Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Unitarian Universalism a Faith Community?

KS to MP UUFoF 2-12-20- no, I don't disagree that many folks do not relate well to theological words. Where we disagree is whether or not Unitarian Universalism can be described as a religion or a faith community. As a Unitarian Universalist, I refuse to cede those words, and so many of the strongest words in the English language, to the Christian culture which is dominant in this culture. They are our words too.
MP UUFoF 2-12-20 You rightly point out that those words have an accepted meaning which is not the UU meaning. UUs misuse the words.
Me You just misused the phrase "accepted meaning" instead of "widely-used" or even more accurately, "used by many followers of conventional Christian denominational doctrines." Unfortunately for all of the "conventional" types, UUism is actually a polarized cauldron faith-type community that reflects the importance of the much ignored realm of Civil Society and the University that have largely been relegated to a "widely-used" non-Christian secular realm. UUism contains that polarized microcosm, as did FDR and his heart- and brain-child the UN. It´s also like Thomas Jefferson historically as a visible public official who invoked secularism and the Freedom of Religion to moderate denominational and religious conflict. That has shifted in its resulting interpretation in materialistic secular society that is multi-polarized with psychosocial spectra artificially among mostly atheistic Science, Business, and religious faith. UUism juggles or jingles with aspects of that. University academia serves as a powerful catalyst for valuing sociology and the larger importance of secularism as a modernization strategy in Christian Western Civilization, and UUism the same. UUism is pretty clear about its Christian origins, but bought into the pretenses of secularism and humanism, etc that they could just stop referring to Jesus at the whisk of an idea. Voila! Denial of historical and sociological continuity. History permits that when it is unsociological and unpsychological. It is, however, a definite maneuver with consequences that can be recognized, and the dissociation undone.
As a Christian UU, I cite UUism per se as a transitional association embodying an important unlabeled and intellectualized form of Christian modernization. Christian denominations have developed and survive in society, but have been subordinated in politics by Business corporate profiteers and their Religious Right collaborators and passive liberal hypocrites. University Social Sciences contextualizes all that, itself a modernized Christian institution conventionally considered secular. "Western" Secularism, like Fundamentalism and hypocrisy, is a thin veneer, however. The expectations for Civil Rights and Human Rights all trace back to nothing less than the Anti-Slavery Movements led by Quaker-Friends and other Christians dissenting from authority. That is to say, they were high integrity Christians honoring pointedly Jesus´ pre-crucifixion teachings and new commandments as the self-identified Son of God like, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." UUism´s principles have not failed to honor that much. Contextualizing UUism and conventional denominations adequately in complex modern society is another thing.
*** J W FB UUFotF - I don’t think direct experience of mystery/wonder, “live and learn” or learning from one’s mistakes constitute what is referred to as “infallible guidance in religion.” Even if they are sources of faith and guidance, they rely on a human ability to perceive, know and understand. The very human search for truth, as a process with both freedom to discover the unknown and limits on what can be known, seems to me to render the notion of infallibility fallacious or downright fantastical. I agree that there is a lack of clarity about divine relationship in liberal religion. We rely on reason and personal experience and freedom of conscience, and don’t affirm truth based on who or what purports to espouse it alone.
Me to J W So, we are at the point where we need to splice terms and define them more precisely. Disclosure, or subjective ownership and identification of individual and shared points of view is also important. When you refer to "Infallible guidance in religion," you are likely to be understood as talking about Christian Fundamentalist literalists who call the Bible infallible, and maybe papal infallibility, with Islamic and Jewish fundamentalists other possibilities. God hates homosexuals, non-believers, and th By then defining my references merely humanistically, you are not so much talking about "truth," but the approach you identify with and use without qualification. I don´t share the same basic lack of clarity about divine relationship that you identify with. In fact, by your citing reliance on "reason, personal experience, and freedom of conscience," along with "the unknown and limits....", you have in fact identified your own kind of shared source of infallibility. My theism began by interest in scholar Huston Smith´s definition of the Chinese Tao that is identified with Lao Tzu. I got my college degree in a science, and have weighed the spiritual and scientific conjointly over the years. "Unknown" as a highest value has its own key limitations, and the progressive angle is paralysis, fragmentation, and alienation. A crucial issue in linking "reason" with the "unknown" is the neglectful exclusion of spiritual practice and experience. That is a kind of rationalism, although it is often linked with science. Spiritual and religious practice and experience is not usually talked about in terms of infallibility, but needs to be identified for its qualities, benefits, and legitimacy. That is where I like to cite Al Gore, historical George Fox and the Quaker Friends he founded, and Gandhi, and MLK. The divine then isn´t so much about anti-modernist infallibility, but the reality of the Divine Source in grounding courage against injustice and recognizing the urgency of taking action.

Science Showman Neil DeGrasse Tyson Pro-Spiritual?

