Someone Else's Magic

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Someone Else's Magic

Someone Else's Magic

We live now more than ever before in societies that emphasize conformity in many more aspects of life. Somewhat driven by our fast-developing yet rapidly changing technology which itself is grounded in consumerism and materialism, it seems implied that the more we conform to what everyone else has and does, the more we are supposed to be able to function and interact with each other appropriately.

Is it no wonder then, that a consideration of Christian doctrines which for many is the same as Christian thinking, includes a dogmatic impulse toward conformity to a formula that is still being debated now into a third millennium.
We make much of that time in life when there is sufficient experience of past years coupled with the prospect of an ample number of future years that we begin to ask:
Why do I do what I do? Why do I accept what I accept? Why do I enjoy some things and willing tolerate others?
Many have called it a “mid-life crisis” and one is prompted to ask why is it a crisis? Is it not the same moment we experience over and over before – and after – mid-life? Is it not one of those frequent moments when we stop and ask ourselves how we are doing and whether or not we are satisfied?
The answers to those questions are determined by who owns our dictionary. When we consider whether or not we are “doing okay” or “not doing so good”, are the means and standards by which we measure those two values our own? Or do they belong to a peer group, a culture, or a spiritual society to which we belong?
Although it is perfectly acceptable to be in agreement with someone else’s definitions, is it acceptable to not apply our own critical thinking as to whether value judgments based on someone else’s magic are adequate for us?
When we consider our own personal state of being, do we automatically compare our own “success” with the “success” of someone else?
Do we compare our own job, wealth or possessions with that of someone else – and find ourselves wanting?
Do we measure our own spirituality and sense of religion with some “attitudinal norm” commonly supported within our society?
Are such comparisons the most efficient way to stop for a moment, look around to see how we are doing and whether or not we are satisfied?
Reason, which is so much more than simply applied logic, includes an intuitive way of thinking and knowing. One does not get a sense of one’s self through pure logic and one cannot get a handle on how one really feels by someone else’s definitions – someone else’s magic.
Reason applied spiritually is prayerful – prayer in its purest sense. Reason is reflection of one's own experience and, integrated with intuition, is the means by which the inner soul speaks in a voice sufficiently loud to be heard by the outer consciousness.
This is where one senses, feels and hears God whispering. If one cannot sense one’s inner soul, hearing that voice divine is impossible. One cannot answer questions such as those of mid-life if one cannot sense the wisdom of that part of us that never sleeps. The most important compilation of personal knowledge and wisdom is stored there and nowhere else.
Ignoring inner knowledge and feelings during life’s moments of pause and reflection – focusing merely on external collective values in measuring one’s own current state and status is truly giving away the ability to make healthy course corrections.
In doing so we remove our perfectly fitting self-developed moccasins and attempt to tread our personal path having donned someone else’s tight and binding hockey skates.

Or the even bigger lie that God will curse the person who does not believe men who claim to be God's chosen mouthpieces.

Arthur, first let me just state that you misrepresentwhat is said in the Bible. People who go to hell, according to the Bible, go there because they REJECT God willingly, not that they are tested in the grammar of the written word and that God also states that He desires NO man to go to hell as it was created for the angels. With this understanding as given though the biblical record, are you now suggesting that you can speak on behalf of the angels and declare that they were not cast out of their first estate?

From the beginning I have made the proposition that a change in attitude and behavior is necessary in order for Christianity to maintain a strong and positive influence in the world. Though not in agreement with Bishop Spong who stated that "Christianity must change or die," I am in harmony with his understanding that literalist Christians may very well literalize themselves into inconsequential roles, or worse, becoming the cause of highly negative consequential events.

Your paragraph above illustrates the disagreement in that we do not share the same perspective of the Bible. Basing one's opinions by citing what the Bible says rather than what one has learned through daily interaction with what the Bible contains as one experiences life are two different things.

A preacher who labors based on an innerant Bible ends up, as Watts wrote, attempting to "tell God what to do and the people how to behave." For a long time the second part of that phrase had more impact than the first. However, attempting to tell God what to do because the Bible is inerrant reveals itself more and more as faulty doctrine.

Part of perception, as you and others who've disagreed with my opinions have pointed out to me, is that the interpretation of what we perceive is primarily driven by what we expect to see, i.e. our own internal assumptions. The assumption that the Bible is inerrant then drives the expectations one has as to what God does or will say, what God actually wills, and what God deems as important.

The logic of this is inescapable. If God were to somehow make known a concept not found in the Bible (and I'm not talking about a concept contrary to something in the Bible, but, for example a concept more apropos to 21st century living), how would a culture totally based on an inerrant Bible be ever able to accept it?

