easily it happens when you are indoctrinated from day one. Credulity and inquisitiveness and skepticism get surrendered to blind faith and the need to believe in an ancient absolute truth that was established once and for all, rather than a need for ongoing exploration into the nature of all things, including God.

I watch the world both mesmerized and horrified at the grand unfolding of all things, especially religion and the power it weilds. But it is a fascinating and highly incestuous progression. It continues to evolve, and an increasingly marginalized Christendom doesn't see the writing on the wall that its former glory is never to return. Ichabod. The best of it I expect to evolve into something more enlightened and relevant.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #233
There was a period of Persian captivity following the Babylonian captivity. The prophet Daniel served under both Cyrus the Great, a Persian, and Darius, a Mede. And if we really want to dig into this in more detail, there are other and older influences related to hell, namely Egypt and Assyria.

"In ancient Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs the “nether world . . . is pictured as a place full of horrors, and is presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness.” (The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Boston, 1898, Morris Jastrow, Jr., p. 581) Early evidence of the fiery aspect of Christendom's hell is found in the religion of ancient Egypt. (The Book of the Dead, New Hyde Park, N.Y., 1960, with introduction by E. A. Wallis Budge, pp. 144, 149, 151, 153, 161) Buddhism, which dates back to the 6th century B.C.E., in time came to feature both hot and cold hells. (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1977, Vol. 14, p. 68) Depictions of hell portrayed in Catholic churches in Italy have been traced to Etruscan roots.—La civiltà etrusca (Milan, 1979), Werner Keller, p. 389."

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and carried off into captivity, fate unverified. Many Hebrews remained in Persia after Cyrus the Persian permitted them to return to Jerusalem and to slowly rebuild the temple. 50,000 did return. Israel remained under the authority and influence of the Persians during this period, plenty of time and proximity for intermingling of Persian religious ideas.

The point of my point is that a hell of punishment and torments, and fire in particular, does not appear in Judaic religion until the New Testament era, and its concept is long predated in a number of other ancient cultures, with which at times the Hebrews were closely intertwined. I made my point, because the typical Christian has little realization how absent the hell of their belief is from the majority of their Bible and history.

And if we want to dig even deeper, even the hell of the New Testament is much other than Augustine, Dante and others ultimately rendered it to be. Mostly it too is Hades which is simply Greek for the same Hebrew Sheol/grave.

...

I'm not drawing any particular conclusion, Slarty, but it is my observation that the only time you respond to things I write is when you seem particularly interested in making a point of how extremely absurd or illogical or inappropriate you think I am being. The degree of your criticalness toward me feels inordinate, and I'm not sure what that's about, but that is why I comment it appears more personal than contexual. I'm not saying the content of your attack was personal.

It's not what you say, it's how you say it.

-S-

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #231
Oh, please, Slarty, hyperbolic much? "Completely absurd logic..." Uh huh. That sounds more like a pesonal attack than a measured and rational statement. It still seems the only time you address me is when you hope to take me down a peg or put me in my place. Whatever, dude.

Here is a small quote about Persian religion in the B.C. era I was referrring to:

"Their religion told them the world was a struggle between good and evil. The good would go to heaven and the evil would go to hell. This idea of a final judgement day influenced the major religions of Judaism and Christianity."

These are ideas absent from Old Testament Judaism, but subsequently became quite prevalent in New Testament Christianity, after the Jewish exile in Persia. Tell me that several generations living in another culture is not going to shift belief systems. According to the Bible, the Israelites continually whored after the idols and gods of their neighbors while they were living in their own land.

And 2500 years later, we still have religions telling us the world is going to hell in a handbasket and a final judgement of all is coming, so rightly deserved by all these evil people afflicting the earth. Cyrus the Great would be proud.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Harry Potter in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #40
Apparently Milla can read a Harry Potter novel in 22 minutes. Impressive.

