Wednesday, March 07, 2012

God is Transpersonal: My Dialouge with Dave and Kristen

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Dave and Kristen are two of the long time readers of the blog who have contributed comments on and off throughout the years. In this lattest round of disaluge with the two we have piled up a huge aount of text, far too much to use more than just one passage from each. I will focus on one issue, the personal/impersonal nature of God. Dave accuses me of sneaking anthropomorphism in through the back door with the concept of "trans-personal" (God is at least personal but on a higher level) While Kristen just reverses the charge: Dave is sneaking in an impersonal God. He's not sneaking it he's making frontal assault really.

Dave said...

Yes, analogies can be over-extended, but it still leaves "believers" with the inability to claim that others just don't want to find God, which is Metacrock's basic position. And it also begs the question of how important finding God is to God if God doesn't make such communication readily available to all.


I deny that my basic position is that others just don't want to find God. How could I claim that and also claim that God is working in other cultures? My habit is probably colored by my struggles with atheists over the last thirteen years. It's primarily the kind of people I find on CARM that I'm speaking of when I say things about how they don't want God. I do have good valid social scinece behind me to assume that atheists have a negative image of God connected to their own self images. The studies of Leslie Francis is a good start toward suggesting this. There's even more fundamental research on self image and God image done before Leslie.

Dave then asserts that if God doesn't make such communication viable, whatever he means by that(?) maybe he doesn't care about it either. My argument based upon the research of William James and of Robert Wuthnow assumes that revelation is primarily at a subliminal level and that there's a continuum of religious experience that can be most subtle at a level barely more overt than a tear drop or a warm fuzzy, all the way up to the kind of visions Isaiah had. This sort of communication is there all the time. Now for some it may be manifested through meditation. We think of meditation as an active thing, something we do. It's really listening. Maybe we just need to learn the language God is using to speak to us individually? Remember the Psalm "be still and know that I am God" (46:10). The first step there is "be still." It's a matter of listening to something that is unfolding in our own consciousness. It's a realization. Not "be still and hear" it's "be still and KNOW."


Dave imagines that what I mean by that is if you sit and think about it you have to be a Christian. I think no such thing. I've said before many times that we experience this communion with God at a subliminal level and then to talk about it, since it is beyond words, we must filter it through cultural constructs. That means that the Dalai Lama and Billy Graham are both experiencing the same reality but understand it in two radically different ways. The difference is in culture not in the divine. For a fuller explanation and Biblical evidence see my essay on "Salvation and Other Faiths." Yet, this does not preclude that reality manifesting itself in the flesh as a man from Nazareth. The man form Nazareth modeled divine love for us so we can see it up close and expressed in a human way. At the same time he never said "Join my social club."

Dave:
Thus it makes much more sense to not think of God as a being with a personality and a personal will, because all the problems people have with God (from theodicy on down) stem from this image. "God wants", "God thinks", "God feels", "God wills". It's just human projection onto the divine that makes God either impotent, incompetent, incoherent, or immoral. If these personified views of God were themselves seen as over-extended analogies of the divine, God would have no qualities of planned action or volition except as realized in sentient beings.
I've said in the past that I don't use the term "personal" as it complicates the issues by dragging personality into it. This is hinting at the nature of trans-personal. Personality implies personal hang ups. In psychology personality theory is about what's wrong with people. That casts God in the role of big man in the sky and reduces him to human dimensions. So don't disagree with Dave here except in two ways: (1) there's a distinction between "personal" and conscious; (2) there's a distinction between willfull will or arbitrariness, and purpose. We speak of the will of God that's party an attempt to communicate the grandeur of the monarchical model of God's presence. Yet that is just a metaphor. If God was literally a king it would be a great come down from "that which nothing greater than can be conceived." Consciousness can be other directed and has to do with awareness; yet it does include self awareness. If God can distinguish between himself and us then he has a will different from our own. Purpose is not reduced to mere "will" becuase will can be stubborn and arbitrary and petulant, but purpose can be elevated and eligant and unselfish.
Dave:
If "God" is instead a reaction to a recognition or realization or perception of some more inclusive and profound aspect of reality, that is, a cultural construct or image to capture the reaction to this new orientation to existence, then these other problems are avoided. God really does go beyond human language and categories of "personal" and "impersonal". Unlike mere claims that God is beyond these things which then turn around and try to sneak this anthropomorphic, personified "God" in through the back door: "Oh, God is beyond human categories and labels, but God wills this and God does that."
Here I think Dave is trying to herd all consciousness phenomena under the same rue-brick. He's not distinguishing between cultural constructs and consciousness itself. Nor is he being fair about the concessions we have to make to our own corporeal nature, or that God would have to make for us to understanding something. We can escape the need to understand and communicate by just falling in too silence and having mystical union. That's more than merely communicating, ti's communing. Yet we are still sentient beings, we are still social beings, we have to talk about it. We should put the "personal" in trans-personal. We have to deal with God through the construct or ewe can't talk about "him" at all. We can only related to things that can be said in words. All thinking is words, all words are culture. Everything that we can put into words is a cultural construct. That means even mathematics is such as this. I don't think Dave would suggest that doing mathematics si sneaking anthropomorphism in through he back door.

