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…one of the other things that I think we have been deceived in/by (whether intentionally or not) is that we are told as an act of worship that we must intensely pursue the desires of our “heart” yet from the pulpit in virtually every church worldwide we are essentially bombarded with presentations of sensual gratifications of the eyes of the flesh (money strategies, offered prestige, power (church leadership positions (aka ministry) etc), spiritual and social strategies, promises of and methods towards marriage and personal growth, various spiritual concepts, rights and privileges, etc)…

even from the get-go we are presented with a “gospel” that promises Jesus as our servant – we are preached from the pulpit that “God will give us” … and that we will “be given” salvation for free, that “we will get” eternal life, eternal security, healing, peace, a new sense of community, love, better jobs, more success, etc, etc, ad nauseum) when in reality we have all these things already. … and it is only our blindness and unbelief that keeps us separated from such realities

the real message of the cross to my mind is that in order to be ‘restored’ to where we were previously (i.e. pre the fallen state as per the metaphor of the garden in Genesis) we are presented in the recorded story of the Christ with an example and a teaching as well as a clear methodology to “put to death” the so called “deeds of the flesh” and to walk daily for the rest of our time left on earth with this “cross” on our shoulders, … placed there by ourselves and with the constant reminder of the stench of our own death filling our own nostrils as well as any in our presence

this real gospel is not preached anywhere from what I can tell… indeed if it were it would reap the same reward as displayed in the story of the Christ

… the messenger will be betrayed and crucified by friend and foe alike and at the end will have no followers save a mere few trembling who are the only ones who truly understood anything at all

imagine that gospel being preached every Sunday?

Anti-gay pastor arrested for public masturbation asks gay community for forgiveness | The Lookout – Yahoo! News.

Every time I hear someone (including myself) getting really passionate about an issue I get these warning bells in my head…

…and the persistent ringing in my ears seems to be telling me that nothing happens independently or in a vacuum.

It tells me that whatever it is, it’s all coming from ‘somewhere’ … and that ‘somewhere’ is mostly out of control and not really often all that conscious…

… to us.

It also warns me that very possibly the so-called “impassioned” person is merely trying to make sense of it in his/her own life one way or the other.
I am never surprised by these things when they come out publicly…  in fact, I am almost expectant.
It’s almost as if it’s something we can only wait for to happen.

The expectant, faithful skeptic – that’s me.

The only ‘surprise’ I tend to have is how some manage to ‘conceal’ it better and longer than others?
… and just maybe … could this be an indicator of exceptional ‘deviance’ and the real ‘intentional sin’? – now there’s perhaps a thought worth getting some feedback on don’t you think?

(and for those fundamentalists amongst us…  have a good little look at Romans 2:1 ~ … what we judge and condemn in others is in us and we do the same things …. etc.)

He went about doing good and healing all who were under heavy pressure from negative, evil circumstance.   As he went along amazing things seemed to happen around him.  It was clear that a force much more powerful than himself, the words he spoke, or the deeds he did was tangibly present with him.   Lives were marvelously changed as he made contact with all manner of people and as a consequence they sought him out and followed him virtually wherever he went.   They thronged around and asked him questions and he graciously spoke back to them in response.   He taught them what the sacred texts had hidden in them, presented a revolutionary, fresh angle on ancient truth and opened the eyes of the blind.   He demonstrated by way of his own lifestyle, a way of life that had never been seen before.   As a result lame legs were restored, withered arms were straightened and for the first time enabled to reach out and touch, caress and even heal.

Other than the twelve he officially called to be his personal disciples, to leave their homes and families and to walk with him he never asked anyone else to join him or follow him as he walked.   He never developed unrealistic expectations in the hearts and minds of those who met him and instead seemed rather to make it more difficult for them to follow him than that which first was apparent.   He was unpredictable in almost everything he did and when expected to ‘zig’, he ‘zagged.’   He extracted no payment for his service of kindness but often met the needs of the poor instead.   His only charge was for all to honour God and do as he did – to follow his example of giving up his own life for those of his friends.  In fact, he more often than not forbade the recipients of his kindness their passionate request to follow him and even had the emancipated fortitude of wisdom, personal conviction and divine sense of purpose to amongst many other seemingly controversial acts,  inadvertently cause a very wealthy man with all his worldly resources, to turn away from following him by lovingly revealing the great poverty of the mans extreme wealth and success.

He had no personal empire of material or political wealth.   He never drew attention to himself nor promoted his service.  If anything, he underplayed the accolades of the crowd and preferred to call himself the ‘son of man’, a lowly, unpretentious description for someone who performed such incredible feats of miraculous kindness.   He never owned any form of personal transportation nor any building with attractive, socially trendy décor to accommodate the masses who pressed in.   Instead, he chose the dusty footpaths, market places, the homes of often socially inappropriate people, taverns and once a week, the small, traditional religious gathering spots to make contact with people.  He had no permanent roof over his head other than the stars, no place to call his own nor to hang his hat or raise his banner.   He tended more often than not to profoundly offend the established religious order and the prevalent leadership of the day and they too pursued him relentlessly, but for other reasons than respect, admiration and gratitude.

Eventually Jesus was murdered for this, as are any who follow his example and do as he did.