I will be picking up my copy later today at the flagship Costco here in Kirkland, WA, and reading it soonest, before some twit somewhere about me casually betrays things I'd rather not hear, like who dies. Even though of course it will be Harry. :P

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Life on Europa in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #53
So...this interesting topic sure died the death after religion got sucked out of it, didn't it? That just seems wrong.

I personally doubt there is life on Europa or on anything that far from the sun in our solar system, though we see how remarkably able and adaptive life has been on our own planet. It's amazing to see those crabs and worms, etc. which live in boiling hot water coming out of thermal vents, for instance, or how goldfish freeze in ice and thaw out in the spring perfectly alive. It is hard to conceive of life without water.

It is not hard to imagine life teeming throughout the universe on likely planets, even if it is overall a rare thing. The harder thing to imagine is that if there is intelligent life, what would it look like, how did it get there/develop, and what are the spiritual implications?

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #228
The important thing is there are forerunners of thoughts, ideas, and experimentation which are creeping into awareness and consideration. Equally important is to see the bonds of the past dropping off. Ironically, it is much of the code of Christianity itself which has held us back, as I see it. Not because it is wrong, per se, but because we are to outgrow it.

...

Body, soul, spirit...the Greeks believed in these three parts of being, I believe, while the Hebrews saw a duality of body/soul. The Hebrews also wrote in confusing terms which made it very hard to perceive where they believed spirit of God differed from spirit of man within a person.

I see spirit as the energy which drives us from our deepest heart, and which would persist after the demise of the body, if we do persist, which I believe, and surely hope we do. Spirit I also have a sense is something universally interconnected in ways we probably scarcely comprehend at this point. There is a perhaps mistaken concept of an individual self we have, which may not really quite be the truth of it at all if we are connected on a spiritual level—and what I choose to do actually does affect all others in some sense. Does a cell in your body think it is its own individual life? Well, it is, but it also is a one of fifty trillion others which comprise your body and only do so by working in interconnected harmony. I suspect the larger scale of existence also follows this pattern ultimately. I see the universe to be one of fractals. The same patterns repeat on all levels.

Soul I see as the vehicle of expression of the spirit's energies: mind, will, emotions...these are quite distinctive to each individual. Soul is malleable, and as some would distinguish it, corruptible, while spirit is a pure essence and incorruptible. Soul is more a reflection...or a refraction, while spirit is a source.

Body is the physical vehicle of expression to house the spirit and enable the soul.

So I imagine in my grossly inadequate conception, but I find it hard to settle for less or imagine much more at present.

...

Random Bible Fact: There is no hell in the entire Old Testament. You'd think something as horrifically critical as avoiding spending all eternity burning in fire might be important to, I don't know, blaze from one end of every book to the other, but nope, you find no mention of hell in all that tedious law and prophecy and all that interesting, yet questionable history/mythology. In the Old Testament, in the Hebrew, you have only Sheol, the grave, where you go when you die, which meant merely a realm of unperception, unknowingness.

Most interestingly, the hell of fire only appears in the New Testament, AFTER the Hebrews were the, um, involuntary guests of the Babylonians, then Persians for a number of generations before being released. The Babylonians and/or Persians did have concepts of fiery punishments in the afterlife. The Hebrews appear to have picked up a whole new concept for their religion just in time for the writing of the New Testament in a Romanized world. Oh wait, but God wrote the Bible and knows all truth from day one—all the law and morality and duty for us that is fit to print. I guess a little important detail like hell was not important for all peoples B.C. But God is just and wise. Everyone B.C. deserved to burn forever in a hell they didn't even know yet existed, nor had been warned how to avoid. God was too busy having the Hebrews slaughter Caananites, not eat pigs, and release all debt every 50 years, which supposedly, never once did Israel actually fulfill.

This has been Random Bible Fact #666c.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Social Degradation and Religious Decay (Split from "Life on Europa") in General
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #226
In another lifetime, no wait, it was much earlier in this one, I believed that conscience was this God-given thing to make us feel bad if we went against the absolute law of God's morality. Then I was introduced to something Paul wrote calling for the need to be purged of an evil conscience. So, even the Bible states that the conscience is malleable and can be evilly aligned.

