Aug 31, 2008
When Is It Okay To Use Your Brain Religious People - A Phenomenological Approach To Confronting Issues And Problem Solving!
Whenever humans encounter inexplicable, unintelligible or unusual phenomenon (an occurrence, circumstance, or fact that is perceptible by the senses) but not always clearly defined. we ought to encourage discovery and exploration, rather than revert in a typical fashion to perceived and conditioned biases and closed reductionism.
And if the majority of the world will have its opinions colored or determined by their holy books (and there are a variety of holy books in the world), that is all the more reason why we must study the voracity of our holy books, and their origins in order to determine how valid those sources happen to be!
Our objective ought to always be to move forward into discovery as we pursue the vault of knowledge, truth and its opposites! We must someday leave the principles and go on to perfection, otherwise we will remain stagnant.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus said, neither…! St. John 9:13
Jesus said, for there are some eunuchs which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sakes. Mt.19:1.
And by extension who did sin that a person was born, intersex, genetically predisposed to certain conditions like schizophrenia, autism, alcoholism… homosexuality?
Is it a prudent thing to do, to rely strictly upon religious maxims (by any faith), cultural traditions, unknown and unlearned writers or speculation without experimentation and verification in order to confront the complex issues that we face, especially by individuals past or present who did not engage in any research?
I am convinced that the number one factor contributing to the failure of humans to resolve complex human issues by using what God gave them, has been the historical retardant behavior of religion apart from God (including mostly all of them) to keep its foot on the brakes instead of on the accelerator. Ignorance is a strong predictor and determinant of failure! Are God's people, those who name his name failing, given their self-imposed proclivity and apparent need or desire to surrender to religiosity and occasional ignorance, rather than to employ what was given them?
Please recall that the Church and other religious groups believed that the Earth at one time was the center of the universe and flat; and we know today that the Church was wrong!What else has religion been wrong about in general and in particular, and why won't we admit it? Are we willing to 'follow on to know the truth'? Are we willing to let go of some outdated beliefs that in private we even wonder whether or not they were true or not? Questioning is something that is often not tolerated in most religious or other groups.
A young man came to me not too long ago and asked me if I would help him to launch his ministry. I wrote on a piece of paper the following acronym,
'WDWDWWD', and then I asked him what does it mean? While he attempted to decipher my code, I then asked, where did the bible come from? He stumbled around and finally admitted that he really did not know where the bible came from, except that holy men of God wrote it. I explained the acronym further and its meaning, 'why do we do what we do'? The young man said that he had ten sermons to preach from the bible to others, but he himself did not know where or how the bible actually originated!
I am convinced that too many individuals have zero knowledge of where their most important beliefs derive from, they only know what they have been told. I am convinced that most humans simply repeat the behaviors of their predecessors oftentimes not knowing why their predecessors engaged in certain behaviors or held to certain beliefs. And folks today, that is not good enough. More and more the expanding cosmos is coming to us and a perceptible grasp on what has been undiscovered for centuries is within our grasps!
I've spoken with members of the clergy some with and some who lack scholarship, and they (the teachers) have often bought wholesale into what they have been told by their particular religious groups or what they have learned from their respective cultures, having never asked the tough questions. Jesus when speaking to Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of the book of John asked, 'are you a teacher in Israel and you don't know these things'? What is it that our teachers today are oblivious of, and what are the things that some of our teachers know but they are not saying?
And why aren't some of our clerics speaking up who know better? It is simple, it is because they would lose their source of earnings and positions, or be forced to admit that they made errors in the past (which among other things would cause some to ask, then is the word of God or God itself real or not real)? Jesus said, as it is recorded in the Canon, that I AM THE TRUTH! The truth is what all of us ought to be seeking after, not some religious ends or to be accepted into some geographical-regional religious group, and/or to simply believe its often uncorroborated dogma.
Why is the religious world so stratified and divided? The answer lies within us. Most of us are not seeking the truth or what is actual and factual, we have our own motives for seeking after our religious choices! Another reason for not questioning or verifying the voracity of one's religious belief is a result of conditioned fear. How many believe that a Sovereign would not want you to ask questions, to test reality or to seek what is real? Jesus explained to his disciples, that what was often said by them of old times was not to be adhered to!