Based on the youtube video of Russell Brand interviewing Neil deGrasse Tyson: NM yt 2-12-20 you misunderstood him (Nel DeGrasse Tyson), especially on his point about consciousness. They both (NGT and Russell Brand) were talking about consciousness on a scientific level, Russel made the point that SCIENTISTS haven't figured it out yet, and Neil thoroughly backed up that point. Neil wasn't criticising or dismissing the spiritual viewpoint of consciousness at all, he was literally criticizing science's lack of advancement in that particular field. OP was right, Neil was awfully respectful and as someone who loves science as much as spirituality that made me happy
Me: Neil was respectful? Because he´s a polished showman and not overtly rabid like Dawkins in this exchange with Brand? . You love spirituality and science? I have loved them for decades, and have been studying the likes of Templeton prize winners so that now I have already developed an understanding worthy of SJ Gould´s "Magesteria" and F Capra´s General System´s Theory. You like Tyson´s likeable style, and want to believe that he wouldn´t say something poorly informed and crassly uninformed? His reducing spirituality to "scientific knowledge" in this exchange is naive at best, and a quick search turns up confirmation of his deeper Scientism. He has said things like, "If you believe the Christian story of Jesus, you can´t call Scientology crazy" and "When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence." So you know, "Crazy" is not an adequate term for Jesus, nor is it dicreetly made for careful analysis of much relevant information about anything like shamanic and religious experience. "Wants to kill us" personifies the Universe non-scientifically, and Science itself has arisen through elements of that "beneficence" embodied in Jesus´ life, mission, and message. Tyson is a showman and Scientism ideologue who has no appropriate knowledge of even the scientifically measured benefits of meditation. As for you, who "loves science and spirituality," your "love" is not quite that well-informed, you need to know. Here´s a good clue for your path, Science needs to be understood as a form of Philosophy, Religion needs to be understood more widely through Philosophy, General Systems Theory puts all forms of modern Philosophy in perspective, and Religion´s underlying spirituality and basis for modern Philosophy more widely laid out. That´s what I can do. You try to make sense of that. ***
SR What's your actual argument? All I'm reading is you boasting about knowing stuff, but I don't see any actual argument with substance. What did Neil said here that was wrong?
​me@ S R Tyson begins to show some respect for "spirituality", but it´s backhanded and inadequate. He refers to "diverse notions of spirituality," not a scholar like Huston Smith or Karen Armstrong, teacher/author like Buddhist/Psychologist Jack Kornfield, holistic medical doctor Lewis Mehl-Medrona, and yet contrasts his own interest in Scientific study of physical objects as if it´s the same pursuit. As for my argument, I laid out the terms of my position quite clearly to nayrad as follows, "Science needs to be understood as a form of Philosophy, Religion needs to be understood more widely through Philosophy (and its forms), General Systems Theory puts all forms of modern Philosophy in perspective, and Religion´s underlying spirituality and basis for modern Philosophy (needs to be) more widely laid out. " I also mention other elements that you simply didn´t grasp. Studies of the benefits of meditation, for one, SJ Gould´s "magisteria," which requires adequate and better terminology, being basically the "academic disciplines," but more precisely epistemological knowledge domains studying phenomenological systems and their interrelationships. That is what Fritjof Capra has focused on that von Bertanaffly called General Systems Theory. As for what you term "boasting," I´m not primarily boasting, bro, and the points I raise initially show that. I´m dealing with simplistic and aggressive commentators who often take presumptuous, junior league, and dead-end potshots. They need to demonstrate their ability to individuate and think logically about things, and not ideologically, as nayarad did to a basic level. I gave him a basic argument framework that you missed. Let´s see if intellectual curiosity burgeons in you. ***
M M - N A To R This is quite a limiting belief: “The human senses are demonstrably ill equipped to take measure of the totality of the physical universe... Your senses had no access to those places in the universe until I came up with those instruments.” I’d disagree entirely with this statement. This is only true for those whose senses are restricted by the mind, because of the belief in BEING the body. As a result of this belief, their senses are narrowed to focus on only certain information, and disregard so much more that could otherwise be available to sense. Our senses are focused on what we think is essential for our survival. Without this idea of being the body, then the senses are free to explore much further out, and can encompass the entirety of the universe and even further. These instruments of the microscope and telescope are of use to those who are restricted, but are not needed for one who is not restricted by such a limiting belief. This is why beliefs can be so limiting and the destruction of them freeing, because they actually effect our visceral experience. me I think you begin to make a good point, although "destruction" of limiting beliefs is rather a harsh and impulsive approach. Science has made important strides, and allowed Moral Philosophers to develop the Social Sciences, not least of all Psychology and Anthropology, and in society, modern human rights and ecologically aware democratic society to develop social movements against tyranny and degradation. Spiritual practice and education led Martin Luther to his revolutionary acts, followed by the Enlightenment and the British and US Freedom of Religion as a pioneering Civil and Human Right. In turn, that has allowed Spiritual Metaphysical and Moral Philosophy and spiritual-religious innovation, like George Fox´s founding the Quaker Friends, their Anti-Slavery Society for Christian dissidents, FDR´s UN, and Unitarian Universalism. The role of spiritual teachers like Swami Vivekenanda´s Autobiography of a Yogi, Gandhi, Alan Watts, and Carlos Casteneda are other important examples. They appeared alongside the development of Therapeutic Psychology by Freud, Jung, Adler, and so on. The reality of mental health in contrast to Freud´s adequate categories of neuroses and character disorders, and then in relation to spiritual Transpersonal practice as Jung began to lay out make Therapeutic Psychology more complete. Limiting beliefs are better transformed, like Al Gore´s environmentalism that expanded the influence of the UN´s IPCC on the moral issues of the science of Climate Change. Gore also left his original S Baptist association because of their turn to Fundamentalism. Mental health in terms of emotional awareness, self-esteem, empathy, tolerance, and social responsibility are part of personal growth and its next stage with spiritual wisdom, spiritual growth. It´s why Barack Obama could refer to himself as "the kid with the funny name" and appoint a Green Jobs Czar, among other capacities. Therapeutic and Transpersonal Psychology and spiritual practices and traditions help guide us in the use of our familiar five senses, to even have patience and trust our instincts with scientific instruments and using scientific understanding to make a sustainable world, and not facing catastrophic unsustainability from profiteering and materialistic obliviousness. ***
S R @me Tyson might have been referring to the layman's definition or conception of spirituality in its various forms such as: general orthodox religious beliefs, but also new age understandings (The law of attraction, crystal healing, quantic woo woo, etc). It is undeniable that people have different understandings about what spirituality means; there's a plethora of worldviews, pantheons, philosophies, and it would be too hard to narrow it to what one would think is the "best" representation of the spiritual, whatever that is. Now, I agree with you that Tyson's definition of spirituality is not very adequate even for the "normal" definitions of it. He could have gone more into depth, and entertain some philosophical ideas.