Subsequent to needing the Bible to validate or define a thing, it became very evident all about me that it is the easiest thing in the world to shape a conscience to whatever code you desire. Simply raise a child and drum into it whatever culture, religion, and belief system you want with correlating laws and morals, and it will largely adopt them, even on a level well below its conscious awareness. So much for the conscience regulating God's absolute truth hardwired into us.

That said, I believe in absolute truths and values in this universe, and many can be found in some form in the Bible, but also in nearly any other religion. They are bigger than any one religion or view or concept of God. The degree to which we live in harmony with them is the degree to which we flourish, but our conscience can be skewed any which way. Christians develop a Christian conscience, and it is mighty difficult to jar them loose from it. We seem to have a desperate need for absolutes and security in knowledge of how things are, how God is, what our duties are. Little children benefit from this kind of structure. Adults who grow up may find that their thinking expands far beyond those simplistic and naive structures, and that there is so much unknown, unknowable, and continually evolving. Like who and what God is and how much we can possibly expect to really know about the real depths of the spiritual realities of things. We take comfort in what we are sure we know.

I equate the Old Testament to being a small child spiritually. The rules are black and white. All is based on punishment and reward, if/then rules. The law is external and harsh. The focus in on discipline, obedience, bounds. Dad is often a scary dude, because when he gets angry, bad things happen.

I equate the New Testament with how human beings take it up a notch as they have grown up a bit more spiritually, perhaps the years leading up to and maybe into adolescence. Things are more complex, subtle, and sophisticated. We now have an inner law based on Love and scrap all the childish treatment of control of the old law. Spirituality becomes more inner and abstract. God becomes more complex, and more compassionate...though many Christians still need their Jesus, the nice guy, to be intermediary between them and Scary Dad who is not nearly as nice or trustworthy, if we were honest about it.

Christianity has lost its clout and is dissolving and morphing. Christians cry in alarm at the shifts in the world and their perception of morality, always wishing to cling to the simple joys of childhood where Daddy takes care of everything and has all the answers for them. What they fail to realize is that they are supposed to grow up and become a father of their own, with the freedoms and responsibilities and authority that come with it. Humankind continues to grow and explore spiritually. Christianity is determined to stay in the crypt with the bones of men who have been dead 2000+ years. Those who set up camp and fail to keep moving up the mountain atrophy and wither ultiamtely. Why look back when there is so much ahead?

...

I grew up with the fallacious perception that America (we called it "The World") was once more moral and better and that everything was by sure degrees going to hell in a handbasket. Of course, the sad belief that the Bible predicts this and an ever imminent, never-occuring end of the world/return of Christ has everything to do with shaping this perception. If you look at history from anything but Christian sources, you can see that nothing is so simple and that people have been people at every time and place we have knowledge of.

The church largely (but unspokenly) condoned prostitution in Europe in medieval periods as a necessary evil. America was flagrantly "amoral" in various ways in the roaring 20s and 30's. There was a shift back to conservatism by the 50's, a glorified, yet wretched time when so many had no voice and no option to live a life other than the consumerist dream in the vice of American morality. I would hate hate hate to have been a woman stuck in a marriage at home with a mop in 50's America, with that vague nagging hollow sense of unfulfillment and marginalization. You weren't allowed to talk about many things or rock the boat or express dissatisfaction, so there was no recourse. Men were not permitted to be emotional, unless angry. Yeah, the world was always better in the past and we continue to get worse and worse every generation. We must be really really bad now, because we've been around quite a few generations.

It's an illusion and delusion of simplistic and fictitious reasoning of how things were in any other time and place. Yet we humans continue to be remarkably complex, messy, irrepressible, and fascinating things, despite all this.

...

