Posts Tagged ‘God’

Paradiso

April 19, 2014
Dante and Beatrice speak to Piccarda and Constance

Dante and Beatrice speak to Piccarda and Constance

Dante and Beatrice speak to the teachers of wisdom

Dante and Beatrice speak to the teachers of wisdom

Led by Virgil through Inferno and Purgatorio. Virgil was born before Christ and can go no further. Dante is led through Paradiso by the beautiful Lady Beatrice.

Souls who made Holy Vows but failed to keep them.

Souls who sought Glory, but forgot the end does not justify the means.

Souls who enjoyed the sexual pleasures, but also remembered spiritual love.

Can we question the Will of God? If not, then we lack Free Will.

Finally, Dante is led into the presence of God, but before, he is questioned by Peter, James and John.

A very beautiful and moving dramatisation by the BBC of Paradiso, the third part of The Divine Comedy. All the more the pity only on-line for seven days.

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In the NSA we trust: The trouble with faith in an omniscient state

June 17, 2013

Too many Americans think of their nation as inherently Christian and worthy of absolute trust, but the state is not benign

NSA surveillance

NSA surveillance

It’s nothing new, this fear that there is someone out there watching my every move, knowing my inmost thoughts. It used to be a fear of God. Now it’s a fear of Google, the NSA and GCHQ. In other words, we have invented a secular form of omniscience. For the sake of argument let us bracket out the question of whether this God actually exists. For present purposes, I am interested in how human beings have historically reacted to the prospect of there being some powerful agent/agency who knows everything about us. Thousands of years ago, the psalmist had it thus:

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” (Psalm 139 vv. 1-8)

But, the psalmist concludes, if we having nothing to hide, why worry? “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This is not dissimilar to Barack Obama’s line that in the trade-off between security and privacy, we ought to trust the listening spooks not to misuse information they gather about us, that they are working in our best interests. But, whatever one thinks of (let’s call it) the God idea, the big difference between God almighty and the secular almighty, is that the former is supposed to be benign, indeed the very epitome of love itself, whereas I don’t think it entirely uncontroversial to say that the NSA is not.

The problem is, however, that too many Americans think of their nation as inherently Christian, as set apart by God. For all their supposed separation of church and state, and for all their supposed suspicion of big government, in the end a significant proportion of Americans believe in America in the same way that they believe in God. They over-identify the Christian “we” with the American “we” – as Stanley Hauerwas puts it. In 1956, the USA replaced its unofficial motto, E pluribus unum (Out of the many, one), with an official motto, “In God we Trust”.

Thus the state not so subtly claims for itself the same level of trust that Christians have in the almighty – thereby answering the initial fear that the psalmist has about absolute surveillance with the reassurance that the powers that be are benign and have our ultimate interests at heart. Nothing could be more dangerous than this, that the state deserves absolute trust. Which is why it is worth stating and restating the theologically obvious: the NSA is not God – however much it might aspire to the absolute power of omniscience.

— Giles Fraser

Published in The Guardian.

We may trust God to watch over us. We should never trust the state.

Erasing Hell

March 1, 2012

God has the right to do whatever He pleases. — Psalms 115:3

If we dig deep and find the caring, loving part God has placed within us, the angels cannot be restrained from actively being our associates. — Elaine Street

Anyone who knows God cannot describe him. Anyone who can describe God does not know him. — Paulo Coelho

Erasing Hell may not be brimming with hatred but is certainly lacking in grace.

Francis Chan plays the proof text game.

One can prove almost anything playing the proof text game.

Fancy engaging in a little genocide? There are Biblical texts you can quote. Slaughter all men, women and children. Spare not even the women and children.

The Lord´s Army in Uganda use biblical texts to justify their atrocities. As do suicide bombers, Islamist fundamentalists use The Koran.

Yes, God is all powerful. He could destroy the earth tomorrow in the blink of an eye, but could is not the same as would.

We have a loving God, a God who cares. Why would such a God condemn to an eternity in Hell for sins committed in a finite lifetime?

But Francis Chan commits to Hell, not for sins committed, but for not believing what he says we must believe.

We have not free will if we must believe what we are told to believe, and will be punished if we do not comply

Desmond Tutu addresses this very well in Tutu: A Portrait.

Does God say to the Dalia Lama, yes I recognise you are a Holy Man, but because you chose a different path, I will condemn you to an eternity in Hell?

At a St Joseph’s Day party at a medieval Venetian castle, Paulo Coelho told of dying at birth, of being strangled by his umbilical cord. His mother prayed. She promised she would mark St Joseph’s Day as thanks. She never kept her promise. God did not punish her. He recognised the frailties of human beings. Paulo Coelho now keeps his mother’s failed promise. He celebrates St Joseph’s Day with his friends, and has done so for the last 25 years.

