The Gloomy Quest for Hope - Christmas 2014

Discussion in 'Help From Above' started by elagache, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. elagache

    elagache Platinum Level Contributor

    Dear V-8 board members,

    It is customary to offer Christmas greetings today, so here is my sentiments:


    Alas, if my wagon was my only problem I would be a happy man. My life has endured a long string of misfortunes and the trend continues downward. Such circumstances have forced me to think long and hard about the possibility of hope. This holiday season I felt compelled to put those ideas down on paper. Ive decided to share with all of you this essay about hope. Since it is lengthy, you may prefer to download this PDF file and read it at your leisure:

    Please keep in my this is the hardest 7 pages Ive ever written and I do have a PhD.

    Sincerely, Edouard

    P.S. By all means feel free to share this essay with anyone who might be interested. I have a sinking feeling that everyone on planet Earth needs to starting worrying about the issues I present here.


    The Gloomy Quest for Hope - Christmas 2014

    By Edouard Lagache

    Version of December 24, 2014

    There was a time when Christmas was a solemn and somber occasion - and with good reason. Before the industrial revolution, virtually everyone utilized beasts of burden in one form or another and knew the odors of a stable. Today, if you brought a pregnant woman to a stable and told her this is where she would give birth to her child, she could be justifiably horrified. Something else we have mostly forgotten is how perilous childbirth once was. For most of human existence, childbirth killed more young women than anything else. What the gospels are portraying in a simple narration was a horribly dangerous situation, and until very recently, everyone hearing the story understood that. What even religious leaders seem to have overlooked is that the nativity wasnt merely some expression of humility. Until our modern world, Christians would have understood that Jesuss first miracle was: simply coming into the world at all. As the Gospels would continue to underscore, Jesus would be hounded by powerful adversaries all his life. Unlike today, early Christians would have seen the hand of the devil in all this. Only recent events has forced modern humans to reconsider their revisionist view of the world in which concepts of evil are mere superstition.

    Inexplicably, this very harsh reality was transformed into one of Christmass more cherished traditions: the nativity scene. Instead of the unsanitary earthiness of a real stable, these miniatures portray a surreal slice of heaven on earth. The nativity scene is a microcosm of our cultures revisionist attitude toward Christmas. Within the nativity scene we imagine ourselves somehow connected to that moment of divinity and hope somehow that connection will rub off into our lives. We forget that this miracle almost never happened at all. Expecting it to stretch across the millennia seems far-fetched.

    The secularization of Christmas is simply a continuation of this process. In some respect, it is the globalization of what happened when Jesus was going around Israel performing miracles. Whenever the word went out that a miracle-worker was nearby, people flocked to this person like moths to a flame. What the gospels dont spell out are the peoples motivations. Nobody understood what was going on, but lets face it, do you know of anybody who wouldnt accept a miracle? Everybody wants a free lunch and you cant do better than a miracluous handout.

    Christianity is controversial and somehow never turned out to be the light burden that Jesus insisted it should be. But we all would like to be in the right place at the right time should anything miraculous happen. Just as nativity scenes romanticize the reality of Jesuss life, secular Christmas replaces Jesuss second coming and judgement day with a jolly figure in a red suit that does nothing but pass out goodies. All this started as merely a way to spare children of the heady matters of the real Christmas. Unfortunately, some people decided to never grow up and now they seem to be in the majority.

    There is just one small problem: there is no Santa Claus. So we have taken it upon ourselves to procure and deliver out the goodies. We then insist that this utterly phony bit of magic is a better holiday than the original. Clearly we are only fooling ourselves. Come January, that harsh world we all live in will come roaring back to destroy any delusions of magic produced by our modern design Christmas - religious or otherwise.

    I believe in the old saying: there are no atheists in the foxhole but not because there is a God, but instead because we still live in a world with war and foxholes. There is exactly one thing more precious than life itself: hope. Without hope, existence is insufferable. Alas, that is where the modern human runs smack into a paradoxical dilemma. Western democracies are founded on a simple idea: with freedom and shelter from natures obstacles, happiness is simply a matter of making good choices. Well, modern civilization has succeeded in providing us with means to cope with much of nature, but we are not much happier than those without those material benefits. Making those good choices isnt hard - it seems damn well impossible. Worse still, our scientists, intellectuals, and specialists are at a loss to explain what is missing.

    Rationalism has failed. We cannot seem to reason our way into being able to get along - whether we are people, religions, or nations. There is no better demonstration of that than the war that raged 100 years ago: World War I. Each side insisted they had the knowledge and technology to force the other to surrender the desired territory. When the stalemate became unsufferable, neither side was willing to accept that the war would not be won and seek a more civil solution to the dispute. That stubborn refusal to accept the obvious ultimately lead to the deaths of 16 million people. After the war, so little effort was made to assuage the hard feelings that World War II became inevitable. The naive notion that people, when left to their own devices, will naturally seek what is best for them - simply isnt true.

    It seems to me that atheism has an insufferable outlook on life if taken seriously. The old question: what is the meaning of life? is this stuff of stand up comedy, but the joke is on us. We all struggle precisely because we truly need meaning in our lives but dont have it. Science cannot explain how life came about in the first place, much less explain something so bizarre as an organism that became capable of manipulating the natural world. All science can offer us is that we are the product of an incredibly unlikely sequence of random events: we are a kind of cosmic accident. Thats really bad news because one thing is certain: accidents are not self-perpetuating. Sooner or later, our luck will run out and everything we have done will vanish into the atoms and molecules that our world is made of. In short, within the limited understanding of the physical world that science can provide, all human existence is ultimately in vain.

