Saturday, March 26, 2005

Spirituality: Reality or Religion

Definining Spirituality

A lively debate is taking place over on The Raving Atheist's site about whether or not the concept of spirituality is A) a New Age alternative to religion B) the real reason for religion or C) one's ability to chill out and except Life on Life's terms without succumbing to dogma and superstitions.

While I would side on Number C's side on general principals, I've got another definition that I think best fits a common usage of the word Spirit.

Have y'all ever heard of Prozac? Paxil? Zoloft? The multi-billion dollar inustry which exists to foist these occasionally beneficient medications upon the Health Care Covered public wouldn't exist if there weren't millions of folk who Don't have a clue how to just relax and not let life's difficulties send them (ahem... me) into a panic. I think what the Ivy League prof in TRA's project is doing with his casual disclosure of his own spiritualism is maintaining the mystical connotation of the concept. Despite the hijacking of this fundamental concept by both Religious Monocultures throughout history and the New Age movement more recently, I don't see ANY similarity whatsoever between spirituality and religion.

Living bodies (whe'er plant or animal) create an energy field which is easily detectable but only studied and fairly well understood in parts and portions. Medical Science is progressing but EEG's only look at brain "waves". EKGs only measure the electrical pulses of the heart. MRI's and the like bounce energy off the corpus instead of reading what is already being generated from it. I think we can all agree that, no matter how far from witch doctors and shaman we've progressed, the discipline-art-science of Medicine has a LOT yet to learn.

I really think that we need a modern, atheistic definition of spirituality and that it needs to start with the word spirit. If one says a person has a beautiful spirit, yes, they are probably implying some religious connection but, regardless of their implication, I understand them to mean that this person has an intangible quality which makes them easy to relate to; get along with; is pleasant to be around; optimistic; of a sunny disposition; etc, etc...

Thusly, I would define spirit as a personality trait. Thusly, I would, and do, define spirituality as the way a person Looks at and approaches their life. It can be quite powerful and is amazingly variable, but hardly mystical. It is the reason we know T Schiavo is no longer "at home" in her body. She has no ability to know that she is or isn't here, much less what she to have an opinion or any feelings about it. She isn't suffering because she has no ability to be aware of her own existence. Her physiological spirit mechanism ist kaput.

Mine own spirit has been boosted by an opener mind and more trust in reason than I was ever taught was wise as a child. A new and most wonderful family has done a tonne to motivate me to keep me spirits up as well. Who people see us as is our spirit. How we project ourselves onto the world is thus our spirituality.

K. I'm done...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Praying for the Final Showdown

Xtian Evangelists who ply their perverse trade in Islamic Lands don't deserve US Government Protections

As a recipient of John Brown's PUBLIC DIPLOMACY PRESS REVIEW I sometimes think I'm asking to be enraged. A recent edition featured a link to and quote from a story 'bout how Christian evangelists are using an obscure Koranic reference to Hey Zeus Christos "as a bridge ... to go deep... into enemy territory." If God's Guerillas have declared such a war on their own initiative, then there is no reason for the US government to bail them out if they get their dumb asses righteously [heh!] interned in some desert dungeon.

Despite our current dickHead of State’s unhealthy symbiosis with the religious right, the US has never officially supported loose-cannon guerillas getting loose amongst our allies. Since the US Constitution specifically prohibits our government from passing any law respecting the establishment of religion, I can’t see where our government could be excused for excusing these morbidly masochistic mongrels from purveying their perversions against Islamic Law. Just so we’re clear: I have as much respect for Christianity as I do for Islam as tools for governance; which is to say, nada, none, nothing remotely resembling respect. Religious rule is anathema to Any rational thinker. I simply can’t stomach a situation where a secular society would endorse evangelical silliness.

Especially when you add the eminent Nut Job Pat Robertson to mix. Mr. Pat is one of the apocalyptic benefactors who sees "a broader, high-stakes spiritual conflict between Christianity and Islam." Its not just a difference of opinion to this goofball. It is War.

“Make no mistake, the entire world is being convulsed by a religious struggle,” Robertson said last August in Norfolk. “The struggle is whether ... the moon god of Mecca known as Allah is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah, God of the Bible, is supreme.”

These sentiments are shared by a large minority who are pushing the armageddon as proferred by Nutter John in Revelations as the Final Solution for resolving humanities problems. If they send enough of xtianities version of the suicide bomber to the Levant with their message of "y'all r goin' to HELL 'less'n ya scrap yer Sand Daddy fer Gee-suss" they are hoping to ignite said End Time and Bring on the Judgement!

Talk about self righteousness insanity! Call your Congressman today! Stop these reckless fanatics before they spoil our precious presidents prescient pounding of democratic values into the bodies of Iraqis (and muslims everywhere - hear that Iran???) and prevent such from giving people of any, all and no faith the chance to live together in some sort of culturally colorful disharmonious, pandemonious evolution of what we have come to know as Peace.

It is really is quite as simply as denying the right to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre or such. Evangelist, evangelize at your own risk. MY tax dollars defend your right to speak your mind but NOT to beard the Lion in its den.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Knowing Evil: Live and Learn?

As is my daily habit, I was checkin' out The Raving Atheist's critique of the exploits of The God Squad, when TRA intrigued me with this statement:

Making the little mistakes that lead to maturity isn’t really the same as doing evil. And presumably a person who is about to do an evil thing already knows what the consequences are, or he wouldn’t be in a position to judge that it was bad in the first place. So going ahead and doing it isn’t actually necessary to the learning process.

The following is an edited version of my comments on TRA.

Satire aside, I think this is a good question. I did something "evil" when in my teens and it still occasionally bothers me when I evaluate my life and how well I live up to my professed and desired Values. This is partially because it didn't completely occur to me At The Time how wrong it was and partially because I'm Still not sure how Evil my actions were.

Two of my friends and I took our BB guns out to their pond and proceeded to shoot about 40 or 50 frogs: singularly and whilst they were coitally engaged. Yah, I had some issues even as a kid... {sigh}

TRA's posting got me thinking: was this an evil thing to do?

I think it would be generally agreed that such activity was stupid, wasteful and mean. I did feel some guilt and even somewhat ashamed afterward. As a group of puds, we definitely laughed our asses off throughout the whole thing and admired each others' skill with distance shots, etc. But as an adult, I simply don't think Our entertainment is or was a good enough reason to kill all those li'l froggers. Like I said, I felt a "twinge" of guilt and shame at the time, but the bulk of those feelings came later. The biggest empirical wrong I know that came of it was that there was an abundance of mosquitoes in the area during the following summer. So I ask myself, could THAT be enough to make what I did evil?

As far as I know, there wasn't then, nor is there now, any specific law against shooting frogs in your own backyard. The mosquito thing might logically suggest one is necessary but, other than that, I wonder if my discomfort over my action was a natural result of that act's evilness and the fact that, as TRA proffered, I already Knew the consequences of what I was about to do.

This is my first post in a while and I am quite curious what y'all Bloghoppers might think about this kind o' thang. To be clear, I would NOT do such a thing again. I've even discussed it with my younger bro's and nephews when they were around that age because I figured, since they were into similar goofball activities to what I was at their age, the issue might arise for them. I wanted to let them know that I'VE found it to be a good idea to step back and think about doing something you're not sure is right before you do it. Even if you end up doing it anyhow.

Sometimes even the Simplest Things do bear repeating. Personally, I think this is true because I've emotional baggage upon which I've yet to get a firm grip. Sometimes its just cuz there are so many things going on we miss the importance of one and, KaPow! Bad Things happen. At any rate...