Monday, May 21, 2007

Centers of Being and Points of Entry

A new test of blogging fortitude, with the addition of a very active Coonine puppy at my feet. I'll just proceed with a spontaneous riff on the fragment of a thoughtlet that was in my head upon arising, which is that, if we are to love the lord with all our hearts, minds, and souls, the benefits of doing so are quite tangible and verifiable with regard to the first two, while the third requires a leap of faith that even I sometimes continue to struggle with (and I shouldn't even say "even," since there is nothing special about me). However, being that the first two are so demonstrably "operative" in time, perhaps we can deduce the promises of the timeless third.

When we talk about heart, mind, and soul, we are talking about 1) virtue, will, beauty and sentiment, 2) knowledge and wisdom, and 3) eternal salvation, or, at the very least, some sort of nonlocal process of growth (i.e., outside space and time) that we can only understand dimly.

It is very easy to see how loving the lord with all one's heart and mind "bears fruit" in the herebelow. In the first instance (heart), doing so should make you a happier, better, and more well-rounded person. In the second case (mind), it should make you a wiser, more intelligent, and more "sober" person. But as I said, the third case (soul) is trickier, because there we are dealing with certain "post mortem benefits" that we can only intuit through a dark presidential tint, at best.

Frankly, it's somewhat similar to the essentially backword route through which I approached Christianity, which was first through the mind. The Bobway has probably become an exception in our day and age, but there is no reason it should be, since I have personally vetted all secular philosophies and ideologies and declare Christianity to be much more intellectually nourishing than any of them. Frankly, there's just no comparison. One of the reasons I am able to blog every day is that the pool of religious wisdom is just so infinite that it can never be exhausted or contained. On the other hand, if I had to rely upon secular concepts in order to think and write, that well would run dry very quickly. That's how you end up being an inveterate triteweight such as Krugman, Dionne, Hitchens, Matthews, the entire idiotorial board of the New York Times, and all the rest of the MSM clowns, clones, and drones.

For one thing, when we are thinking within a system of revealed knowledge, it transcends and contains us, rather than vice versa. On the other hand, any secular philosophy ultimately rests upon the -- in my view, absurd -- notion that it is possible for the limited human mind to "contain" the whole of reality, when the mind is an expression of that Reality (and the presence of the intelligent human subject is the single greatest mystery in this irreducibly mysterious cosmos -- that and the appeal of Al Sharpton).

While it is true that Tongan men are so macho that they lose their virginity before their fathers, they are a special case. For the rest of us, we are the "sons and daughters of existence," so to speak, so that our own existence cannot explain existence as such in the absence of an outside perspective. This outside perspective is known as revelation, and one of the reasons revelation is so intellectually fruitful is that it specifically creates an open system between human beings and their transcendent source. There is a dynamic tension between two radically different forms of existence, God's and ours, and it is within the dynamic tension of this infinite space that true theology takes place, i.e., O-->(n).

As we have mentioned before, the Bhagavad Gita describes the different methods of yoga that correspond to this or that personality type. "Yoga" simply means "union," specifically, union with God. Thus, since human beings have at least three centers of being -- body, mind, and soul -- there is a yoga for each. But there is also the basic division of emotional man, mental man, and the man of action.

Christianity is often reduced to a form of bhakti yoga, which involves heartfelt adoration of the personal God, but frankly, I believe this approach is most effective for a particular personality style, that is, someone whose emotional being forms their human center of groovity. This center will also be the source of much ungroovy weakness -- of many falls -- so aligning it with God is a way for the emotions to transcend themselves and keep you out of jail. But the troubles caused by the wayward intellect probably far surpass the troubles caused by ungoverned passion. But when you combine the two -- that's when you have hell on earth.

As I touched upon above, it must be said that Christianity is doing a mediocre job of marketing itself, to the extent that otherwise sophisticated people believe that you must disable your intellect in order to be a practicing Christian. There is no question whatsoever that I suffered from this delusion in my sercular days, when I just dismissed religion -- western religion, anyway -- as so much shallow-minded fantasy, nothing worthy of even a moment's serious coonsideration.

Now I wonder: how did I come by this attitude? -- for it was not grounded in any personal experience I had ever had. Rather, it was all just the secular brainwashing I had endured by virtue of being plunged into secular culture. But had I ever personally read, much less comprehended, the works any of the great Christian intellects -- Origen, Dionysius the Areopagite, Gregory of Nyssa, Clement of Alexandria, Maximus the Confessor, John Climacus, Augustine, John Scotus Eriugena, Meister Eckhart, and so many others?

No, I had not. Rather, I had simply taken their dismissal on faith -- mostly a faith in mid-level intellectuals who are incapable of raising their intellects to religion to begin with. But even leaving spiritual considerations aside, what an intellectually cluelesscidal thing to do! It is only through grace that I found my way back to them, through which I am able to comprehend them (and they us) and with which I am able to use them as a springboard for additional forays into the wild godhead. In other words, they are the ones who created the map. No, the map is not the territory, but you still need a good one to get from here to nowhere, since the deustination we seek is nowhere here, but beyond time and space. In actuality, it is a way to find your way back from the nowhere here to the eternal now.

