Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Religion Part 7 - The Lord

"And this I believe: that the free exploring mind of the individual is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual." --John Steinbeck
I borrowed that from an email my daughter sent me today.
It's been awhile since I last wrote a topic on religion, April 14 was when I posted Part 6. I had something come to me the other night that seems worthy of discussion so I'm going to attempt to put my thoughts into words.
Several major religions refer to the Lord. Of course, for Christians the Lord is Jesus who sits with God in Heaven. Being from a Christian background, I've heard about this pretty much all my life, or at least as long as I've heard about Santa Claus. More than a few times in church I've had the impression that the preacher was talking about good old Saint Nick and not something real like the Lord. The problem seems to be in my head, though. Nobody else seems to notice any problem with the preachers' claims.
But the other night it came to me what has been bothering me all these years about "The Lord." What I realized was that the Lord of most Christians is just as much fable as is Santa, just as much imagined, just as unreal. I'll try to explain what I mean.
Most Christians see the Lord as a person, or at least as someone resembling a rational person-like being. This person has several key characteristics. He is a he. He is infallible. He is God. He is a being of some sort, a spiritual being. He is the authority for our life. He created us. All of us need to look to His authority to live a righteous life. If we don't accept His authority over us, we are condemned. He is the ultimate "Big Boss Man" over everyone on Earth. I mean, just like you know how Santa Claus is the "Boss Man" at Christmas. You better be good or Santa won't give you what you want.
Although I am a firm believer in reason and truth and a firm believer in Godly reality as opposed to Orwellian-style reality, somehow this concept of the commanding authority of the He who created us just doesn't seem to satisfy my hunger for truth. I believe there is an entirely other way to look at "The Lord" than through this fantasy perspective. This Lord is a little too Matrixy and a little too small for me.
First, in order to see this other perspective, we need to forget the notion that the Lord is a single all-knowing, all-powerful, authoritative being. Note one key word in the previous sentence, "being." There is no rational being which is Lord over us. There is no "Big Boss Man" and no matter what we try to imagine, we can't imagine this "being" into reality. He just won't appear. Someone did appear one time, but he doesn't seem to wish to return and there is far too much controversy over the record of his existence for us to think we know with absolute certainty that he was "The Lord." We only have the Bible to go on and that was put together centuries after Jesus and by The Roman Empire of all things. It laid the foundation for the Catholic Church and who among us any longer trusts that establishment with the preservation of truth? So why would God?
But if the Lord isn't a being, then there is no authoritative person up in heaven dictating with authority the right way for us to live our lives, is there? And if that is indeed the case, then all of us who imagine there is such a heavenly being are living a delusional lifestyle, aren't we? And here we are trying to rule each other's lives through governments established on the basis of this delusion of authority. That is the case if the Lord is not a "being," and He is not.
But all this doesn't invalidate the concept of "Lord." For each of us, there is a Lord. What I am writing is almost beginning to sound Buddhist to me. What I realized the other night is that for each one of us, for every living being, there is a Lord. I do have a Lord. Christianity isn't wrong about that. But the Lord of my life is not the Lord of yours and the Lord of your life is not the Lord of mine, no matter who you are. You can be Billy Graham for all I care and your Lord isn't mine. Crusade all you want, but your Lord will never be mine. He is yours and yours alone and you really should listen to Him.
God is truth, reality, the author of the story. But for everything which exists, there is a need for truth, a need to be written into this story of truth. Truth exists through reason, not by fallacy. The existence of everything depends on truth. Truth is what makes us real.
But there lies within us the ability to practice deceit, to make illusions of things which do not exist in reality appear to be real. Not only can we do that to other thinking beings, we can do it to ourselves. We can deceive ourselves. But in order to do that, in order to deceive ourselves, we need to hide things which are indeed real, indeed true, indeed written into God's book of creation. We delude ourselves. But we can't be delusional and in the presence of God. We have to be either one or the other.
The point here is that if we are not deceitful and thus delusional, we are in the presence of God. There's no other way for it to be. Either we are open to the truth or we aren't. There are no other alternatives. But the problem is that the truth isn't limited to some book we can hold in our hands. The truth isn't limited to the Bible or to the Quran or to any other "scripture." The truth is much bigger, much more inclusive than any scripture. The greatest challenge in life is to come to the point in our life where each of us can see the truth as we encounters it.
Several days have passed since I began writing this post. I am finding that it is not easy to express in words what I am thinking, what I am trying to envision. I was sharing this with one of my sons, trying to show him that I see two different ways to envision the concept of Lord. One is the authoritative being living somewhere off in a place called Heaven. But the other is a more personal concept describing our own personal potential for something. I stumbled for what that something is, but he immediately said wisdom and I think he is right about that.
Again, though, wisdom has these same two sides. A wise man might be a man who knows all the rules of the game and knows how to play by the rules. But a really wise man is one who realizes there is no game and thus there are no rules. A truly wise man is a man who has the capacity to understand the way things are, why things work the way they do, what the natural order of things is, and thus what to expect in the future and how to contribute to life in such a way as to make the future a better place to live in. That is wisdom.
When you have wisdom like that, then you have an authoritative power leading your life. The power comes from the wisdom, not vice versa. When you seek that kind of wisdom, then you find the Lord, you find an inspiration worth living for. You find a future worth building. You find love for God's creation and you find hope for creation, hope and faith in a future where everybody can share the same wisdom you have searched for and found.
That is the other perspective of the Lord. The Lord, for each of us, is the authority over our lives that we find in our own souls when we seek out and find true wisdom, true understanding of the natural order of life. The Lord, for each of us, is the inspirational power truth can have to direct us to love one another, to love God, and to love all of His creation, the reality in which we exist.
What is really amazing is that we can live our entire lives without knowing this.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Rove

Well, it's hitting the news today but it seems that a couple of nights ago the chief White House political strategist stuck his thumb up his ass and then proudly showed the results to a group of conservatives. It's causing quite a stink in Washington. Now for those among you who only are capable of literal interpretations, what I just wrote isn't to be interpreted literally. But for the more imaginative among you, you get the picture.
It seems that with the President's approval ratings in near free-fall, Rove decided that conservatives needed to once again take advantage of the political capital gained by the Bush White House as a result of 9/11 and accuse liberals of not responding appropriately to terrorism. Not only that but he also equated liberal criticism of the Bush Pentagon's virtual war crimes to helping to get American troops killed.
Now I realize that if you are a Bush Republican you will agree with what Rove said and if you are a Democrat you will think it stunk. Clearly, Rove intended it to be no less than that, divisive in a major way. Rove needs Republicans to rally around the consensus if he is to keep his job in Washington. Conservatives need to know that they will be branded as traitors if they turn against the Neo-Con Middle East War.
But Jeeze, Karl, didn't your mother teach you to wash your hands after wiping your butt? You stink!