A scientist, however, when doing his/her work, cares about the scientific method and using it to undertsand the world; physics specifically used to figure out the fundamental laws behind it. So far, this method's scope does not include spirituality, simply because its claims are unfalsifiable and lacks empirical data. How does one study the "soul" if it is "beyond" matter? With the mind? But what do we do about biases, the inherent unreliability of the mind, lying, subjectivity, etc? It's interesting to discuss it philosophically, but not scientifically, unless one day someone invents a tool that is able to show us a soul, or anything spiritual -- but that hasn't happened yet.
“Too hard to narrow (spirituality) to what one would think is the "best" representation”? Comparative Religion and the Philosophy of Religion are longstanding academic disciplines. They are, moreover, interdisciplinary. In college, I found an excellent basis that is little known in Bio Anthropologist E Chapple´s work (begun in the 1940s) on religious symbols and ritual, that he basically categorizes as Rites of Passage or Intensification. More standard scholar Mircae Eliade talks about the Sacred and the Profane. Rudolf Otto talks about the numinous. Neuroscientist A Newberg has been looking at brainscans. D Zohar and Marshall developed the concept of Spiritual Intelligence by 2001 in which “synchronous processing” is discussed, for example. For another, Kjaer 2002 has been cited for studies about dopamine levels in meditation. NDT, and you, are talking in terms of your laymans´ perceptions as if Religion scholars, psychologists, and even neurologists, have never done any studies, work, or thinking. That´s poorly informed at best, and functionally illiterate at worst. If you understand the existence of more depth and philosophical ideas, you are underemphasizing how his comments betray the woeful ignorance and undervaluing of spirituality in a hyper-sci-technophile society.
You yourself then go on to make mistaken statements about science and spirituality that I have already debunked. However, “synchronous processing” and “dopamine” are not the beginning of the academic study of spirituality, as I also already pointed out. Your resorting to terms and judgments like “unfalsifiable” and “lacks empirical data” are pure reflex judgmentalism that you have picked up from other prejudiced, and Scientism ideological, sources. Science itself is originally a University-based form of academic study, and a form of philosophy, all forms of which involve the recognition of phenomena and the forming of hypotheses about them. The first scientific philosopher, the ancient Greek Thalus of Miletus tried to make non-anthropomorphized explanations about empirical physical phenomena, not accuse others of “unfalsifiability.”
Getting clear then that you, I, and we are talking about Philosophy and its various forms means that “soul” and “matter” have to be informed adequately through all the Social Sciences, not some astronomer layman outside his field who can´t even name a relevant book. Start talking about Freud, Jung, and sรณ on, and then Ian Stevenson MD at UVA and their Dept of Perceptual Studies including NDEs and reincarnation. “What do we do about biases, … that hasn´t happened yet?” Is NDT or Dawkins paying you to close your mind and lick their boots? Philosophical investigation requires research and reflection, not wallowing in antithetical ideological denialism. Russell Brand is sharp, but not that scholarly, yet, anyway. Gandhi led a non-violent independence movement against an empire with soldier and guns, and didn´t cave in because it looked too hard, or there weren´t any beer sponsors. Better do some research and learn to ask constructive questions, not get paralyzed because you´ve listened to too many knuckleheaded conformist Scientism ideologues. ***
yt RB NDT S R @me I will accept that I was not aware of the books you mentioned. Back when I was exploring spirituality I opted to go into the heart of it, meaning right into the ancient scriptures, especifically Hindu scriptures such as the Upanishads, Vedas, Puranas, although I also researched other religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism. I practiced various forms of meditation, among other practices. I am definately not even close to being what they called a "master", but I am not ignorant of what they were teaching, and I certainly wasn't superficial nor merely an orthodox. I do lack academic knowledge on this topic, though, and I will check out the books you mentioned; but, I am not licking anybody's boots nor closing my mind. That's the part where you are mistaken and, must I say, rather condescending. All you've mentioned regarding NDE's and reincarnation (perhaps based on Ian Stevenson's work?), are not even close to being rigorous enough to be considered scientific. I can name you many problems with both of those cases. Moreover, indeed Thalus of Miletus did not accuse anyone of unfalsifiability, but like you yourself said he was one of the first scientific philosophers. The concept of unfalsifiability came later with Karl Popper, who wanted to develop a better scientific process. Even Jung acknowledged this work. I am pretty sure we can make a good argument in favor of religion in terms of how it affected human psychology, or how it is used with symbols and stories to, perhaps, make us better humans (since it informs us of morals and archetypes). But I haven't seen any good argument in favor of the ACTUAL existance of a God, a soul, ghosts, spiritual energy, life after death in a heaven or a hell, or reincarnation. This is the part that is of greater interest for me. But, in case I'm ignoring some important facts, I will read the works you've mentioned in your comment as to have an even better perspective and understanding.