Again: revelation and its "little sister," true theology, are the principle means we have for thinking vertically rather than horizontally. Furthermore, it is no less scientific and systematic than conventional science, which applies to the horizontal. Being that human beings are uniquely crucified at the innersection of the vertical and horizontal axes of existence, we are the only being with both senses and intellect, the former for exploring the outer world, the latter for comprehending the inner nature of things -- and this inner nature may ultimately be traced back to the Intellect of the intellect, that which sponsors both man's intelligence and the intelligibility reflected in every thing that exists.

Now, if we say that "Jesus saves," people generally mean the soul. However, I am here to testify that he and his authorized agents also save the mind, or the intellect properly so-called. As I said, this was my point of entry into the Christian stream. For other more "heart centered" individuals, perhaps it might have been the gloriously transcendent music of Bach, the compassionate heart of a great saint, or the heroic martyrdom of the early Christians. For more simple souls, it may simply be because scripture speaks to an intuitive place that is way beyond thought. In a way, they are the lucky ones, because they don't have to go through the complicated process of re-conquering their own wayward and prideful intellect.

But in my journey into the magnificent intellectual cathedral of Christianity, I was eventually confronted with one inescapable fact: that I was, so to speak, still dealing with the "penumbra" around the great mystery at the very heart of Christianity, that is, the Incarnation and Resurrection. It was as if I were simultaneously looking over and overlooking the center from which all this truth has continued flowing for the subsequent 2000 years -- a big smoking crater left by the ultimate depth charge plunging through history and cutting it in two like a Tongan tears a telephone book in half.

I better stop now. I have an eery feeling that all hell's about to break loose in the house. To be continued....

59 Comments:

Blogger Susannah said...

What can I say? This is brilliant and it resonated in so many ways with me that I hardly know where to begin.

"first through the mind..." That's me in a nutshell. I am entranced by the inherent rationality of Christianity, how it illuminates everything. I've found more light shed on human psychology in the Bible than in all the textbooks and articles I've ever read.

Often I wish I were more in the third category you described: "For more simple souls, it may simply be because scripture speaks to an intuitive place that is way beyond thought." This describes so many of my Christian friends, and there is such a peace and dynamism in their relationship with God. I'm still growing toward that.

"triteweight" How do you DO that?? It's the perfect one-word summation of the tiresome repetitiveness of secular thinking.

"This outside perspective is known as revelation, and one of the reasons revelation is so intellectually fruitful is that it specifically creates an open system between human beings and their transcendent source."

I just have to pause to savor that.

How do people live without it?

"As I touched upon above, it must be said that Christianity is doing a mediocre job of marketing itself, to the extent that otherwise sophisticated people believe that you must disable your intellect in order to be a practicing Christian."

It seems Marvin Olasky encountered this during his dissertation process. I found the article via Amanda Witt's blog this morning. (Wittingshire)

Apparently, you got good sleep last night! Thanks for another great entry.

wv: ylbloa (gasket?)

5/21/2007 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

It worked! It worked! HTML, good buddy! (Thanks a million!)

5/21/2007 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Well, bother, you can't read the whole article there, but you can get to it through the link at Wittingshire.

5/21/2007 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

A friend of mine is trying to take a 'fast for Christianity' - the idea being that 'incarnation evangelism' a new term for 'meeting folk where they at' requires doing just that. But how to do it to the unbeliever, the secular and unchurched?

I said? Be less churchy. Be just, moral, etc, but don't continually relate things back to the Bible itself; that's Jesus Willies land for 'em. That means you have to transcend your understanding of Christianity! Ut Ohz!

But this is the core of Christianity Marketing Itself Well I b'leve, Its like we can't stand behind the door and shout "Come in! It's nice in here!" But rather we must climb the tower high enough that we can throw paper airplanes in their hair.

Back to the mundane, coons.

5/21/2007 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Speaking of... bad marketing. Bryan at HotAir makes a post about it, RE: the old gray lady.

Nonetheless, folks like Rick Warren demonstrate a heartstrong idealism that will more than likely end in ruin. Purpose Driven life is good in many respects, but 'Purpose Driven Nation'? My coon sense was ringing like a gong.

5/21/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>Christianity is often reduced to a form of bhakti yoga, which involves heartfelt adoration of the personal God, but frankly, I believe this approach is most effective for a particular personality style . . . <<

Generally speaking, I think *devotion* has been the mainstay, the modus operandi, so to speak, of Christianity for the last millennium, and probably necessarily so. Devotion involves the emotions, of course, as well as the elevation of the *image* of holiness in various forms. This is all to the good in its effects, particularly in centering human energies on lofty spiritual goals.

The next stage, I believe, is the transcending of the image, and in some sense, transcending devotion and whatever attendant emotionalism might be involved. By doing so, we began to fully manifest God. That is, God becomes less the "other" and image/object of devotion while becoming more manifest through us. Put another way, I suppose it could be said we are to become fully fledged co-creative *partners* with God.

On the subject of the advertising of Christianity - well, I think that the genuine movement of grace and the Spirit, stimulated, I believe, by individual prayer and meditation, is the best conductor of spiritual electricity. It fills the atmosphere, in a manner of speaking, with Light, so that those who still retain a few atoms of redemptive hope and desire can more easily be infused with grace. Secular marketing techniques can certainly appeal to devotionalism, but, as I said previously, that can take you just so far - and in this day and age, it's imperative, I think, to take the next step.

