Saturday, March 03, 2007

De-mask Us On the Road to God

Reader Brian asks, "You've alluded to this before -- and may have dealt with it in the comments when I wasn't looking -- but I am incredibly interested in your take on Saul of Tarsus becoming Paul. His mindset was quite hostile to Christ, yet he had an almost involuntary conversion. Or was it involuntary? So many who wish to serve their Creator fall short because of internal divisions, etc., but Saul absolutely wanted the opposite, yet he became the man who spread the Gospel more effectively than anybody. Did God reach out to him, or did he reach out to God, or is there even a difference?"

(As always, I have no idea if what follows is kosher Christianity. It's just one Coon's vision.)

As a matter of fact, I was thinking about this subject just yesterday. For in a certain way, the story of SaulPaul is as central to the Bible -- and to the arc of salvation -- as several other scriptural "centers," or "axes," all of which seem to parallel or reflect back and forth on each other. For example, one obvious center is in Genesis 1:1, with the creation of the cosmos -- or, to be perfectly accurate, the "withdrawal" of God and the polarization of beyond-being -- the Absolute -- into being and existence, or "heaven and earth." (In Vedanta, one would say "purusha" and "prakriti," or witness and activity; or saguna brahman [i.e., God as subject of the world] and maya [appearances].)

This scriptural center is deliberately paralleled in John 1:1, which even begins with the same three words, "In The Beginning." In both instances, "beginning" superficially refers to the "horizontal" beginning, as in the beginning of a sequence. But the deeper sense of the word has to do with the "vertical" beginning, which equates to the existential center. This center is not in space or time per se; rather, space and time are reflections of the center. "In the beginning was the Word" does not (just) mean "a long time ago," but in the center of each now. It is the "light that shines in the darkness," since light is precisely that which radiates from the center to the periphery.

Now, a man was sent by God -- i.e., the center -- "to bear witness of the Light" -- i.e., the radiation from the divine center. His name was John. He was required because, although the light shines in the dark, the dorks don't get it, so they need a pretty in-your-face kind of guy to point it out to them. John was just that man. As such, he represents another important center, a sort of "reflected center" who was not the light but who could see the light.

Jesus obviously represents the full embodiment of the center at the periphery. A couple of days ago we spoke of black holes, and how they pull everything into their vortex, so that nothing escapes. In a certain sense, Jesus might be thought of as the opposite, as a sort of "white hole" as it were, that pulls all of creation into its wake. You have heard of the esoteric tenet, "as above, so below," or, to be precise, "That which is below corresponds to that which is above, and that which is above corresponds to that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing."

Another fundamental axiom is the greater the cause, the greater the effect. Thus, if Jesus is who he says he was, then it should be no surprise whatsoever that his effect continues to ripple through existence down through the centuries, like a depth charge dropped from heaven into the ocean of existence. It is not "speaking poetically" to say that we are surfing one of those little waves right now, no? If not, what are we doing? Just sitting here making s*** up at 5:00 in the morning? Er, I don't think so.

The Mystery of Golgotha represents an exact analogue of the mystery of creation itself. For if creation is God's kenosis, or self-emptying (and spontaneous self-giving) , then Jesus' work on the cross represents another central kenosis, a complete self-emptying, even into the "negative existence" of death. For Jesus does not merely die, but takes on the mantle of death in order to join ranks with the great "brotherhood of the dead." As Balthasar has written, when it is said that Jesus descended into hell on Holy Saturday, "descend" should not be understood in its active sense, but the strictly passive sense. He fell and fell and fell, just like humans, to the very periphery of existence, the furthest point from the light of the radiant cosmic center. Only when he hit rock bottom could the "fall" be reversed, the rock bottom nihil of dark death being "relatively absolute" separation from God.

Now this is all well and good for God, Son's of God, Light, Logoi, hand-selected apostles, and the like. Where do we fit in -- regular guys and gals, ordinary stumblebums, rank and foul earthlings?

Here I think that Saul serves as an archetypal illustration of the divine center as it manifests in fallen man. For just as Jesus represents the center crashing into the periphery, Saul ultimately represents the perpiphery making its way back to the center. In fact, Saul is not just an ordinary peripheral man who is ignorant of the Light. Rather, he is like the ACLU or the MSM or the Democrat party. He is specifically at war with the light. He is "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," perhaps sometimes even threatening lawsuits. He is the envy of the ACLU, since he didn't have to be a sneaky weasel with a brief case, but could directly make "havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison."

