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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Called To Question

There is no doubt that we live in a community that has a large religious populace. Of this, I have no problem, however, a problem arises, at least for me and I am sure that there are others, when members of this populace feel the need to convert everyone to his or her own personal beliefs and/or dogmas. These well meaning peoples, at times, stop at nothing, for this is their “calling”. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that everyone is guilty of this, in one way or another, religious or not.

This practice has occurred through door-to-door visits, tracks left on windshields to face-to-face encounters on our streets, homes and work places. There is then the ever-popular question, “Where do you go to church?” [That of which I have come to understand as really being, “Are you saved?”].

It has been said that, the loudest voice is most often heard; we have had our fair share of lurid voices. The loud voice of one will mute that of the other. And thus, I am left wondering, what of the muted voices? Where might they be heard? Where are the perspectives of the others? Allow me, if you will, to be a voice on behalf of the voiceless, though I know all to well that this is no easy position to take. However, it must be done. I shall out stretch my neck and speak, no longer idly standing by, allowing this community to be bombarded with the entourage of “Religious” dogmas without the presentation of other perspectives, without the voices of the muted being heard.

It is for this reason that I have started a once a month event entitled, “Called To Question”. Called To Question invites a variety of guest speakers to share their own perspectives, philosophies and views on differing topics. Atheism-theism, evolution-creation, faith-reason, war-peace, chauvinism-feminism, love- hate and the list goes on as to what issues are covered. The evenings are an opportunity for members of the community to share in on and take part of authentic dialogue. It is a chance to question ones own beliefs, regardless of what they are. Too see that there are more ways to think, believe and have faith in, then what may most popularly be presented to us.

Most of us, if not all, have grown up in a culture of answers. The modern era was one of exactly that, answers, and with it came rules. Rules and answers are not to be questioned and if questioned, only allowed to go so far. Obedience was, and is, of the upmost importance. To question is a sign of disobedience, defiance and weak faith. ‘Keep the rule and the rule will keep you’, it has been said. Authority figures, parents, police, clergy and political leaders with everything they represent are the last word. Societies, religious establishments, institutes and families that have all the answers and are void of questions, are also void of possibility.

Within the last century, modernity, with all its answers, has had to face some very difficult questions that have arisen along side of and with post-modernism. The answers we were once given have lost their merit. The unquestionable is now questioned more then ever.

“If there is one thing that we have all been taught to fear, it is surely questions. There are some things, we learn early, that are never to be challenged. They simply are. They are absolute. They come out of a fountain of eternal truth. And they are true because someone else said they are true. So we live with someone else’s answers for a long time. Until the answers run dry.”  -        Joan Chittister

Possibility is a freeing concept. Instead of giving answers, I want to provide an opportunity to ask questions and broaden the mind’s horizon. If you are interested in having a topic presented or attending an event, please contact Philip at Look for ads of upcoming events at local retail stores or checkout for details pertaining to the next event.

Philip E
Founder and Director of Called To Question

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We Were Not Built In A Day: Wisdom From Nietzsche Continued

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying- Friedrich Nietzsche

It is hard to wait for what we want to do, accomplish or become. Patience is a virtue not easily come by. It often seems that the harder you try the further the goal seems to become.

I once heard a tale of a young man longing for enlightenment who went to a wise monk and asked the monk to teach him the path to it. The monk told the young man that he would teach him, "Starting tomorrow you will wash my dishes." The young man happily agreed and did so with great vigour, longing for his desired goal. Day after day, month after month he did so, until a year passed and with great frustration he asked the monk, "Why, after all this time have you not taught me the path to enlightenment!?" To this the wise monk replied, "I have, each and everyday you have had the opportunity to enlightenment." 

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow. - Friedrich Nietzsche 

If you grasp for yourself, you will lose yourself. Lose yourself, and you will grasp yourself.  Our identity does not necessarily lie in a status, figure, or thought, but rather in the being, without any driving motivation to become something that you already are not. If we are not content with who we are now, then we will shall never be so, even when we have reached our desired goal. It is in understanding this that we become free to begin our process. It is in this that we become enlightened, for now we have allowed ourselves to, actually, be transformed. We have given ourselves over, relinquished our driving desires to be other then what we are, and now we begin. We must start with first things first.

 Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me shall save it. - Jesus bar-Joseph

Let me be clear, to lose oneself is not a denial of ones own identity or personality. Jesus does not call us to be likened unto a cult that desires for all to act, sound and think the same. No, we can not deny our identities, nor our personalities...nor our hearts. Nietzsche reminds us of this when he says,
One ought to hold onto one's heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too. - Friedrich Nietzsche
It is a call to deny our own self-will. A self-will that is often naive, destructive and often makes us ineffective. Doing so does not come easily, as we daily fight within ourselves. We are masters at fooling our own thoughts and feelings. Our guilts, angers, fears, disappointments and, perhaps most vicious, our low self-esteems will always challenge us not to give up those driving forces and to not think of ourselves as good enough as we are. We must be-rid ourselves of this menacing self-will. A self-will that hinders ourselves from being ourselves. 