In, I think, The Valkyries, an encounter with angels, Paulo Coelho speaks of the angel with a flaming sword guarding the entrance to heaven. The angel no longer guards the gate. The way is open to all. There are many paths. No one person has the right to say theirs is the right path. There are those bigots who have the arrogance to claim theirs is the one and only, the true path.

As Ron Bell says in Love Wins, not all would wish to enter heaven as they would have to change. Would the racist wish to sit with peopple of all races and colours? Would the bigot wish to sit with those of other faiths?

When asked, Master how do we enter heaven? Jesus gave as many different answers as those who asked.

In the Koran, we learn that to enter heaven is to recognise the one true God and to do good.

In The Shack we learn God is not a God of wrath.

Francis Chan is not though content to play the proof text game. He performs mental gymastics to claim words mean other than what they mean.

Erasing Hell is an evil book. It is like those odious people who stop you in the street and tell you if you do not believe what we believe you will suffer eternal damnation. They of course are always counted with the chosen few.

Cut the rope

February 2, 2012

Heaven ne’er helps the man who will not help himself. — Sophocles

We all need to think about how attached we are to our own ropes? Would we trust God and let go? — Priya Sher

As the night fell heavy in the heights of the mountains a climber got lost and could not see anything. All was black and there was zero visibility. The moon and the stars were covered by the clouds. He continued climbing disorientated, but only a few feet away from the top of the mountain, suddenly he slipped and fell into the air, falling at great speed. He could only see black spots as he went down, and the terrible sensation of being sucked by gravity.

He kept falling, and in the moments of great fear, it came to his mind all the good and bad episodes of his life. He was thinking now about how close death was getting, when all of a sudden he felt the rope tied to his waist pull him very hard. His body was hanging in the air.

Only the rope was holding him and in that moment of stillness he had no other choice but to scream: “Help me God.”

All of a sudden a deep voice coming from the sky answered, “What do you want me to do?” “Save me God.” And God replied “Do you really think I can save you?” “Of course I believe You can.”

“Then cut the rope tied to your waist.”

There was a moment of silence and the man decided to hold on to the rope with all his strength. The next morning the rescue team reported that a climber was found dead and frozen, his body hanging from a rope. His hands holding tight to it. Only one foot away from the ground.

Posted by Priya Sher on her blog.

Faith Under Fire
Love Wins

In the end, it is between you and God

January 19, 2012

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

— Mother Teresa

Beauty of Mathematics

January 12, 2012

This is quite clever, though what we are looking at is the beauty of numbers.

Many Greeks, such as Pythagoras, were fascinated by the mystical properties of numbers.

Mysteries of Aleph

They’ve lost God!

December 31, 2011

Two naughty boys went to Church every Sunday.

They were always badly behaved, they would run around, shout, up-skittle chairs and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

One day one of the boys was too ill to go to church so one of the naughty boys went on his own.

As he was on his own, he decided he would have to be twice as naughty to make up for the absence of his friend. He wrought havoc in the church that Sunday.

The Rector had had enough. He grabbed the boy by the scruff and roared at him: Where is God!?

He let go of him, then told him to go home and give serious thought to where was God. He said he expected answers the following Sunday.

The boy got home and called his friend: They’ve lost God and they are trying to pin it on us.

As told by the Rector of St John’s in Washingborough at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Midnight Mass at St John’s

God is not a Christian

December 13, 2011
In Him was life and the life was the light of men - Lalo Gutierrez

In Him was life and the life was the light of men - Lalo Gutierrez

lady of Villers-Carbonnel

lady of Villers-Carbonnel

God is not a Christian. – Desmond Tutu

If the triangles made a god, they would give him three sides. — Montesquieu

Quite a profound statement by Desmond Tutu: God is not a Christian.

Three religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, all recognise the same God. So what is God? A Jew, a Christian, a Muslim? All three, none of these?

For many Christians they are having problems getting their heads around Jesus was a Jew.

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

At two thousand years old, Christianity is a relativity new religion. Far older, Judaism, Hinduism. Far older still, the spirits of the forest, of the trees, the wind.

A recent find in France is of a small figurine, typical of the Middle East, a Mother Earth figurine, large breasts, large hips. Thought to date from somewhere between 4300 and 3600 BC

The earth mother of all neolithic discoveries
Six-thousand-year-old earth mother statuette found on banks of the Somme is named ‘Lady of Villers-Carbonnel’

The Somme “earth mother” appears to have broken into five or six parts while she was being fired between 4300 and 3600 BC. She was found in the ruins of a neolithic kiln at a French government “preventive” archaeological dig near Villers-Carbonnel on the banks of the river Somme in the département of the same name.