Marriage is not what is sacred in my eyes. Committment, love, respect, and partnership are wonderful and powerful things. Where love rules, there is no need for laws and rules and headship of one over the other. Children need laws and the lawless need laws. Those who operate in mutual love are capable of hashing things out in partnership out of love. I don't need the recognition of either the state or the church with their rituals to create or devote myself to such relationship. And it is conceivable that in love, two people may decide it is the best things to do to shift and evolve in the nature of relationship. This need not be seen as failure.

-S-

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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

I'm convinced that the Bible comes from someone very honest.
Why? This is the linchpin of a huge amount of your belief system. I'd be most interested to hear what you base your undying faith in the technical perfection of a collection of ancient disparate texts upon—texts which are clearly influenced and evolved by surrounding cultures of the era, if you have eyes to see it. Much of Christendom does not and has not had this belief system of the infallibility of the Bible, amazingly. Why do you?

...

I was not saying the Bible has nothing to say and advise about marriage. I was saying there was no law in the OT to create a one-man, one-woman marriage, which Christians see as a sacred law in the NT. There is a fair bit said about love and treatment of others, but not any rules about how many wives you are to have or that one way is sacred and another profane. What is profane to me is women being regarded as property in some of the very scriptures you quote. How enlightened "God" was three+ millennia ago. How odd that He so perfectly patterns his attitudes after the cultures of men and beliefs of the day. Surely He had something more enlightened to give ancient Israel than a variation of the Code of Hammurabi?

That is my simple point, so let's not obscure it, because Christendom has made the tradition of marriage as we still largely know and practice it one of the hugest sacred cows of its devising in the last two millennia.

...

Are you saying per capita death, bloodshed, and suffering has increased compared to B.C. times or medieval times? Because that's the only statistic that matters in this context, and I would contend the suggestion strongly.

...

Why do I demonstrate healthy skepticism and disdain toward much of the silliness that is promoted in the name of God, while not being atheist or opposed to the belief in God? I don't think this requires any explanation, but the definition of insanity and the application of Ockham's Razor coupled with a lifetime of personal experience all figure in.

-S-

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For one of the most sensible explanations for where the absurd longevities of early Bible texts comes from, look here.

Synergy wrote:

"I have to say I never experienced anything that suggested there was any Jesus listening or responding or doing anything in response. Jesus himself pointed at the Father, God, rather than suggest he himself was to be prayed to or petitioned or deified."

Stillness replied:

"Then why do you expect that God would respond if you were petitioning Jesus?"

Jesus as God—or Jesus petitioning the not so warm and fuzzy God on our behalf—would have God respond...it was really rather sloppy how anyone specified what you were actually doing or attempting to do or who was going to do it for you. But they were all sure to slap, "In Jesus' name" onto the end of any prayer as if it were a magical invocation. I expected God/Jesus/whichever really was God to respond because that was what I was indoctrinated to do by many Christians who all liked to brag about how God did this or that for them based upon their successful effort to bring something down from on high. I assumed something must be wrong or wicked about me, because I simply didn't find it worked that way, no matter how sincere or fervent my heart and efforts.

I believe what we call prayer does have the power to invoke results, but not because we have properly suppositioned a deity who does anything for us like a doting grandfather. I am not saying I have not seen that power. I am saying I see it has no observable link to God/Jesus or any other particular you address it to. But this is another topic I don't care to explore here.

...

See, I disagree with you that the world is "bad now." In Biblical terms, the curse was that humankind would be subjugated to the endless and hurtful propensity to judge all things according to its own fallible sense of "good and evil" of one's own design and conscience (the knowledge of good and evil). Based upon this very kind of inclination, we ironically now have the endless divisiveness and intolerance of Christianity and other religions who are all certain they have the narrow path to salvation from a "bad world." They judge between good and evil, quite apart from the wisdom of Deity, and suppose in doing so they are wise and true. But in the Hebrew scripture, God Himself claims he creates light and darkness alike, creates evil and woe on the earth, and orders the steps of all men despite their own devising. Sounds like that God has a higher concept of ultimately what is good and evil for the world in the Bible of their own worshipping. Winning the lottery can be the worst thing that ever happened to a person. Losing one's sight could be the best thing that ever happened to another. Who can judge how things ultimately work out in a life? Divorce can be the best thing that happens to a life. Jehovah divorced Israel. Is God evil? Did God fail?