Then of course there is the concept of Godprophorphism. Can't some aspect of our consciousness and awareness be the image of God we think we are made in? That's not a real word by the way, that "Godpromorphism." If real term in Christina context is Imago Dei. I see not reason to exclude totally the Imago dei from an understanding of God. Both major types of musical experience are constant throughout all cultures and faiths. There is the sense of the numinous. This includes the Idea of the Holy and the all pervasive sense of love. Even eastern mystics go through a stage where they experience love and Bhuddists make a big deal out of the compassion of the Bhudda. No doubt they don't build it up the way we do as the expression of a personal God. Yet it's hard to see how love can exist apart form a mind or a consciousness or a purpose. The purpose of love is the will to the good of the other, definition of agape. So love very much involves purpose. There is also the the mysticism proper where one senses the undifferentiatd unity of all things. That's what westerners emphasize most in the east. That tends to be impersonal and to see like a void. Yet both are experienced by the same mystics all over the world. That is an absolute contradiction unless we realize that ni the trans-personal we have "personality plus," rather, getting away form personalty, consciousnesses and purpose and univeral mind (so that god is in all our minds--but not directing our thinking all the time) and yet behind all of that. God is conscious and beyond consciousness. This love is in God and he can relate to us (slumming) but he can also transcend our level and be totally beyond anything we can know. I can play with my cat, Vincent. Oddly enough he actually seem to understand the difference in a book (which he has not torn up yet) and a scarp of paper which he loves to tear up. Even though he has not torn up a book (if he touches one Legion of Superheroes out he goes) he's nto much a dialogue partner, he never discusses Tillich with me. The dog Arnie he wa a great dialogue partner. Everything I said about Tillich he agreed with and licked my face to prove it.

Dave:
Lastly, some scholars suggest that belief in an afterlife and in resurrection became popular in Judaism after the Babylonian captivity because it was clear that the righteous weren't receiving justice in this life. Hence a new life was needed to settle accounts. But even in the time Jesus taught, as I am sure folks who read this blog know, there were still many in Judaism who did not believe in an afterlife.
I try to live in an eternal now. I relate the present moment to eternity. Now is what matters but now has a place in relation to forever.

Dave:
Even among those who favor some notion of an afterlife in the Judeo-Christian tradition, before the whole "this world is nothing only the next world counts" attitude became common among some Christians, it was (and in many cases still is) very important not to make too much over such distinctions. As one monk said, what matters isn't whether you live in the next world but whether you are alive in this one.
That attitude is an ancient part of historic Christianity. We can trace it back to the 300s and St. Anthony the first monk in Egypt. I think i'ts a hold over from Gnosticism.

Dave:
And to to some extent that is important even for those centered on the "next life". That is, either one must come to know God in "this life" to have an afterlife (or one without torture) or one actually comes to know that there is no afterlife per se, simply finding the true depth of life within this temporary bodily experience.
Anything we say about this is pure speculation, that goes as much for eastern models as Western. I invision it in a number of differnt ways. I hope it's a replay of my childhood but I doubt it. I think it may feel that way. Who cares? that can't be anything more than speculation. I envision a sort of eastern Nervonic unity with Christ in God.