Thus, Saul represents another kind of center, a perverse center, even the "center of perversity." He is the "center of (not at) the periphery," so to speak, at war with the true center. Paradoxically, he must obviously be quite full of himself, the opposite of the self-emptying, radiant center. But his fullness does not bring peace but persecution, just like anyone with too much self esteem.

As we have been reading lately, psychologists are finally catching up to the self-evident truth that "self esteem" is neutral at best, but usually destructive. Most of the problems in the world are caused by people with too much self esteem -- dictators, criminals, newspaper editors, etc. Because they are so full of themselves, there is no space for God, which requires self emptying of one's own (false) center. As Paul would later say -- I'm paraphrasing here from memory, "It is not I who live any longer, but Christ in me" -- i.e., the real center at his center, rather than the bogus center of the hypertrophied ego. One or the other must go.

Since the false center of the ego represents an ontological nothingness, its resultant darkness envies the light. This envy is the dreary joy of the joyless, who simply spend their petty lives grinding away at truth, beauty, and virtue, as do so many lie-roasted academia nuts. Nowadays they might call it "speaking truth to power" in order to elevate themselves in their own eyes. Or they might give each other academy awards, or Pulitzers, or Nobel prizes, or even Daytime Emmys. These external supports are all necessary to prop up peripheral man and disenable his consciousness of guilt. No doubt if Saul were alive today, he would have been given a Nobel Peace Prize for his important work in combating extreme Christianism. He would join the ranks of other recent winners -- men and institutions at war with the center such as Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Mohamed El Baradei, the U.N., etc.

But then, on the "road to Damascus," as the cliche goes, Paul has a profound experience that pulls him from the periphery to the center. In its own way, this event is as principial as its reverse, when the center emptied out to the periphery in Genesis I and on Holy Saturday. For suddenly, in an instance of "quantum change," someone who had been at war with the center snaps like a rubber band into its opposite. If you can imagine the big bang as an infinite point radiating outward to the periphery, this would represent the opposite of that movement: perhaps the gnab gib.

The first and last step on the spiritual path is "repentence," which actually comes from the Greek metanoia which is simply to "turn around." Instead of turning our back to the central sun, we look around and see it face-to-face. Instead of running away from it, or struggling against it, we embrace it, like flowers that naturally orient themselves to the sun and open up in its presence.

Saul "opened up." At once he was in the presence of the central light which "shone all around him" (for how could it not, if one's eyes are open?), and fell down, Saul t' the earth. 'Efall and 'ego boom! In fact, we all fall what seems like a long distance. But in reality, it's just back to the ground, the same ground you were crawling on to begin with.

"Saul, why are you persecuting me? You're acting like a freaking ACLU goon. What's up with that?"

"Homena-homena-homena.... I was scared about the imminent Christo-fascist takeover, like I read about on dailykos... But w-what do you want with me?

"Before getting into that, why don't you just assimilate what's happened so far? Go have a little clubhouse meeting with yourself. Walking on water wasn't built in a day."

"Mmmmm, but I'm blind. I can't see anything."

"Yes, I know that. This is not in the book I've been working on, so you'll have to read between the lines. The point is not that you are blind. Rather, the point is that you can no longer "see" your previous world. It no longer exists because it never really existed. You are now in the land of the Real, but you do not yet have the sensory organs to see it. You are like unto someone who is snow blind. The problem is not darkness, but too much light. Now get lost for a few days, unplug, chill, relux and call it a deity. And turn off your cell phone! If any Romans call, you're not home, got it?"

We are then told that Saul spent the subsequent three days without sight, without food, and without liquid, simply shut up in his existential darkness.

This, of course, parallels the Jews' 40 years of wandering in the desert, Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the bewilderness, and ultimately the three days of the passion. In each case, "emptiness" at the periphery (i.e., "wilderness," "desert") is a prelude to "fullness" or "resurrection" at the center. Specifically, Saul's emptiness is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is charged with a mission, for if Jesus took care of the R & D, then Paul shall be the marketing department. He is to spread the good news of the center to the periphery, to "bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel."