I´m sorry to find it appropriate to use such strong language, but I´m afraid you have limited your spiritual search prematurely and judgmentally, immersing and conducting yourself in the presumptuous and haughty manner of Scientism ideologues. You don´t even question your own conduct, a basic and essential tool of psychologico-spirituality. Dawkins the biologist, Krauss the physicist like the suaver NDT have lead the way, throwing out academic rigor, and violating its norms really, according to crude anti-religious prejudice. They have been abusing and misusing their credentials in science, probably in part because they don´t realize that science actually IS philosophy and that religion actually NEEDS to be philosophized more. Dawkins et al are actually trapped in the masquerade and confuse things, then lose perspective in pop culture as Scientism celebrity chatterboxes. You express their kind of Scientism presumptions. To your credit, your decent comportment makes “bootlicking” a bit unnecessary sledgehammer term more generally. Scientism is seductive, however, as a “muscle-for-brains,” “might-makes-right” ideology, bolstered no less by various psychosocial and cultural realms like the sociology of business profiteers. Speaking in definitive terms about spirituality from hard science is in fact reductionism and anti-social sciences in general. It´s not New Age that they limit as “woo,” it´s the Social Sciences and Humanities, including Philosophy.
As for UVA´s Dept of PS and reincarnation and NDE´s, I intoduced two topics of their work to you, and you attempt to jump on it according to your Scientism ideological criteria without lifting a finger to research it, much less demonstrate the philosophical scientific method, “How do they define the phenomena, and what dynamics do they study?” You can name “many problems” with which cases? Do you know the researchers work? That´s ideological judgmentalism, and corresponds to condescending behavior, to put it politely. The dictum and its correlate “think outside the box (of ideological Scientism with philosophical Science)” and Buddha´s Four Noble Truth´s, as well as Jesus´ “Clean the cup within” in Matt are important bases towards the solution. As for falsifiability, yes, I am aware of Popper´s ideas and importance, and Kuhn´s work on paradigms, both of which have artificially been compartmentalized leaving the untenable and toxic impression of science as not being Philosophy and making the monster of “supertechnicians revealing Science as God” Scientism. Regarding Thales, my point was in fact that Thales´ work was the foundation of modern secularized Christian empirical scientific philosophy, not Popper´s falsifiability concept.
In the matter of the psychology of religion, that´s an important level to study. To grasp the philosophical foundations of interdisciplinary thinking, however, van Bertanaffly´s General Systems Theory and Fritjof Capra´s updates, is essential. As for God, etc, “good arguments in favor of the ACTUAL existance of a God, a soul, ghosts, spiritual energy, life after death in a heaven or a hell, or reincarnation,” the first issue is moving from basic empirical philosophy to metaphysical philosophy. The existence of God? Philosophically, Aristotle examined physical cause and effect as a kind of pioneer, then laid a fine basis with his First Cause reasoning. There had to be a First Cause to this physical Universe, which he formulated as the Unmoved Mover. There had to be a First Cause to this physical Universe, which he formulated as the Unmoved Mover. The history of Western education and the Anthropological Biology of Human Biocultural Evolution, however, has to be unpacked and goes through St. Thomas of Aquinas, for one, who was a landmark with arguments like the Uncaused Cause. As part of Christian historical sociology, Aquinas reflects the Judeo-Christian psychocultural thread and all the spiritual-religious visions in relation to God through Abraham, Moses, and Jesus and his legacy. That legacy includes Paul of Tarsus, St. Anthony of the Desert, Constantine the Great, St. Benedict, and St. Francis of Assisi up to Aquinas, DesCartes, and the multiple threads of Martin Luther, Galileo, George Fox, John Locke, and Joseph Priestley among the majors. That becomes a self-referential kind of philosophical “Moebius Strip,” for this conversational dialogue and its academic basis. That´s the Historical Psychosocial argument supplement to “religious experience.” WL Craig´s revival of the Kalam Cosmological argument takes the Uncaused Cause and asserts, “Anything in the observable Universe that begins to exist has a cause.” As for “soul,” I mentioned Freud, Jung, et al and would add Piaget et al, all of which can be reflected on in terms of the implications of the Anthropology of Shamanism and Transpersonal Psychology, Stevenson´s and UVA DPS scholar-scientists´ identifying reincarnation´s confirmed correspondence between scars, memories, and referent case trauma. NDE´s, restricted for rigor to medical cases, involve verifiable information gained while clinically dead. All attempts to reasonably deny legitimacy can be evaluated, and when exhausted, reveal not inevitable fraudulent phenomena, but persistent denial. That is ideological not phenomonological and finally objective. Another good foundation is Stanley Jaki´s work, like “Science and Creation,” well-treated by scholar Stacy Transacos here

Monday, February 10, 2020

Is Unitarian Universalism Classist? Is It Christian?

RE J R R It may vary from (UU) congregation to congregation, but all of these things occur in UUA congregations, and also in the UUA administration itself. The anti-racism programs are quite divisive. There is tension between various religious factions within UUism, perhaps especially between the Atheists and Theists of various types. UUism is only half-jokingly described as "The Religious Arm of the Democratic Party". How many moderate card-carrying Republicans belong to UU churches? Most were driven out over the last decade ot two. UUs are overwhelmingly upper-middle-class White people, and can be quite classist and elitist. Indeed a book has been written about that in recent years. Am I wrong about any of the above?
B B R E yes, you are wrong about most of it.
