Check out my article in The Daily Star newspaper in Oneonta, New York.
It’s about the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Radicalized religion has our attention. What else does it want?
War with religion? War with those of us struggling to practice a religion of love and a life of meaning?
I doubt it. No matter how much destruction radicals inflict upon religion, radicalized religion would be destroyed if they messed with religion.
But we can ask, why did radicalized religion reach such a crisis point?
Perhaps it’s because our religious policies are failing us.
Perhaps it’s because religion is divided by creeds specific to human behaviors and thinking rather than specific to worship of God.
Perhaps it’s because we are so busy lighting candles, reading Bible lessons, and maintaining buildings rather than increasing spirituality and correct interpretations of spiritual texts?
Thing is we need to do more because radicalized religion doesn’t only bother the religious. The nonreligious are also afflicted since radicals aim at anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
The nonreligious try to stop the radicals with bullets. How can the religious help?
It is time for religious thinkers to take the baton and run the race that eliminates radicalization by designing relevant policies and practices. It is time for religious thinkers to hold off defending their beliefs and go full force advocating the love of Christ.
The new ideas that come with progress don’t mean we give up lighting candles or stop reading sacred texts.
The other night I attended a village prayer vigil. We came together with our differing religious backgrounds.
Scriptures read were: I John 4:7-8, 18-21 and Isaiah 58.
A moment of individual prayer was respected.
And we all sang together a couple of times. The departing song was:
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Everywhere I go, let it shine, let it shine. Won’t let anyone blow it out; I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. All around the world, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
I will give thanks unto thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn thy righteous judgments. (Psalm 119:7, ASV)
The attitude of gratitude is advised in the Celebrate Recovery program, a biblical and balanced program that helps people overcome addictions, bad habits, and hang-ups.
I went to a weekly meeting of Celebrate Recovery and found it touches people at many levels. The welcoming groups was very welcoming. They had literature available showing the steps that can be taken to recovery.
Giving thanks to God in prayer allows conscious contact with Him and His will for us.
I’ve learned over the years that my gratitude needs constantly to be purified. Although thanking God for a roof over my head and food on the table is worthy, I find it more powerful to be grateful for life, truth, and love, for the ability to live life for God rather than myself.
When reading the Bible, I find the text more beneficial when I read for thoughts.
Reading to learn about how human beings think and act, or reading to learn history is helpful, but it’s basically inert knowledge.
Reading for thoughts however is active knowledge. It’s knowledge I can apply to my everyday life.
For example, from the modern Christian Science Bible lesson of this week, subject, independence I read in my Bible, Romans 6 and this verse stuck out:
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.”
Humanly and historically, the reference to Christ and death brings the image of Jesus being crucified and resurrected. Knowledge that sits in my mind until I re-read and look for thoughts.
The thought of Christ is universal. We all have unity with Christ-spirit. We all can identify with the Christlike nature of compassion, mercy, truthfulness, trustworthiness. Anytime it feels as though one of those qualities has died, it will be raised and die no more because their source is God, divine Truth, the same God that created us.
Last week, I felt as though my energy was exhausted. As if it died. When I prayed, instead of praying for my energy to return, I prayed to align my thought with the thought that divine energy dies no more. My energy did return however it feels more solid because I was touched with a sense of divine energy being more substantial than human energy.
When reading the Bible, or any text, I look for thoughts, connections to the divine, rather than learning what other people did or didn’t do. What is God doing now? What has God done forever? The answers are mine, and die no more.
A short time ago, I wrote a post about wanting a new Bible. Because I sometimes get tired of reading the Bible we have, with its gore, lack of respect for women, and acceptance of slavery, I mulled over the idea of establishing a new Bible.
I know that the Bible, in and of itself, shows how humanity has progressed, and how our idea of God has advanced out of a punishing power into love. But surely, by the 21st century, we could find literature depicting even greater strides.
Then the other night, we watched the 2015 movie, “The Brand New Testament.”
Director Jaco Van Dormael, also writer with Thomas Gunzig, tells the story of God, living in Brussels, Belgium, with his family. God is typified as a mean, irrational human being, directing a horrible history for humanity.
His son, Jesus Christ, aka JC, already escaped the household and the story follows how the younger daughter, Ea, escapes to rewrite Scripture and change history.
She gathers six disciples or messengers. We get a glimpse of their life and future as Ea intervenes with her special powers to promote compassion and a trust in good in humanity.
The film seemed a bit ridiculous to me. One disciple left her husband to partner with an ape, as if to show that some animals are better behaved then humans.
After making that mental calculation, I laughed at myself. I was trying to see the deeper meaning behind the story. Exactly what humans have been doing with the Bible for millennia.
There are thousands of Bible commentaries, books that explore the meaning, history, and context of Scripture. They are valuable as noted by Mel Lawrenz in his post titled, “How to Use Bible Commentaries.”
Anyway, my desire for a new Bible has been tempered. I will continue to appreciate translations and revisions and commentaries that recover original meanings.
In Psalms 65 I read about giving praise to God.
I wondered, do I give praise to God? Or to a recipe?
Do I praise Spirit, or rituals?
Do I give praise to divine Mind, or human minds?
Verses 1 through 4 of Psalms 65 reads as follows:
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
3 When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
I keep reading and discover promises of wonderful results when praising God:
5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
6 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
7 who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
Reading about Samson, the Nazirite with long curls, I got to thinking he wasn’t very smart. He kept hanging with people who wanted to find his weakness. Samson point blank finally revealed that if his long curly hair was cut, he’d be weak.
As read about in Judges 16, Samson’s hair was secretly cut and his enemies then bound him after jabbing out his eyes.
Once his hair grew back, Samson did turn to God for strength and killed a lot of Philistines.
This hints that although hair wasn’t really his strength, he didn’t have to get rid of it. It’s like know money isn’t our strength, or possessions aren’t are strength, or job position isn’t our strength, and keeping God important in our life.
Moreover, we know that it’s the thinking that we’re dealing with.
Bounding or killing off people has never killed off hate, fear, and even disease.
Because those negatives make life miserable, it’s natural for humanity to strive to break the negative thinking apart and turn to infinite Mind. God is infinite Mind and our source of strength.
From 21st Century Science and Health:
“Fear, sin, and our neglect of spirituality is what brings on and feeds all sickness. Disease is always induced by a false sense mentally entertained, not destroyed. Disease is an image of thought externalized. The mental state is called a physical state. Whatever is cherished in human mind as the physical condition is imaged forth on the body.
“Omnipotent and infinite Mind made all and includes all. This Mind does not make mistakes and subsequently correct them. God does not cause us to sin, to be sick, or to die.
“Infinite Mind is the creator, and creation is the infinite image or idea emanating from this Mind. If Mind is within and without all things, then all is Mind, and this definition is demonstrable.
“Through spiritual perception we can discern the heart of divinity and thereby begin to understand the generic term person. Our spirituality is not absorbed in God. We do not become isolated or trapped in a vacuum. Our individuality goes on and on reflecting Life eternal. We each represent the totality of infinite Mind’s substance.”