5/21/2007 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Riv said,
“I said? Be less churchy. Be just, moral, etc, but don't continually relate things back to the Bible itself; that's Jesus Willies land for 'em.”

Great advice. That’s what happened to me. Had a lot of undoing to do before I reached here.

5/21/2007 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Will,
I sent an email to the address on your site. Not sure if that address still works.

5/21/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

It works, Ricky. Unlike my brother-in-law.

5/21/2007 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

PS - Rickster, you wanted to email me eariler, my email addy is now in my profile.

5/21/2007 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Will:

It's true. Without veneration, there can be no truth. Or, shall we say, contact with truth nourishes the spontaneous impulse to devote oneself to it. I suppose in the end, truth and devotion must be just two sides of the same coin.

5/21/2007 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Will, Riv,
Thanks

5/21/2007 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Sorry for this distraction from Bob’s wonderful post…

Let me know if I'm the only one who thinks this selection of photos has a lower purpose:

'What's with these pictures?'

Painting a stubby black mustache on the guy I guess would have been too obvious?
I mean, one picture I can see. But all three in the “Heil” position?!

5/21/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Bob, speaking of it. I remembered while struggling the other day, that before coming to the Lord, my struggle would be with getting away with the things I wanted to do, not stopping myself from doing them. A continual reminder, I suppose, that I was once indeed an enemy of God, but somewhere along the line I did acquire a certain level of veneration for holiness and the saints, as well as for Jesus himself (though he seems to the mind at times too high to attain) which switched me over (bit by bit) to wanting righteousness instead of my own pleasure.

In the end it is the most pleasing thing, but the pleasure is incident and not goal -- which is what frustrates the materialist the most I suppose.

5/21/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Revelation
lord whose name we know
speak us into existence
from one the many

5/21/2007 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Johan (cosmic swede) said...

Oh yes, finally a post that I can relate to in a very personal way!

I'm approaching Christianity, or spirituality at large, head first. I've had encounters with the Christian church, and with religion, but not in any way that has got to me. That was, of course, before I read One Cosmos, and since that, I've started reading a lot of other stuff too. I'm even reading the good Book - on my mobile phone! That is actually quite a cool feature that they have put it in a format that I can download to my cellular. I usually read when other people read the newspaper - on the subway to and from work. I'm somewhere in the middle of the second book of Moses, and there is a lot of nice information about handling things like your neighbours cattle falling into your well (maybe something for Bob to look into a bit extra now when there is a puppy dog to look after?), and stuff like that.

How ever, mind first, and the heart and soul will follow, that’s my approach, and I can't see how it could be another way for me, being the person I am. I kind of have a need to know what is "ahead of me". Any other way might just have scared me away, or worse, be disregarded as "mumbo jumbo". Or simple chemical responses in my body, made to nurture some old Darwinian caveman impulse, like that Bob wrote the other day, "intrinsic communism" (didn't at all look at it that way before, I've always seen freedom as the ultimate and original state of human beings, but that's another story). I also think I had to reach a certain age to be mature enough to be able to understand what Bob was saying, and also not be afraid of that which I don't understand, but somehow could feel being true.

A "heart first" approach would probably had my brain screaming for "reason" and "logic", and wanting me to get a reality check. This way I get the reality check, coon-style.

I'm sure that one day soon enough I get my share part of the warm, cuddling, touchy feely stuff of the heart too. And I can hardly wait.

"...otherwise sophisticated people believe that you must disable your intellect in order to be a practicing Christian."

That is so true among most people I know, which are very nice people, no doubt about it, but they are not very, or at all religious (at least they don’t say it out loud). Religious beliefs are seen as weakness and religious people having delusions and a need to "escape reality", because they "can't handle the truth" which are that we are just random atoms put together by pure luck and that there is no bigger meaning to life. I, on the other hand, just got the feeling that it is just the other way around! I'm running less and less away from reality, and more and more to it. I'm embracing it.

(Sorry the swedish language, but you can enjoy some pics of my new vespa, and little balcony here.)

5/21/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

A Pitiful Aside -

Q: When did you learn this?
Me: Just today; this morning.

Q: How long did it take?
Me: Far, far too long. Months.

Q: Did you ask for directions?
Me: I'm a man. You know how THAT goes.

Q: Anything else you care to say about it?
Me: Only that...I'm so ashamed...(and this is the pitiful aside part)...but, at least I'm ashamed in italics!

5/21/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous late convert said...

Ricky Raccoon:

Here's a place you can go when the relentless BDS gets to be too much:

Blame Bush

5/21/2007 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous late convert said...

Er, let's try that link again. If it doesn't work this time, we can just slink off with our tail between our legs. (Might as well, since we're now talking to ourself.)

Blame Bush

5/21/2007 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Late convert,
RE your link, I can’t tell if they are making fun of progressives or if they actually are progressives. I didn’t stay long enough to find out.

I hope you didn’t suggest that link because you think I have BDS..
If you do, then I can’t explain to you why I sent the link to the AP story.

5/21/2007 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Sadly, despite Bush's good work on other things, this Immigration B.S. is going to create a bipartisan (for the most part) firestorm against him. I for one don't like it one bit. Is it so much to ask to not give more fuel to Tancredo? For Pete's sake...

5/21/2007 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Plus Chertoff with this sinker...

