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Friday, February 23, 2018
You can't unring a bell. You can't unsee what you do see or see what you don't see. And our pious convictions with marginal information doesn't help either.
Recently I wandered through the topics being offered for a large ministerial conference of my former peers. While typically the first topic of concern was, as expected, "The Offering as Worship, the other topics were not all that informative on the topic of the actual Bible. When a ministry is made up of mere Bible readers, you're not going to any seminar on "A Scripture can never mean what it never meant."
There was one workshop where one might ask questions on theology to the one man provided to answer them for you, but I suspect the questions were rather light and foofy unless the group wanted to probe the depths of the nature of the Trinity or just what plan B may have been for God with Adam and Eve, mostly Eve, mucking up the works. Other than that, I am fairly sure a good hard question about the Bible where the answer might threaten the accepted answer was limits.
One certainly would not wish to become labeled as "he who asks too many hard questions." That would endanger your career. I can't tell you how many times I have asked pastors of all faiths questions that only pastors seem to think up for each other and was told "I know...I know...but if I bring that up I could lose my job."
I would be reminded of the Wizard of ID being questioned by a commoner and being told, "well with ideas like that, you're really going to go up in this Kingdom." The next scene you see the commoner standing at the bottom step of the gallows with he hangman saying, "Up you go there buddy."
Long story, but I have managed to outgrow my church and I was the pastor. Not the one of my youth, which was Presbyterian, but the one I moved on to in my youth thinking it was more real and then gave almost three decades of my life to it. In time, nuther long story, they reinvented the wheel and insisted I return to my rather Presbyterian roots taking me full circle. I realized my love affair with organized religion and true churches was over. With messy transitions and difficult emotional experiences, I moved on.
The tribe does not have much use for stray dogs. They either domesticate them for their convenience or they eat them.
In my personal journey through a very sincere belief that I was correct in my Biblical perspectives as a pastor, I have gone from believing in the "God breathed" inerrancy of the Book, to an eyes wide open understanding that the Bible is neither all that Holy, "the greatest Book ever written and full of errors, bad science, implausible accounts and many contradictions. I find my self marveling at the hours spent by sincere pastors straining to understand how the sins of Adam and Eve impact our lives today and place us all under the cloud of Original Sin and the need for blood atonement to make it all good again. The simple answer for me is now that the evolution of humans is good science and that the idea that any literal first humans called Adam and Eve is ludicrous. I"m almost ashamed of myself for taking so long to figure this out with the love of science I have always had but strained for decades to place it all in the context of Bible literalism, which can't really be done well.
Since, to me and as a result of my own study, there was no literal Adam and Eve (and no, the creation of humans is not a mere 6000 years ago either), there was no literal sin for which everyone forever more after has to be cleansed from by the blood of a dying God/Man. The fact that there has been a score or more dying God/men in history, all of whom were born on December 25th, were tempted to fail, rose to the occasion, were betrayed, pierced and lay in the grave for three days and three nights only to be born again is pretty darn common. While some may love to "Tell the old old story of unseen things above...", they are not aware of just how old the story is. Solstices and Equinoxes quite the framework for much of the story.
The higher and more critical thinkers and doers of theology, history and archaeology, understand with no reservations the first 11 chapters of Genesis are borrowed mythologies given a Hebrew spin. It's how it's done. Israeli archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein of The Bible Unearthed fame will plainly tell you the Pentateuch was written by Priests in the Babylonian Captivity of the 5 century BCE to give themselves a great pedigree. He'll also convincing tell you there was no Moses, Abraham or Solomon and he suspects no David. In his field at least, there is no evidence for this and he often ends by saying, "We exaggerate." Imagine the Church of God without these characters or the Exodus as real history? I can't.
But where does one fit when the tribe has no use for you and stepping outside the box is going to have it's consequences? I'm amazed, yet should not be, of the phenomenal loss of "friends" one experiences when bells ring and lights go on. It's the price one pays for being unable to stay stuck in something you learn along the way is not as one has been told. Few go with you. some talk about you and all ignore you forever more. The labeling and name calling is phenomenal.
My first title after moving on was "High Priest of Marduk" (James Patrick Holding of Tekton. Nasty little when he corresponds) It was down hill from there. "Spawn of Satan", "Apostate Former Minister" and "Twice dead" among others. The Bible has enough labels for the lost to keep thinking twice about leaving and firmly gyrating in your seats with glee over the sermon no matter.
The best I can come up with is that you become more of your authentic self...something organized religion is loathe to have you do in the first place. Churches and Priesthoods generally want followers, compliers and sheep. Ministers may seem to pride themselves in allowing for questions, but they are easy questions to answer because when all is said and done, one can claim that "God says it, I believe it. That does it for me" and put the ball back in the court of the reprobate questioner.
If all else fails, the one who questions can be told "there is a way that seems right to a man, but the way thereof ends in death," or "God sees not as a man sees," or "The wisdom of God is foolishness with man," and thus all his questions can be dismissed. Of course, these putdowns don't answer the original questions, but they send the message that one is not even smart enough to ask the right ones. The cure for being "one who questions" may be everything from prayer and fasting to get the attitude straightened out to "how 'bout we sit out of church a few weeks and think about our relationship to Jesus." Either way, "he who questions loses." The Church and God always win in such cases.
So after after you outgrow your church, organized religion or the literalism of one's childhood Sunday School lessons, what is the purpose of one's life? Since Churches tell us that salvation through the blood of a dying God/man is the purpose of life, but now one has no confidence in that, what's the point? While I now can stay home from church and save a whopping ten percent, I'd still like to find meaning in life beyond being a food tube that eventually dies.
Pure Iron from the first stars,14 billion years ago, that "had the courtesy to explode and spew their guts into the universe" (Neil DeGrasse Tyson" )to the left. Stoney meteorites from asteroid and small planet collisions from the outer mantle.
Perhaps that's why just sitting with one of my 4.5 Billion Year Old meteorites, left over debris from the formation of the solar system, is almost a spiritual experience. I also don't have to believe it faith or marginal information. These make the " 6000 year plan of God" a mere .00000013 % or reality.
One of the many meme's of organized religion is that human beings are evil, nasty and worms in God's sight. Their hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked to the point of total mistrust. We are sin personified in nasty flesh and worthy of nothing but death, at best. Let's get right to the truth of the matter.
You and I are just fine. Labels are not your problem. They are the problem of the he who labels. We are who we are and it's your goal in life to get to know yourself and who YOU are. We are all unique parts of the same one thing. It's not our goal or to our advantage to believe that we are to become someone else or follow the life, perspectives or worldview of someone else. That ruse has restrained and constrained human-becomings for way too long on the planet. The "you're not good enough," meme is a set up for allowing others to control you with fear, guilt and shame to their advantage every time.
Gerald Flurry, Dave Pack, Bob Thiel, UCG, LCG and all LMNOP Churches of God are not the be all and end all of truth giving. Opinions, views, speculations and pious conviction perhaps, but to date, mostly proven inaccurate if not incredibly wrong about themselves epitomized by the poster child of badly mistaken theology and scientific inquiry, David C Pack.
The goal in life is to get to know your own unique self. It's a troublesome process as there are more than enough others who feel you need to get to know THEM and be like THEM who are less defective and wormlike than yourself. Don't fall for it. Nursing homes are full of people who would give anything to have another shot at being themselves. But that goes back in another way to not being able to unring a bell.