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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Forgiveness?


"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you"
C.S. Lewis


If I am a Christian than I must believe that God forgives, not just my sins, but the sins of every individual that has ever lived in the past, lives in the present and will live in the future. This is one of the primary doctrines of Christianity, that God forgives the sins of humankind. While there is much discussion about how this forgiveness is incorporated into human history and into our daily lives, there has not been, from what I have witnessed, much discussion as to what forgiveness really is. 

It has been established that God forgives, but what is forgiveness? 


"If God forgives, than God must forgive everything. If God does not forgive everything, than God is not God."
- P. Ewert


More discussion to follow in regards to this topic. Looking forward to reading your thoughts and opinions.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Desecration of the Hobbit


"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" should be retitled "The Desecration of the Hobbit" 

I was utterly shocked, from the beginning of the movie through to it's end, that Peter Jackson so blatantly diverged from the actual story. With so many additional freedoms that Peter took, the only thing similar to the actual book was a its outline, a very rough one at that, of the original story. I understand that Peter Jackson is presenting a version of his own with these movies, but he has gone too far in this second edition. While the cinema was great and the action was, by far, more intense than the first movie, I feel that there was no excuse for this movies contortions of the original characters and that the movie would have been just as successful while remaining truer to J.R.R. Tolkien's "the Hobbit".

Friday, December 13, 2013

Does This Not Sound Familiar?




There once existed an ancient religion, and in that religion a God was worshiped. The God was Mithra, Sun God.  
With ties to Zoroastrianism, dating back to ancient Persia, one must wonder how much impact this religion had on Judaism and, in turn, Christianity and then Islam. It is important to note that this religion existed before the development of Christianity and while these two religions are different, today's Christian may be surprised to see the similarities that they  do have with one another. 
Similarities like the following:

December 25th is the birthday celebration of Mithra, the Sun God

Does that not sound familiar?


The babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger and attended by shepherds.

Does that not sound familiar?

He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.

Does that not sound familiar?

He had 12 companions or "disciples."

Does that not sound familiar?

-He performed miracles.

Does that not sound familiar?

As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.

Does that not sound familiar?


He ascended to heaven.

Does that not sound familiar?


Mithra was viewed as the Good Shepherd, the "Way, the Truth and the Light," the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah.

Does that not sound familiar?

Mithra is omniscient, as he "hears all, sees all, knows all: none can deceive him."

Does that not sound familiar?

He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.

Does that not sound familiar?

His sacred day was Sunday, "the Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.

Does that not sound familiar?

His religion had a eucharist or "Lord's Supper."

Does that not sound familiar?

Mithraism emphasized baptism.

Does that not sound familiar?


What do you think? Are you at all surprised to hear that a religion, existing before Christianity, already believed and practiced so many beliefs and rituals that the Christians of today feel originated and belong to their own faith?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate



To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate


Every fall, as flu season approaches, health services, doctors and local newspapers publish articles that stress the importance of immunization shots, but there is a growing number within communities that view these immunization shots as unnecessary and potentially life threatening. Anxieties have risen as occurrences of varying diseases, such as Measles and Pertussis, have transpired throughout Alberta. These occurrences are reinforcement to the necessity of receiving immunization shots. The immunization shots offered are done so in order to help individuals combat such diseases and in turn prevent larger outbreaks that may carry deadly consequences. Those that oppose the shots are viewed with distain and are also considered potential carriers of the diseases that those who are pro-immunization are trying to protect against. While these diseases are worrisome to all, there are those who do not agree with the necessity of immunization shots. Concerns have been raised in the taking of these shots and the unwanted side effects that may result because of them. The insufficient study into the biochemistry of individuals and the affects of the immunization shots on them, leads to unwillingness to partake in these shots. Those against immunization shots argue that local and federal government, along with health services, use fear tactics in order to win people over to their cause without providing sufficient evidence of the consequences in taking of these shots. With both groups arguing against one another, members of society, particularly those who have dependents under their care, are left with a difficult choice to make, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? 



Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Why the hell would I kill this kid" One Canadian Veteran Remembers the Horror of War.

I have never been one to fully embrace Remembrance day. I find, oddly enough, there to be to much glorification of war within this day. Do not think me to be ungrateful or disrespectful to those who gave and give their lives, but I shudder and my insides wrench when I think of all that went into and makes up war. While I am thankful for the benefits and freedoms that we all share in, I struggle to embrace the idea that we gained these because of war. Could we not have done so without war? 

On days like Remembrance day, we tend to become overly patriotic, as if being Canadian, American or British is what won us the war. As if being these things gained us some sort of right to be human, or worse, be winners of some sort of game. I can not emphasize enough that there are no winners in war. 
We tend to think of other nationalities as the opposers, the enemy or those to be conquered. We tend to bunch all the Germans into the category of being those 'evil Nazi's'. While we are not the only ones guilty of this type of thinking, we all have the tendency to bunch a community, culture and/or nation into one category. On Remembrance day we remember the fallen soldiers, we recall the stories, and we honour the sacrifice. However, on Remembrance day we often forget that we are all human and that we all share in on this same humanity. On Remembrance day we must remember that all are children of God, including our enemies. We must love them and also remember them, for they hunger, thirst and bleed as we all do. 

The following is an excerpt of an article from the National Post( Article)sharing a perspective I have not ever heard during this time of year, Remembrance Day. If you enjoy it please click the above link to continue reading the story.


"Why the hell would I kill this kid?": One Canadian Veteran Remembers the Horror of War






It is the strangest thing, Frank Johnson tells me, a memory he can’t shake because he can’t make sense of it, can’t understand why what happened to him on that long ago day in wartime Germany happened the way it did.
Here he was, you see, old Frankie Johnson — Johnny to his fighter pilot pals — shot to bits after being shot down over Germany on March 30, 1945. His back was busted, there was shrapnel in his right shin, a bullet in his left hip and he was bleeding from his forehead and covered in mud and blood and aircraft oil.
He was a “goddamn mess,” he says, and he didn’t really care whether he lived or died since he felt like he was already dying anyway. But a German farmer’s wife, some middle-aged lady, she cared whether he lived or died and she took a shot-up enemy fighter pilot who was dumped on her doorstep by two German soldiers and cleaned his wounds. 
Washed his entire body like she was washing her own “goddamn son,” Mr. Johnson says, like it didn’t matter one slice that old Johnny boy had spent the war taking out “German targets” and killing God knows how many Germans along the way with his Hawker Typhoon fighter plane.

“What gets to me, what really gets to me,” Mr. Johnson thunders, in a voice made for radio even though he sold insurance for most of his post-war life, “is when people go on about the German people and how awful they were. Yes, there were the real Nazis and the Gestapo, and they were nasty pieces of work, but the ordinary Germans in the countryside were just like you and me — and I don’t think they really knew what the hell the war was about..........................




Sunday, October 20, 2013

Theologians and the God Guessers *Repost*

The following(Cartoon on)is a post taken, with permission, from David Hayward's blog. I have always enjoyed David's perspectives and how he literally draws them out: 

Sociologist, Emile Durkheim wrote a book entitled "The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life". In that book he addressed one primary question, "Where do people come up with their ideas about God?" As a sociologist he moved from society to society, culture to culture and noted that everywhere he went there was some idea about God and what he/she was like. Everyone believed in God but the way in which God was defined differed from culture to culture. This may, in-turn, lead to the question, "Who of us is right?" Perhaps, in some manner, we all are?

Cartoon drawn by David Hayward
You can purchase this or other cartoons by David by clicking store.

You’ve heard the story of the blind men who were standing around an elephant trying to describe what they were feeling. One thought a tree. Another thought a snake. Another thought a mountain.
Whenever I draw a cartoon or write a post, I always try to write from a humble posture. I don’t always succeed. But I try. Because I know all too well that we are all just guessing. One guess might be better than another. But it is still a guess. I think we forget that.