Of course! Instead of keeping them out, let's fine them. This way, the fed gets money from our misery (and their's.) Oh, its discouraging illegal immigration all right -- but is doing it in a way that is CLEARLY abusing the alien & foreigner.

It makes perfect sense to them, apparently. Why? I don't really know. I'm not going to guess, since I don't feel like slinging insults.

5/21/2007 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Riv,
Same here on immigration. I’m puzzled by the President’s take on it.

New bumper sticker:
I support the immigration bill, just not its amnesty.

5/21/2007 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

PS- Bob, Petey, et al, the same friend of mine is asking what he should read of Schoun's; I just told him a little about a few of the books. Would 'survey of metaphysics' help him expressing his Christian ideas without the explicit Christian language?

5/21/2007 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous USS Ben said...

Sussanah said-
"How do people live without it?"

They don't. They merely survive in a state of stasis, accepting a counterfeit life, which isn't Life.

Or worse, they conciously march towards spiritual death.
But in their minds all is well, because they call death life, therefore it must be since they create their own reality.

5/21/2007 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

Will said-
"That is, God becomes less the "other" and image/object of devotion while becoming more manifest through us. Put another way, I suppose it could be said we are to become fully fledged co-creative *partners* with God.

On the subject of the advertising of Christianity - well, I think that the genuine movement of grace and the Spirit, stimulated, I believe, by individual prayer and meditation, is the best conductor of spiritual electricity. It fills the atmosphere, in a manner of speaking, with Light, so that those who still retain a few atoms of redemptive hope and desire can more easily be infused with grace."

Well put, Will!
Too many Christians believe that they have to "sell" Christianity to non-believers, often with all sorts of bells and whistles, as if Christianity needs "modern props" to attract new believers.
Heck, tryin' to sell Christianity (or any Religion) basically says that Religion is material.

Much better is what Will (and River in his way) are sayin', which is to facilitate Grace, not reduce it to goods to be sold.

As a partner of God, or as a conduit, we can simply let Grace shine through us, with humble authority (or, as B'ob put it, with passionate dispassion).
If we let it BE, then non-believers with an iota of receptiveness will respond.

5/21/2007 01:59:00 PM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

B'ob said-
"For one thing, when we are thinking within a system of revealed knowledge, it transcends and contains us, rather than vice versa."

That's some good revelation to expand in!

5/21/2007 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous late convert said...

RE your link, I can’t tell if they are making fun of progressives or if they actually are progressives. I didn’t stay long enough to find out.

It's a site featuring satire and parody.

I hope you didn’t suggest that link because you think I have BDS..
If you do, then I can’t explain to you why I sent the link to the AP story.


Duh ... wait a minute ... Oh! I geddit! On account of I would be too stoopid to unnerstand what you were talkin about, huh?

5/21/2007 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

I think I like Prager's take on how to sell your faith best: Be a happy person.

If you really are filled with the grace of God, then let it shine through in your interactions with the world. You don't need to whip out your Bible at every opportunity or pounce on every opening to invite someone to your church. Just let your good qualities shine through, and be a living example of why it is good to be a believer.

5/21/2007 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

heh - just like what Ben said. Syncoonicity strikes again :)

(Sorry if this double-posted - google had a spasm when i hit send)

5/21/2007 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Late convert,
A little sensitive.

I went to the link, saw a few lines about Falwell and thought it was inappropriate.
I cruised it too fast. But as I’ve said before here, I can’t stomach too much on some sites. That one looked like one of them.

5/21/2007 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Regarding the marketing of Christianity or Growing Pains of the Body. Authorized agent Benedict (he's a little trim tab) has a plan. I call it "Back to Basics".

Deus Caritas Est (Latin for "God is Love") is the first encyclical written by Pope Benedict XVI. The encyclical reflects on the concepts of eros (possessive, often sexual, love), agape (unconditional, self-sacrificing love), logos (the word), and their relationship with the teachings of Jesus. Deus Caritas Est is expected to set the tone for Benedict's time in office.

Excerpt from Part I, 13): "The ancient world had dimly perceived that man's real food—what truly nourishes him as man—is ultimately the Logos, eternal wisdom: this same Logos now truly becomes food for us—as love. The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God's presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus' self-gift, sharing in his body and blood. The sacramental “mysticism”, grounded in God's condescension towards us, operates at a radically different level and lifts us to far greater heights than anything that any human mystical elevation could ever accomplish."

5/21/2007 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

That big smoking crater is so obvious that a child knows just what it is, but so many of our 'educated' adults manage to find endlessly innovative ways to explain the Rock into invisibility.

I love it when Bob uncorks a post like today's that blows off the fog so far up the hillside that even the blind like me can see the High Country surrounding us.

Amazing grace.

Thank you, Bob!

5/21/2007 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Reading the post again, Bob said this:

"...otherwise sophisticated people believe that you must disable your intellect in order to be a practicing Christian. There is no question whatsoever that I suffered from this delusion in my sercular days, when I just dismissed religion -- western religion, anyway -- as so much shallow-minded fantasy, nothing worthy of even a moment's serious coonsideration.

Now I wonder: how did I come by this attitude?"

I think that's a good and important question. In Bob's case, it wasn't personal experience that fostered that idea, but I think for a lot of people there is a direct experience of Christianity and churches that, perhaps in the hopes of gaining more followers and being accessible to all, aims for the lowest common denominator.