I think this is a fantastic world going through purposeful growing pains, and is right on schedule, and it's up to us to grow up. But if God is the Father of all, spiritually, as the Hebrew religion teaches, then I trust He is a good Father Who knows what the hell He is doing and I don't have to worry that I have a negligent, incompetent, or absent Dad. If we are still spiritual children, then I trust the Father of the children will do what is necessary to bring us to adulthood intact ultimately, including letting us fall on our faces and make lots of mistakes in the process. I see the real problem with Christianity is that it doesn't really trust the Father they declare. They deify the satan guy and make him the real power over humankind. It's all absurd as a literal, but it's a potent allegory.

You are wrong to suggest I oppose the Bible. I have great fondness for it in many ways. I think there is wisdom, revelation, and magnificent storytelling and poetry found therein. I am opposed to the unreasonable and unfortunate claims people make about what the Bible is and what our obligation to it is hundreds and thousands of years and miles later.

An increase in suffering and bloodshed? How do you expect to validate that claim? An increase in population and increase in our awareness of more deeds worldwide skews perception. I'd rather live now than in the B.C. era in which so many nations treated so many so cruelly and disposably. Romanticizing the past I can only consider ignorant at this point. Mankind has been slaughtering one another as long as we have recorded history. What makes it worse now? I really really wish I could send people back to ancient Assyria as a captured soldier or something to give them an idea how much "worse" we are now by comparison.

I'm not looking so much at what the "wicked" are doing in seeing this as an improved and improving day. I am looking at what the loving, wise, tolerant, and caring are doing in this time and how our ideas, attitudes, and laws are shifting.

The Bible promoted polygamy by wholly describing those who practiced it (the patriarchs and kings) and never condemning it in the least. If God came to give the important laws to Moses, and how arrangements between men and women were to be conducted civilly was included in those important laws, then doncha think there would have been, "Thou shalt have one wife for one man, thus says the Lord your God"? Instead, in the entire Old Testament, we have a complete omission of any concern or consideration how humankind chose to arrange marriages.

Paul was giving advice to some people—where—the church at Corinth was it?—when he promoted HIS idea (which may or may not have been inspired, and I have no way of knowing in that time and place) that ministerial servants be the husband of one wife. 1) If you are not a minister, you are excluded from this suggestion. 2) If you do not believe Paul was speaking to all people in all times and all cultures, you are excluded. 3) If you do not automatically assume Paul was the mouth of God speaking to all peoples for all times and all places, you are excluded.

There are huge assumptions made every time Christians seek to make blanket laws out of what one apostle wrote in a letter to one church based on one contextual need of the moment. I find that laughable, but such people are free to subject themselves to the entire law of the OT if they feel good about it too. Too bad they want to beat you up if you don't do what they do.

The only law given in the NT is the law of love. People don't like the freedom such generality gives them. So they drum up more laws in lieu of the freedom and responsibility being handed them. "Give us a King!" they clamor. They'd rather have some other perceived authority to rule over them than find and explore the rule of Love in their own being.

-S-

[ Monday, July 16, 2007 17:18: Message edited by: Synergy ]

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quote:
Originally written by Stillness:

If there was never a Christ then there certainly is not now. But, if there was then he is still here.
This is the either/or fallacy. Another possibility is that there was a Jesus, and he is not here actively involved in anyone's life as a deity...at least not any more so than any other departed spirit, if they have any kind of interaction with the living at all. Some would swear they do. I don't know. It could also be noted that Christ was not his name, just a Greek word used as a title that meant "anointed." I spent much of my life believing in and petitioning this deified Jesus fellow, but I have to say I never experienced anything that suggested there was any Jesus listening or responding or doing anything in response. Jesus himself pointed at the Father, God, rather than suggest he himself was to be prayed to or petitioned or deified. Christians did that subsequently. He also referred to himself almost exclusviely as the Son of Man, while it was others who kept calling him the son of God. He seemed interested in identifying himself with humankind, and later, his followers seemed keen on making a god out of him.

