Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A loving and just G-d

I'm putting James' book aside for a moment, as I have finals coining up and very little time to delve into a deep subject that takes to much time and care.

For now though, I would like to discuss something different. I stumbled across another's blogg and he is struggling with being gay, and Christian. I won't give out any names, or websites, because I know most of your feelings about this topic and am not sure if this man needs your thoughts at the moment. ;)

Anyways, it got me thinking...Can G-d make anything imperfect? If G-d is perfect, and a loving and just G-d like we are taught in the scriptures, would he puposly make anything, or one, imperfect? Would he honestly make someone gay and then tell them "now go to earth and try to not be gay"? That doesn't seem fair, or just, or loving!

Then, why do people teach this? The man on his blogg repeatedly said this is a choice between him and G-d and has nothing to do with the church or anyone else demanding him to live a heterosexual life. He said he prayed to G-d and this is what G-d wants him to do. I just can't understand why G-d would want anyone to do this kind of thing. From what I get out of the Bible, is that G-d "requires mercy, not sacrifice".

Thursday, November 25, 2004

My year in thanks

Wow, this year I think I have more to be thankful for than any other year of my life. For most of you I don’t have to do this, but I want to recap my year up to this point. I thank G-d with all my heart and soul for giving me the courage to break up with Steven. Even more so, I thank G-d for giving me the strength I have needed to leave the church and start my own spiritual journey. I am thankful for CJ Cox for writing the beautiful movie, Latter Days, a movie that has had such an impact on my life, with the movie came the discussion board, and with the discussion board came the most wonderful angels G-d could have ever blessed me with. I’m not even going to try and list names because I know I will end up leaving some of you out, but you’re all angels! I would like to single out a few though, if I may.

Kevin, where do I even start? Can you see how much I have grown in the past 11 months?!?! You have been the biggest blessing in my life this year. Through you, I have found real beliefs, and real love for the gospels. You have shown me a better way! You took me in as a student, taught me so many things, and worked with me day and night. I know I haven’t been the easiest student, always asking too many questions and then you helping me emotionally. Also thank you for introducing me to Billy, who I love and admire as much as I do you. You both have influenced my life in such a way that I am forever in debt. You two are my new Dads, and have already fulfilled that role more than my bio father did and he had 21 years, where as you and Billy haven’t even had a whole year.

David, I love you so much! You have been there encouraging me along the way, helping me with spiritual questions, and French homework :-) You guys will always have a place in my heart.

Ok, back to my year, I’m thankful for Bishop John Shelby Spong, for completely ruining my faith in G-d, Jesus and the scriptures! But at the same time, bringing about a new kind of faith, a true faith, something I can believe in on my own, and not because someone else tells me it’s so. I am thankful for all the knowledge I have gained throughout this year, and especially this semester at UNM. I thank G-d for my mom and that she doesn’t have cancer, and for all my families well being.

These are just a few of the things, and a few of the people I am thankful for this year. Each day, I find new things to give thanks to G-d ranging from getting an A on an exam, pink staples, the ability to walk and see. The chance to feel the rain and make people laugh. For each hug, and every smile. Ducks and crazy geese, friends and family who love me. Train whistles in middle of the night and music on the radio. I thank G-d and all the angels he has sent to me, for helping make me who I am today, and who are always by my side.

Kol brakhot tobot (Only good blessings)

~Jennifer


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Being Thankful

“This is the ritual of the sacrifice of the offering of well-being that one may offer to the Lord. If you offer it with thanksgiving, you shall offer with the thank offering unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of choice flour well soaked in oil. With your thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being you shall bring your offering with cakes of leavened bread. From this you shall offer one cake from each offering, as a gift to the Lord; it shall belong to the priest who dashes the blood of well-being and the flesh of your thanksgiving sacrifice shall be eaten on the day it is offered.”(Lev. 7:11-15).

I would like to thank G-d that we don’t have to offer such sacrifices anymore! “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matt. 9:13). Then again, do we let G-d know we are thankful for his blessings? In Leviticus there are numerous offerings for sin and repentance, but there is only one offering for thanksgiving. Why? Is it because we constantly sin? Here is just an idea that I have had in my head, and it’s been percolating for some time. If we where truly thankful for what G-d has given us, wouldn’t we not sin? How about, if we took more time to thank G-d, and show him we are thankful, then we would spend less time “sinning”. I don’t just mean by thanking G-d in prayer. But, why not thank G-d in our actions as well? I am thankful for the duck pond here at school. I am thankful because the ducks stay at the pond year round, and it’s a great meditative place where I can go and find peace. Instead of praying to G-d and saying “I’m thankful for my mommy, cars, the duck pond, etc.” Why don’t instead, I do something to give back to G-d as a way of thanking him? I could pick up pieces of trash that I see lying around, or I could feed the ducks. Just doing simple acts of kindness could also be simple acts of saying “yo G-d, I love you and thanks for this awesome place. I am so thankful for it that I am going to take care of it.” If more people took time to not just do acts of kindness, but acts of thankfulness I thing everyone would be smiling more. I mean it’s a win, win situation. G-d knows you love him, it’s beneficial for others and it gives you warm fuzzies inside.

