September 30, 2006

Why Does God Want Worship?

Posted in culture, mythology, psychology of religion, theology at 10:32 am by Jerry

It isn’t that God is lacking anything. God wouldn’t be God if S/he needed something. God doesn’t need others to acknowledge Her existence. So, if God has asked for humanity to worship her, why? Is it that God wants us to acknowledge how great She is? But if that’s true, why? Is it that God asks for our worship because it’s good for us? If this is so, why?

I’ve mentioned near the end of a post of mine, awhile back, that there are similarities between the myth of Narcissus and the Christian God. What I didn’t mention is that what we understand as “Malignant Narcissism” today was originally referred to as “The God Complex” (a derogatory label for us image bearers, but not so much for God). I did, however, say that there are healthy and unhealthy narcissistic traits. And I’d like to expand on that further.

When Narcissus looked into the clear pond and fell (literally) in love with his reflection in the pond, Narcissus was overwhelmed by his beauty, not the attention he was getting from his reflection. Fame was not his desire, love was his desire. He wanted to know and be known, not just be known about. Narcissus was not interested in his celebrity status. Narcissus was interested in relating (though ignorant enough to believe his reflection was a real person).

I applaud Narcissus for acknowledging all beauty found in nature, including his own. But if Narcissus was ONLY concerned that others pay full, undying attention to him, then I lose all respect for him. And the same goes for God.

If attention from others is all that matters to someone, then others are mere objects that produce an effect — like a drug. THIS is not healthy! No one is merely a means to a euphoric effect. When persons are acknowledged it must include their sentient qualities. If we are to have healthy relationships with others, our humanity must be acknowledged by those relating to us.

“God” happens to be a celebrity all over our blue-green globe, whether people believe in Her existence or not. But I have a hard time believing, if She does in fact exist, stardom is the only recognition She wants. I think She wants us to “worship” Her simply because She thinks it’s healthy to acknowledge ALL beauty found in nature. And I can see this as including “how great she is”.

But if God wants me to worship Her just because She feels She deserves everyone’s full and undying attention, then She will not get it from me.


September 27, 2006

Scarecrow tries Seminary

Posted in fiction, mythology, psychology of religion, theology at 2:16 am by Jerry

Both crow and raven are the mark of the shaman. Their appearance signals a time for exploring and enhancing one’s power. The birds help man to see deeply into the nature of reality and natural law. They permit man to move between realms and pierce illusion. To call upon raven is to ask for the courage to enter the darkness to seek the wisdom of the primal unconscious.- Jessica Dawn Palmer, Animal Wisdom [98-99]

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I came to the point where I had to give up my Scarecrow ways and pursue that which I fought off daily.

Eventually, I went to bible school and seminary, with high expectations, mind you. I told myself, “I’m going to school to get to know God, not just know about Him.” And I assumed that this principle was, and should be, the professors’ ultimate purpose for teaching us students, too. But I discovered again and again that my professors were not responsible for the growth of my spiritual life — one professor went so far as to say so.

So, I came to a realization that I was to use bible school and seminary for what I could to mature my “relationship” with God. Ironically, it seemed that this pursuit was often in conflict with my studies. I tried to direct my assignments to areas of personal interest, areas where I thought God would prefer to communicate with me, but it was just too difficult.

Somewhere along the way I also started questioning the so-called “knowledge” of God I was learning, realizing “it’s quite possible I’m not even getting to know about God here, either.”

I finally came to the choice — “let go of their assignments or let go of you.” It took awhile, but I made the obvious decision and left seminary before achieving a Master of Divinity degree.

I can’t give you brains, but I can give you a diploma.

– said The Wizard of Oz to Scarecrow

And so my search (and wait) continues — to find (and notice) the great treasure known to some as Wisdom, and others Divine Wisdom.

September 25, 2006

Sopranos and Canada

Posted in culture, film, politics at 7:11 am by Jerry

I’ve thought about Canada’s identity, now and then, and have never come to any summations. “Polite” is one of the cliche characteristics I’ve heard in the past. Are we still polite? Were we ever really polite? Or is “polite” a euphemism?

The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes.

– Stanley Kubrick

I’ve always been fascinated with how characters on Sopranos episodes juggle their own good and bad morals, and even on a bigger scale — between “families”. Which makes me wonder — how easy would it be to interpret Sopranos episodes as an analogy for our political world?

Is it too idealistic to expect Canada to respect ALL others’ rights and defend ALL it’s own rights? Has Canada been surviving by succumbing to immoral methods?


Unfortunately, my political ignorance stops my imagination short. I wish I could come up with something better than Stanley. He may be right, I don’t know. But there must be something more.