I also disagree that the world is worse off than ever before. That's the ignorant and pessimistic view I see many religious folk always bemoaning. On the contrary, for all our growing pains, I think it's a fantastic time to be alive with so much promise and possibility before us. A lot of the sexist and racist and cruel behaviors of the past have finally begun to shift and be challenged in the last century after many millennia of society. I would hate to have been born any earlier, when morals were stuffier and more judgemental and intolerant. Health and living conditions, political conditions, recent freedoms gained, etc. etc....no way in hell would I want to go back to some glorified, romanticized past in which life was actually much harsher and narrower.

In fact, Christians in my experience are some of the most negative people I've known, seeing evil and wickedness everywhere and seeing the world and people as bad and worse off in general. What a sad way to go through life.

As for wives, the Bible promoted the cultural polygamy of the time in the Old Testament. Yet Christianity is largely responsible for touting the one man one woman = sanctified marriage by God today. The Bible never declared any such shift or made any point of either arrangement. At the least, either should be accetable, because polygamy was never condemned, along with owning slaves. Why don't Christians practice polygamy, because it certainly is Biblical. Oh, could it be that Christians are following cultural moral norms like everyone else, not the example of the patriarchs of the Bible?

Or you could be like Paul who personally felt it was best not to marry at all. It is likely Paul was at least at one time married and had a personal opinion on the matter. If the God of the Bible exists, Paul was able to find Him and learn from Him, and I can do the same. I don't need a dead man from 2000 years ago to tell me how to live my life in modern day America.

ADDIT: You mentioned divorce rates being at their peak. Considering that the form of marriage we practice in America has long been a sacred Christian institution held by the Church, I would suggest it is a broken concept of marrige and sex roles held by Christianity we are seeing fail us as much as anything else. Women in particular no longer fit into the role Christianity has been handing them for a couple of millennia. The institution as it has been held is perhaps in need of some revision. Meanwhile, human beings continue to be remarkably human with the usual needs, desires, hopes, and dreams. People aren't getting worse. We're growing up, and old forms aren't fitting us comfortably any more. New wine in old wineskins only bursts the skins.

quote:
I don’t know or understand how it all works biologically. I just know it works better.
Millions of miserable women who had no voice and no power for millennia, trapped in marriages to men who regarded them as inferior creatues or property likely felt otherwise about how well it worked. What it works better for is men who wrote and promoted this stuff in the first place. The old model is broken now, and Christianity is unable to reconcile its archaic, patriarchal past with the newfound freedoms of today without rewriting the Bible.

-S-

[ Saturday, July 14, 2007 08:53: Message edited by: Synergy ]

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Europa, God, and you, or Where it all fits. in General
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I find myself in the curious position of having spent most of my life being some kind of Christian and now being forced to admit I have no certain idea what the specific spiritual reality of being is. That doesn't mean I don't have many ideas or inklings. I have experienced enough to convince me of a number of things: a Mind and Heart behind the existence of all things, and one that has a purposefulness in being. This is God to me, but I have no idea what exactly or where this God is. Well, that's not quite the case. I see the divine in my fellow human being and that is simply the only place I have ever encountered it. I think human beings have become the vehicle to begin to reach out and strive to touch the face of God and there is a reason we are growing up/evolving in this capacity. The religions of the past reflect our immature and clumsy efforts to appropriate the God we have come to sense.

But to me the bottom line is no one knows yet or really is likely capable of knowing yet, but we will get there when we are meant to get there and in the meantime there is really nothing to be afraid of. I approach my existence with wonder, rather than the trepidation and frustration that my former existence as a religious person gave me.

