June 11, 2013

Mennonite Thought Control

Posted in church, culture, psychology of religion at 2:44 pm by Jerry

My experience as a young adult in a Mennonite community included the naive assumption that all Mennonites were heterosexual. Which makes me wonder, was I THAT clueless, or was my community THAT good at making no room for any thoughts about it.

Check out this article from a cool Mennonite magazine: http://www.rhubarbmag.com/featured-content-title/

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October 23, 2010

I Wish Believers Had Faith In…

Posted in church, culture, film, marriage, psychology of religion, scripture, theology at 8:03 pm by Jerry

I wish believers had faith that same sex attractions were not sinful.

I wish they had faith that same sex marriage is righteous, Godly, beautiful.

I wish they had faith that wherever the bible seems to stand on a committed same sex romance, someday, God would reveal to biblical scholars and theologians that same sex marriage is God’s plan.

I wish believers had faith in THIS kind of love.

September 29, 2010

Tempting Satan

Posted in film, psychology of religion at 6:35 am by Jerry

Are you scared of the “Devil”?

Does it make you uncomfortable when you read me saying things like: “Satan, where are you? Come and get me if you can, you weakling!”

Does your superstitious self cringe when you read me saying things like: “Come on, Satan! Are you scared of me, you spineless loser?”

Do you hate hearing these words of mine in your head? Does it worry you that Satan will hear these thoughts of yours and come after you?

How real is Satan to you?

If you believe there exists an evil supernatural being you call the “Devil” or “Satan”, what do you honestly think this “Devil” can do to you?

How powerful do you think your Satan is? Or better yet, how much power are you afraid your Satan has?

September 11, 2010

The Presumptuous “Why?”s

Posted in art, atheism, history, mythology, philosophy, psychology of religion, science at 5:26 pm by Jerry

The question “Why?” is a crafty one.

It seems to have the amazing power to take you to an understanding of another’s motivations, a primary cause, and a deep perception of reality. It can be a means to disillusionment, a breaker of personal paradigms, and a schooling of scepticism.

Can there be any questions more powerful than this one?

Way back when, questions like “What?” and “How?” always seemed too mechanical for me, too impersonal. I was looking for ‘the meaning (purpose) of life’, why we are here.

I thought, I can’t begin to explore what I’m meant to do unless I’ve at least started to seriously look into what kind of person I’m meant to be. I wanted to avoid unhealthy choices (and their consequences) by knowing what is truthful, what is right, what is life-enhancing. I remember hearing more than once among gathered christians sometime ago, “We are not human doings, we’re human beings.” And my christian self tried to make the best of this odd cliche by choosing to interpret (or re-write) it to mean: choosing righteous acts rely on having a righteous understanding of our being.

I think it’s safe to say that I made the “Why?” question the greater context where all other questions can find their answers. I made it their home. And this means that I’ve also made the ‘Why?’ question a cosmic question. I saw it as the means to the most authoritative (authoritarian?) understanding on anything and everything. This is a huge creation of mine because the ‘Why?’ question has the power to direct you to a source that is conscious, a source with intention, with personal motivations. Making it a cosmic question is fundamentally making the assumption that there is a cosmic consciousness, a personally motivated intention.

How is it that I made such an assumption? Here’s how: I believed in the existence of a personal being powerful enough to create all that is natural, including a reality that is supernatural. It is this type of perception that sees purpose and reason behind all that is non-personal. And if you feel fundamentally (existentially?) lost, it is this type of perception that assures you that you are surrounded by direction, by purpose, by insight that is all encompassing. Then, you can “know” (in your heart) that something someone (communicating from where?) far more authoritative than our unreliable humanness will take care of us. And this personal (hidden?) being is the ultimate source for finding security and significance.

BUT DON’T FORGET!!! All this personal direction is based on an ancient assumption (most likely inherited from one’s parents), an ancient assumption that a “God” exists.

I’m an atheist now. The big “Why?” questions have shrunk down into human form. Now, I wait for evidence of this supreme being before making the question “Why?” an all-encompassing, personal context for other questions like “How?” and “What?”

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April 6, 2010

Who Knows A Kid’s Imaginary Friends Better Than They Do?