Me: Unsupported assertions are wishful thinking and de facto opinions, and often enough like here denialism, attempting to masquerade as an unassailable declaration of truth and refutation. In simple and polite terms, it sounds like your head is buried somewhere in the sand. You need to totally refute the statement you oppose by attempting to provide examples that comprehensively add up. Anything less equates to superficial posturing. I volunteered at my UU homeless shelter at CCNY and recognize the significance of their hosting 12 step group Recovery meetings. However, I worked in Social Services, joined a food co-op, and delved into Fair Trade, Solidarity Economics, and Quakerism s leading organizational and doctrinal innovations to pioneer progressive spiritual Chriistianity, all on my own. I started to try to share my passions and discoveries without being able to generate any substantive interest. I noticed that at the UU community in the suburbs where I grew up there was no homeless shelter or 12 step groups, although one guy was inspired by his reading Thoreau in healthy reflections. I tended to spend my time elsewhere as my grad studies deepened my understanding of activism and led me abroad into another cultural context. In Brazil, non-Christian UUism is very clearly an intellectual interest with class underpinnings. My own evaluation has pushed me to further visceral intellectual and spiritual insight. UUism is implicitly Christian, and has been missing the discipline of Jesus´ significance. One profound disadvantage is Jesus´ imperative to help and give the Good News to the poor in modernized ways and counter directly the crass misrepresentation of Jesus by Fundamentalists and the Religious Right. Even Gandhi´s interfaith and activist Christian Hinduism is basically ignored.
Me R E As far as UUism being a largely secular progressive organization, I agree. The secular ideal and definition of "fairness" in an abstract sense might make Republicans appear unfairly treated by egalitarian ideals is, however, largely a kind of optical illusion. More on that below. Some aspects would sound plausible to me if they were adequately contextualized. As the "Religious Arm of the DP," I see the fact that UU congregations don´t normally do much worship and are largely secular, although they honor the UU principles. My assessment over time as a spiritual seeker has determined that Jesus Christ is not merely the historical or symbolic platform for UU history born in the titillating region of Dracula Vampire fiction in Transylvania. He is the ultimate key source of UU principles, but has been artificially disconnected from his direct role, clearly by the well-intended but largely anonymous founders of UUism in 1961. Are Jan Hus, Michael Servetus, and Joseph Priestley so important that their profound basis in Christianity can be reduced to considering Jesus Christ as adequately "Just another prophet" for the principles? The revolutionary meaning of both Jesus and his legacy formulated in UU principles actually lacks the discipline of integrity that his signal and landmark figure provides. He has long been called the Savior in his tradition, and if that is considered incompatible with UUism´s noble pluralism, that is a major assumption so critical it should be made explicit. I find it untenable. UUism´s noble principles confirm Jesus´ hallowed and momentous role even as they make it possible to clarify Jesus Christ the Savior as inclusionary on behalf of the Jewish prophetic tradition and all the eclectic influences and innovations that make up Jesus´ complex legacy community. God deserves eplicit worship, as does Jesus who taught God´s love as God´s son and the need for individuals to seek the Kingdom of God and Heaven within and among themselves here on Earth.
As for Republicans, that party´s values are not merely frivolous, but ideologically toxic, profiteering anti-social and anti-democratic, and have been conscientiously crafted by rich conservative funders since around the time of the 1970s Powell Memo. UU´s may not give Jesus adequate recognition or qualify as a technical "Christian church," but their ideology is pro-social and pro-democratic their ideology is pro-social and pro-democratic consistent with a modernized form of the actual integrity Jesus taught and showed. I have to subordinate my formal UUism to my interfaith Christianity weighed with Gandhi the interfaith Christian-Hindu, the Quaker-Friends, Christian Science, the 12 Step Recovery Movement, and the strongly activist United Church of Christ. If some or many UUs are identified as "classist and elitist," the question is, according to what and whose standards? Jesus WOULD BE the highest standard, with George Fox and Lucretia Mott of Quaker fame and Gandhi being excellent proteges. Meanwhile, say, the rationalists Unitarian Joseph Priestley and Deist Thomas Jefferson made key compromises that even anti-religionist pro-social businessman Robert Owen and UK Christian "socialist" FD Maurice didn´t make. By JP and TJ´s standard, "classist and elitist" UU´s are who the UU association agrees with mostly, and they don´t see things your way. UUism is a religious association, not a church, and has principles that show why Greek philosophy didn´t thrive much onits own, and secularized unacknowledged Christian rationalism are easily fudged within wider social conventions.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Human Rights a Modern Social Myth?

JM yt TLSA 2/7/20 What if human rights is a modern social myth that is at war with real justice and the true grounds of social order?