September 23, 2006

Practical Uses for Dogma

Posted in martial arts, philosophy of religion, science, scripture at 2:04 am by Jerry

For those who know me, it may seem strange to hear that I have valuable uses for dogma. But it’s true. I think there is a place for all dogma and their kin — rules, structure, and creeds. To me, they are tools I can use to educate myself.

My autodidactic method is to search for the principles behind whatever practices I’m learning and make those principles my pretend “dogma”. Through this playful process, I’m making principles into universal ideologies, and applying these absolutes to every one of my experiences in the world we live in. By this method, I can personally test these principles for a fuller understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This way, I get to explore where they are consistent with reality and where they fail.

For instance (if I may use my martial art training as an analogy once again), the closest teaching in my Kung-Fu class to a formula or “kata” is what we call the “Five Circles”. So I’ve decided to make the Five Circles absolutes for all physical applications possible. The Five Circles are meant to be used in such a way that the movement of our bodies must work as a unified whole, maintaining the whole body’s strength and speed in any force it applies on an object.

However, if I find enough comfort in the Five Circles as a “dogma,” and if I really wanted to, I could make this dogma an end in itself. I could make my pretend dogma real for me. This is seriously a dangerous route to take. An attacker on the street will not be willing to challenge me (my balance, strength, and speed) only according to the limitations I’ve used to train within. For practical purposes in the real world, I need to always be aware, consciously and unconsciously, that my “dogma” is only a means to learning.

For me, rules were made for us instead of us being made for rules (reminds me of Jesus’ reference to the use of the Sabbath). My belief in these rules, as I’ve referred to in a previous post, is my act of temporary faith, or scientific faith. It is a faith that must include a certain amount of doubt. It is a faith for the purpose of greater understanding, rather than an avoidance of understanding.

September 20, 2006

Tiny Fists of Fury

Posted in family, film, martial arts at 10:37 pm by Jerry

I’ve already started developing a Kung-Fu curriculum for my unborn child. Check it out here.

September 18, 2006

Humpty Dumptys

Posted in martial arts, philosophy of mind, psychology at 3:06 pm by Jerry

What do you do when there’s a disconnect between your mind and your body?

When our noumena (world within ourselves) develops its intellect through our body’s perception of phenomena (world beyond ourselves), we can then use this intellect to critically analyze its developing data to find any logical conclusions. When we (or our noumena) have found conclusions, we arrive at a personal “Ought”. At this point we’ve discovered what we should do, our conscience has changed once again.

Then, the next step is to just do it. But is it as easy as saying “just do it”?

At the Kung-fu seminar I went to I learned so many things, I had no doubt it would take a long time before I could make my body do what my mind had concluded I should do. So, back to my original question — “What do you do when there’s a disconnect between your mind and your body?”

When it’s a matter of my Kung-Fu training, I can’t force my body to do what my mind wants it to do. This may sound weird, but it’s as if I need to set aside time for my mind and my body to get to know each other. You see, my body could pretend to make it look like it can do what my mind wanted, but it wouldn’t feel natural or be authentic. I would be ingenuine. My body needs time to get to know my mind, experience my mind’s world. And the more my body understands my mind, the more it can become unified with my mind.

I know, I know, what an internal labyrinth! But I think it’s important. We can get so caught up in doing “the right thing,” what we “Ought” to do, that we end up losing ourselves in the process. Or, to put it another way, we can make prisons of our consciences rather than homes. This makes doing “the right thing” sound bad, but we know it isn’t. We know that doing the right thing is beneficial for others. It just feels bad for us when it’s not our natural tendency. So, if we want to be genuine people, it’s up to us to make the right thing natural.

It’s up to us to put our minds and bodies back together again.

September 16, 2006

Setting Our Minds Free

Posted in philosophy at 8:22 am by Jerry

Aristotle put it best when he said —

I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law.


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

September 14, 2006

Heavenly Piece

Posted in martial arts, philosophy, psychology, religion, songs at 9:27 pm by Jerry

Over the last couple of days I’ve dug up another one of my old obsessions — playing guitar. I’ve been playing and singing for hours, and I’ve got the scars to prove it. Well, they’re not scars. They’re blisters. Which just shows how long it’s been since my fingers have danced along the fret board. Don’t laugh when I tell you this, but I was only playing on nylon strings, not those steel ones that really know how to cut into your skin.

Just when I thought I was healing from blisters on my heel (a result of an old martial art obsession I dug up almost five months ago) I have other blisters to tend to. Actually, the blisters don’t bother me as much as I’m making them out to be. I think I just like to point out signs of my obsessions.