Dave:
Even those who favor the "this life"/"afterlife" scenario without hell or eternal damnation recognize the value and importance of what people learn and how much they grow and mature in "this life". So claims that everyone will come to know God, even if it isn't in this life, ring hollow. It sounds just like the claims of those who needed to believe in divine justice by believing in an afterlife or resurrection so that they could maintain a view of God consistent with their pre-established beliefs.
We need to be careful not to mistake our own sense of disillusionment with eastern maturity. We can talk about what others "need to believe" that's a way of hiding what we need to believe. I don't necessarily agree with the universalist senerio that everyone will believe and be saved. Yet I don't see why it would ring hallow?

Dave:
Again, if "God" is just a personified construct of some deeper experience of consciousness and if consciousness is the ground of being, then all of these rationalizations and theological assertions about why God would or wouldn't do X, Y, Z become moot along with much of the distinction between "this life" and an "after life".
Why rationalizations? He seems to just be condemning the "known" end of the spectrum of analogical language. All religious language is analogical. Does he think the east get's it literally right and we are the only one's with a metaphor? The Buddhists are literaizing the metaphors too. They hav etheir fundies. If you think not you should hear Sakai Goki devotees talk about eh Hinayana style of Buddhism. We have endless string of metaphors that lead inexorably close and closer to the literal truth of God and yet never get there. We can't go thinking that we are so much closer than the others just becasue your metaphors are different. We can't stop using the metaphors because that's what we have to navigate by. That's why they are there so we can relate to something we know.


I meant to deal with Kriesten's statements but I'll have to do that next time.

20 comments:

Dave said...

On communication with God, you can’t have it both ways on two counts. You have said that people who don’t sense God are in denial or are set against it. If you are only referring to certain kinds of atheists from message boards, you need to include that caveat. The other is the subliminal thing. You have used it before to suggest that it means a person might not consciously be aware of God, that for them God is subconscious experience.

Yet here you write that “many times that we experience this communion with God at a subliminal level and then to talk about it…we must filter it through cultural constructs.” If one has no conscious awareness of something, it isn’t real to them. You may have a subliminal awareness that God isn’t real or that aliens are controlling the government, but since you have no conscious awareness of such things, why would you believe them or give them any consideration? And why on Earth would you want to talk about them?

It really does sound like an attempt to explain away why even sincere seekers have no experience of anything divine, whatever cultural construct is in use. As far as I can tell, you have yet to address this. You just seem to insist people really do know God is real deep down, they just don’t know they know. Uh huh. I don’t buy it, and if I said you really knew deep down that our existence is pointless, but you just don’t know you know it, you wouldn’t buy it either. You would claim you knew no such thing.

Dave said...

On the problems with a personal God, my point is that everything people say about “God” is a cultural construction, and we can’t privilege what does or doesn’t get deconstructed. Even ideas such as consciousness and purpose are human impositions on reality. I don’t think it makes sense to talk about God as an object, and that is central my complaint about the “back-door” maneuvers.

The idea here is that any construction of “God + action verb” is inaccurate and misleading. It doesn’t matter whether the verb is “wants”, “wills”, “chooses”, “desires”, “purposes”, “intends”, or some other variant or an activity of some other domain. The comment about whether God can distinguish himself from us is a case in point. That is human thinking that objectifies God and reintroduces human notions of how we conceive of individuality and personhood.

Saying that consciousness is the ground of being is not saying that it is a singular, distinct consciousness with individuality, volition, and the like. If someone is getting “personal” and “consciousness” mixed up here, it is not I. This is where sneaking anthropomorphism and personification back in begins, not in the fact that we must use analogical/symbolic references to discuss experiences or concepts related to God.