Paul has a new name and new vocation (which means "calling"). His earth name is gone, as is his secular mission. Now he has a divine name and a divine mission. His sight is restored, but it's not like the old sight. Rather, he is granted his Coon Vision, as "the scales fall from his eyes." Then he arises back from the ground and stands as a truly Upright Man, an I-amissary of the center instead of a bipedal beast at the periphery.

Probably my favorite song is In the Garden by Van Morrison. I suppose if one must have a funeral, then I'd like it played at mine. Like Bob Dylan, he fools around with the pronouns, but I'm guessing it's autobiographical:

You wiped the teardrops from your eye in sorrow
As we watched the petals fall down to the ground
And as I sat beside you I felt the
Great sadness that day in the garden

And then one day you came back home
You were a creature all in rapture
You had the key to your soul
And you did open that day you came back to the garden

The olden summer breeze was blowin' on your face
The light of God was shinin' on your countenance divine
And you were a violet colour as you
Sat beside your father and your mother in the garden

The summer breeze was blowin' on your face
Within your violet you treasure your summery words
And as the shiver from my neck down to my spine
Ignited me in daylight and nature in the garden

And you went into a trance
Your childlike vision became so fine
And we heard the bells inside the church
We loved so much
And felt the presence of the youth of
Eternal summers in the garden

And as it touched your cheeks so lightly
Born again you were and blushed and we touched each other lightly
And we felt the presence of the Christ

And I turned to you and I said
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the father in the garden

No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father and the
Son and the Holy Ghost
In the garden wet with rain


Big Possum said...

Considering the ire you often cast toward Michael Lerner, it is remarkable how many insights you actually share.

A Jewish Renewal (Kabbalistic-Mystical-NeoHasidic) Approach to God
by Rabbi Michael Lerner

By all indication, there are strong threads of I AM being expressed through Michael's writings, one of which is a book titled "The Left hand of God". If you acknowledge that he, like you, is "connected" (albeit to a different species of critter than a coon or a 'possum), then do you think Universe odds favor a reality lieing somewhere between your perspectives or that you are right and he's just a leftist bafoon? What "charges" would you have to risk to genuinely explore the balance?

somewhere in the black mining hills of Dakota.....


Joan of Argghh! said...

It wasn't involuntary. Like any one of us who has experienced a smack upside the head from Above, we can be still and know something we didn't gno before, or we can will our ignorance back into the forefront of our vision in order to preserve the progress we've made in the horizontal. I'm surprised it only took three days for Saul, an up-and-coming Pharaisee.

I suspect, however, that his zeal for what he thought was Truth, was ultimately the open door for the Light. A little celestial judo of all that energetic persecution turned his head into the Light and the next thing he knew, he didn't know anything.

Gagdad Bob said...


I guess I don't know what you're talking about. No one is so wrong that they aren't occasionally right about something.

Joan of Argghh! said...


Why is it important to you for Bob to prop up and "find middle ground" and concede anything to someone else's personal prophet?

Go ask ML to concede to Bob's writings. Come back and tell us what he says.

Joan of Argghh! said...

I'm sorry Bob, but BP's comment has set me off, and usually he's harmless.

I think it's helped me put my finger on what is so irksome about Inty and others who come here and try to Puppet Master some Great New Revelation between what they see as equal truths. It's the ego of the whole plea for folks to "come together and see things my way" that is simply outrageous and laughable, if it weren't so sincerely misguided.

The discomfort that some feel when around someone who is entirely comfortable in their own new wineskins,and can laugh at themselves and exchange esoteric thoughts about Absolute Truth is just too much for the control freaks, apparently.

Gagdad Bob said...

Lerner ties the divine message to the leftist agenda, thus falsifying it. This, in my view, is a great sin, for it is to "carry the name of the Lord in vain."

ms. e said...

Bob, What a wonder-ful involuntary, originative, re-coonstructive telling of the inroads Paul must have taken in order to arrive at his Divine Mission.

I hope there will be another installment. Paul is fascinating.
"Return with us now to those thrilling days of Gagdad Bob re-coonstructs and answers the question:
"Who was that masked man?"
Sorry BP, I went to a Lerner ExpoFair last March -- his wares don't match my furniture.
ienrleb = rabbi lerner left behind

Jacob C. said...

BOB: It's the Jewish answer to liberation theology.

Sal said...

Been computerless, catching up...
Bob, what a great week of posts!

