Technorati Tags: ,

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stephen contemplates sin, angels and reptillian instinct!

I hold a special respect for the Archangels, Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel. I often seek their images in the icons and stain glass windows of various spiritual locations that I visit. I find they provide a good point of reference for meditation and prayer.

The rabinical folk of old (and many from more recent) times also understood the realm of the angels and archangels; and knowing this I am sure Jesus was also schooled in the bigger angelic picture. Knowledge that seems lost in the modern church; at least to those in the pews.

But there are always the opposites (as C.G. Jung would remind us). Along with angels comes the demons. It is to this area that I would like to draw on your thoughts.

If one suspends any belief in God or an after-life for a moment and considers what it might be that stops total anarchy in this world, one at some point considers the role of conscience. Continuing with the suspension of belief and returning to reptilian times, conscience would appear to be a fairly unevolved aspect of existance back then. It would appear that conscience evolved along with a more upright posture and less body hair. And as we evolved at a cognitive level, so to it would appear did the conscience (well for many at least).

I often consider what it is that stops people in a reptilian moment taking drastic or obscene actions in the face of a stressor, other than the fear of consequences from the police and the courts. Some people seem to have longer reptilian moments; thankfully they are lesser in number (natural selection?). In considering my own motivations I don't not take drastic or obscene actions beacuse of fear of consequences. Like most of us, it just doesn't cross our minds 99% of the time - it is not how we are. Instead we all just suffer from stress; or we throw the occasional expletive and in extreme cases, a rotten tomato.

I think it is reasonable to suggest that most of us have come a long way since Abraham and that bunch of savages whose natural disposition was to sin at the level of the obscene.

The legalistic behaviouralists might consider that we have evolved a habit strength of not taking drastic or obscene actions, but the underlying capacity to be evil still exists. Because one has the capacity to sin (or in a more reptilian space, to do evil) one is therefore never without sin. I think a sin, therefore I am. But this is in the state of suspended belief - so now we return to our position of faith.

And now I can pose my question:

If we have evolved a cognition of conscience that does not automatically lead to acts of evil, and we continue to evolve, does the state of "sin" still eventually cease to exist?

I do have a little trouble accepting that I am guilty of the sins of my ancestors. Perhaps this is because on the earthly plane I am not convicted in the courts of being guilty of my ancestors crimes. And clearly I did not commit them. The Catholic use of sin as an instrument of control over the masses itself seems obscene.

I'm sure we all look forward to the day when we can honestly say we have dealt with the last 1% (a stretch target). But if/when we reach it, will sin still exist? Is this not the goal Jesus demonstrated? When he says "no-one comes to the Father except through me", might this be refering to the pathway he showed us as much as the ecclesiastical legalities?
Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Keith on 'Why Men Hate Church'

Men dislike church, I think, because it attempts to emasculate them and no red blooded man will put up with it. The church as a generalisation has for centuries been terrified of sexuality, because they can't control it. Augustine said Adam and Eve did it without benefit of an erection. The Catholics tried and keep trying to control it and even the women are leaving. As Dave has pointed out before, no-one who goes to church masturbates. So men feel left out.

To understand what I'm talkjing about, if you get a chance, go to a closing ceremony of the gaol ministry Kairos. There you will see tribal, masculine, Christian worship. At a closing ceremony everyone gets a chance to speak if they wish to. It is a revelation on how feminised worship is in churches to hear worship songs sung with enormous gusto and then to hear chants encouraging people to speak. "Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill Bill..." until Bill finally succumbs and gets up to make his comment. Very masculine.

I am convinced that women don't really understand and are slightly scared, of real male sexuality, probably because of the inherent violent undercurrent. There are more women than men in churches and so worship has become feminised. A classic example of this is all the what I call "Jesus as my boyfriend" schmalz that passes as worship music in so many churches. You can go to service after service and not sing one good rollicking drinking song.

Another problem is that the spirituality encouraged in so many churches is apophatic: praying with your eyes shut and keeping still. The other great tradition of the church, Kataphatic prayer, prayer while on the move, is unknown to the Protestant tradition but it's often what men need. If a male friend needs some counselling or Spiritual Direction, I ring them up and take them for a walk. Men, in my experience, talk best while moving. Churches want them to keep still. Eugene Peterson tells of a mentor of his who would run retreats for young men. On their arrival he would get them to open their suitcase so he could remove the whiskey and then he would send them off in pairs on what he called an "Emmaus Walk" to discuss their spiritual life. If worship was more physical and allowed more movement then men might like it better.
Technorati Tags: ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Father Elijah on the Transcendent nature of Fatherhood

For a father, giving life as defined by biology is a matter of minutes, so fatherhood can't be defined just by that. Fatherhood is essentially a spiritual affair.

When a child calls its father, this father is called to call to the heavenly Father, on whose behalf he is a father. And he is called to help his child also to call to that heavenly Father. Of course, that's also the case when a priest or minister is called 'father'.

Motherhood is more closely linked with nature, its meaning is less immediately spritual. That does not mean it's less divine - for especially if we are Christians, followers of the Son of God born from a woman, we believe that God has hidden great secrets in nature. But the meaning of fatherhood is more immediately transcendental. Calling the father is the first step for the child to look beyond itself.

I think a mother communicates love to the child directly through the flesh, the father gives the moral means to pass on this love.

The mother gives a wordless knowledge of what is good and confirms to the child the dignity of life, whereas the father confirms that there are causes even more worthy than this earthly life, and that there is an invisible source of all things that are good.

Our mother is our first abode, where we were surrounded by love. She manifested our love by being one with us. Our father showed us how to become different from our mother and translate the love we received from her into our gift of ourselves. Our father manifested his love by giving us the means to manifest our love.

It's as if a mother gives warmth, while the father shows the fire.