Me@JM You like speculating about myths? Well, Human Rights is a socially constructed reality based on the integrity values taught by Jesus Christ and elaborated in the psychosocial and cultural complexity of his legacy. Most simply, your leading question needs to be treated as an empirical philosophical hypothesis to reveal the objective and experiential truth. In that case, the necessary formulation is, "What is the basis of human rights, real justice, and the true grounds of social order?" Welcome to what has long become my mission for God, Jesus, and the supporting cast. However, your fear-muscle-based "What if....?" indicates that you have swallowed the profiteers´ ideology that drives the idolatries of profiteering, Fundamentalism, and even its lower order antithesis of Scientism. Man, corporate advertising, publicity, and military-industrial propaganda are strategy, not truth, and they have USED Psychology for their idolatrous purposes, not the God´s honest truth for Jesus. I´ll gladly cite Harry Harlow, Freud, Jung, JB Watson , Piaget, and Kohlberg to lay out the empirical case in Psychology, and tie it to the History and Sociology of secularized Christian Western Civilization that explains why FDR´s UN and Social Europe honor Christ in higher integrity than the hamstrung Dems and shiftless GOP who don´t raise the banner for Social and Ecological Responsibility. Human Rights is no myth. Neither is Just War. The myths are that it is sustainable to ride military and profit overkill into denial of anti-social ecological overshoot and exploitation. Jesus taught "Love thy neighbor as thyself," and that´s what FDR represented, along with Ralph Nader, and now Michael Moore, for starters.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Intellectual Escapism or Activism? Liberal Religion Explored

TEF UU FOTF 2-5-2020 I see your point, thank you for clearing that up for my ancient, fossilized brain![๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‰] I do not see "retreating" to liberal religion though as being escapism, quite the opposite, people's spiritual, religious, or moral conceptions lie at the root of their political thinking and actions. That is a well established fact.The liberal Unitarian faith made our forebears very powerful influencers, and mover and shakers back in the founding of this republic, and up to the late 20th century when the last of the old school Unitarians died. Thoreau once said that there is only one hacking at the roots of evil to the thousands who hack at the branches. All of the political thinking in UUisn today, including our being seduced by leftist, PC, or identity politics, plus illiberal and intolerant thinking, is because we have wandered far from our spiritual roots into the world of social clubbing. Yes, many of us take part in social justice movements and useless demonstrations without stopping to see that our energies are deliberately being drained off by useless actions due to us not going after the roots of the problems. We protest against climate destruction while the oligarchs laugh at us because we will not remove them from power. The fake two party system was set up to make sure we are ineffectual in making change. I will not go into that right now, maybe later, its late. But we need to look at why people are hateful, racist, and conservative. At the same time the nation has become the land of political and social ignorance, so education should be our greatest goal to change that. Jefferson, as well as other great thinkers over the ages, but especially our Unitarian ones, have pointed out that there has only been two sides since the dawn of human society contending for control and dominance, that of conservatism, and that of liberalism. We need to stop confusing this issue and get back on track and back to our liberal religious heritage...a good place to start.
Well, you certainly need to do what makes sense to you, and our liberal religious heritage has important strong points, essential ones I would suggest. I see a problem in the selected and limited empirical resources underlying the actual tradition itself. In my biography, I embraced a chance to write a Letter to the Ed of my high school newspaper that marked my recognition of sound action and empirical investigation. Why didn´t Priestley and Jefferson explore Quakerism, for example? That´s allowable as individual preferences go, but in formulating declared doctrines like their shared Rationalism, it´s incomplete and really a little careless. Getting back to roots, as you say, is indeed prudent. I recall, however, that my first contact with the UU institution was focused on my embrace of a term in a UU pamphlet, "spiritual path" (ca. 1981), and led by my (shared) University-Educational values in the study of Human Biosocial Evolution in college, along with reading Huston Smith on Taoism, and Alan Watts, too ๐Ÿง๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿผ✊ I identified my affiliative strength more with activist not-for-profits and later food co-ops, holistic workshops, and University culture more directly than the superficial socializing I found in my contact with UU congregations. All that, combined with the History (and Sociology) of Science, Education, and Economics led me to observe the importance of the spirit of Christian monasticism in St. Thomas of Aquinas and Martin Luther, and prefiguring and along side that the non-institutional societal emergence/resurgence of Christian high integrity as in St. Anthony of the Desert and St. Francis of Assisi. While Galileo, DesCartes, Locke, Newton in the 1600s and Priestley by 1800 are key in the University-Enlightenment line to Jefferson, George Fox emerged in the 1600s outside those circles in an impressive demonstration of the spiritual-revelatory dimension of high Christian integrity. His activism expressed the rather pragmatic and alternately conscientiously introspective and social Quaker-Friend approach, as "doctrines" go.
It was his protege Quakers who organized the association that spurred other Christian dissidents in the pioneering Anti-Slavery social movement by the 1780s. Thomas Clarkson, a dissenting Anglican in the UK, for example, and in the US a Philadelphia Quaker group with T Paine writing already as a maverick Quaker scion, and Ben Franklin a Freethinking unaffiliated Christian. I haven´t come across much Unitarian involvement that I can think of, since they seem to have had a more intellectual and institutional focus. Emerson was a maverick intellectual who broke away from Unitarian antiquated formalities at the time, I recall, and embraced a concept of Nature focus as a "Transcendentalist." He did get inspired to comment by the 1830s as events heated up. Secularist social entrepreneur Robert Owen awoke doing economic activity as he helped inspire a major economic innovation along with the massive Anti-Slavery boycotts and "free (non-slave) produce" campaigns and projects. Along with FD Maurice´s UK "Christian Socialism" by the 1840s, the 28 workers at Rochdale founded their pioneering and landmark Co-operative Store. Marx´s stuff was brilliant in identifying alienation, exploitation, and the significance of economic ownership, but he simply disregarded and neglected the individual and co-op model as badly as any wrongheaded moneybags capitalist. It turns out a Danish minister brought the UK co-op model to Denmark, Germans like Raiffeisen founded co-op banks, the Frankfurt School, and Boell Mitbestimmung Corp Work Councils, and a Spanish priest spurred poor polytechnic students to become engineers and found the brilliant industrial co-op Mondragon. Italy´s got another major story. The Anti-Slavery movement´s UK success, however, revealed sexism, and that´s where I recall that Quaker Susan B Anthony liked mixing with some Unitarians, like T Parker, I believe. My own reflection and experience have thus situated UUism´s religious-intellectual insights in relation to the Christian basis of its societal and economic fabric, and the foundation of Christ´s teachings, including spiritual practice.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Christology: Spiritual Self-Help, Pluralist, and Social Justice Activist

TK LCFB 1312020 Mark that’s quite the history. Thank you for sharing. I’d love to know how you’ve developed your Christology with this background? Are you still universalist?