Jesus even pointed out that Moses' decision to grant divorce was just that, a Moses decision, which proves that often what has been said by the ancients did not have universal/Sovereign origins or support! Paul admitted that some of what he wrote was a consequence of his own values, logic, rationalisms or reason, not divinely appointed or inspired!
The question that the disciples asked Jesus about the young blind man certainly can presuppose that they believed in reincarnation (transmigration of the spirit), that is one alternative. Or, how or why else would they ask if the young mans condition of congenital blindness was brought on as a result of sin that he committed prior to being born?
Our major thrust ought to the pursuit of truth, no matter if it means leaving behind some unproven and unsubstantiated ideas, in order to pursue better ones. Now with respect to taking a phenomenological approach to dealing with some unresolved issues of the past or present, it is also time for us to wake up. We have been given wisdom )Sophia), knowledge and the ability to comprehend, and most of all an okay to use the intelligence that we have already received or acquired to unravel issues, challenges and the unknown or imperceptible.
However, we will never seek to address those issues that need addressing until we can move beyond outdated, unsubstantiated religious dogma and acculturation, something to which all religious groups and indigenous people of the world are guilty of, and confront those parts of our belief systems that have no basis in verifiable and unverifiable, thus far, truth!
I was out one night a decade ago with a group of Christians and all of us sat around the table in the middle of the booth at a restaurant in MountainView California waiting to be served. I asked this probative question: Is alcoholism a condition or sickness as the medical and psychological profession maintains, or a sin as the church explains and some religious writers have written? Before the discussion could get underway one individual at the name went ballistic. What are you saying Pastor, for the bible says...! And that was the end of the conversation for her.
I have asked others, could Paul and others have been speaking based upon their conception or misconception of the facts, and could the conclusions that they drew be based upon culture shaping and their own personal feelings? Should an individual go to the Gehenna and burn forever because he cannot control some urge or habit? If that is the case, all of us would be deserving of the Gehenna fire for each one of us has habits that we cannot break. Factually, some are born with 'addictive propensities', some more than others.
We should not be offended by questioning in order to test the voracity of what we say that we believe. Jesus was a master at questioning religious people, and of course he often met with the same reaction that I did with this woman! A skillful deployment of the Socratic method can often be a useful tool in getting to the heart of the matter, and along with the way discovering and removing the mental-habitual dross!
Today, we know that some individuals are and were genetically predisposed to substance abuse. Whether they will engage or not, is not always the case? But if they were to engage and become a chemical-dependent, are they then sinners? Or, did they simply succumb to something that was hard-wired within them even before they knew how to walk. Each of us is addicted or has a predilection or has been predisposed to something. If you accept my premise, then does it follow that we have fallen short of the glory or placed something before God?
I am a diabetic. Diabetes runs in my family. Following the syllogism to its logical conclusion then, am I a sinner, fallible, broken or something less than I should be because I am diabetic? The antecedents were in place long before the symptoms of diabetes showed up in my life at the age of 42!
Is a blind person therefore a sinner, or born blind as a consequence of sin that was committed by his parents and therefore he was cursed, or was he or she cursed because of some sin that was committed in his or her past life (again transmigration of the soul or spirit? Or, are there other factors that ought to be taken take into consideration? If we accept what most religions teach us, the answer is no, you are not to consider what some other discipline or body of knowledge may offer. I said it, they maintain having done zero research and having only quoted what someone else wrote, and therefore it is right!
If we accept the Canon, all conditions including the young blind man's condition were either a result of the sin of Adam, or those special instances where a condition was brought on simply to prove a point. In other words and there is a term for it, this young man's hysterical blindness was not truly blindness that was a result of some natural consequence, it was brought on by a higher power simply to prove a point. Lazarus's death was apparently another example of a pre-planned event that was to occur in order to make a point. There are many other examples recorded in the Canon.
In this example of the young blind man who was removed from fellowship, it was done so that Jesus could come along and demonstrate the creative powers of the Holy Spirit that he possessed, by taking from the same earth that the human body was created from, and to create an iris, retina, cornea or whatever had been divinely impaired in the young man so that the man could see! Today our learned human biologists are doing the same thing, stem cell research, researching and understanding the DNA are examples of man understanding his chemical/biological makeup and coming up with solutions that can be employed in order to extend the lifecyle.