"Dogmatic" for me consists of rigidity and inflexibility. I am dogmatic when it comes to my perception of the Bible as something more than a law book limited to its literal statements. I am dogmatic when it comes to viewing the Bible as but one of many powerful means of achieving on-going communion with God.

A church full of Bibles is not a stable full of animals all wearing one harness. It is a place where each person has an individual relationship via his or her personal scripture with the source of the scripture. Otherwise we reduce the Bible to a course in Religion 101, denying ourselves the advanced knowledge to be gained through experientially living religion 201, 301, 401, 100001 and more.

Why would we deliberately remain in shallow water where only splashing is allowed when we can venture into deeper waters, learn to swim and discover the ocean?

What is true is that all religions contradict each other. In the end, all we have are religions that some claim yes to a thing, and others claim no to a thing, and so on and so forth. God cannot be and then not be. He either is, or He is not. Therefore some religions have to be in error and false.

Only in an either/or world defined in black and white terms by an inerrant Bible and specific assumptions that cannot be proven. In this circumstance the human mind - where the Holy Spirit is truly sensed and experienced - remains tragically closed.

From the Bible over 400 times does Jesus equate himself as God and over 800 times it is claimed that His passion is the justifying act for the atoning sacrifice that God required.

And in an inerrant Bible one cannot read God Himself explaining why that atoning sacrifice is needed and in that specific way. That's a strange circumstance because it leaves the believers in an inerrant Bible in a position of having to trust those who discriminantly chose, compiled, organized and ordered the writings that became scripture.

It leaves Protestants having to assume that at least in regards to the Bible, Catholic forefathers were totally righteousness and pious and knew precisely the mind and will of God - and left that knowledge intact and untouched over the resulting centuries at the same time their need for survival and security compelled them to totally dishonest actions: the selling of forgiveness, the creation of crusades and inquisitions.

Belief in an inerrant Bible totally hangs on whether or not one is willing to accept that despite all other corruptions, those early Roman priests and scribes were faithfully copying and including EVERYTHING the earliest Christians knew and recorded about Jesus and God.

If one is willing to accept the above, then why could those Roman Fathers not formally agree and declare that Jesus was God until they voted on it 200+ years after Jesus resurrected?

Only those who propagate such are those who only want to reinvent their own personal God, yet doing so with no authority.

A curious statement.

Whether one admits it or not, one's relationship with God is totally and entirely personal. What authority might be needed before such a relationship is established?

It sounds in some way like signing up with an Internet provider. Until an agreement is reached and value is exchanged, the provider does not permit and actually refuses access to the world wide web and all contained therein. I seriously doubt that a personal relationship with God is conditional and needs outside authority.

You may deny what the bible says all day if you want and that is your right, but to claim the Bible does not state a thing is not truth and it is this that makes you out to be just another man claiming what you think.

Are we not all men and women claiming what we think?

We should and must claim what we think. We should be willing to own up to that which we think. We should honestly try to live up to that which we think - especially if we are willing to tell God what to do and people how to behave.

God has not asked your opinion, nor mine as we can only react to what is given to us through His chosen men.

That is another "old sectarian notion" that requires a Monarchical God rather than a loving Father in order for the notion to be valid. The idea that God delegates "authority" and dispenses different doses of wisdom to each individual does not correspond with a God who is no respecter of persons and who causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

Again the old lie that God will talk to a priest before God will talk to a parishoner.

Or the bigger lie that some sort of worthiness status must be achieved before one can receive the Word personally.

Or the even bigger lie that God will curse the person who does not believe men who claim to be God's chosen mouthpieces.


a patriarchal God who talks only through male prophets;

a God who chooses and favors one man over another - worse, one people over another.

All of those old sectarian notions support a construct that never existed and endless words and sermons pleading its existence will not change that.

As I have written before, The New Christianity remains the oldest Christianity - the on-going living practice of what Jesus actually taught and patterned. That, for 21st Century Christians - with all one's heart, might, mind and strength - is to love and trust God as the Father of Compassion and forgetting about an imagined Giver of Laws who must be blindly and inerrantly followed.

God could not and would not top what man can be fooled into thinking about himself.

But IF You are stating that God will not judge mankind - That would be completely out of line with what scripture says!

I am stating that God will not judge mankind.

It's only a part of mankind that has constructed a God-judgement scenario with which fear, shame and guilt can be wielded indiscriminately.

Humans are their own harshest judges. God could not and would not top what man can be fooled into thinking about himself.

At no point will I come up against God's wall of exclusion because of choices.
Choosing is an act of learning.

Learning is an act of growing.

Growing is an intent of God for all of us.

Choosing isn't limited to one or two choices upon which hang some sort of regret or joy for an eternity.

