theological balls and chains

"Theological Balls and Chains" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Theological Balls and Chains” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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Theology separates.

Ideas divide.

I believe we are united beneath the turbulence of thought.

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29 Responses

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    “My Theo” <– simple as that.

    For one year, give up using the word "God", "spirituality", "Jesus", "Buddha", "Muhammad", "Christianity" and all the rest. Try to relate to folks without all that stuff, and you will be surprised how unnecessary any of it is.

    Give up those heavy weights.

  2. This is one place where we differ Sabio. For example… my wife’s thoughts and my thoughts are very different. I still believe thought separates. But by no means do I believe in the annihilation of her thoughts or mine.

  3. Sabio Lantz says:

    We may indeed differ on things.
    Not sure this is one.
    I NEVER said “annihilating” someone’s thought is desirable <– where did you get that?

  4. RollieB says:

    In my experience, religion divides us, it does not unite us. As a universalist seeking a deeper connection with the creative spark of all that is, I can look back at my religious upbringing and wonder ‘what was I thinking?”.

    I’m also convinced that our individual egos are part of the problem – the need to be seen as right and winning corrupts deep connection with the other. As an example, I offer up yesterdays comment section.

  5. Sabio Lantz says:

    OK, let me ask you a question to illustrate my point, David. (and see if we disagree)

    Do you think a religious person could benefit from ” give up using the word “God”, “spirituality”, “Jesus”, “Buddha”, “Muhammad”, “Christianity” and all the rest.” “for one year”? They could still believe all they want, but no talking about it. Just relate to all those around you without that stuff and see what it is like?

    You see, nothing about annihilating someone else’s thoughts ! (jeez)

  6. I don’t mean annihilating in a bad way. That was a poor choice of words. I mean… even though thought divides, it is also somehow necessary to get us to a point… so on the one hand exclusive thought is divisive, but on the other hand it is to be valued and free to be. I have to develop this. It is important… an important part of my z-theory, but i’m a long way off from being able to articulate it well.

  7. Sabio Lantz says:

    OK, just to stay with my comment, I will ask again:

    Do you think a religious person could benefit from ” give up using the word “God”, “spirituality”, “Jesus”, “Buddha”, “Muhammad”, “Christianity” and all the rest.” “for one year”? They could still believe all they want, but no talking about it. Just relate to all those around you without that stuff and see what it is like?

  8. Interesting challenge. I find I don’t use the word God etc in the same way because it comes with a lot of baggage. But whether or not it would be helpful for someone else, I’m not sure.

  9. Sabio Lantz says:

    Well, whether it is “God”,”Yawweh”, “The Divine”, “The Universe”, “The One”, “The Absolute”,

    My contention is that such an experiment will almost always be highly beneficial to an individual who is use to God-talk, to ideal eternalism as a way to talk about their world. Experimenting for a year to stay away from such abstractions and declaring your beliefs (mystical or fundamental), could only help a person feel the moments through the layers abstract beliefs.

  10. Caryn LeMur says:

    In a way, I agree with you, Sabio. There was a time when the here and now was perceived (by me) through my layers of belief.

    At that time, it was as if Jesus, and the Bible, and my relationship with both, was a surrounding envelop, and all the moments were interpreted through that envelop. It was a rich experience. I enjoyed it at that time.

    I will also admit that it colored far too many things… lol.

    [Prior, I once lived almost 13 years without that envelop. It was far too empty and stark for my taste.]

    Now, I live in periodic companionship, similar to the Bible’s first declaration “and Adam walked with God in the cool of the evening”.

    I have found that, for me, ‘feeling the moments’ (living in the here and now), is also a rich experience… and I rejoice that at times, it is overwhelming with the colors of my peony garden, the emotions of a friend’s funeral, and stunning chaos of the minnows that school within our river.

    And… the lack of purpose in life is a void – and it is ok. I no longer mind seeing that void. It is as stunning as the emptiness between the stars that my eyes see at night (for we live far away from the large cities).

    Snowstorms are snowstorms, and quite beyond comprehension – imo, they are there to be felt. As is the crazy joy of feeling one of my chicken’s eggs between my fingers, with its bloom still intact, and smell of the coop and straw in my nostrils.

    But I also find great pleasure in the quiet of the evenings, when I sense the whisper of God’s presence – that moment when my mind says ‘He is here’.

    I therefore offer that such a ‘fast’ (as you suggest) from all things spiritual may be unnecessary for all people… though I think that some may benefit from it.

    Perhaps ‘spirituality in moderation’ is what the Genesis story is showing us. Perhaps it is the extremes that unbalance us.