As I recently replied to Kristen:

“Recall that in my working theoretical view… everything is God. That would include my dog, the rock outside, and you. So, I cannot say that you are non-person, or that the rock is a person. So to say that God is strictly one or the other is illogical. My objection is to the idea that God is *a* person, *an* individual. It may be easier for humans to draw a face on the Great Mystery, but I object when people start worshiping that graffiti.”

That is my definition of idolatry, and it gives people a green light and even an imperative to start trying to correct, punish, and kill in the name of their idol-God, to covert people to their way of thinking at all costs, and the like, because they are worshipping their collective self-image at the most primitive level of egoic consciousness.

Along these same lines, the last section of my comment quoted in the above post is not about condemning metaphors. Recall that I wrote:

”[I]f ‘God’ is just a personified construct of some deeper experience of consciousness and if consciousness is the ground of being, then all of these rationalizations and theological assertions about why God would or wouldn't do X, Y, Z become moot along with much of the distinction between "this life" and an ‘after life’…”

This gets back to the idea I expressed before and here again that we don’t need all of these rationalizations about why God “allows evil” or answers one prayer or not another and on and on. They become moot. We don’t have to say God “allows” or “wills” anything. It has nothing to do with Buddhist fundamentalists (and yes I am very familiar with the Soka Gakkai).

Dave said...

On the notion of Imago Dei, you quoted my answer to that: “If these personified views of God were themselves seen as over-extended analogies of the divine, God would have no qualities of planned action or volition except as realized in sentient beings.”

If you take that along with my version of panentheism, in which God is everything but not limited to any particular thing, then there again is no need to talk about God’s will or purpose, let alone God being “a” mind, even the biggest most powerful mind (ahem).

There is no reason to talk about will or purpose because it is not separate from what is. That of course bothers those who think there is the way existence is and the way God want it to be. But again, that is just human projection onto God, which is why, again, you cut off that problem by not talking about God as an individual who wants or wills or intends or prefers.

As for love and compassion, then, there is no problem. God is expressed as existence. It is like light through a stained glass window. The light strikes red tinted glass, and it looks red. It strikes a round pattern, and it looks round. If mystics and contemplatives say they experience God as love or compassion, that’s fine. That’s a psychological construct, the grandfather of those cultural constructs. They are trying to describe less filtered light, as if through clearer glass.

It doesn’t mean we have to really think God is literally love, the latter of which as an experience also has a culturally constructed aspect. It doesn’t imply a mind out there with a specific purpose. It is an illumination of our own minds. We can’t go beyond that, we can just say, this is what that experience is like. We can say it feels like absolute bliss, or total acceptance, or a warm ocean of compassion and wisdom, or living love streaming through like light, or whatever.

(Well, not I, but those who claim to have such experiences.)

It also means, since you mentioned both Imago Dei and Jesus, that as others such as Br. John Martin Sahajananda have suggested, that Jesus of Nazareth was not some unique incarnation of God as an Other, of God as an individual distinct from everything else and separate from “Creation”. Rather one who became as clear glass to this light, and called others to do the same.

Dave said...

Wrapping up, here is precisely the kind of statement that makes the God-as-person, God-as-separate-individual-mind, so problematic. It is probably a line you wouldn’t have thought twice about when you wrote it, but it does reflect the kind of thinking that comes from such concepts of God…

“[I]n the trans-personal we have ‘personality plus’, rather, getting away from personality, consciousness, purpose and universal mind (so that God is in all our minds--but not directing our thinking all the time) and yet behind all of that. God is conscious and beyond consciousness. This love is in God and he can relate to us (slumming) but he can also transcend our level and be totally beyond anything we can know.”

(Spelling and grammar corrected and emphasis added.)

Kristen said...

Dave said:

Even those who favor the "this life"/"afterlife" scenario without hell or eternal damnation recognize the value and importance of what people learn and how much they grow and mature in "this life". So claims that everyone will come to know God, even if it isn't in this life, ring hollow.

Well, I didn't actually say, "everone will come to know God, even if it isn't in this life," so I'm not sure where he's getting that. What I said was that every sincere seeker would find God, even if it was in the next life.