I’ve also concluded that theology can be misleading in its promises. When the bible says that even the devils believe yet tremble, it means that just because you believe the right things doesn’t necessarily make you right or even good.
I like what the philosopher Slavoj Žižek says: “As I always repeat, what we philosophers can do is just correct the questions.”




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Syria, What do we do?


What I fail to understand is. Why is it only ok to start defending a people group when the use of chemical weapons are involved? Is it ok to stand aside as an observer while that people group is being shot by rifles, blown away by bombs, kidnapped by stealth army operations and while families are being torn apart. 

Now I do not claim to understand the entire situation in Syria (though I do not know if anyone does) or claim to have an answer to what seems to be a very sticky situation. Some questions that run through my mind are: 
-Why, within the last ten years, was the U.S.A. so ready to jump into war and/or action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya? 
-Does Syria not have the same offerings and rewards that that of the other countries have, such as oil? 
-How many people must die before one must respond, is there a specific number? 
-Why is it that there are so many Arab nations that hate the U.S.A. yet call and ask for a response against Al Assad's government? 

You see there is a very compassionate side of me that hates to see others be harmed and killed regardless of what side they are on. It is terrible to see and hear what is going on in Syria, but I have to question whether or not all that I hear is actually true or not. We have heard such things before. Who do we trust? The U.S. government stated the other day, in regards to Syria and the use of chemical weapons, that, "This isn't Iraq, we have proof this time." REALLY! At least they can admit that they never did have proof for Iraq but how the hell can anyone trust them now? 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Virtue of Walking

Now shall I walk or shall I ride? 
'Ride,' Pleasure said; 
'Walk,' Joy replied.
- W.H. Davies


I woke up this morning early and decided a walk would be the best way to start of this day. I did not expect what was to come. The town lay asleep within their homes warm and snuggled up in their beds. It was quite. It was peaceful. It was tranquil. It was everything I needed. So how can I describe it? Well...I'll, ever so briefly, try to share.

The air was thick, its presence was most definitely apparent, yet it was not heavy, it was not burdensome. Each step I took was filled with awareness of being fully engulfed by what was around me. A constant reminder that I am not alone, though no other was within my sight, I walked hand in hand with it. Preparing itself ever so diligently to remind me of its awe, love and majesty, it is as though it knew I was coming.
As I exited my home it immediately embraced me in welcome, rubbing away the sleep still lingering on my eyes and gently guiding me fully more into its essence. Its life giving drink was all about, tenderly moist, softly giving itself to me and all that I saw. Like the tender kisses of a lover all over ones body, so too, it gave itself to me. We breathed one another in, together becoming more in each others presence. Rich in awareness of each other.
It took me as I am, as I took it.

Still, it clings to me as I sit here in remembrance of it.


All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

If you seek creative ideas go walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
-Raymond I. Myers



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What if God just wants you to discover yourself?

I recently came across this writer in the blog world and have enjoyed many of his thoughts. With his permission, I have reposted one of his more recent writings below, as it ties into the two of my  own previous posts. This may in fact clear up some thoughts about where I am coming from, although, I may indeed go a little bit farther yet. Read these words of Peter's and the words of others he has mentioned. There is, indeed, wisdom here!

---------------------------

What if God just wants you to discover yourself?