After the Romans left, Christianity has a struggle regaining a foothold in what is now England. Paganism was the dominant religion. Eventually rather than trying to defeat it was assimilated, many Pagan Temples became churches or their scared sites became Holy Sites, the festivals were adopted.

Christianity A History: Dark Ages

We cannot know God, we make guesses in the dark.

A man lives in a cave. All he sees is the shadows. One day he comes out. Who are these people? He does not recognise them for all he has seen are their shadows.

We are arrogant when we think our religion is superior to another.

Religion is man made, an attempt to know the unknowable.

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The light was not brought to Christians, it shone on men.

Or as made more explicit in other translations

New Living Translation: The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

International Standard Version: In him was life, and that life brought light to humanity.

GOD’S WORD Translation: He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.

Good News Bible: The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind.

The light was not reserved exclusively for Christians, it was for everyone.

In the Koran is recognised that there are many religions and they are to be treated with respect, especially those who are the descendants of Abraham.

The Jewish sect established by the followers of Jesus was just that, a Jewish sect, but it was not exclusively Jewish, it welcomed Gentiles.

Rich poor, black white, gay straight, male female, war criminal genocide victim, we are all members of the human race, part of humanity, there are no outsiders. All are God’s children.

What I do effects those around me, what they do effects me. As individuals we are networked to form families, communities, society. In turn these networks sustain us and provide the environment in which we grow.

No one religion has absolute truth, though they may think they do. They may even claim what they say is superior to others. They may even tell you that you will go to Hell if you do not accept what they tell you. They of course always being by their own definition of the Chosen Few.

God, or G-d as some would write out of respect, is no more Christian than he is the old man sitting on a cloud answering prayers like a friendly old grandfather handing out sweets to the children.

An infinite entity cannot be known by a finite mind any more than by a finite man-made religion.

Those who try to tell us otherwise are at best misguided, at worse bigots and fundamentalists.

Sacred text were not set in stone, they were written by man, rewritten by man.

Most people recognise the Dalai Lama as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi led what could be seen as a moral enlightenment, he influenced Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela. He was also a Hindu.

Rob Bell writes of an art exhibition where someone posts a note that Gandhi in Hell. Are they sure? How do they know? How kind of them to tell us.

There are those who see it as some sort of failing that Dalai Lama has not converted to Christianity.

Does God, the Christian God, have a conversation and say, sorry guys, I know you have done a lot of good in the world, but not quite good enough, you are not Christian, you belong to the wrong club, so you have to be sent to the fires of Hell for all eternity?

Complete and utter nonsense, but that is what Christian fundamentalists, bigots by any other name, would have us believe.

Tutu: The Authorised Portrait
The shack
Love Wins
Crass stupidity by Christian fundamentalists leads to persecution and massacre of Christians in the Middle East
What is wrong with the church?
God is
Where does religion come from?

Oneness of Humanity and the Unity of Religion

November 20, 2011
candles one lit by each speaker

candles one lit by each speaker

Encourage knowledge understanding of and between faiths.

For many it would be a beginning to understand their own faith.

In the corner a table with various bits of literature.

Several speakers from different faiths. Talk about their faith, light a candle, play some music.

The Hindu religion is a very ancient religion. When India was strong spiritually, it was also strong culturally. The study of science encouraged.

The Old Testament is the Jewish Torah, it is a book of drama, for example the story of Joseph and his exile in Egypt. It is the Jewish tradition to chant these stories.

For Buddhists, we all have a common faith. It is better to live a single day in honour, than a hundred years in disgrace. Treasure in the body is more important than treasure in the storehouse, and most important of all is the treasure in our heart. If you lack faith it is like trying to light wet tinder. It is important to understand ourselves to help ourselves and others. Enlightenment.

There is no such thing as a typical Christian. Having faith helps to understand life, without faith life has no meaning. A Divine presence is in all Creation. God. The Psalms were written 3,500 years ago but still have relevance and meaning today. Psalm 139, the Lord is always near, you look into my heart and know everything.

No one from Islamic faith.

A Sikh is a seeker of truth. Only one God, who is in everything, who was there before and will be there after. God is unique, cannot be described.

Bahia, the son of the founder toured UK a century ago.

The meeting organised by Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum and hosted by St Nicolas Church marked the start of Inter Faith Week. It was opened by the Mayor of Guildford and closed by the Deputy Mayor of Godalming.

I had my hand up to ask a question, but was ignored. I wanted to ask had anyone been to St Paul’s in-the-Camp? If not, then please go, as you would find many faiths working together. When St Paul’s was closed, Flash Evensong performed evensong on the steps, Quakers have been holding services on the steps on Sunday afternoons, during Sermon on the Steps, two days after St Paul’s re-opened their doors, many from many different faiths spoke.