Speaking personally, I've been to many kinds of churches, and what turned me off and set me adrift was the lack of depth I often encountered, frequently combined with the cynicism of those who attended church but didn't actually believe. Churchgoers were often either world-weary hypocrites who clearly didn't think the lessons of faith actually applied to themselves, or people whose faith drove them to a stupid, sheepish fear of the world (seriously - bible study groups about upside-down triangles, the danger of unicorns, and how mormons were actually satanists) coupled with some rather odd and extreme behavior. If that was what Christianity was about, then of course I wasn't foolish enough to believe in it.

I was agnostic and cynical for a long time, thanks in part to those early experiences.

5/21/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Welcome Johan!- I think your experience is more of what I see around me in terms of what people (especially men) need in an approach to Christianity.

Yours is an excellent answer to the question raised of how to better market Christianity and ties in to the concept of religion being an irrational way of looking at the world (as opposed to its a-rational approaches).

Frankly, because of Christianity's focus on the bhakti path, most men don't see being religious as manly at all - and Christianity is seen as a thing for women.

If you can show the average person that (a) they have a religion even if it isn't called that, (b) their religion is irrational, self-contradictory, and leads to death, and (c) Christianity (at least as expounded here and among the other lights of Christian teachers) is rational, reasonable, and bears great fruit - the game is over. It may take them a while but as the seed is set and they won't see the world the same way anymore.

imnsho, anyway.

5/21/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous late convert said...

I think that's a good and important question. In Bob's case, it wasn't personal experience that fostered that idea, but I think for a lot of people there is a direct experience of Christianity and churches that, perhaps in the hopes of gaining more followers and being accessible to all, aims for the lowest common denominator.

It's interesting to note that the churches that have the most pronounced tendencies toward lowering the bar are losing members, while those that are raising it are growing.

I've been to many kinds of churches, and what turned me off and set me adrift was the lack of depth I often encountered ... people whose faith drove them to a stupid, sheepish fear of the world...

I think it's not faith which is the driver, but rather fear itself. Fear of unicorns, and the like sounds like a bit of displacement.

What most fed my secularist doubts was that I really couldn't see much evidence of the work of the Paraclete in those who called themselves "mature" Christians.

As I've become better educated, though, I apprehend that the failures are with the clay, not the potter.

5/21/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous the tim guy said...

I'm hoping I can post a comment. I used to be able to, but lately it just rejects me, no matter what I try. Here we go.

5/21/2007 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Some people call you..... Tim??

5/21/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous the tim guy said...

Ahh, cool, I'm in the coonland again.
Thanks you again, Mr. Bob, its always
uplifting to read your posts and since I am a Christian, I'm always
especially interested in your take on
that. I've been writing a book on my
own personal journey through darkness, trying to find the light. A 60's background led me down some many insane paths, it's hard to recount. As scripture states, God will give wisdom to his children, liberally, if
they ask. All things do become illuminated and as you've said so many times, the horizontal becomes
beautiful and understanable in the light of an all wise God. Anyway I've had a bunch of comments that didn't get posted, but basically just to say thanks. So thanks.

5/21/2007 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

When Christians Squabble...I think that's a huge turnoff to seekers. Having participated in Christian forums for years, I'm amazed at how many things Christians fight over...dumb stuff that really falls under Romans 14. Like, modest dress, dresses-only, head coverings, "quiver-full" (zero birth control), homeschool/public school...basically stuff that is none of our stinkin' business when it comes to others' convictions...areas where we are commanded to follow the "law" of love with regard to freedom/weak conscience. And that's without broaching theological debates.

Following Jesus' command to love one another as he has loved us would be enough right there to attract all but the most hardened to him. He said himself it was how others would know we are his followers. Genuine love is unmistakable; people know it when they see it and they are drawn to it because everyone is hungry for it. When you find it among believers, when you are really truly loved as you are, it makes you want to weep, it is such a rare and precious thing. Esp. when someone cares enough about you to graciously, gently correct you when you are going off the deep end--THAT is a miracle! The soul can easily differentiate pharasaical criticism from loving concern.

Furthermore, I think the Church would attract more people if we simply repented of our own junk and sought God's power with regard to holier living. It's clear throughout scripture that judgment begins with the house of God and that it's up to us to **humble** ourselves and pray. As important as I believe political action to be (I grew up with a politically involved dad, it's pounded into me), the real battles are not won simply by promoting good policies and opposing bad.

As for head/heart, I was talking this over with DH and he reminisced how it was heart first with him, but would not have "stuck" without a renewed mind. He quoted our college president, who has said that the mind is the gatekeeper of the soul. He has written an interesting article titled "The Pathology of the Intellect." Wish I could share it in full here.

5/21/2007 04:50:00 PM  
Anonymous the tim guy said...

I am the pastor of a small Christian church and have often wondered in the past and even now I must admit about "marketing" the Christian faith. What is being left out of all this conversation is the work of the Holy Spirit. True biblical Christianity teachs that there are three persons in the Godhead, God is one, yet manifested as three, it is a deep mystery, but clearly taught as Jesus himself said on the eve of His return to Heaven and His Throne, I must go that the "Comforter" might come, and when He (a person, God indeed) is come, He
will bring you into rememberance of all that I have said unto you. As some of the posts said so well, we live our lives in the light of Grace freely given, seeking and giving diligence to be as Christ would have us to be. The spirit draws and brings the sheep (coons),
study Christian history (Shaff or many others) and you will see how God brought thousands during great revivals when His spirit moved mightily, through prayer and the word. We are witnesses and sheep beget sheep, coons beget coons and so on.