Doing so, is not a one time thing, but a daily occurrence. The journey may seem long, daunting and exhausting, but it seems to me, that all things worth while... always are. 
When one does away with oneself one does the most estimable thing possible: one thereby almost deserves to live. - Friedrich Nietzsche 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Crucified Question

cartoon drawn by David Hayward @ nakedpastor click link to see other great drawings.

This is the time of year that many reflect on the later days of Christ and his ministry. A jewish carpenter who, in his thirties, left his trade and travelled the countryside, villages, and cities with a message of hope. Healing few, impressing many, challenging and impacting all. When Jesus encountered others, whether they hated him or loved him, they were amazed. This is what Peter Kreeft refers to as the "Jesus Shock".  None were bored with Jesus. 

We tend to view Jesus as an answer, someone who came to earth to provide an absolute. While this is most definitely true, I wonder if we have forgotten a very important aspect of the Christ.

When the Christ was in presence of the people and when he is in the presence of us, he raises the question. We can not help but question when we stand beside him. We question all that has been, all that is present and all that shall be. We question our hearts, desires and motives.

To question is uncomfortable, uneasy and difficult. For most of us we are afraid of what we shall find, or perhaps, even more frightening, what we will shall not find.

I believe this is why we crucified the Christ... why we crucified the question.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Is God Dead?

Nietzsche courageously stood up, out and against, amongst most. He not only challenged the common thoughts of Christianity but that of all mankind. Friedrich launches out an attack on the history of Western thought, in particular, the concepts of the following:
  • The concept that there is even a "Man" or "Human Nature" to begin with.
  • The concept that there is a "God", "Divine" or "Supernatural".
  • The concepts that we have about morality and/or ethics. 

First off, let us try to understand what Nietzsche means and where he is coming from when he makes such a bold claim that "God is Dead!".

It is important to note that Nietzsche didn't believe, to begin with, that there was even a God to be killed, but it was rather the concepts of a "God" in our minds and morals that has been disposed of and made non-existant.

Friedrich, throughout his life and observations of history with all it's influential thinkers and figures observes the greatest travesty of all, the denial of this life for the sake of another. He observed from the minds of Plato, Augustine, Kant and many others that there was and is an overbearing sense of denial of this reality for a "true reality". That this world is only an illusion, an end to a means, if you will. To Nietzsche, these thinkers have gravely influenced the minds of many, particularly that of Christianity, emerging what could and can be called an escapism mentality, in-turn creating, what is to him, the greatest blaspheme of all, the denial of life. What was once the greatest blaspheme, to deny God, has now become, the denial of life, the here and now.

While it is of upmost importance to live in the here and now, one cannot and necessarily must not, deny the possibility that there may, in-fact, exist a reality out side of our very own. Perhaps, however, this other reality, this "True Reality", still remains in the here and now, and is but an awakening of our senses in their purest forms (Whatever that may be?)?

Is man one of God's blunders? Or is God one of man's blunders?  -Friedrich Nietzsche

When Nietzsche says, "God is Dead." I believe he is correct in so far as what he experienced and witnessed to be "God". Nietzsche is quite right to challenge the thought of what was Christianity and what is Christianity today. Thus, I shall risk, I shall repeat in like mind and tongue... the God of Christianity, (At least in its' majority and/or its' stereotypes) is Dead!

Obviously, there will be those who disagree, as I hope that there would be, however I must continue further more. 

God is dead! and we are all the perpetrators of this murder. Most guilty, however, is that, ironically, of those who hold claim to be followers of God. The blood of God is most predominant on the hands, bibles, churches and tongues of these. Why is this so?  In their attempts to draw ever nearer to God and/or truth, they have so constructed an image of God that no longer carries, perhaps, God's greatest features, Mystery and Weakness. So, in creating God they have also murdered and dismembered God. This is not to say that God is actually dead or non-existant, but the ideas of morality and of the divine that have so been created throughout history have in-turn destroyed "God" for many. 

The God of the evangelicals, conservatives, fundamentalists, liberals, charismatics, pentecostals and/or catholics, is not my God. In fact it was due to many of these that, in their attempts to help and enable me, they actually contributed to the killing of God within my own life. God died and I was left with nothing but an inkling, a shadow of hope and a faint passing of light. This was where I met the divine and the divine met I. With nothing of hinderance to distract. No word, no sound and no feeling to draw me away from the unadulterated emptiness. I was me and it was It.

Once spirit was God, then it became man, and now it is even becoming mob. - Friedrich Nietzsche

While I do not claim to know everything that Friedrich means when he states, "God is Dead", I have made an attempt to understand and share what that is to you and others. I may be incorrect in my understandings, however, I know my understandings are just that... understandings, and thus, being correct.

The question remains, within myself at least, did Nietzsche know the Christ that I do? Yes, it is very well to make claim that the God of Christians, and that there of others, is dead, but what about the divine that may very well exist in the here and now. The divine that does not desire for us to long after another life, but rather the present. The divine that did not come in order that we may have life in another reality, but came in order that we may have life and have it to the fullest in this reality!

What would Nietzsche think of the ever present "God" of today. In an American and Canadian culture where it seems that for the majority "God" is dead, but where amongst these, movements of fundamentalism are growing and strengthening in their resolve to put "God" back in "his" rightful spot, whatever it takes.

In this manner, I fear, "God" is not dead, although... I rather he was.