What I really mean is that there is a sense in which none of us will find God in this life. In the limitations of our current nature, all of the feelings and sensations of the numinous, etc., which you are talking about, Joe, are only a dim vision seen through a dark glass, as Paul said in 1 Cor. 13. I think you're right that there are levels of the sensation of God, and many of them, we do not even identify in our minds with God. But I do think there are some people who, for whatever reason, have a harder time experiencing the sensation of God than others. I think it probably has something to do with a limitation of their physical bodies, just as blindness or deafness stops certain people from experiencing what other people experience. Since I believe these limitations will be removed in the next life ("we know that when we see Him, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is" it says in 1 John), then yes, I think that in the next life these seekers, who seek God anyway even though they don't experience the Presence that I feel, will know God as I will know God then.

Dave will just have to excuse me when it comes to this afterlife thing. I'm a follower of Jesus, and Jesus told the Sadducees who did not believe in an afterlife that they were mistaken. I'd rather believe him than the Sadducees. That's all.

Metacrock said...

I am delighted that you comment. I enjoy the things you have to say. It's just so much.

I wish you would come back to the boards. one expects threads on message boards to go on forever. we would have more room and more people talking part. don't stop commenting here. I do need a chance to catch up.

Dave said...

Hello Kristen,

People can believe what they like. I am suggesting that the inspiration for some of these beliefs and the emphasis and significance people place on them are altered by one's view of God. The idea that "no one really finds God in this life" is contradicted by many differing beliefs, and it has several weaknesses, including emphasizing a distinction between "this life" and some "next life".

If someone wants to maintain that distinction I am not standing in their way, but like making God "personal", it fosters many of the things that are wrong with some religions, especially the Abrahamic religions. People may be attached to the "afterlife" idea and to a "personal" God, but I maintain these do injustice to the issue of life and God, tempt people into misleading perspectives, and give rise to needless problems.

There also seems to be an issue with not appreciating what I wrote about the moot nature of the afterlife idea in my view of consciousness. I was not arguing for a cessation of existence at the moment of physical death. Birth and death are opposites, not life and death; indeed, birth and and death are two different aspects of life.

You are correct that I erred in identifying who would find God in some "next life", but as my comments here indicate, Joe is waaaaay off on what I was trying to say based on his reply to what I wrote. I am not asking for anyone to accept what I write, I am just attempting to clarify myself. And Joe is still hasn't explained why someone who cannot consciously detect God would believe in God or accept his argument that they sense God at a subconscious level. You don't seem to argue that, going instead for a blind/deaf analogy, so I will wait to see what he writes on the matter.

It could be argued whether the teachings of Jesus can be construed to fit with what I and others have said about consciousness and life, but I can't really say that I care too much if it cannot be. I don't play the "some Gospel writer rendered a potential saying or teaching of Jesus this particular way, so it's good enough for me" game. I don't mean that in a flippant way, but it's hard to make it sound otherwise in limited text boxes.

I have no idea what Jesus actually said or believed on the nuanced level we are discussing, and whatever he represents is bigger than some words attributed to him in a cannonized Gospel. The only way I such writings have any value to me is if they resonate with my own experience and insights, and I don't see conventional interpretations of resurrections and afterlives to meet this criterion.

I am to be honest kind of tired of Christians' views of Jesus and of Christianity overall at present, and I see no sense or value in the idea of waiting until physical death to find answers to the major issues of life. But I respect your right to your own views and to have them properly represented. Be well.

Dave said...

Oh, and speaking of message boards, Blogger now allows settings for threaded comments and these seem to be rendered in a broad across the page format so that longer comments are easier to read. Info about it and how to make sure your setting permit this feature can be found at this link.

Kristen said...

Dave, you of course can also believe what you like, but I find your conception of God so nebulous, so much like nothing at all, that it's very difficult for me to differentiate it from nothing at all. In any event, I don't play the "The Bible says it, I believe it and that settles it" game either-- but to me it's more a matter of needing to study the Bible and its cultural and historical context to see if we're really getting what was meant. But what you're saying renders the Bible useless, except possibly in spots as a source of personal self-inspiration. If we can't trust anything that anyone recorded about Jesus, then we don't actually know anything whatsoever about Jesus, and so there's no point in following him. I can't go there, either.