Posted in art, atheism, fiction, psychology of religion at 3:52 am by Jerry

When we find out kids have imaginary friends, are there good reasons to re-consider those experiences as “supernatural” or “mystical” instead?  What do you think? Should we interpret those experiences as so deep and profound that they are beyond any material experience happening in a child’s brain? After all, if we all truly have guardian angels and demons tempting us, who is to say that a kid’s imaginary friends are NOT angels and demons, or God(s)?

On the other hand, maybe we should just let kids have fun creating imaginary friends for themselves without us re-defining them for ourselves. And if a child recognizes similarities between his or her inner world and the inner world of some adults… I know I’ll want to hear more.

December 31, 2009

Personal Infallibility

Posted in art, atheism, church, culture, family, fiction, friends, history, psychology of religion at 8:35 am by Jerry

It’s quite possible that faith first starts with having no impulse (naivete?) to intellectually challenge an experience of some kind, be it received through parental indoctrination, a social confirmation of parental indoctrination, a rejection of an ultimately unjust reality, some sort of mystical/ altered state of reality, or other sociological/psychological mediums.

Then, when that naivete is overcome by the everyday human experience of disillusionment (to whatever degree), inquiry or the all too popular “faith seeking understanding” stage can be entered. And so, whatever that experience was, it now involves reason.

But how far will that reasoning travel? Will we take it beyond our ignorance into some level of agnosticism, acknowledging that we could be wrong about not only the truth of the experience, but also the reliability of the medium through which we received that experience?

Faith has been said to be more than just an act of belief. Faith can also involve or imply a commitment to a pre-agnostic version of that experience, adapting one’s everyday decision making according to this version, thereby developing one’s personal investment in that version.

December 29, 2009

Accidents Happen

Posted in art, atheism, psychology of religion at 7:14 am by Jerry

December 1, 2009

My Doubts Sing Beautiful Songs To Me

Posted in atheism, film, philosophy, poetry, psychology, psychology of religion, science, songs at 3:41 pm by Jerry

Within the religious world I was brought up in it was not entirely rare to hear someone (including myself) say, “I felt called”. This often happens after a whole lot of deep, sincere prayer. And what was meant by this calling, this answer to prayer, was that we were called by “God”.

Some were bold enough to outwardly say it was God who called them, but others would only allude to it. I suspect, for the latter, it was not knowing for sure if it was in fact God calling them. They have been wrong about God’s will for their lives in the past and would hate to make anymore false assumptions, because, as the cliche goes – to assume makes an ass out of.. well, you know the rest.

As for those who keep claiming a direct line of communication from God despite being wrong in the past, well, I suppose they feel faith is always a greater virtue than doubt. Which is odd, when you really think about it. If we were to ask religious people how many times a doubt about their personal understanding of God’s will in scripture or otherwise has led to greater understanding, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were to say, “Oh, yes, there have been countless times when God has corrected my limited understanding of Him.” In other words, either God or you have welcomed DOUBT into your spiritual life to make room for greater understanding.

For the more humble-minded religious person who seeks to save faith-face by not claiming “God” to have called them, a psychological perspective can be taken (putting off claims of a direct communication of God’s will for hindsight-prophecy). These believers are freed to accept the possibility that the “calling” might just be a part of us, deep inside, that knows what we really want or really need – to be closer to the truth. And if we’ve repressed this “calling”, ignored it or simply over-looked it in the past only to later find ourselves giving it a voice, it is in those moments we do hear voices, voices that care deeply for us…  voices that are the expressions of our own doubts.

October 17, 2009

Trying To Be Honest With Myself

Posted in atheism, film, philosophy of religion, psychology of religion, science, theology at 7:43 am by Jerry

October 5, 2009

Emma’s Mind and Voice

Posted in culture, family, film, history, philosophy of religion, politics, psychology of religion, scripture at 11:53 am by Jerry

I’m excited about the kind of freedoms Emma will enjoy in her future. She seems to be showing signs of the kind of strengths her mother has, which makes me beam with pride. Emma has a wonderfully intelligent and articulate mother who refuses to except ridiculous cultural restraints.

1 Timothy 2:

11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.

14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

15But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

I’m so happy that Emma lives in an era where a proper recognition of the potential freedoms (spiritual, political, cultural, etc.) and already existing strengths among women has improved so much. There’s still plenty of room for improvement… and yet, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I hear from others in the future that Emma has helped them personally or professionally to embrace strengths they didn’t know they had, and live healthier lives (mind and body) as a result.

I know this is highly probable because I’ve seen examples of this kind of empowering influence demonstrated by her mother.

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