Sep 30, 2010

What If They Are Sincerely Wrong (The Religious)

Description of phenomenology - American Heritage® Dictionary
NOUN: 1. A philosophy or method of inquiry based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousnessPhenomenological Approach v. A Well Intended-But Likely. phenomenological (-n-lj-kl) , phenomenologically, phenomenologist

Most religious individuals who have known me for some time now believe that I have flipped and long-since gone over to the dark side when I write on topics like the one that I am writing on now.

In defense of me, I believe that my critics are mostly ignorant followers of teachings that they haven’t invested one moment in time to investigate,
and simply consider what is at stake given the positions of prominence that they occupy as speakers for God.

I was in the Park weeks ago ministering to outdoor citizens, when I ran into two homeless religious zealots. Without rehearsing the entire discussion, I answered in response to one of my critics queries that the Bible also says, in the book of Jeremiah, “they said that I said and I never spoke to them”. These were apparently the words of the prophet Jeremiah who was speaking for God.

The more acerbic of the 2 dismissed me as “A Muslim’ and said that what I quoted was not written in the Bible.

I have to agree with the comments made by Bill Maher in an interview last night, when he commented that, religious people no less about religion than any other people on the face of the earth.

The point that he made agreed with my assessment of most religious people that I know for most of them know very little about the history of religion, they are masters only of their own religious dogma and religious traditions. They haven’t spent moment in time engaging in comparative religious studies. Depending on what culture or nation that they are from, or the family that they are raised in, typically religious people know only about the religion of their native lands.

Why is this matter so important to discuss. Well, in this context it is because in America and many other parts of the world, the individuals and institution influence critical decisions have been shaped by religious dogma of the kind that derives from their own culture or tradition.

Ironically and what most religious groups have in common is that they all wrap themselves around the teachings that have mostly been passed on to them from their culture, and each one draws the conclusion that what my religious teachers have taught is the absolute unquestionable truth.
And how they believe, think, vote and behave is based on what they perceive is absolute truth.
If you were to say to any of these individual groups that holy individuals of other traditions have arrived at the same place that they have as a result of immersing themselves in their own version of an absolute Holy Writ.

What is the problem with this phenomenon? The problem is that it helps but at the same time hinders individuals, groups, cities, states, nations and races from seeking after what may be real that transcends the teachings any group has been immersed in.

One of the hot topics in America, as we speak, is the accusation by several men that the venerable Bishop Eddie Long has been guilty of sexual exploitation. of the same, when these all adult males were youngsters, shads of Ted Haggart, the last cleric to fall from grace in ecumenical circles.

Haggard, apparently admitted finally that he had been involved with a professed homosexual, even though for obvious reasons it contradicted what he and the worldwide religious group that he was at one time the head of taught.

Pastor Haggart could not reconcile this dichotomy that existed within him something that he taught against. . In fact, he taught that homosexuality was a sin and then he went out and practiced the very thing that he taught was wrong.

Some years ago at Stanford U, a now defrocked Catholic Priest who had been accused of Pedophilia appeared on Campus. I was present in the audience, having not heard this rumor yet, but because Father Stallings of the Omani Temple in Washington DC, took his majority black congregation out of the Catholic Church.

Now when n a couple of bold youngsters, obviously androgynous themselves, asked a question. I, along with the rest of the audience was not only amazed by the response that came from the priest but we were equally shocked by the inane manner in which he responded, he said:
I will do whatever I have to in order to get my nut!
The question posed to the priest was, "is it true what is being said in the media about you, that is that you sleep with boys in your church"? And the Bishop standing at the podium-pulpit adored in a black suit and clergy collar responded:

The audience gasped, while at the same time the 3 or 4 youthful questioners proceeded to high five each other. The Bishop then, who was having similar problems, of the kind that Bishop Long is experiencing decided to take a religious or epistemological approach and said: People ought to leave the interpreting of scriptures to those individuals whose job it is to interpret these texts. Moreover he added, homosexuality is not a sin, and what God was angry with at Sodom was not the fact that many of the men in the city were homosexual. But in fact God’s wrath was stirred up due to the sin of inhospitality.

In other words, it wasn't homosexuality that God was angry about, it was the fact that the men of Sodom attempted to force themselves, sexually, upon their apparently heteroxeual angelic visitors.

I put on my white jacket and prepared to walk out with others who were departing. I will never forget that night, which caused me to dig a little deeper in not only trying to understand homosexuality, but the methods that we use to decide what is “right” and what is “wrong”., the latter being derived from the opinion of the writer or speaker that is based on the information that he has been exposed to and accepted as truth.

For too many, what they conclude is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And because what they conclude to be true is true as far as they are concerned, then God would agree with the one who has drawn his conclusions based upon his reading of a unique text, cultural conditioning or as a result of a compilation of human social constructs.

It is okay, I guess to draw conclusions based on the conclusions made by disparate writers who passed away long before those of us who are walking around right now were even thought of. For certainly what some individuals 2000 years ago or more had to say, even when speaking for God, must have been right. There is no chance that they were influenced by their culture, conjecture embellishmnt were sincerely wrong or limited in terms of their understanding.

And the phenomenological approach recognizes the reasons for this way of thinking and the subsequent drawing of conclusions about so many critical issues. In the fundamentalist tradition that I was raised up in, there used to be saying around the church community that went like this: “God said it, I believe it and that settles it”. I used to willingly repeat the same mantra.