We were before we became mortal.
We will be after we die.
Choices are not based on punitive extortion. Rather they are part of the courage it takes to live life in a way that says

"my life is mine to live. God gave it to me - an unconditional gift that is mine forever. God expects me to chose and continue my progression from what I learn. I live with what I chose and not out of fear that what I chose will cost me my relationship to God. At no point will I come up against God's wall of exclusion because of choices."

Follow me to the truth!

How dare anyone presume to dictate to another human being the interpretation of an intimate, internal and personal experience of God?
Dreams, prompting, light-bulb moments, epiphanies ...

What to do with them?

Whatever we do with them - including our interpretations - the act is subjective for each of us.

I recall one watershed moment in this sense (since we are sharing personal stories). When I was in my early 40's and still struggling with walking away from the LDS church, the bishop of the local ward (congregation) sent the High Priest Group leader to my home to call me to be the Sunday class teacher for their weekly meetings.

I refused (something devout Mormons don't do because a "calling" is presumed to have come from The Lord through his local mouthpiece.)

When asked why, I told them that I was in a state of dissent moving to disbelief.

"Have you prayed about it Brother Ruger?"

"Yes, I have."

"And did you get an answer? Did the Spirit prompt you that the Church is the true church, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that we have living prophets on the earth today?"

I said that such was not the answer I received.

"Then you didn't pray for the right thing and got an answer from a source (Satan) other than God."

This represents my own concern about what we do with those highly personal spiritual moments that come to us. In the religion of my childhood, youth and adulthood into my 40's, the meaning and interpretation of dreams, promptings, answer to prayers, etc. were provided for me with a powerful insistence of conformity.

Mormon missionaries still challenge those to whom they preach to read the B of M and pray about it.

"You will know it is true because God will cause you to experience a 'burning in your bosom.'" (I'll tell you what will happen and I'll tell you the one true meaning of the event.)

The actual definition of that Group Leader's assertions is this (and I responded to him with the following words):

"Let me get this straight. When in doubt I'm supposed to pray and ask God for truth.

And you're telling me what that truth is and what the answer from God will be ...

so I'm supposed to ask God a question the answer to which I already know because I've already been told the answer by mortal religious authority.

But because I asked, God is going to give me that answer personally. If I get any other answer, it wasn't God."

The implication here is both monstrous and ludicrous. It makes as much sense as saying "Just for that you're not going to know what I wasn't going to tell you."

This circumstance lies at the heart of more than 100 years of revival meetings where an emotionally psychological moment is set up with the pre-installed definition that "God is about to convince you that I'm preaching absolute truth."

It made Billy Graham rich, famous and powerful.

The reason? Because millions of believers accepted his external definition of something that was intimately personal and internal to each of them. They suspended part of their belief and bought into someone else's magic.

They gave up their God-given ability do discern for themselves something intensely and spiritually personal - the experience of a greater personal manifestation of the Holy Spirit - and blindly accepted someone else's definition complete with someone else's declaration of the implications of that experience.

How dare anyone intrude into that kind of personal intimacy with God?

How dare anyone pretend such a middleman (or woman) is necessary?

How dare anyone presume to dictate to another human being the interpretation of an intimate, internal and personal experience of God?

Never assume that there is only one personal answer, one defined prompting or dream from God that intends to convince everyone ...

... and that some contemporary widely-accepted fundamentalist literal interpretation of what written scripture conveys spiritually is uniquely limited and doctrinally restricted to an absolute and innerant true meaning.

from which almost the entirety of Protestant theology owes its existence.

Much of the traditional dogma and doctrine that has survived through the centuries is that which was allowed, voted-on, and literally created by Roman Catholic Fathers from which almost the entirety of Protestant theology owes its existence.

I have yet to see an acknowledgement from Biblical literalists and the “inerrant” Bible of which they practice an unreasonable idolatry is a document that was compiled, edited and redacted by mere mortal religious and political men. The original Hebrew Bible is not intact today as the Old Testament. The current New Testament does not include all scripture available at the time.

There was no universally accepted God-inspired prophet present when the New Testament was compiled, no angel whispering into the minds of the victorious Roman Catholic Christians who had vanquished every other point of view also born at the advent of Christian belief.

I see a powerful endurance of that Roman Catholic interpretation of Paul’s writings which are older than the synoptic gospels and much closer to the time of the mortally alive Jesus. Regarding our inherited interpretation of Paul, that interpretation didn’t come from angels whispering to inspired Catholic political clerics. It came from the theology of the likes of Clement who said, among other things: “Every woman should be overwhelmed with shame at the very thought that she is a woman.”