The first Thanksgiving feast celebrated by the pilgrims and the Native Americans was just this! The Native Americans showed the pilgrims how to cultivate land and grow vegetables. As an act of thankfulness, the Pilgrims had a feast in dedication to the Native Americans; not only showing off there prosperity, but also sharing there love and gratitude towards the Natives for showing them how to live. The offering of thanksgiving described in Leviticus can be done year round. There is no one specific day you must do it. Why not show we are thankful year round as well, and not just on the American Thanksgiving holiday, which has been stripped of almost all meaning anyways. Why not everyday, try to find something you are thankful for and do give something back in return? I am going to try to do this from here on out, and I encourage everyone else to as well. “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So when we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all” (Gal. 6:9-10).


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Varieties of Religious Experience—William James

For my first out of a series of posts on The Varieties of Religious Experience, I am going to summarize the first two lectures of James’ book. I’m doing this because the first two lectures, titled: "Religion and Neurology", and "Circumscription of the Topic", act as introductions to James’ later lectures. He starts out with somewhat of a disclaimer, stating he is not a scholar in the subject of religion. William James is a psychologist, which leads to the title of the first lecture “Religion and Neurology.” This gives him authority to talk about different states of mind, logic and medical conclusions of why a person believes the way they do (which he doesn’t let go without major scrutiny and criticism). Apparently, during his time there was a trend of “medical materialism”. An attempt to explain why people are the way they are through medical ailments. James explains this through examples. “Medical materialism finishes up St. Paul by calling his vision on the road to Damascus a discharging lesion of occipital cortex, he being an epileptic. It snuffs out St. Theresa as an hysteric, St. Francis of Assisi as an hereditary degenerate. George Fox’s discontent with the shams of his age, and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats as a system of a disordered colon.” (James p. 24).

Of course, James as well as I, find this to be absolutely absurd! And secretly somewhat funny too :-) In the second lecture “Circumscription of the Topic", James explains what it is exactly he is going to be discussing. He attempts to create definitions for the terms “religion” and “the divine”. I still am not quite sure what his final definitions came out to be…I would have to re-read this chapter a couple more times to figure that out! So for now I am just going to skip his definitions, because even he said they are too abstract a term to explain exactly. However, in this chapter I think I discovered, what I am assuming to be his thesis statement for the series of lectures, “We shall see how infinitely passionate a thing religion at its highest flights can be. Like love, like wrath, like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other instinctive eagerness and impulse, it adds to life an enchantment which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else.” (James p. 52). His chapters, which where lectures, are filled with so much information, it is hard to summarize them in a short but logical manner. However, the main points I feel James is striving to get across are that religion and its experiences can’t be deduced to mere physical ailments, and that religion, is something more profound, less explainable than philosophy. So with this in mind, we can now proceed (in a few days when I actually have time to read, with the holidays and all) to the third lecture “The Reality of the Unseen.”

Comments, questions, rants?


Monday, November 22, 2004

Introduction

Those of you who have been to my other blog "Jens World" know that it is crap! Well, not really crap, but it's bad! I decided to make a new blog that could be more formal. One where I would actually take my time in writing my posts, meaning I would spell check and edit before posting! But also, to give out some of my various thoughts and ideas on different subjects.

Now, yall might be wondering where I got the title for this thing from! I was laying on my bed trying desperately to come up for a title that would summarize the various topics that will be presented here. I was thinking "religious......." I didn't wish to put "religious tolerance", "religious struggles" or anything of the sort. Then the word "experiment" popped into my mind. "Religious experiment?" how odd I thought. But, the word wouldn't get out of my head. So, I looked up "experiment in the thesaurus and as definition is stated "an operation to establish a principle or a truth." I knew right then, that had to be my title! This blog is my way (or operation) to get feedback on my various thoughts and discussions, which ultimately will lead me to make certain conclusions for myself (or to establish a principle or a truth) about whatever the subject matter may be.

So, with all that said here is my plan for my first few posts which I hope can turn into discussions. I recently picked up the book entitled "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James. The book is broken up into lectures (James was a Gifford Lecturer on natural religion at Edinburgh University) and I have worked my way through the first lecture and am in middle of the second. What I plan on doing is summarizing each lecture and then posing my thoughts and questions about them. Don't worry though, I will make it to where you do not have to actually read the book, to participate in the discussions or know what I am talking about. To ask anyone to read this book would be like asking someone to walk from Florida to New Mexico! You would be nuts to actually want to do that. :-) [which is why Billy hasn't come to visit yet].

Happy reading to you all, and I hope this blog turns out better than the last. For that to happen I need all your support, or else I will get lazy! So tell your moms and dads, friends and grandma's, because if you don't I am just going to be talking to myself in hopes of one day being discovered!

Hugs and kisses,
Jen


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