  11. Sabio Lantz says:

    Thanx for sharing Caryn, but you, like David, it seems, misread my suggestion.

    I neither said “Annihilate another’s beliefs”
    nor
    “fast from all things spiritual”

    I just said stop talking about it. Stop using those terms to describe things.

    On another point, I’d wager that most religion-free folks (those not using gods or spirits or demons to explain feelings they have) indeed have feelings of rich experiences, purpose in their lives, beauty in their gardens and awe. Indeed, they do not, any more than religious folks, experience emptiness, lack of purpose, lack of pleasure or such negativity generally stereotyped to religion-free people.

    I think a fast from verbosity about religion may help the religious people to see how religion-free people may indeed lack nothing, but instead, their “envelope” is just a particular sort of clothing — not necessary but fun for them perhaps.

  12. Caryn LeMur says:

    Thank you for posting, Sabio. You are right that I misunderstood the extent of your suggestion.

    I am not sure that a practicing believer of any faith, taking a break from verbosity about their religion, will be any less religious… or gain much insight into the commonality of humanity and human experience.

    My experience has been those believers that listen among any of these: the ex-ex-gay departing religious ‘therapy programs’, the believers departing from religious belief, and those leaving church-sponsored patriarchy, … in time, these people see the commonality of humanity…. and then see that the religion-free are experiencing the same life as us all.

    But… that is just my experience.

  13. Adam Julians says:

    There are some assumptions in what you write Sabio, firstly that “God” is an abstract,second that being “religion free” is not a religion.

    I agree Caryn, I too am not convinced that taking a break from “religion” will be any less religious. Plus if it results in contentedness, peace, gratitude like you have talked of with connecting with God giving you peace amidst the tension whereas without, there is just the tension, what would motivate you to try being “religion free”.

    I was pondering about something similar today for example to the feminist, their theology might be there is not slave not free no man not woman not Jew not gentile, so anything a man can do a woman can do. To the African American it might be about crossing over the Jordan into the promised land and an identity with the Exodus narrative. Tot the capitalist it might be if you don’t work you don’t eat. To the socialist it might be about giving with a contented heart.

    I see what you are saying David about not annihilating individual thoughts. In the cartoon, the figures come across as being held back by their individuality but being drawn almost to each other in the middle. Was that your intention? If so what would you see being in the middle and perhaps unifying?

  14. Brigitte says:

    Sabio says: Do you think a religious person could benefit from ” give up using the word “God”, “spirituality”, “Jesus”, “Buddha”, “Muhammad”, “Christianity” and all the rest.” “for one year”? They could still believe all they want, but no talking about it. Just relate to all those around you without that stuff and see what it is like?

    –Can the atheist live without talking about and confronting it?

    It seems to be everywhere the suggestion that people should stop talking about faith and the founders of faith, in public. In reality, I think this just prevents the examinations of short-comings of various founders and prophets. For goodness sakes, you can’t even draw Mohammed; the Koran is not supposed to be translated or discussed either. Buddha wants to live in la-la land. Who will dare berate Hinduism about the cast system? And everyone else is supposed to be living beyond morality. Do as you please. We are not allowed to talk about that either. By suppressing the spiritual talk, you are suppressing all talk. It’s a dictatorship. Let’s have things on the table.

    I have been helping out at a “spiritual” coffee shop where everyone seems to be a pastor, but the understanding is that we never talk about God or Christ, just foster community. The espresso is good and now I am also a Barista but I have never been to a place like that where people hardly talk to you, at all. Whenever there is a minute, they just check their cell-phones.

  15. Brigitte says:

    Adult coloring is really big, too.

  16. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Brigitte:

    If Muslims would stop talking about their religion — Mullah’s preaching would stop, Fatiwah’s would decease, Hindu fundamentalism would be stifled, and Christian Fundamentalists couldn’t muster support for social policies of the conservatives etc.

    So at a social level it would help tremendously.

    But I am talking at a personal level. And I am talking voluntary, of course.

    The human brain’s reflexive thinking about tribes and taboos blinds us to our stupidity and religion often capitalizes on that.

    But I am not talking (as NP slanderingly mischaracterized as “annihilation”) about suppressing expressing. But too late — the reflex of those still intoxicated by religion will stop them from hearing something that threatens their identity outposts. And the cheering will continue.

  17. Sabio Lantz says:

    ah, comments are still appearing out of order

  18. Hey dude! I call unfair. I clarified what I meant by “annihilate”.

  19. Sabio Lantz says:

    David,

    You said, “But by no means do I believe in the annihilation of her thoughts or mine.”