5/21/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

When I understood the Christian Way as a form of bhakti yoga, there was no appeal; and I considered religious philosophers from non-Christian traditions to be somehow "superior" in their understanding. Nowadays, I feel like that was 'me' in some other lifetime.

When I stumbled in here, I got pretty lucky. Bob writes in the right "mix" of theology, psychology, politics, humor, etc., that I guess would have to be described as "satisfying my mind." And like Johan the Cosmic Swede, when I read OCUG, I thought that a coherent, sensible Path was opening up. I'm sure most Coons would agree, that these sorts of things are difficult to describe, as they combine so many variables, and more than a little magic.

I'll quote Bob: "For more simple souls, it may simply be because scripture speaks to an intuitive place that is way beyond thought."

And I came across this from Bishop Ware, in The Orthodox Way:
"It is fundamental to my character as a human being that I search everywhere for meaningful explanations. Faith in God enables me to make sense of things, to see them as a coherent whole, in a way that nothing else can do. Faith enables me to make One out of the many."

Phrases like "making sense" and "coherent whole" speak volumes to my simple soul, and draw me on.

5/21/2007 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Sunshine Maker said...

I quite like this radical interpretation of John 1-3 through 1-5.

The Divine Spirit-Breath is the sungle Light of the cosmos. The Divine Spirit-Breath is the eternal Truth that pervades and sustains all beings. The Divine Spirit-Breath is the Light, and Love, and Truth, and Way in which all beings and things arise and change and pass out of sight.

All things and beings come to exist through the Divine Agency of the Spirit-Breath of Light and Love. Therefore, whoever surrenders heart and mind and body into the Divine Light of Truth by means of the Spirit-Breath is truly alive, because everything and everyone is fully sustained only through complete surrender into the Spirit-Breath of Divine Light and Love.

The Spirit-Breath is the Divine Power that sustains the body of the human being. That same Spirit-Breath of Divine Power is also the inner Light of Love, that can guide the heart along the Divine Way that leads beyond the darkness and spiritual blindness of the un-knowing world. That Divine Spiritual Light of Love is, now and forever, shining above the world. And the Spirit-Breath of Divine Love-Light may also descend into the body of any human being it chooses to Bless. And no darkness or dark power in the cosmic world can ever defeat or dstroy or steal away the Spiritual Love-Light that Breathes the world. And the Eternal Divine Love-Light shines on all beings from the Divine place of origin, above the body and mind of every Spirit-Breathing being in the world.

5/21/2007 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Tim, well said!

Snippets from the president's article. He makes three propositions: "First, that sin corrodes reason; second, that holiness preserves reason; third, that the Holy Spirit perfects reason.

"...Christ's simple ones have one passion that is stronger than all their other passions: their love for Him. As a result, they receive, both from life and from on high, a wisdom beyond their self-conscious capacity. Those who love wisdom and learning above all else cannot drink from that stream, because the cup required for dipping in and drinking is called Humility. Not only so, but paradoxically, the supreme love of wisdom, unsubmitted to God, is chronically unstable. Those who try to love wisdom best cannot keep themselves from engaging in a distorted form of self-love: they begin by loving wisdom but end by loving their own possession of wisdom, andfinally by loving their own mental construction of that possession more than even the possession itself. For them the life of the mind comes at the cost of the soul. Reason doesn't always go wrong, but it usually does. And when it goes wrong, this is how it does so. My experience with intellectualized unbelievers leads me to conclude that, for most of them, intellectual activity masks a rebellion against God that is primarily visceral, rather than cerebral, in character.

...Now the world and all that is in it, visible and invisible, is naturally an object of human wonderment. The mind filled with wonder forgets itself and seeks to understand. But there is a perennial temptation to turn one's attention away from reality itself and instead toward one's own mental construction of reality. It is the temptation to prefer the contrivance of the mind to that which is. It is the temptation, at worst, to revel in the power of one's own intellect. I call this phenomenon intellectual backsliding--or more precisely, backsliding from being. One can hardly blame ordinary people for having a generally low opinion of intellectuals, since intellectuals of this type must end up either as eccentrics or tyrants.

...Obviously, postmodernism is a kind of intellectual solipsism, and, as such, it would seem to represent the end of the line for the intellectual life, the terminal development of what I have called the pathology of the intellect. If it is the terminus, then there may be reason for hope. In fact, I foresee the emergence of a new alliance between reavealed religion and scientific empiricism, against postmodern relativism and other reductive ideologies, including materialism, behavioralism and even rationalism. Those who believe in a God who is not of their own making have much common cause with those who believe in a world that is not of their own making. An Almighty God, who created everything out of nothing, is the greatest guarantor of the reality which the scientist seeks to know.