Flash Evensong at St Paul’s-in-the-Camp
Sermon on the Steps at St Paul’s in-the-Camp
Evensong at St Paul’s
Tom Hodgkinson: ‘Fundamentally this is a Christian protest’
Fundamentally Christian?

If you have not been to St Paul’s in-the-Camp, then please pay a visit. You will be rewarded and enriched.

Were I to choose a piece of music, I would choose The Sixteen performing the Lamentations of Job composed by Victoria set to visuals from inside St James Cathedral.

St James Cathedral – Victoria – The Sixteen

A special plea: Would St Nicolas please exercise better management of their notice board. Yes, this meeting was displayed on their notice board (which makes a pleasant change) but on the day had been taken down. As had notice of an interfaith meeting at Holy Trinity for the following day.

Top story ARISE and AWAKE! Daily (Monday 21 November 2011)!

Forthcoming:

To Heaven Hell with a Scribe and a Pharisee: A priest and a rabbi take a look at the Jewish religion at the time of Jesus. Trinity Centre, top of High Street next to Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. 7pm Monday 22 November 2011

Keystone Spirit with Eden People at Keystone Pub. 8pm Tuesday 29 November 2011

Art @ Costa. Swan Lane, Guildford. 7-30pm Tuesday 6 December 2011

Keystone Spirit with Eden People at Keystone Pub. 8pm Tuesday 13 December 2011

Finding God in the Shack

October 12, 2011
Finding God in the Shack

Finding God in the Shack

Finding God in the Shack is a rehash of The Shack with errors.

It starts off with a synopsis of The Shack, only problem is it is riddled with errors. Not a good start.

At this point I will reiterate the advice given in Finding God in the Shack, read The Shack first, if you have done so, then please continue.

Finding God in the Shack is essentially a reader for The Shack, it looks at the theology of The Shack and asks did William Young get it right. And there is a lot of theology in The Shack!

The Shack, is not, as Roger E Olson wrongly states, a book about the Great Sadness, though it is in part. It is a philosophical discussion of the nature of God, Mack’s relationship with God and the need to forgive.

The Great Sadness is a burden Mack has to bear. His daughter goes missing, believed killed by a serial child killer, her body is never found. Mack blames himself, he blames God.

The One Big Question: why is there suffering in the world? Why does an all powerful, infinitely good God allow suffering? Maybe God is not good, maybe he is not all powerful, in which case who is more powerful, maybe he simply does not exist?

We have free will. Evil is the absence of Good, in the same way Dark is the absence of Light. We can handle Evil in theory, but how in practice when it brushes against us? How do we handle the brutal death of a child?

There are those who will say it was God’s will. Really!

When a child plummets to their death, was it God’s will? Did God give a little nudge, because God delighted in seeing the child’s head split open when the child hits the ground?

Maybe God does sometimes intervene. How often do we hear it said it was a miracle that so and so survived? But mainly God does not intervene.

Were God to always intervene, we would have the Law of Unintended Consequences, the Laws of Physics would not work. We cannot have it all ways.

Roger E Olson warns of using proof texts to prove a point, the Bible speaks with many voices, often contradictory voices, and yet he is too often guilty as charged, worse still, he then gives contrary examples that contradict the point he has made.

Roger E Olson says if you do not go to church then you are not a Christian. He then gives examples of bad churches that he himself has left!

I would turn this on its head and say there are many who go to church who are not Christians. Simply going through the motions every Sunday does not make you a Christian.

This is to ignore Holy Men who lived a life of solitude.

Paulo Coelho tells a story, or more likely retells a story. A priest goes to visit a man who does not attend church. The two sit in silence before a fire. The priest removes an ember and puts in the hearth. It goes dull and cold. He then puts it back in the fire and leaves. Point made.

Some need community others do not.

Is Christianity all happiness and light? There are are many examples of Christians who have had doubts, who have suffered depression. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy for example.

Paulo Coelho had doubts. He went on a spiritual journey which he recounts in Aleph.

Jesus warned that those who followed him were not embarking on an easy journey.

Roger E Olson confuses feeling depressed with depression.

Roger E Olson does not like the ending of The Shack and arrogantly constructs his own. He does not believe that after what happened to Mack he can rebuild his life. Why not? He had long conversations with God. He saw that his daughter Missy was happy where she was, that she did not blame him for what had happened, that she had forgiven her killer. Yes, he will feel sad, as he will miss her.

There are many well documented cases of people forgiving acts of depravity. One only has to look at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in South Africa.

If you cannot forgive, let go, it consumes. If we all exacted an eye for an eye, we would as Gandhi once said, be living in a world of blind men.