    Then in a fake apology you said:

    “I don’t mean annihilating in a bad way.”

    You didn’t agree that I wasn’t saying “annihalting” in any way, you still wanted that to stick.

    You said also that divisive exclusive thought “is to be valued and free to be”.

    It was gooblty goop.

    We should challenge divisive exclusive thought — hell, your whole blog is about that. We should not annihilate anything — just silly. There is not good sense of that word.

    People read your comment and went with the slander.
    You never withdrew and apologized for it at all.
    You still wanted to make some kind of point.

  20. Adam Julians says:

    “It seems to be everywhere the suggestion that people should stop talking about faith and the founders of faith, in public.”

    “The reflex of those still intoxicated by religion will stop them from hearing something that threatens their identity outposts.”

    “In the UK, it is socially respectable among the secular elite to regard Christianity as weird and permissible to bully its followers a little.” http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/christians-the-worlds-most-persecuted-people-9630774.html

    Bullying / threatened “identity posts”?

    So what is the truth?

    But then to suggest there is truth is to assume moral objectivity. In a morally subjective world that is difficult to assert. So then it becomes about who is the most powerful or makes the most persuasive argument. A Darwinian survival of the fittest which favours the articulate and privileged elite.

    Is this how we want to live?

    Or do we want to live according to the UDHR article 1 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

    I suggest that the same freedom of speech be afforded to both the “religious” and the “religious free” that there can be healing and healthy dialogue in community if all parties are committed to that. My experience in being a team member and leading teams tells me that it just takes one loud voice to ruin an otherwise convivial gathering and that making things good for everyone requires satarising any pretentiousness and deconstructing any evil argument in order to render said loud voice powerless.

    We should all be free to talk about belief or unbelief without fear .

  21. Adam Julians says:

    Sabio – I want to check I have understood you correctly.

    You commented “the reflex of those still intoxicated by religion will stop them from hearing something that threatens their identity outposts.” You also allege David to have slandered you, is being silly and “wanted to make some kind of point.”

    So you mean to imply that David is “intoxicated” in some way and because of that is unable to be “hearing”?

    A doctor is not needed for the healthy but the sick. I come to drink with the intoxicated not to hobnob with the elite.

  22. Well that escalated quickly. Perhaps, being Canadian, I apologized too quickly. I should have said clarify. What I was trying to communicate was that even though I believe we are all one and it is only thought that seems to separate us, that somehow that individual, private thought is still important and should not be silenced. Freedom of speech stuff. Like I said, I find this hard to articulate. So… for an atheist or a believer… whatever language they use to articulate their thoughts… I think this somehow should be respected but also be seen as insufficient, partial, and provisional.

  23. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ David,
    To whom are you speaking?

  24. Sabio: I read back and I do want to apologize for using the word “annihilation” when I said “by no means do I believe in the annihilation of her thoughts or mine” because it does sound like I was claiming that’s what you were saying. It wasn’t. I was unclear. I know you don’t believe in the annihilation of thought. What I wanted to clarify by my statement was that even though I think it is divisive to believe our thoughts that we are separate, on the one hand, on the other hand I believe our uniqueness should be respected. That’s coming closer to what I think I mean.

  25. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ David:
    NP.
    “Respecting uniqueness” is something I feel very strongly. I’d imagine you know that.
    Speaking out against harmful ideology is something we both agree with.
    Offering people a chance to see behind their habits is valuable too — I am sure we agree there.
    I suggested one such simple mechanism.
    No coercion, no force, no policy — it was a suggestion as a method for some.
    You have no problem challenging and neither do I.
    To not challenge someone because they may feel disrespect depends on the subject matter.
    I think we agree there.
    I am all for drawing cartoons of Mohammed, for example, or even of Jesus.
    I think we should push it, so that we don’t live in a world where all this is forbidden.
    Question religion can be very dangerous — even deadly.

  26. I see your point. Thanks Sabio.

  27. Adam Julians says:

    “I am all for drawing cartoons of Mohammed, for example, or even of Jesus.”

    Yes or satirising Bhudda as in how can a fat person talk to others about self control. Or agnosticism as a character wondering about lost with various signposts. Or an atheist Dawkins like figure looking bemused at his own hand and wondering if he probably doesn’t exist and we are all figments of out own imagination.

    Then on to ideologies, – Marxism, feminisim, capitalism, socialism, any “isim” or “ist”.

    Aren’t all equally open to being challenged?

    One thing I learned in me masters is that any theology is invalid if it is defensive when challenged instead of being willing to be challenged and to offer a challenge to other theologies.

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