But today I ask, how do you know that God said it, and have you considered what another writer, Jeremiah, once wrote when referring to religious people of his time, some who held priestly offices: they said I said (God in this context), and I never spoke to them?

Humans have made a lot of obvious progress since human kind originated, wss created, evolved or other, seeing how according to the late Bishop Usher, we exploded on the Earth 6 or 7 thousand years ago. By the way, all serious scholarship seems to prove that the good-intentioned Catholic Bishop was off my millions of years.

But in the same manner that the late Galileo learned, even if you the truth, you better say it where a religious zealot is standing within earshot. Or better yet instead of referring to Galileo, who was placed under confinement given his conclusions about the Universe, opinions that differed from men who were ordained and that spoke for God, how about Jesus.

Jesus tried to explain to individuals of his own tradition, beginning at the age of 12, that some of what taught was askew. And where did it get Jesus? His speaking out resulted in hen receiving what many individuals who are speaking truth to power are experiencing religious isolation and the sure promise that the prevaricators of truth will die, be reawakened and burned in an eternal hell fire.

There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed and others that we thought that we had the answer for (typically religious answers), be reexamined. And we should take more of a phenomenological approach to arrive at what is rather than solely a religious one.

The phenomenon of homosexuality needs to be reexamined, regardless of what Paul in a Christian context and others have to say from other religious traditions about it. Remember, these individuals who speak for God today, are guilty of the same trap that prophets in Jeremiah’s time were doing. They spoke, but apparently God never spoke to them. The latter is truer today, when many religious individuals are not relying on God to speak to them in the first place, they are simply repeating what someone who lived thousands of years ago had to say.

All around me, I have never before seen so many androgynous males. On the other hand, I have never seen so many gay women. I was married to a woman who told me how she once lusted after and for that matter was in love with a woman.

Crisis? Explosion or reality? Endocrinologists, wonder just how much hormones have to do with what we call homosexual behavior.

And there are as many other explanations for the phenomenon, for example some who say that nature is the cause and others say that it nurture. During a discussion that I found myself embroiled in, I am reminded the religious zealots who were there to torment homosexual I guess, that there are intersex people. I reminded them of imperfect babies that have been and are being born every day, infants for whom the parents decided on their sexual assign I reminded them of hermaphrodites in the animal world.

I am one of a few members who are courageous enough to take on this subject and the religious establishment, having no fear about what anyone has to say about my sexuality.
The latter usually being a cop out for individuals who rely on the tactics of fear, but are incapable of sitting down to have an adult discussion. about a topic that is affecting our human race.

In some nations, individuals are still being castrated and murdered, for having a condition that they have no control over. What part does fear play in these phenomena, I expect the answer is, to a substantial degree.

I suspect that now that the cultural norms are being eased upon, at least in this cultural, that many more individuals are admitting that in fact that they have always a feminine and masculine tinge, one of which they suppressed in order to be consistent with cultural norms. However, as those norms continue to be released, Americans any more, are coming out in the church and without.

Is Bishop Long guilty of sexual impropriety? For the sake of those young men, I hope that they are lying. But we may find out that Bishop Long has also been lying, perhaps he has been lying to himself about a dichotomy that might exist within himself.

Well, if being homosexual, gay or whatever the correct phrase is today, shouldn’t we work on a solution? But how can we do that, if religion won’t even permit the majority of its followers to consider any approach to the phenomena except a religious one. And the long, no pun intended, and the short of the matter is for religion that you are a sinner and going to hell.

Hmm, are there any adults in the house? For our children and people that we know, adults, struggle with internal feelings that they have to suppress, because even If they were to come and say can I talk to you about what is going on inside of me, they would be immediately ostracized or quarantined.

And what if I am wrong? Well, it won’t be the first time. But oftentimes being wrong can help you get to what is right, try it sometimes, that is if you ever been wrong before! What if I’m right. perhaps a U of Michigan student who killed himself today, because a group of students scrumptiously filmed his homosexual experience with another student could have been saved.

Perhaps a gentleman who was brought to our center for counseling several decades ago could have been saved from taking a butcher knife and cutting off his testicle because he was so conflicted about his sexual orientation. Folks, religion is not solving the problem. Too many of the same ministers who preach against homosexuality for example are leading double lives themselves. We need to take a phenomenological approach to this and other matters, instead of relying solely on religious prose and writers who we cannot examine, all of whom presume to speak for God, Yahweh, Allah …

Religion, which one, has the answer to everything. Wouldn’t it be better to err, if at all, on the side of grace in order to help solve a problem, address a conundrum or to ease someone else’s pain. Or shall we rely solely on religious prohibitions with a minister who would encourage one to ‘get his nut’!

I am a preacher, and I know firsthand that religion, religious teachers ... have often made mistakes in terms of interpreting scriptures and speaking for God. Given that I encourage everyone not just to accept what your holy person says, or what religion provides, do what the Apostle Paul once wrot in his Epistle to the Thessalonikans, he said: Test or prove everything. Folks we need to do this because there is too much at stake and obviously the human race needs better answers than the ones that been provided so far, even the well-intended ones that have been provided by religion and the religious.

And for those individuals who have one question remaining, Reverend Solomon do you believe in homosexuality, and are you saying that the Bible and other holy books are wrong? I answer simply that homosexuality 'is what it is', it exists and that cannot be denied. Are the writers of the Bible who expressed prohibitions against its existenc misguided? Answer, I believe that they were!

Peace & Grace

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