Not even in the Canon is it written that the Almighty would not use humans in order to extend the human lifecycle into what is known as eternal life (see my subsequent writing on this topic, it will explain how the DNA was once altered, and how it can and apparently has been at spiritual rebirth or will be manifestly altered again in order to extend the life-cycle permanently!
Why are humans so hard on people who have unusual conditions that they had nothing to do with its cause or origin in a previous, recurrent or present life? Why are religious people so quick to disfellowship their sisters and brothers who lack control over certain conditions? It wasn't the young man's fault that he was born blind, not any more that it is an infants fault that it is born with birth defects. Would we say to a child with muscular dystrophy, baby, you must have done something to cause this condition!
Can we agree that none of us are perfect in a religious sense, otherwise and if we were - none of us would ever get sick, die, make any mistakes, speak out of turn...! If endocrinologists are able to prove that homosexuality for example is a result of genealogy..., then as with Copernicus and Galileo who proved that the earth was not at the center of the universe or flat, religious groups will be embarrassed again for their historical venal hatred of human beings who have been tormented as a result of human bias and religious ignorance.
I have not been quiet about my contention that during the early part of this century, the 21st Century, many of the disparate religious groups of the world are going to be humiliated, given that much of what has been taught over the years will be exposed as nothing more than myth, superstition, cultural misrepresentation or downright ignorance!
If my 7 year old child were to write a book, I would be very careful about using her as my source to unravel or to explain complex issues. And essentially that is what too many religious groups have done, followed the uncorroborated teachings of individuals who were children in terms of their understanding. And many times, the sources that we rely so heavily upon could not agree among themselves with respect to what was and what was not truth!
A phenomenological approach to any issue or problem suggests that you study it from a phenomenological perspective, not to simply take the words of unknown authors who have never done any research on a topic, accept and apply their definition as if it were an absolute. Have you ever done this yourself, or heard someone else say this, I will tell you how they did that? Typically that individuals conclusion is his upon his own reasoning, and nothing else. When so much is at stake, we must do more than rely upon limited or speculative reasoning.
Factually, if you were to go back and question some of the authors who wrote what they wrote on various topics in many of our religious groups and ask, where did you get your knowledge from, they would likely answer in a manner that Jesus has already debunked, 'We heard it from men of old times'? These are the same men who suppressed what would have been the female contribution to knowledge. And why is that significant, they are the ones who bear life, and the ones who have a closer connection and a deeper and keener understanding of life.
Oftentimes males draw most of their conclusions from a male-egocentric absolutist point of view (some women are learning to do the same from a female-egocentric absolutist point of view), instead of from any divine or studied source! Folks, the latter is simply not good enough! I am a man, and I know that we have been wrong on many subjects that have been codified as if it were handed down from God itself! And again, this phenomenon more and more is not unique to males!
Humans are long overdue to begin opening up and expanding their awareness, whereby availing themselves of more of the resources that are out there in order not only to grow in grace (not always doing that well either), but in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. It is time to use that part of the brain that is not being utilized. Get knowledge and get an understanding one writer told us to do. Do you know anything about Pegasus 51, just one of 50-plus moons that revolved around Jupiter. Why is it relevant to know anything about the sky, well for most Christians it is because you plan to go there someday, correct?
The Sovereign, I suspect, will have more to reveal and clarify once we open up and move beyond and towards what is real. Everything is not a sin, and some things are not right just because some religious person said so! Each one of us ought to, in my opinion, particularly religious people reconsider the voracity of our beliefs, and inquire deeply into 'why we do what we do' and 'why we believe what we believe', for we might be hindering the revelation of more actual and factual knowledge and ultimate truth!
Use your brain, if it was not intended for you to use yours and instead you were to rely strictly upon someone else's, then perhaps one out of a hundred of us (the average size of a religious group) would have never been given a brain, and the rest of would not have been given one at all. And the latter appears to be what most religious leaders, anyway, believe and want you to believe! The Apostle wrote in his epistle, not scripture, that we ought to test everything, and hold on to that which is good, accurate, sound or reliable! Use your brain all the time, particularly when you are around dogmatic people - employ the Socratic Method and ask questions!
Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon
And remember: Our theme - ought to be - to pursue different passions - for different people!