Nomo- blessings and the best to all of you. Kiss that baby for me, as we say around here.
I prophesy a hat for next winter in her future.

halvry: halfway to Calvary?

Big Possum said...

Bob, thanks for the observation re leftist agenda. It will be interesting to sift through Lerner's perspective further throught that lens. In efforts to discern the truth of multiple of multiple perspectives, it is certainly important to develop an eye for spotting where human bias has crept into expressions of prophetic insight and divine intent.

I observe that many prophetic figures are called upon to reflect critically on the sins of their own "tribes", per se. In the process, upon experiencing the tribe's persecution/exclusion, prophets may experience wounds that evolve to release negative energies (anger, resentment) into their thought/feeling streams. As expressions of prophetic revelation are influenced by these wounds, the revelation can take on the energy of argument, which then connects with competitive agendas.

As you note, when this happens, the purety of the message is diminished, but I disagree that it discredits the message altogether. The sin is proportional to the amount of error, rooted in negative energies, contained within the total message. The act of representing the divine message is not itself sin unless its delivery be prmpted more by one's pursuit of ego boosts than by a sense of obedience to divine inspiration.

My deuce cents.


Van said...

Joan of Argghh! said "It's the ego of the whole plea for folks to "come together and see things my way" that is simply outrageous and laughable, if it weren't so sincerely misguided."

I suspect it's the usual mindset of wanting to 'fix' things by arranging outward effects, rather than inwardly facing a contradiction and resolving it.

Big Possum said "What "charges" would you have to risk to genuinely explore the balance?"

Hey Vittles, perhaps the question would be better pointed towards yourself, what would be the risk of achieving the balance within, and not trying to fudge a 'balance' of square pegs & round holes without? I recall from some of your first comments here a certain leftward leaning - it's not the politics that defines a leftie, but the mindset, what Thomas Sowell addressed as the Vision in "A Conflict of Visions". You might want to take a look at your own more closely.

It's been awhile since I spent the night at a Holiday Inn, but it looks to me like you are trying to resolve a contradiction between ideas you are attracted to, by fudging (forcing) them over with a sheen of easykote make nice. Take a good hard look.

Van said...

From the page Big Possum referenced above "If blame is to be assigned at all, it is to God, who failed to give Cain the recognition that he so badly needed; and it is perhaps out of this understanding of His own culpability that God does not kill Cain but instead only banishes him."

How could you say the difference between leftie-progressive and Classical Liberal more clearly? "If only society had recognized his needs and supported him, the killing wouldn't have happened!"

The answers are to be discovered and colonized within, not settled without.

I think that this is at the root of todays post (BTW, a top notcher Gagdad), that as you seek YOU and your esteemed desires and preferences without, you will be at war with Truth. It takes seeing the ultimate truth at your center within, to begin putting things right.

Think of a section of a Puzzle assembled independently, and attempted to be forced into the main puzzle on the wrong piece... no matter how complete the one section may look on its own, it won't be integrated properly with the rest. But once one piece is properly joined, the forced error will be found and the rest will snap into place with one loud "Aha!"

Big Possum said...

I simply noted that both Bob and ML share many insights that are sourced in I AM. When this is the case, there is a lot to be learned from closer looks at competing perspectives, and Bob was kind enough to offer considerate input along such lines. Unfortunately, it seems that it is hard to challenge or have fun with Bob here without hitting others' hot buttons and being served up free psychoanalysis.

Have a good weekend.


hoarhey said...

BP said:

"What "charges" would you have to risk to genuinely explore the balance?"

I'm quite certain it would make many who read Bob's posts heads spin if they actually knew what balances he actually has explored. One difference that I see between him and others is that he remains committed to truth and is willing to drop untruths and not develop a career around them.

River Cocytus said...

Bob-- that wasn't far off from Kosher Christianity. Granted, in Christian teaching the symbolic or metaphoric will not be initially emphasized but instead the literal. In some ways this may be a disadvantage, as to some people the idea of Paul literally losing his sight and then being literally healed is not readily graspable (as people especially in the US have rarely experienced or encountered such a miracle.)

Granted, it did literally happen, but as with all of these things, it also presents a metaphorical meaning that speaks to some people more clearly than others.

So, as for hitting the nail on the head, it was pretty well on, Bob. Certainly not STANDARD, if you will, but pretty sharp for a dude who hasn't sat through 200-something Bible classes...