A few years ago, I was given a short book written by James Martin, SJ, Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other SaintsI read it quickly, and liked it well enough, but I recently picked it up again and I felt this time I was more ready to listen to what Martin had to say.
You may know Martin better from his two recent books,The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (a NYT Bestseller) and Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. He has great insights, and is becoming a writer I look to for guidance along the way and to push me think differently about…oh, I don’t know…life I guess.
Much of this short book (89 pages, plus) is a review of the life and writings of Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen centering on the idea of, as the title tell you, Becoming Who You Are.
Martin explains by citing Merton from New Seeds of Contemplation:
For me to be a saint means to be myself,…Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discvoering my true self” (p. ix).
These might be off-putting, even scary, words for those raised in a Christian faith where “we” are the problem that needs fixing. I mean, Jesus even said you have to lose your life if you want to find it.
But Merton is in fact saying just that. Note Merton speaks of “discovering my true self.” The true self is “the person we are before God and the person we are meant to be” (p. 18). The false self, by contrast, is “the person that we wish to present to the world, and the person we want the whole world to revolve around” (p. 19)
Martin cites Merton, again from New Seeds of Contemplation:
Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences  for power, honor, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface (p. 19).
I understand some might be tempted to think this is self-help psychobabble, but nothing could be further from the truth.  True knowledge of oneself, and the process of transforming beyond the false self, is a lifelong, arduous process.
It takes courage to look deep inside ourselves and ask, “How well do I know myself? How bound am I to a life I have constructed for myself that on the surface has all the trappings of piety and faith, but in truth is rooted in jealousy, anger, fear, power, self-justification, control, and the like?”
As psychologist and spiritual writer David G. Brenner puts it in Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation:
Far too often we confuse our own spiritual self-improvement tinkerings with the much more radical agenda of God. The call of the Spirit–which is always gentle and therefore easily missed–is an invitation to abandon our self-improvement projects that are, in reality, little more than polishing our false self and become the unique hidden self in Christ that we have been from all eternity (p. 33).
It is a sad thing when one’s faith in God is an expression of the false self: judgmentalism, us vs. them thinking, theological pride, overweening attention to rules and regulations, etc.
A faith that is simply an expression of the false self is mere religion. But when flowing from a knowledge of the true self–which is a work prompted by the Spirit, if we are willing to listen–faith becomes love of God and love of neighbor. This is what Merton means when he says, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.”
I think there is much wisdom here.
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Thanks Peter for allowing the repost. If you'd like to read more of Peter's writings, you can follow him at Peter Enns . You wont regret it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Must Not Be Yourself!


As may have been gathered, I have been extremely interested in the perspective of 'Salvation' through discovery of the Self. What is the Self? Where do we attain Self from? Does someone or something lead us to the Self?  Was Plato correct in his assumptions that all things, including the Self, have an image within which they are created? There are many more questions that could be attributed to this subject.

What I have found most fascinating within my the search for my Self, is the fear of the Self by the masses. There is fear that lies in asking about the Self, seeking the Self. From our beginnings we have been conditioned to fear the Self.

Growing up I spent many moments sitting in the pews of church's, concert halls and gymnasiums listening to an array of pastors, evangelists and other such spiritual leaders. While the events differed and the themes changed, one thing always remained, the underlying message, You Must Not Be Yourself.

That's right. Who you are is evil, wicked, and unholy. You are not fit for the presence of God. You are selfish and were so from the moment you were born. In essence you were evil the moment you were created.

As one could imagine, a steady diet of this can be quite harmful and debilitating, even to the most confident of us.

Allow me to share a portrait that Doug Frank, author of 'A Gentler God', paints of the evangelical God,
"Our heavenly Father scrutinizes us obsessively. He is never happy with what he finds. He wants us to focus on becoming what he has decided we ought to be-his"will"or "plan" for us- rather than who we are. We get the feeling that he doesn't much like or trust us as we really are. His revulsion against sin increases that feeling, particularly since he has told us it is in our very nature to sin."(1) 
How does this make sense? If we were created in God's image then how could we be born selfish? How could we be born evil? How can it be in our very nature to sin? And if we are created in God's image then does that not make God as sinful as you and I? 

You Must Not Be Yourself!

'You must deny yourself' we are constantly reminded and while I agree to a certain extent, I believe there is a failure to look deeper into the matter. To look past the long held perspective of the self being evil; that we must crush it, deny it and crucify it. Yes, let us indeed separate the selfish motives that cause us to betray our selves, from ourSelves. However, one must be cautious not throw the baby out with the bath water! A cart can not lead a horse. 

So why all this fear of the Self? Why do Christians fear the Self? Why does society fear the Self? Why do I fear the Self?