Have you ever tried to tell an animal or a plant about your views on God or the existence of some intelligent being or force ‘out’ (or ‘in’) there? No, I thought not. Neither have I. However, the thought about trying to has crossed my mind. I suppose what keeps me from trying is that if I eventually did do so it might clarify to me and many others what I’d always feared about my own stability of mind. Clint Eastwood talked to the trees and look what …. well, it was his choice wasn’t it? …. anyway, that’s history. Another reason why I have not tried is that I have this other view that animals and plants don’t or even can’t think about these types of things. Now where did I get that idea from? Nevertheless that’s a view I have. Strange isn’t it?

I’m sure most of us have had an interaction with another person or other persons about our ideas on God and all that this might mean to us. Whatever side of the answer you’re on I’m sure it’s happened, probably quite often. As much as these types of conversations can get very heated and leave most involved greatly frustrated it seems to be something all of us do. Even if we don’t speak about it we tend to think about it. Sometimes I have been kept from speaking to other people of my views on God for fear of being seen as somewhat strange (and again, I’m not in search of further clarification in that specific arena). What does make it easier to speak to other humans about my ideas on God however is that I have this view that humans can think about the existence of God and that in fact it is a very deep and often turbulent issue. I also have this view that humans can do a uniquely extraordinary thing – we can even think about our thinking. Further more I believe we can even fine tune our thinking to embrace very complex and elaborate conceptual ideas and constructs that can even appear to others to be not even of this world we live in. The science fiction industry is clear evidence that reveals the amazing nature of this uniquely human aptitude. Now where did I get that idea from? Nevertheless that’s a view I have. Strange isn’t it?

We might not be able to prove or even know that there’s a God out there but someday we may clearly figure the problem out for ourselves. In the mean time we can still think there is a God out there and that we’re just trying to get closer and closer to a clearer understanding, even proof of …. or not.

A theory is attractive, beautiful, and profound when it is made simple and when it can be expressed concisely. Either side of the answer to whether there is a God we all tend to get very complicated in our approaches and the cleverer we get the more confusing it seems to become.

A lot of the answers we now have from science were collected through experimentation and intelligent calculations of probabilities. An alarming amount of the time these wonderful discoveries that developed into laws and ‘facts’ came about by chance. Things crossed peoples paths and certain minds were attracted to problems and challenges. Sometimes great discoveries were literally stumbled on.

The way I see this in very simple terms is that a lot of questions were asked and people took a lot of risks by going where others had not yet gone or were even afraid to go. Some of the greatest ideas were discovered when people went to places that were clearly labelled ‘wrong’, ‘forbidden’, even ‘madness’.

To me, alongside the tremendous risk there’s a lot of playfulness in this process. There is also a lot of freedom and wonder. We would never have achieved what we have if some had not crossed these ‘forbidden’ borders.

The trouble with science and technology advancing so rapidly is that there are more and more ‘answers’ available than ever before. We have a lot more understanding. We have a lot more tighter ideas about things. We have become more precise and accurate and this is good. However, there is a down side to this precision – it tends to close down a whole lot of questions even before they are asked.

On both sides of the answer let’s keep playing. Let’s keep taking risks. Let’s keep asking daring and bold questions. Let’s keep on going beyond the set borders.

Who knows what inquisitiveness, playfulness, chance and probability might allow us to discover?

I have recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” and in it there is a fascinating section on improv theatre.  Gladwell’s excellent writing drew my attention to the way we tend to close things down rather than open things up in our social settings and encounters.  I have found this happening especially in our interactions with others over philosophical, religious or political beliefs.  In these we seem more focused on delivering our point of view than we are on entering into dialogue and hearing the other.  The point that jumped out for me in the section of the book called “structured spontaneity” was that there are actually rules to the spontaneity of improv theatre.  This at first seems contradictory, but the rules here are not like the rules most of us have encountered in our lives.  One of the most important ‘rules’ is the actioned idea of acceptance.  In order to keep the flow of dialogue and allow the plot and characters to unfold freely and effectively good improv actors accept all offers made and run with it, exploring the options in the dialogue rather than closing it down with dead-end statements. This doesn’t mean that they necessarily agree with what is said or done by the other actor(s) but that they resonate and flow creatively and constructively with it and chose the best path of exploration towards a mutually beneficial end.  There is ample time and opportunity to inject into the dialogue personal suggestions and this could easily sway the interaction in a number of ways.  The sure-fire way to abruptly terminate an improv scene would be to deliver a ‘closed’ response which is usually in the form of a negation or contradiction.

This got me thinking that maybe this has relevancy in the way we meet with others and exchange views.  Perhaps we could get a whole lot more achieved and do a whole lot more mutual growing if we ran with what the other person says and explored it with constructive reflectivity rather than try assume the role of the ‘teacher’ and close dialogue down by focusing on our own perspective as being the ultimate truth or opinion on the matter?  In terms of truth no-one is totally ‘correct’ and we all can learn from each other.  Opening up dialogue can only increase the potential for more learning to take place, on both sides.  Dialogue should never be a duel to the death, but an exchange of well aimed, well thought out contributions that leave all participants standing and keen to reload.  If both focus on a win-win process it may just happen.  Imagine that?