'Course, I'm no pastor, so take what I say of the matter with a grain of salt.


Re: Lerner

I'm no super-spiritualist, but it is evident to me that the last thing you want to do is blame God...

Van said...

Big Possum said "Unfortunately, it seems that it is hard to challenge or have fun with Bob here without hitting others' hot buttons and being served up free psychoanalysis."

Well... it is Free!

Hey Vittles, looking back over my replies there may be a bit more Pounce than I intended... well, not quite true, I intended the pounce, but there was much more cordiality on my face while typing than came out of my fingers.

The point is that while a Surgeon and a Cannibal may both insist that a person be cleaned before cutting, though the two may share this belief, their deeper beliefs and purposes are distinct as Day and Night, and that little bit of agreement becomes rather insignificant in the face of it.

Big Possum said...


Your surgeon and cannibal metaphor is lucid, brah, but you have not looked at my comments on Lerner in the context in which they were submitted. Everything you ever wanted to know about life can be explained with high school analogies, or so I AM told. Politically speaking, Lerner and Bob are on different fields. Bob plays football in the fall while Michael plays soccer, and they both get as much of a thrill bad mouthing the other sport as they do playing their own. God love em for it. My observation is that in the spring season they both have a pretty nice golf swing......fluid ball strikers, if you will. But rather than taking the time to reflect on the Lerner piece long enought to recognize it as a "swing" expression, you pounced on me in assuming that by bringing Lerner to the board I was promoting soccer. Ohhh Skippy, Skippy, Skippy.....spring is just around the corner. When will you relax into the ball?


P.S. -

"When you see a young brother in a chevy hittin switches, ya gotta give the brother his props."

- Coolio, circa '95

will said...

Many think of the saints as having been a crew of dainty goody two shoes and antiseptic pacifists, from the day they were born 'til the day they left the building. Fact is, before they were recognized as genuinely holy people, a great many of them were what you might call "problem children", folks who were, at best, considered village idiots, and at a worst, insane or near-criminal. They were social misfits of one order or another. St Francis comes to mind, also St Teresa of Lisieux. Had either of them had the misfortune to be born into modern times, they probably would have been heavily sedated with mood-altering drugs.

The quantum leap into spiritual awareness does seem to require a certain rising pitch of energy, a concentration of the life-force. This energy might even be directed toward criminal ends; in any event, it's probably going to unhinge the psyche a bit. Historically, an analogy might be drawn between the marshaling of instinctual energies in the pagan eras and their eventual sublimation in the Judaic/Christian period.

Can't say for sure, of course, but Saul did seem positively manic, maybe even insane, in his persecution of Christians - as such, his energy pitch must have made him a prime candidate for "instant conversion". Not so for a person of lukewarm sentiments, of lesser conviction.

Of course, not all of those who hate are converted. What made the difference with Saul->Paul? I like to think his zealotry was that of a man who was desperately striving toward truth, albeit in a terribly misguided way. We do have to storm heaven in order to win it. We may not know the right way to do it, but if we are sincere and persevering, the Way will be eventually be revealed to us.

Big Possum said...

Daggum Will.....that was deep. Very nice way to end the day here for me.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, another one of those hermetic laws says something to the effect of "the greater the struggle (or alienation from God), the greater the realization."

Van said...

Big Possum said "...Everything you ever wanted to know about life can be explained with high school analogies, or so I AM told. Politically speaking, Lerner and Bob are on different fields..."

Vittles, it's not just different fields & sports, that's what I was trying to say. The nice thing about analogies, is if imagination is used on both ends, they can save point by point review of all the facts and details. As I mentioned, the Politics is just a reflection of the underlying way you look at life. Sowell's book ref'd above, is one of the best I've seen that ilustrates the separating philosophies, without diving into the reams of philosophical details behind their two Visions.

I looked through Lerner's site (ok, skimmed, but I have looked before, and when you skim a pool and find a think layer of muck on top, you can surmise the pump and filter aren't working [Wife calls me "Metaphore Man!", drives her nuts too]), and the Cain & Able/God quote I thought summed up his overall approach pretty well.