Me-... That´s an intriguing question for me to answer actually, thank you. I guess I can classify it simply as a mix of critical-historical, liberation theological, Transpersonal-quantum experiential, and free will constructivist. I look at Jesus´ crucifixion and Resurrection and their cause-effect relation to the meaning of spiritual seeking and virtue historically. Jesus´ pivotal baseline role psychosocially confirms his significance as Savior, as does the pluralism that emerges in Jesus´ legacy the University, with philosophical inclusionary understanding. Science, a christianized Greek Philosophy, makes Jesus´ teachings about personal spiritual "seeking the Kingdom of Heaven" as fundamental, and sustainability science/activism as clarifying the meaning of prophecies of doom in their cause-effect implications and call to personal-spiritual-social responsibility. Christianity in its "secular ship" has lead to corporate-profiteering dominated mix of "Westernizing" globalization and the mix of the UN. It needs spiritual seeker activist Good Samaritan-Prodigal Sons/Daughters, not so much to be welcomed back, but to clear things up and get things, and people on track. I began using the term spiritual modernization when I read Karen Armstrong´s book on fundamentalism in response to modernization, by comparison. I am "universalist" with Gandhi as my go-to icon: He got a law degree, inspired to Hinduism from secularism by modern Theosophy, then to activism by studying Jesus and Christians dissenting from hypocritical authorities- Thoreau, etc. Jesus´ legacy has triumphed materialistically in globalization, while subordinated to its monster, corporate profiteering that wields Fundamentalism. That has laid the groundwork for pluralistic spiritual modernization, and UUism is an excellent example that doesn´t quite fully get its basis in Jesus and connect all the dots. I like Process Theology a lot, like C Hartshorne and JB Cobb. The thing is to not lose sight of Jesus´ and his legacy´s empirical role in historical psychosociology and distinctive Jewish prophetic identity as Savior. ***
My Christology can be summed up further, it occurs to me, as critical-historical, Spiritual, Self-Help, Social Entrepreneurial, Pluralist, and Social Justice Activist, since any other doctrinal approach to Salvation ignores Christianity´s multi-layered status, condition, complicity, culpability, and responsibility, along with the social control, superstition (non-modernized from a spiritual viewpoint), and other hypocritical and worse aspects. Jesus´ crucifixion and Resurrection wasn´t substitutionary atonement. It was catalytic and potentiating atonement, not absolute and deterministic, for constructivist spiritual activism. ***
Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ - edited by Brad Jersak and Michael Hardin "We considered him stricken by God. But..."
Did God pour out his wrath on his own Son to satisfy his own need for justice? Or did God-in-Christ forgive the world even as it unleashed its wrath on him? Was Christ's sacrifice the ultimate fulfilment of God's demand for redemptive bloodshed? Or was the cross God's great "No" to that whole system? The church is asking these questions afresh. And from every stream of Christianity, answers are coming.
Stricken by God combines twenty essays (over 500 pages) from such authors as N.T. Wright, Rowan Williams, Richard Rohr, Miroslav Volf and Marcus Borg. Other contributers include Tony Bartlett, J. Denny Weaver, Sharon Baker, James Alison and Mark Baker. Anglican, Catholic, Anabaptist, Evangelical and Orthodox writers come together to revisit the question of the atonement. Together, they share and develop perspectives of the cross with implications for restorative justice, nonviolence and redemptive suffering. The following is an excerpt from Brad Jersak's chapter, "Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ":
I. Why gather? Across virtually every stream of Christian faith, the doctrinal ground is shifting under our theology of the Cross and the atonement. Tectonic plates of understanding are sliding and grinding—long-standing assumptions concerning sin, wrath, judgement, salvation and the very nature of God are triggering theological tremors in every quarter. Some perceive a dreadful crisis surrounding “the faith once delivered.” Others feel a deep resonance to a fresh revelation of our first truths. Such core issues as why Christ died and how Christ saves are begging new questions. The current theological earthquake did not arise from mere boredom in seminary ivory towers. Experts and lay people alike are digging deep to such bedrock queries as, “Who is God?” and “What is the Gospel?” Very few givens remain. We might wonder, “Is nothing sacred?” That is exactly the question.
More specifically, a recent surge of literature, conferences and debates has re-opened the question of the meaning of Christ’s death at varying depths of strata. What do these shifts say about God? About God’s love? About God’s justice? What is the “good news” and how do we proclaim it? What is the preaching of the Cross? In fact, what is the Cross? What is “the blood”? One might wonder whether this buckling, holy ground will once again yawn and swallow those who dare trespass.
In the midst of our wondering, we run into the relatively recent(1) dogmatization of penal substitution as the evangelical atonement creed. No longer content to call it a theory, many preach it as the required content of belief in order to be “saved.” Yet in these days, penal substitution is being reconsidered. Some are carefully cleansing it of misrepresentative accretions and defending its central position. Others feel it should be nuanced and relativized as one among a cluster of metaphors. Still others feel it needs to be renounced and bid good riddance. In the latter case, what alternatives do the dissenting voices propose? Are common themes rising to the surface that are truly rooted in the Scriptures and church tradition? That is the major question this book seeks to answer.