...But, as Augustine reminds us, 'man did not so fall away as to become absolutely nothing; but being turned towards himself his being become more contracted that it was when he clave to Him who supremely is.' In other words, human nature now exists in a contracted, or shrunken or shriveled condition. You might say he thinks of human nature as something like a sponge. It is the nature of a sponge to be permeated with something other than the sponge--with water.... So it is with man. We were created to be filled with the Spirit of God, but we can only receive the benefits of His presence to the degree that our love-gate is open, to the degree that we give ourselves to 'the love of God, even to the contempt of self.' Pride excludes His presence, for it is, as Augustine says, 'the love of self even to the contempt of God.'

...No, the constitutive struggle of the intellectual life is not between emotion and reason, nor between desire and self-extinction. It is between the love of righteousness and the love of sin, between the love of public truth and the love of private advantage, and ultimately between love for God and love of the deified self. We are not beings whose nature can be shorn of desire. Indeed the attempt to do so will distort even our reasoning processes. We will love, either one thing or another. We will be powered by desire, either deformative or ennobling. We cannot master desire in the sense of setting it aside. But, amazingly, we can choose which desire will master us, and reason can help us to choose rightly. It is not the goal of our nature to be autonomous, self-mastering individuals, but to be slaves in the service of Him whose service is perfect freedom, as the old Episcopal prayer book has it. Our natural goal is not to get beyond the grip of love, but to love Him who loves us with an everlasting love."

5/21/2007 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

hey,
Have you all heard that next season's terrorists on 24 are going to be Tongans?

5/21/2007 08:29:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Holy Cow.

Love God with all your heart...
This is a biggie for me.

How? This, commandment, seen through my most glaring spiritual blind spot reads much like an injunction to taste blue and savor it greatly. I have been drawn to this faith, pulled in by this weird magnetic gravity, and linked into a vast web of coincidence (I do not mean accident). I chase the events backward and see what it took to bring me from where I once was to where I am now I feel a sort of awe. I feel gratitude, and no small measure of the shame you wrote about a few days ago. But love God? Truth to tell I don't like me very much a good part of the time. It's like looking at calculus, but my brain stops at algebra. I- No, that's about it. No more to add. Until I hit post, and think, "Damn, I shoulda' said..."

JWM

5/21/2007 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "... which was first through the mind. The Bobway has probably become an exception in our day and age..."

Apparently less an exception than we imagine. It's certainly been my route, and apparently many others.

What do you suppose, 7,000? Maybe more?

And one very cool coonish way to get the Vitamin W into the mind, as as Johan (cosmic swede) pointed out... "I'm even reading the good Book - on my mobile phone! That is actually quite a cool feature that they have put it in a format that I can download to my cellular."

See? PocketPC's and SmartPhone's are more than cool, they are IcoonIsaihic accoutrements!

5/21/2007 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

And mp3 audio bibles too, walking and absorbing Psalms or the book of John, quite different than having it come up through the eyes.

5/21/2007 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JulieC said "...I've been to many kinds of churches, and what turned me off and set me adrift was the lack of depth I often encountered...", I agree, and would add to that the ones who put on the bodysnatcher smile and chortle about how everything is just rosy since they found Jesus(willies)" I just waited for them to offer some Soma.

Ugh. Sure made it easy for me to "come by this attitude". Got to watch out for those things that you come by easily.

5/21/2007 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said "...Love God with all your heart... This is a biggie for me. How? This, commandment, seen through my most glaring spiritual blind spot reads much like an injunction to taste blue and savor it greatly. ..."

I hear you. Best I can do is to look, think, contemplate thIS. And when it sets that chord to thrumming, take in the resonance, as it is, while it is.

Will said "Devotion involves the emotions, of course, as well as the elevation of the *image* of holiness in various forms."

Aristotle thought that contemplation of objects, deeply, in some sense brought you in touch with God - not the term he used, but the sense of it. That any instance of perfection, brought into your mind and allowed to resonate, is going to, if only for a moment, elevate you into contact with perfection.

"The next stage, I believe, is the transcending of the image, and in some sense, transcending devotion and whatever attendant emotionalism might be involved. By doing so, we began to fully manifest God. That is, God becomes less the "other" and image/object of devotion while becoming more manifest through us. Put another way, I suppose it could be said we are to become fully fledged co-creative *partners* with God."

There are moments when that moment seems everywhere - for a moment. And then there are moments when it seems as if it's all coming apart, as with today, teens, friends of my kids, out joyriding - excited at their upcoming graduation - gone. Crash, bang, poof. Life is confusing, and painful - and the opposite. From this end of the teleoscope. Perhaps those elevated moments give us a brief glimpse of the view from the other end.

As Cosa said "I love it when Bob uncorks a post like today's that blows off the fog so far up the hillside that even the blind like me can see the High Country surrounding us.

Amazing grace."

Indeed. Blow fog, blow.

To paraphrase what C.S. Lewis said of the Lion, "Life is Good. But it's not tame."

5/21/2007 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Darryl Markowitz said...