You be well too, and enjoy your journey.

Metacrock said...

"If we can't trust anything that anyone recorded about Jesus, then we don't actually know anything whatsoever about Jesus, and so there's no point in following him. I can't go there, either."

to complete your thought, if one reads read Koster's Ancient Christian Gospels one sees that the knew emphasis upon approaching extra canonical gospels as artifacts really does provide us with corroborating information. We can take the overall body of work about Jesus, both canonical and non canonical as a basically reliable body of work documenting his life.

We can also form a greater appreciation for the canonical.

Metacrock said...

Dave, that's interesting about threaded comments. I would like to see how it works.

Dave said...

I never said we can't trust anything that anyone wrote about Jesus. I suggested that we can't get to the level of detail that would resolve some of the differences being discussed here. The number of cross-correlated teachings recorded in the various Gospels is limited, and each Gospel was geared towards and influenced by particular communities and their immediate concerns.

There is a difference in assessing the reliability of the sayings and teachings of Jesus in big broad strokes and getting into the details of what Jesus actually believed. The Gospels emphasized imagery and narratives familiar or important to their audiences; they didn't intend a detailed systematic recording of Jesus' philosophical positions on the kinds of issues we are debating.

As for my views on God, I did not present a full picture here, only my critique of the flawed familiar notion many people carry around with them. I suppose if you don't hold to people's expectations about God and Jesus, whether Christian or otherwise, some folks have such underdeveloped notions of either outside of these preconceptions that it looks to them as if you are denying any validity or substance to either.

That may not apply to you, but this conversation reminds me of that roadblock to understanding.

Religious imagery, including its stories, icons, music, etc, is only the first step, a sign along the way. It is true, we can't imagine what lies beyond them. And it is tempting therefore not to venture past them. That is what faith is for. Of course, the problem is, it is easy to doubt there is anything out there.

I don't claim to have faith or belief, but the more I look into it, the more I wonder about those who claim to have either. It's like something I wrote before about being willing to give up the Bible, the Cross, etc, not to deny them, but to not cling to them.

Again, I am not suggesting this lack of faith comment applies to anyone here, as I don't claim to possess such knowledge, but it is in my thoughts of late.

Dave said...

And let me write again that my prior comment is not intended to criticize the personal convictions of Joe or Kristen, just to make it especially clear.

Metacrock said...

Dave said: "And let me write again that my prior comment is not intended to criticize the personal convictions of Joe or Kristen, just to make it especially clear"

I knew that. thanks for saying it.

Kristen said...

Dave, you said:

"I never said we can't trust anything that anyone wrote about Jesus. I suggested that we can't get to the level of detail that would resolve some of the differences being discussed here. The number of cross-correlated teachings recorded in the various Gospels is limited, and each Gospel was geared towards and influenced by particular communities and their immediate concerns."

Perhaps so, and yet Matthew, Mark and Luke all agree on the basics of the conversation in which Jesus told the Sadducees, in regards to their disbelief in a resurrection of the dead, "You are gravely mistaken. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Matt. 22:32, Mark 12:27 and Luke 20:38.

I'm not sure what your criteria are for trusting what Jesus said, but I think this is a detail regarding his beliefs that is hard to doubt.

As for this:

"I suppose if you don't hold to people's expectations about God and Jesus, whether Christian or otherwise, some folks have such underdeveloped notions of either outside of these preconceptions that it looks to them as if you are denying any validity or substance to either."

No, I think you're right in guessing that this doesn't apply to me-- at least, I don't think so. But since the picture you painted of God was, as you admit, along the lines only of what God is not, I am not getting a very clear picture of what you think God is. Is there a blog post on Peaceful Turmoil where you go into more detail? If so, I'd be interested in reading it, if you'd like to post a link.

Probably, however, I will still insist on clinging to the Cross. Whatever that makes me. *grin*

Dave said...

What Jesus is reported to have said to the Saducees does not give the kind of detail necessary to clarify the issue we are discussing. If it did, there would not have been centuries of arguing over what "resurrection" meant. These sayings do not clearly support conventional notions that are wrapped up in the term "afterlife". Yet they are still wrapped up in using the cultural images of that time.