II. Who is at this table? Included in this discussion are representatives of Anglican, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anabaptist and Evangelical traditions. They range from bishops to prison chaplains to novelists, all of whom have given significant thought to the meaning of the Cross of Christ. While the members of these many traditions offer alternative readings of the atonement—even disagreeing sharply on a number of points—they have gathered around this table with a number of shared convictions.
A. They recognize that a shift in our understanding of the atonement is both necessary and well under way. A sense of urgency and inspiration is developing around our proclamation of the Cross. B. Each author presents an alternative to the dominant theory of the atonement known as penal substitution. Most do not believe that the Cross saves us through the satisfaction of God’s wrath by the punishment of Jesus Christ. C. While these authors bring a variety of approaches to “Cross-talk,” three common themes serve as an umbrella under which we might all gather: 1. God’s nonviolence in Christ at the cross. I.e. While the Cross was a violent episode, we are not witnessing God’s violence; the atonement is non-penal. Good Friday was not the outpouring of God’s violence upon Christ to assuage his own wrath. That day was God’s “No!” to wrath and “Yes!” to love and forgiveness in the face of our violence and wrath. 2. Christ’s total identification with humanity in his incarnation and his call for us to identify with him in his life, death, resurrection and glorification. His solidarity with us draws us into the new humanity he is creating. 3. The victory of Christ over Satan, sin and death as he confronts and defeats them through his resistance, obedience, and resurrection.
III. Speaking of the Atonement Historically, the question to which theories of the atonement addressed themselves was, “How does the Cross save us?” This question assumes that it is specifically the Cross (i.e. the death of Christ) that saves—a fair assumption based on Paul’s commitment to preaching nothing but “Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). He referred to the gospel as “the message of the Cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18) or “preaching salvation through the Cross” (Galatians 5:11). We’re said to be “saved by his blood” or “by his death” (Romans 5). Indeed, the Cross seems to be the focus of Christ’s mission and the central symbol of his incarnation. The significance of the Cross raises further questions. Our authors will investigate the following: • Why did Jesus die? (Both historically and theologically speaking. From the Jews’ and Romans’ perspective? From the apostles’ perspective? From God’s point of view? And specifically, from Jesus of Nazareth’s point of view?) • Did Christ have to die? (I.e. Did he have to be killed? Was it inevitable? Was it necessary?) • Did he intend to die? (Or did he simply intend to obey, even unto death? In either case, why? What was he attempting to do? How did Christ understand his path to the Cross?)
Yet we mustn’t collapse the whole Gospel narrative nor our entire soteriology into Good Friday. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that apart from the resurrection, we would be of all people most pitied. Further, we ought not to divorce the events of Passion Week and Easter weekend from the life and ministry of Christ. The incarnation of Christ—the sending of God’s Son in toto—is what makes our salvation possible. Chris Hoke, a member of the Tierra Nueva (an international faith and justice community), put it to me this way: The key to my own thesis is that atonement precedes the Cross. The Cross is not the key event that saves us, but the portrait par excellence of the God we believe in. The Cross is God’s climax—the living out of his type of power and love. For a careful theology of atonement, we might more precisely ask, How does Christ save us? From who or what does he save us? And what does “save” mean? Secondarily, “What part did his death play in that salvation?” From there, we ask in what sense Jesus’ death was (i.) necessary, (ii.) inevitable, and (iii.) intentional.
According to the apostolic tradition, Jesus knew that he would die,(2) and that it was necessary(3) in that it was the inevitable result of ultimate obedience to his Father and the wickedness of mankind. Anselm rightly identifies the atonement question as, “Why did God become man?” One reason the Word became flesh was in order to die.(4) In becoming fully human, Christ gained access to death so that he could confront death on our behalf and defeat the tyranny of death through his own death and resurrection. In the physical realm, his death proves inevitable as he confronts imperial and religious systems with the nonviolent message of God. In the spiritual realm, his death is intentional in that he confronts the forces of death and hades and defeats them through his resurrection..... For the rest of this essay, see

Evangelicals as Pharisees alone?

R P LCFB 222020 Evangelicals are the current Pharisees. They deny Jesus's teachings. Jesus was a liberal!
Me-... Except that Jesus was a pro-active liberal, and anybody who is not pro-active is judging. Ahem. Do I need to go there? To deal with the hypocrisy and worse of the Evangelicals, liberals have their own work to do. I went from a passive guy who liked Jimmy Carter and disliked Reagan to a letter writer in High School, and now writing about food co-ops and Michael Moore films as necessary icons to make an Occupy Wall St. movement worth its salt and capable of putting the US in friendly contention with Social Europe et al instead of being the "Great Satan" US. It goes deep since right wing economic ideology has been swallowed by many American liberals. A platform of socially and ecologically responsible business and economics hasn´t been articulated, despite the Green Party´s existence, 2004 candidate Dick Gephardt´s book An Even Better Place, and Obama´s brilliant, but short-winded, shot at a Green Jobs czar. Thus, Bernie´s articulating things like social business models and Michael Moore´s films showing the same highlight the bigger problem. Trump and the GOP are heads of a mythological hydra. Hillary type Dems are another. Ralph Nader, Elizabeth Gilbert´s Eat, Pray, Love, Barbara Kingsolver´s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and Colin Beavan´s No Impact Man, food co-ops, credit unions, organic Fair Trade green stuff and more need to inspire more liberals more deeply to repudiate and transform the profiteering Big Biz corp model that has made anti-social the superficiial American Way.