But as proud as I may be, these obsessions are a danger to me. They enhance my daydreaming life to an extremely high level. I become so removed from this world, I lose track of what I ought to do. You see, my daydreaming transports me into a realm of eternity — which I happen to think is another word for Lao Tzu’s “Tao” and David Hume’s “Is”. There is no looking into the future or remembering the past. Things just are. Which is unrealistic in our world, don’t you think?

In our world, our responsibilities don’t allow for us to lose sight of time. Even if you try, the question – “How long will I lose sight of time for?” is soon to follow. Unfortunately, any attempt to pursue heavenly peace in our world, can never be without the obligation to do it in pieces. And if you are at all aware you’re doing it in “pieces,” you’re automatically destroying your heavenly peace. In that sense, A Piece of Heaven is a contradiction in terms.

Heaven, if I understand it correctly, is a place where “Is” and “Ought” are supposed to be the same. It’s a place where time and eternity are not in conflict. People in Heaven are considered to live without fearing their future, still aware of both their future and their past (I would hope). If Heaven does, after all, exist, I couldn’t imagine it without curiousity and memories. Could you?

I suppose, if I really wanted a taste of Heavenly Peace, I’m gonna need to have my intuition (or common sense) set aside so much time I’d definitely wake up naturally into our chronologically aware world, without missing what I ought to do.

September 10, 2006

Kung-Fu Weekend

Posted in martial arts at 11:41 pm by Jerry

This weekend I was training hard at a Kung-fu seminar held by my Jiulong Baguazhang teacher Shifu Yancy. Our visiting teacher, Shifu Bob (all the way from Texas ), took us all beyond our skill levels. I was so happy to play with some of the advanced lessons, that I have to admit, it will be hard to return to class doing only what I was doing before.

Saturday was intense. We trained from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a hour and a half lunch break. More than ever, I see that this martial art is the hardest for me to learn and yet is really quite simple. There’s not a lot of fancy waving of arms and legs. The art was created based on sword play. So the method of Jiulong Baguazhang fighting is strictly offense, there are no defensive maneuvers. After someone takes the offensive against you — you decide to take the offensive against them first.

If I understand Shifu Bob correctly, I am suppose to interrupt my opponents’ first attack. In other words, my opponents’ body language is attempting to speak the sentence, “I’m gonna hurt you and this is how.” So, if I want to understand FULLY the methods of my opponents’ attack I will have to accept damage to my body. Or, I can interrupt my opponents’ non-verbal sentence on the word “and” — “I’m gonna hurt you and…”

The art is not as aggressive as it may sound. So far, we’ve only been learning to push, no strikes. However, I’ve been informed the art is deadly in the hands of the masters even though the practice of it doesn’t have to be. This Sunday morning was interesting because we got a taste of what it’s like to fight multiple attackers. It was so much fun.

September 5, 2006

Etiquette, Empathy, and Immortality

Posted in church, culture, family, politics, psychology, religion at 11:58 am by Jerry

In my previous post I mentioned that making etiquette a moral decree is a big mistake. I disagree with people’s personal preferences becoming the standard for all. But one of the things I do appreciate about adhering to another’s etiquette is that it is one of our methods for expressing empathy for another’s personal journey.

Respecting a person’s personal standards can be done without any use of the imagination. And this is a sort of legalistic approach to etiquette. But when someone does use their imagination while adhering to another’s etiquette, they are empathizing with that person’s soul. And this, I feel, is one of the desparately needed salves for our day.

To know another person understands our plight, or simply our individual journey, consoles our fears of termination. Reason being, there is another who will carry on an understanding of ourselves in this world when we are no more. (Though I’ve often heard or read individualism criticised by monotheistic conservatives, a complete loss of our individuality would be considered by them unthinkable.)

Empathy calms what may be considered the greater motivation for fearing loneliness, which is extinction, not lacking relationships. And I think empathy has the potential to calm the fundamentalist’s desire to use violent action as their defense against personal extinction.

Immortality, in the sense that we have an individual “soul” as an end in itself, is an ideology relied upon by fundamentalists and evangelicals as a consolation when the fear of extinction in this world is overwhelming. But there are other forms of personal immortality I have heard confessed in their camps…

Some have directly admitted to me in the past they chose to have children so they could attain a sort of immortality. Of course, I was surprised by this confession of using children as a means to anything. And I admit, I was comforted by their following statements expressing genuine parental love for their sons and daughters. But it is interesting to consider the inheritance of etiquette, a passing on of the personal standards of our forefathers and foremothers, whether it be through nurture or nature.

This immortal etiquette has the potential for ancestral empathy through the nurture of traditions and the nature of inherited traits. However, I must confess, I prefer a kind of empathy that is inclusivist friendly, so much so, no one would ever feel ostracized.

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