--------------------------------
(1)A Gentler God:Breaking Free of the Almighty in the presence of the human Jesus-Doug Frank(pg 161) Albatross Books

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Self: The Seeker Within




"Whatever the now-current science of personal development may theorize, the fact remains that the self is all we have."

Whether one follows religion, atheism, or agnosticism, all have one thing in common, the desire of the 'Self'.

I have often discussed here, and in conversation with others, the difference between being 'selfish' and being 'Self'. The reality is that we are always our Selves (consciously or not). It is the 'what' and 'why' that is done with our Selves that determines the selfishness of the Self. All that we do, from our very waking in the morning, daily communication with others, the daily labour of our minds, hands and hearts, to the resting of our heads upon our pillows at the days end is enabled and driven by the Self. In fact, Self is the most powerful force that drives us.

"Self is what enables us to refuse to settle down, in love with the mediocre, satisfied with the banal, because the self is always on its way to somewhere else." 


For many years I was taught that the self was bad, that I was to deny it, toss it aside and bury it. I have, since then, come to realize that this is one of the most harmful things one can do to oneself.
The Self is who you are, who you have been and who you will become. This Self is You! Deny it and you destroy yourself. 
"Self is the seeker within."

What the Self does, is drives you to something, to more. It is that that pushes you to discover. It is the seeker within.

"The greatest spiritual problem of them all may be that we are simply too willing to give over our sense of direction, our compulsion to search, to those who want from us anything but a self."

In fact, to deny the 'Self' is, perhaps, the most 'selfish' thing one can do. To do so is in fact a step in the wrong direction and will thus result in a stale and stagnant life. If you seek life through denying Self you will not only lose yourself but thus you shall lose your life. In our struggles to be fully alive we come across many barriers along the journey but to deny your Self is not a barrier but a turning around altogether to return from where you set off. To be fully alive we must embrace our Self and thus go forward, continually embracing our growing Selves. 

"The struggle to be fully alive is an eternal one because the growth of the self is an eternal process"

Embracing the Self does not require that I go somewhere else, become something else or be somebody else. Rather to embrace the Self I must do it now. right here, at this very moment. Do I love my Self? 

Once I embrace my Self in its entirety, I can go forward and grow.

"It is all a matter of growing, of becoming the fullness of the self, exactly where we are."

Let us not forget of the Self that...

"It is the raw material of the spiritual life."

*All the above large print are quotes taken from Joan Chittister's book, "Called to Question: a spiritual memoir" pages 71-76 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning
Forever Loved 
(New York, April 27, 1934-April 12, 2013)
*All quotes below are that of Brennan Manning.
I awoke this morning, turned on the computer, looked over my list of blogs that I follow and discovered that quite a few were discussing the death of Brennan Manning. I was shocked to hear so. To be honest I had thought that Brennan had passed(not past) away some time ago (I don't know why?) and was sorrowful at that point in time. To hear it once more is just as saddening.

Brennan Manning has had a very deep impact upon my life. When I am about to give up, reject, throw out any and all conceptualizations of 'Christianity' there is but one man who can bring me back to a place where I can be who I truly am in the Christ. 

This man has opened my eyes to the realness of Jesus, I mean the utter humaness of Jesus. He has taught me the utter importance of loving me for myself and that it is only then that I am better to serve others. 
"Experience has taught me that I connect best with others when I connect with the core of myself. When I allow God to liberate me from unhealthy dependence on people, I listen more attentively, love more unselfishly, and am more compassionate and playful. I take myself less seriously, become aware that the breath of the Father is on my face."
That God loves me no matter what or who I am and that by thinking otherwise I deny the entire gift of God's grace and love. 
"The love of Christ embraces all 
without exception."
 This man introduced me to the Christ outside of Christianity and for that I am forever grateful. 
"The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God. 'They won't let me in, Lord, becuse I am a sinner.'
'What are you complaining about?' said God. 'They won't let Me in either." 
So while I may abandon Christianity, I can never abandon the Christ.
"Those who have the disease 
called Jesus will never be cured."
Thank you Brennan for all that you have done. You will forever huant me.