Back to politics, three people can differ on whether tax credits, a flat tax or a Nat'l sales tax is the best approach and still have compatible or even the same fundamental philosophies. I don't see how the Lerner/leftist and Classical Liberal policies, can have any true compatibility in their underlying philosophies beyond chance surface items. For him to make the quote noted above, and many other to match, I think puts him on such a different playing field as to make any attempt at inte-grating them incredibly pointless.

wv:frccyuj - well... wordverif seems to have a temper today.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Possum, I'm sorry that I misunderstood the purpose of your first post; your clarification sets me straight.

I will now re-set the pull pressure on the trigger of my keyboard.


Van said...

Will said "What made the difference with Saul->Paul? I like to think his zealotry was that of a man who was desperately striving toward truth, albeit in a terribly misguided way."

Makes me think of Oedipus Rex, where Oedipus thinks that his attempt to defeat Fate by running away to Thebes has succeeded, after hearing that the King he thought was his father has died. He says something like "So much for my being fated to kill my Father & marry my Mother!", and the messenger says something to the effect of "Oh! That why you left?! No need to trouble yourself about that sir, You was adopted! I brought you to the King & Queen myself, found you left for dead round these parts, I did..." And poor Oedipus world crumbles as he realizes that he's been acting with the best of intentions all his life while operating on the most mistaken of premises, and in actuality he Has killed his True father and married his True Mother!

That littliest bit of information, one key integration, can cause a persons entire frame of reference and understanding to radically alter, shift and then solidly click into place... luckily for Saul/Paul, his shifting was quite the opposite effect of Oedipus's, rather than going from 'sighted' to blind, he went from blind to sighted.

Big Possum said...

joan of a...

No worries.


will said...

Van, true enough re: Oedipus, but in the "sequel" plays, Oedipus At Colonus and Antigone, Oedipus's blindness graces him with a transcendent vision and an inner nobility. In other words, through blindness, Oedipus becomes spiritually sighted.

This is presaged in the first play when Oedipus seeks the counsel of the wisest man in the kingdom - who happens to be blind.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thought-compelling post, Bob.

In sharp contrast to Paul, or indeed nearly all the heroes of Saints of the Bible, is Enoch, who, as far as I can tell, was unique, in that Enoch didn't seem to have a 'road to damascus' moment.

Of course, very little is said of Enoch, but the mystery surrounding him has captured my cooniosity.

Enoch walked with God, apparently foregoing the 'fall' step to righteousness, so to speak.
What else to infer from God's 'reaction' to Enoch?
Enoch achieved SuperCoon status by walking with God.

John is the closest I have seen in approaching Enoch's committment to God, but besides the obvious, I can see that such a Coon is very very rare indeed.

At least where the Bible, Torah, and history is concerned.

Not to say that Paul, Peter, David, Moses, et al, weren't SuperCoons, just that they all took the 'road to Damascus/Fall' approach, a road less travelled to God, while Enoch took a far less road travelled by approach to God.

It's like Enoch skipped the prodigal son phase. Like he passed on the 'apple'.
So how did he learn so quickly to walk with God and how did he stand fast in that walk?

Sal said...

Thanks, Ben, for bringing that up.

Some of us have been feeling a liile out of it - never having had that type of dramatic conversion experience.

God has always been there, always been a constant. Now, there have been times when one was slightly farther away from Him, but without that "hell with you, God, who I'm quite sure no longer exists" aspect.

Of course, this doesn't exclude you from the normal cycle of sin/repentance. Just no Damascus Roads.

And Bob puts an interesting cast on stuff you already know, and I mean that in the true sense of the word.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Big Possum,

I hope you stick around. I don’t know you much obviously but you sound like a reasonable guy…which means to me you have a good ‘filter’ as Dr Bob uses the term. Just keep an eye on the filter – make sure it’s doing its job.

RE River:
I had the same exact reaction to what Possum wrote about ‘blaming God’.
My filter or B.S. detector went nuts. Unless you’re God, there’s something wrong with that equation.

I’m not at all suggesting it was BS coming from you. It seemed to be sincere. But my BS detector is just another sensor attached to my filter and when it goes off I go inspect what caused it and decide then what to do with what got trapped inside. If ‘blaming God’ did not send your BS detector nuts then you should go inspect your filter. I know something is not quite right in there.

But please stick around here…

goy said...

I liked this post a lot. But like some others, for me it poses an underlying question that is never directly addressed. That, or I've missed it.