Absolutely enjoyable. Hmm, love the Lord with all your heart mind and soul is a must because He is One God. Wouldn't do very well to be split up into parts, now would it? Mind one way, heart another...So then, the Lord Jesus must have a way to unify the heart, mind and soul, Yes? Makes sense? Feels right? So, what is a soul? Maybe a good analogy to help the mind understand and the heart to feel right about the explaination. Doesn't everyone's heart 'talk' to their soul and vice versa? Ahhhh, in the physical world sound doesn't travel in a vacum. Hmmm, the physical is a mirror of the spiritual. So, what is the medium through which heart and mind may 'speak' and be unified together? Soul? In my novels, first one soon to come out www.thefaithwalkerseries.com I have an analogy. The branches of a tree are the mind. The roots are the heart and the trunk is the soul that connects the two. I used to teach biology and the biological inner workings of such plants are phenomonally charged with ever more powerful analogy. The top growth senses when it overgrows the bottom growth and sends signals to the roots to grow more. Also vice versa. Does not the mind stimulate the heart and vice versa? Taken as a whole, there is no distinct sepration between the parts of a plant, tree, as they all meld together, share the same sap and the life of the whole depends upon the whole. What is heart without intellect. About as dangerous and fragile as intellect without heart. And if the soul is disfunctional, and the heart and mind are split from each other...not a happy camper, YES? Might this simple analogy be proof of the soul? Besides the fact that the atoms and molecules and innanimate forces comprising our brains DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY"RE DOING :) Thank you for the opportunity to read your wonderful writing.

5/21/2007 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

It disturbs me that people seem to think Christianity, like some kind of sci-fi movie, depends on the suspension of disbelief. It certainly depends on belief, but that's not the same thing.

Rather we move from believing in one thing to believing in another. It is not that we believe more: For each ounce we believe in God, we believe less in the temptations that arise from illusion.

5/22/2007 03:00:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Tell the truth (as I dimly perceive it), I think Christianity has had all the advertising it needs, about 2000 years worth.

Intuition tells me that there's nobody on earth - or very very few, at any rate - that haven't received and understood the essential message: there is Spirit and life and there is darkness and death and we have a choice between the two. Obviously there are gradations of understanding this message, some with great insight, some with less, but I think by this time in the spiritual evolution of humankind, everybody understands the basics.

So we strive toward grace - which I would define as a governing, all-encompassing divine gnosis - but that does not guarantee that we will be granted grace. Not in this life, anyway. God bestows grace for His own reasons (if "reasons" can be said to be an apt term here) - we do not have the Mind of God, thus the bestowing of grace seems to us, for all intents and purposes, arbitrary. Now, in the fullness of time, we may come to learn that grace is not exactly arbitrary, not as we would strictly define it, but through the lens of our blinkered, finite existence, it certainly seems as if it is.

Really, the best we can do is to prepare ourselves, to be constantly ready for the entrance of grace, because, I believe, grace comes like a thief in the night. Grace may not come even if we are prepared, but it surely won't come if we are not prepared.

5/22/2007 05:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Sal said...

Van- prayers for your son, his friends and their families

Even though brought up as a Christian from a child, I was deeply enriched by receiving in my early twenties the 'blueprint' of how it all hung together. The intellectual aspect, which I'd always had in appropriate child-sized measure, came into sharper focus. It was like hearing something that I already gnew spelled out more concretely.

My best analogy? Those wooden Chinese puzzles- if you take one piece out, it won't hold together.

Which was why Anglicanism fell apart for me intellectually - we'd stop short of the logical end of some doctrines. To avoid that last step that would tumble you into the Tiber.
And as I may have mentioned, the history was a joke, but who wants to hear how you were converted by that? Boring...

Proud Mother Moment: asked the youngest what was the main thing she'd learned at college this year.
"Never argue with a hippy" she said.

5/22/2007 06:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Biker Lady said...

The Christian's journey through life is in stages and it's different for everyone. Bob's journey is presented here for our learning and encouragement.
Twenty years ago I was feeling hemmed and boxed in by all the do's and don'ts of a lifetime spent trying to follow Christ.
So I wrote this poem which clarified my thinking and direction for the rest of the journey.
Organized religion can be a blessing, a trial of faith for most of us who are sincere but the final outcome is a gift of grace. Here's the poem.

"Shepherds of Light"

Light and life were his words
Easily born was his yoke,
Restoring joy and princely might.
Mincing mystic's disguised as men
Trembled in terror, as he spoke.
With flattery, and stupidity, they
Constantly, tried to confound him
Then crept away, in astonishment.
The lazy liars that lingered
Companions to shades of intrigue,
Were pierced to the point
Of their slinking, sinful hearts;
Their ears burned so brazen
As they felt the fiery darts.
Ranting and raving, foolish fury,
Humorless Trio, broke all their rules.

Shepherd of the sheep, fighting all the foxes
Break the bonds of death and grief,
Wicked are the wall, of narrow down boxes.
Slowly, gathering in grace
Shepherd of the first, perfect light.
Transcending times of space.
By the purity of perfect verse, he started
Peace and grace, ours
Once again.
Joan E. Plano

5/22/2007 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Nice.

It is indeed a struggle (in different ways for each of us) to give one's passion over to God. Very, very hard for me.

More, maybe, on that, at some point. Recently I've been confounded at any attempt to write anything but poetry or casual comments. It just comes out as foolish nonsense.

Gotta figure that one out too, I guess.

5/22/2007 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Sal said "Proud Mother Moment: asked the youngest what was the main thing she'd learned at college this year.
"Never argue with a hippy" she said."

She can leave college now - Wisdom achieved!

5/22/2007 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Riv,
Synchronicity.

I’ve stopped working on my RR site for awhile now and lately just placing small things on my Listening Now site.

5/22/2007 08:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Biker Lady-
Your poem is heartening!
Thank you for sharing it!

5/22/2007 11:46:00 AM  

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