Here is an example of what I mean. I recently read an article on HuffPo in which a Buddhist teacher was asked if Buddhists believe in God. He said, "Yes." He did not mean God in any sense of what 99.99999% of Christians would remotely conceive of. Other Buddhist teachers have said that Buddhism is non-theistic. They are both right.

This is because there is no straightforward translation of a Western God into Buddhism. The HuffPo author said "yes" because he sensed the interviewer wanted to know if he believed in something more to life, if he had faith in that. Others have said "no" or "not necessarily" because this "something more" is not an individual, not a person, not separated from everything else, not the notion people have in the West of a Creator God.

My general take on the teachings of Jesus is that 1) he uses familiar ideas and images but transcends them and the polarizing dichotomies of the day and 2) this sometimes comes through poorly because of the choices/motives of the Gospel writers and the difficulties of modern translation and intepretation. Jesus tends to go beyond either/or to both/and or both/neither. But Christianity has so tamed, tamped down, and reinforced a set of well-worn conceptual grooves in which to place Jesus and his teachings, this dangerous and upsetting aspect gets lost.

I think this applies to the ambiguity of resurrection as well. Everyone just assumes now you have a body and a soul, that there is this world and some other world. Everything is divided into "this life" and "nothing" or "this life" and "the next life". The notion that there is only life, and that neither of those distinctions are as real or meaningful as some believe, becomes incomprehensible.

Do you understand my distinction between not rejecting/denying and yet not clinging to images and stories? Do appreciate what "clinging" means here? I suspect if you did you would not be so quick to embrace "clinging" to the cross. I think that is another area of where terms and images developed in some hymns and prayers confounds an appreciation of what I am writing.

Dave said...

And I notice Metacrock has not dealt with my reply. Kristen is basically just taking the reaction to my comments in another thread, focusing on a single part, and resuming our previous discussion. That is fine.

But I don't see Joe discussing my direct reply to him in the first four comments. He isn't obligated to reply at all, of course, and I will not be bothered in the slightest if he doesn't. Unless, of course, he goes on making the same unqualified claims that were the basis of the comments in this and some previous threads, because then it might look like dodging the issue :P

Metacrock said...

And I notice Metacrock has not dealt with my reply. Kristen is basically just taking the reaction to my comments in another thread, focusing on a single part, and resuming our previous discussion. That is fine.

You write too much. I can't keep up with it all. Especially now when I can only be online a few hours a day due to the heat and lack of A/C. this time of year. I'm glad you comment and I do mean to get around to answering.

I wish you would go on the boards where others could get into it.


But I don't see Joe discussing my direct reply to him in the first four comments. He isn't obligated to reply at all, of course, and I will not be bothered in the slightest if he doesn't. Unless, of course, he goes on making the same unqualified claims that were the basis of the comments in this and some previous threads, because then it might look like dodging the issue :P

I think I've qualified my claims every time I talk about them. tell me the issues. name them.

Metacrock said...

On communication with God, you can’t have it both ways on two counts. You have said that people who don’t sense God are in denial or are set against it. If you are only referring to certain kinds of atheists from message boards, you need to include that caveat. The other is the subliminal thing. You have used it before to suggest that it means a person might not consciously be aware of God, that for them God is subconscious experience.

I sure as hell did comment on that. I never made a blanket statement "all people who don't sense God are in denial." I did qualify it and say that people might expect the "sense" of God to be stronger or more dramatic than it is. I think I said something like that.

I think I've also pointed out in the past that you can do certain tings like use the triggers to enhance the experience. Learn medication for example.

Kristen said...

Dave, no, I don't think I'm understanding what you mean by "not clinging." Or at least, I think your last post clarified somewhat, but I'd rather not assume we're on the same page. Can you define it more clearly?

Joe, I have no problem with continuing this discussion here. Comment threads like this one can make your blog more visited-- particularly if you were to add a "Recent Comments" section near the top so people could see, and join, ongoing conversations.