Some days ago, I'd followed a link here and noted this atheist's attempts to explain (away) God using horizontal sophistry. One "axiom" there, which I know I've read before was this:

"Omnipotence is impossible because God would, at a minimum, be unable to limit his powers, e.g., make a stone he cannot lift; if he could make such a stone, then his inability to lift it would defeat his omnipotence;"

For some reason this statement popped into my head on a particularly sunny morning getting out of the shower a couple days later. Almost immediately, like a question/answer, I heard the words "Free Will". After a "Huh?" moment, I had to think about this for a beat before realizing that Free Will represents a stone God has made that He, Himself, cannot "lift". For to lift it (i.e., to circumvent it) would be to transform it into something other than Free Will. Perhaps that's vertical sophistry, but so far I don't have any reason to believe so.

So now above I read "Saul 'opened up'." I have no doubt that this is true, having heard this story in numerous venues and "felt" the truth of it. But my question is, "Why?" Up to that point, Saul's Free Will seemed to be focused unremittingly on the persecution of Christianity. Then, quite suddenly and inexplicably, he does a one-eighty, gets a new name and goes on to personify, quite literally, the old addage that 'there's no zealot like a convert' (or however it goes).

So the long and the short of this, in my mind, is to wonder: was the transformation Saul's Free Will, or God's Will?

Big Possum said...


Thank you for your hospitality but I haven't written anything about blaming God. Perhaps you are referring to Michael Lerner's article.

Question: Assume you suffered amnesia in the middle of Navy Seal's training, which you volunteered for,and that none of your fellow aspiring Seals were capable of explaining why you were there. Would you be inclined to "blame" someone else for your predicament?

Bob wrote, "the greater the struggle (or alienation from God), the greater the realization." Quite prescient. Until humanity recognizes that much like aspiring Seals we seek the unique "realizations" of working through earth regimens, and the benefits of brotherly association with others who have endured the same trials, many will be inclinded to "blame God" for their experience. This blame is among the greatest obstacles to the trust of God that is required as enabler of the new experiences that usher in the realization.

My suggestion is that rather than pouncing on those who blame God, a better approach would be to inspire peoples' consideration of "context" that re-frames their questions about who they and God are, and why they are actually willing to be struggling through it.


Joe said...

Goy, "Omnipotence is impossible because God would, at a minimum, be unable to limit his powers, e.g., make a stone he cannot lift; if he could make such a stone, then his inability to lift it would defeat his omnipotence;"

Such a statement can be easily disproved in the horizontal as all it proves is a lack of imagination. To disprove it all the speaker has to do is imagine an order of Omnipotence that is beyond the limits of the thinkers previous imaginings.

The whole idea of Omnipotence is something which goes beyond subject and beyond imagining.

To try and destroy it as a concept by limiting it to the thinkers own bindings, ends up tieing yourself in (k)Nots

NoMo said...

Goy - it was both.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Big Possum,

I am sorry. You are correct – you did not write the ‘blame God’. I see it is from this Lerner guy’s site. I was in a rush this morning and reading the posts too fast.

But I think my point is still valid. If some one here read the same excerpt and that statement didn’t send their B.S detector into overdrive there’s something wrong. Now, I realize I may still be taking the excerpt from Lerner’s site out of context. I didn’t go to the site and read the whole thing. So perhaps I should shut up. 

And I was aware/afraid my comment would come across wrong. My intent was not to come across as a ‘pounce’. I was just encouraging you to ‘step back’ and check your filter. I made a suggestion, like any good ‘mechanic’ would offer a suggestion.

When I was in art school (and I still do this today) I would find I would get ‘too close’ to what I working on. Got ‘lost in it’. Easy to do. You have to stop, put down your brush, chisel, pencil, brain, etc., walk away and come back to it later. For an hour, a day… It does wonders. I find I have to ‘live with’ a piece for awhile before I know quite what to make of it…whether I think it’s finished or if it needs more ‘work’ or if it “belongs in the garbage.” (as Hemingway said).
Sometimes when you’re working too close you can’t see something right under your nose. I come back and there’s the problem I couldn’t see.

Anyway, I didn’t mean at all to pounce. Honestly it was the opposite. It is a failing on my part if it came across that way. I was trying to encourage you to consider reassessing this Lerner guy in case he may have something ‘not quite right’. Something core. Really that’s all.