It is extremely difficult and painful to go from decades of thinking you know how God and the universe is, and somehow coming to shed that vain certainty. I think surviving an existential crisis in which you realize no one else can hand meaning to you is one of the best things that can happen to a person, and one of the most difficult to make it through intact. That is not hyperbole. The transition nearly ruined me, but that which does not kill me makes me stronger. I would never revert to the former mind.

Life is wondrous. We want to know and to know that we know, but we have no such guarantee of knowing such things at this time. How do you handle the unknowingness of your reality? Do you embrace cookie-cutter answers to give a false sense of (de)finiteness? I am forced to place religion in that category now. Religion persists, because facing the unknown can be terrifying and devastating. And liberating.

It takes some real courage to question everything you think you believe and know and step outside the box and look back inside. Trust no one. No one else can give you The Truth, yet anyone can touch upon it and share it in some fashion. Ultimately though, my friends, you are each alone in this quest. Yet wholly not alone. Everything is riddled with paradox, and I love it.

...

98 degrees in Seattle Spiderweb land today. I had to go swim in Lake Washington, and did it feel good. We usually don't get much into the 80's 'round here. Snicker if you must.

-S-

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Tyran wrote: "the world's population was...in 2005...a staggering 6.45 billion."

Has it hit 6.66 billion yet? If so, the end must be nigh. Head for the hills.

-S-

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Life on Europa in General
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quote:
Originally written by Safey:

I am a christian and as a christian I will hold my self to the certain rules I believe a Christian should follow. However as a Christian I believe it completely unreasonable to expect non Christians to hold christian values. As Chrisians we should be more concerned about the preaching of our faith then political games.
Christians might have more impact on the world at this point if they spent their energy being a living demonstration of their faith and did a lot less preaching. Nothing sells itself like a living model of success without a pushy, judgemental agenda. If the role model is not appealing, then it is hollow to begin with, and deservest the apathy it earns. The good stuff sells itself ultimately.

-S-

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stats in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
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Good thinking.

-S-

IMAGE(http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b292/synergy67/rusticlock.jpg)

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Video Game Addiction in General
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Carl Jung, who gave us the main three continua upon which Meyers-Briggs is based, believed it is our goal in life as we grow and mature, to slide along those continua and come to a place of balance near the middle. If we start out highly iNtuitive (which I am in spades) rather than Sensory, we should work on bringing up our weaker function. If we are strongly Introverted (I am in the middle on this one), then we would want to work to bring that more toward the middle where we can be energized by the company of others (or not drained by it) as well as be comfortable alone.

I read a blurb the other day about how deeply ingrained in our DNA being social is for our physical well-being. The John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, James Bond loner ideal sort for men is about the most unhealthy role a man can play in the real world. Yet it is our cultural ideal for a man. Men are not socialized to be social like women are, to our detriment.

So, if we find we are strong on the Introvert side, we might want to consciously push ourselves, gently, to find comfortable ways to connect more with others. Our vitality and longevity is dependent upon in ultimately.

-S-

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Avernum 5, June Update in Avernum 4
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And now we know why Dorikas was unkillable in A4.

-S-

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Video Game Addiction in General
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In the psych field, the definition of an addiction is "a pathological relationship to any mood-altering exeprience that has life-damaging consequences."

The main inquiry then, is is a video game a "mood-altering' experience? A lot of things we commonly refer to as addictions don't technically qualify, but then again, this classification is an arbitrary construct around which addiction treatment operates. As Kel mentioned, the concern is whether the experience is having life-damaging consequences.

A huge new area of therapy treatement is for men with computer porn addiction. Is this an addiction by strict definition? Does it even matter if it technically fits a defintion when it's having detrimental effect on lives? I'd be inclined to expand the definition of addiction to any compulsive behavior that interferes with our lives to an undesirable degree.

-S-

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