Paul’s expositions are the oldest New Testament scripture. He refers constantly to the Christ and very little to the mortal Jesus other than repeated references to the resurrection and its power. Clearly those writings are more spiritual in context and refer to our potential for internal epiphanic experience that truly conveys the power of the resurrection, of on-going existence and eternity in the sense of forever a part of God. It also conveys a God of compassion much more than a God of judgment and is consistent with the most powerful concepts of Jesus: The Good Samaritan, Progidal Son and the other parables.

Those who have ears to hear will hear the message of Jesus’ teachings through the experiences portrayed by Paul.

We certainly could benefit by some sort of recognition and reconciliation regarding Christian history from the time of Constantine with what we have learned about the diversity of Christian practice prior to that time.

One of the primary issues with an inerrant view of the New Testament is it’s origination as a “document” whose compilation, editing and interpretation – it is assumed by many literalists - somehow survived the guile and deceit of those from whose self-interested labors the Bible was put together.

In that regard, the literalist view of the Bible is no different than the Mormon literalist view of the Book of Mormon. The assumptions as to why each contains the absolute and inerrant word of God are the identical.

succeeded in achieving escape velocity sufficient to break out of the literalist orbit of my culture.

I come from having succeeded in achieving escape velocity sufficient to break out of the literalist orbit of my culture. While not wanting to exaggerate or dramatize the effort, for me individually it was hard work that did not for the most part ever benefit or get a break from shut-down thinking.

The mind and the doubts, the doubts and the spirit, the spirit and the ego kept circling back to the thoughts. That seems to be the way I was wired or the way I personally wired myself by the time I was in my early 40's.

There were many layers of thinking to peel off the onion. It seemed - in the early going - that one thin skin of the onion peeled away only to reveal more subtle internalized assumptions that needed cleaning.

This seemed to go on for years, and in my case when recognizing that my inherent spirituality was not going to be swept out the door also, I had to struggle internally and mentally with a prior lifetime of images and assumptions that were hard to ignore.

Gradually these "screaming meemie" assumptions and thoughts receded. The physiological/psychological "ego" - the Captain Kirk that sat at the helm of my consciousness - was a hard person against which to mutiny.

"Aha! There is a God. Or God DOES exist."

Not much time this morning before leaving for work.

My own experience has been more easily understood (by me) in the context of Paul's writings.

God IS in our experience and as we ultimately define all things for ourselves based on our own inner encyclopedia, God will be more vividly sensed inwardly than outward.

I believe that those things from which we tend to hide and cower come from how we've internalized external portrayals and this is one of the fundamental temptations we face internally.

Learning to trust our own internal perceptiveness makes life - especially God - more real. It is not necessary to simply be satisfied with the limitations of outward evidence.

I come back to my old saw - the God from which we are tempted to hide and cower is someone else's magic.

Again to literal thinking: Jehovah of the Old Testament comes across as a mean-spirited, vindictive and judgemental old guy. Easy to think it's better to hide and cower.

The God of Compassion taught and patterned by Christ contrasts that Old Testament either-or mindset. Realizing the total implication of "the kingdom of God is within you" ought to unleash our willingness to trust the internal sense we have of God's reality. Otherwise, we're left to wait on extra-ordinary external events such as miracles or perceived "divine retribution events" - from which we may then say, "Aha! There is a God. Or God DOES exist."

When we pray to God for something and that something - or some other thing equally beneficial occurs - many of us seem to be content that "God has spoken and answered our prayers." There is a limitation to that in that we never really speak to God or feel God's presence only through the event itself. That leaves us to conclude that God exists in the same way we concluded that Santa exists because we wanted a bicycle and found one under the tree.

If that's all we have then all we have is a God of two dimensions - either/or - with no explorable depth.

Without Jesus' gospel and subsequent Christian exposition such as Paul's we'd be left with only the letter of the law.

divine puppeteering.
Chance and coincidence are limited by what we think they mean, how many definitions can be gleaned from or assigned to them and a 3-dimensional mortal reality in which we live and define things.

I do not believe much in coincidences but I also do not believe in divine puppeteering. I suppose that the best I could say about it is that as we live in God's creation, God has created this existence with "formatting," if you will, that enfolds life, choices and events as "things possible" within the format.

As one who does not believe in God as a controller or director of events in any direct way that follows some sort of purpose, for example, a war against evil or a desire by God to engage humanity in some sort of conflict with evil in which humanity must choose sides, I trust that we live in an existence of more possibilities than we can comprehend and that all those possibilities will function as they are brought into play.

When problems arise, solutions that can be found are utilized. Events may have an appearance of randomness because perceiving events as not directly any manifestation of God intervening or even interferring in my learning process is important. Perceiving in that way maintains our ability to believe in our own problem-solving and opportunity-seizing powers.

This circumstance along with every aspect of discernment and choosing constitutes growth and a progression that is truly eternal.

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