As I said, I may be taking the comment he made out of context – as your statement here suggests - which I agree with:
“This blame is among the greatest obstacles to the trust of God that is required as enabler of the new experiences that usher in the realization.”

In this context, I admit now that I see this type of ‘blame’ first hand an awful lot lately – with members within my own family. Something I’m finally taking an active role to trying to assist them with.

I hope you stay. I’m looking forward to more of what you have to say. On your first post above it seemed you were trying to encourage Bob and Lerner to meet with compromise in some way. I know what Dr Bob has to say well enough to know his core concepts can’t be compromised. They don’t belong to him - even if he wanted to compromise them.

One more thing on filters… I use it all the time. I even send all of Dr Bob’s stuff through it (sorry Dr. – I wouldn’t be a good student if I didn’t). I can’t turn it off. Ever. I hit the ‘Permanently On’ button a long time ago. I simply can’t go wrong by leaving it on all the time. This doesn’t suggest I can’t go wrong ever. It just means that everything has to talk to the filter first. It’s the only way in. If the good stuff doesn’t pass through the first time, it will eventually.

Van said...

Will said "Van, true enough re: Oedipus, but in the "sequel" plays, Oedipus At Colonus and Antigone, Oedipus's blindness graces him with a transcendent vision and an inner nobility."

Of course you're right, that's why I quoted the word 'sight'... kids were rushing me to do Dad stuff (the nerve!), so I rushed it a bit - I was talking about the immediately observable effects, the rush of Click and effect.

Van said...

Goy said "So the long and the short of this, in my mind, is to wonder: was the transformation Saul's Free Will, or God's Will? "

In the comments a while back, Will and I were discussing this, my belief is that human consciousness requires Free Will, and that a person must choose to use it. A person can let themselves drift with the outside events, but again, that is their choice. The universe is set up as a predictable set of events, discoverable through the "Laws of Physics" we seek by way of examining its properties. To a perspective of full knowledge of the properties of the universe, there would be nothing of 'interest' for God in realizing the universe.

Out of the entire universe, We creatures of Free Will, are the points of Interest, we can never be thoroughly predicted or controlled, and what would be the joy in having creatures bereft of free will, no matter how intricate, it would be merely a bunch of wind up toys. We are designed with the ability to gno the One Cosmos, and foolishly presuming to guess at the motives of God, my guess is that the fun of the universe is in our ever deepening discovery and choices to know it.

Van said...

Big Possum said "...we seek the unique "realizations" of working through earth regimens, and the benefits of brotherly association with others who have endured the same trials, many will be inclinded to "blame God" for their experience. This blame is among the greatest obstacles to the trust of God... "

Yes, but they must choose to do so, and I think it is only in discussion that they can be 'helped' to change, arranging the environment will do nothing to benefit them in this most deepest of root causes.

BTW, lest there be any confusion, Vittles (BP), Joseph, and a few others here I don't see eye to eye with are among those I most look forward to commenting with. In that quality of disagreement we come to know ourselves better, and I hope we can continue to do so (disagree)for a long while to come!

Van said...

sigh. I'm a bit too rushed and out of sorts this weekend to comment very clearly... sorry

Van said...

It's now just dawning on me that this is yesterday's post... seems as if the warp from Thursday is catching up to me.

Big Possum said...


I was not referring to you as among the pouncers in response to various misinterpretations of my original post.

I hear you on the filter thing. I put my filter in place with prayers, sometimes written, the gist of which go as follows...

Dear God,

In my consideration of X's perspective, please integrate any truths contained in the information into my being. Similarly, please work through my reactions/responses to correct any errors in my perspective. When it will serve you, give me the humility to recognize others' truth and to acknowledge my errors in ways that will enhance the understanding of all. Finally, in relationship to any adjustments to my truth, and no matter what it may cost me, be with, live in, work through, and love me as you will.



Sadly, very few people in the "truth" business are willing to write/say their personal equivalent of the same prayer. To invite the living God to adjust our truth and live through us on behalf of it presents great risks to ego attachments. And yet, from my perspective, the moment one refuses to be willing to say such a prayer, they lose all legitimate claim to living in pursuit and on behalf of truth. Simply put, if one is not wiling to invite God to correct and work through them in response to disagreements, they are expressing their resignation to perpetuate error.

My deuce cents. Nice corresponding with you.


Patrick said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You