    Considering the amounts of antidepressants prescribed these days, I fear many experience that futility. However, others do appear to have genuine hope. Yet, we must resign ourselves to a very disappointing truth: no religious tradition has managed to get it right about hope. Intellectuals are 100% correct, religion should be internally consistent, every bit as much as science should be. There is an old saying that oddly applies to religion: A man with a watch knows the time. A man with 2 watches is never sure. We are a world with way too many religious watches, and thus, we really are unsure what time it is spiritually.

    Yet, I believe to dismiss all spiritually out of hand is, in an unexpected way, unscientific. Anthropologists insist that the emergence of religious practice is one of the defining movements in the rise of humanity. Clearly no ape does that. If it is part of the characteristics that has made us human - clearly it has to be in some sense - real.

    Ive come to some ideas that I believe truly bridge the opposing sides on what spirituality is all about. Ive come to the conclusion that spirituality is real phenomenon, but a phenomenon for which there is only one known detector: human beings. My other key observation is that spiritual phenomena isnt at all static, but dynamic and evolving. The best way to understand this is to grapple with the transition from polytheism to monotheism. Traditional thought insists that religions before monotheism were simply the delusions of unsophisticated peoples. However, humans lived in a polytheistic world for a much longer period of time than our monotheistic view, and they achieved things we marvel at to this day. To naively dismiss such people as stupid is well - stupid. A much easier way to understand this enigma is to presume there was a time when polytheism was a genuine human experience and somehow it was transformed into the monotheism we experience today.

    The transition from polytheism to monotheism appears to be proof enough that a God that is omnipotent, infallible, and benevolent cannot exist. To leave humans with an utterly misguided conception of the God for tens of thousands of years is either a mistake or clearly not benevolent.

    From the observation, I believe we must accept a very unsettling truth: our spiritual heritage as been effectively hacked. Religious traditions of spiritual wrong-doers are as old as faith itself. Yet, those traditions have not been taken nearly as seriously as they should have been. This obvious truth has been in front of our faces all along. Jews, Christians, and Muslims adamantly insist that they are all worshipping the very same God. They also stubbornly insist that their way of worship is the only appropriate way. Apparently very few worry that if worshippers of those other faiths could be so misguided in their path to God, then perhaps their own faith might harbor some misconceptions as well.

    The extent to which this elephant in the living room has gone unnoticed is I believe direct evidence for this deceiving demon as Rene Descartes unintentionally described it. Worse still, contrary to their greatest hopes, Atheists are, I believe, still further evidence that our minds are being messed with. This essay is an attempt to grapple with the totality of human experience which clearly includes science and religion. Atheists are foolish enough try to deny the human experience of spirituality and think their work is done. They ignore the point Ive already made that spirituality is one of the essential things that make us human. The very stubbornness with which they argue their cause demonstrates they are no more rational than anybody else. Nobody argues so bitterly that Santa Claus and unicorns dont exist.

    Atheists make a straw man argument from the philosophical concept of the omnipotent, infallible and benevolent God. They then obliterate that straw man in a manner that I agree with. The trouble with such one-sided thinking is that it doesnt even begin to exhaust the possible other ways that human spirituality could truly exist. Our inability to cure diseases like cancer and schizophrenia make it all too obvious that we dont understand the human condition as well as we would like. The vagaries of weather forecasting make exactly the same point about the physical world. Scientists occasionally brag about the fact that there is so much more that we dont understand about the world than we do understand. Given that uncertainly, I see no reason why there might be a still undiscovered explanation of human spirituality consistent with reason and science. Therefore the only honest conclusion is that, at this moment, science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of any underlying phenomena for human spirituality. That being the case, Atheism is not science - it is purely dogma. As such, it is just as potentially dangerous as the religious dogma it seeks to overturn.

    If you doubt this, consider that the moral underpinnings of all civilizations are religious. Undeniably, western civilization is founded on the Christian moral tradition. Secularists have long sought to replace that Christian moral system with a rationalist one. Philosophers have tried very diligently to come up with that rationalist alternative and finally concluded that the task is impossible for a surprising simple reason. It isnt good enough to come up with some sort of moral calculus, you have to compel people to actually do what the system infers is the moral thing to do. If somebody wants to cheat, no matter how logically one argues against cheating, that wont prevent someone from cheating if they are free to do so.

    There is no denying that we are facing a very serious moral crisis in the western world and that crisis has many debilitating consequences from political corruption to the divorce epidemic. Also, there is absolutely no doubt that this crisis has arisen in precisely the time that many in the west have turned away from Christianity. So to those who would insist that Atheism is somehow a safer dogma than any religious dogma - think again. Arguably, atheism is driving the moral decline that is destabilizing our civilization.

    Like many, I have struggled all my life with the contradictions of faith and science. I have confronted the contradiction of Jesus being omnipotent and Jesus being benevolent. Knowing the story of Jesus I simply cannot question his benevolence. Therefore that leaves me no choice but to reject the presumption of omnipotence. Jesus has not failed to help because he doesnt want to. He has failed because he - cannot - help us in the way we desire. We have been mislead into a grandiose notion of God and the entity responsible for that deception is the one coveting all that power and control.

    If spirituality can change over time, then I think we can understand Jesus in a fundamentally different way. If spirituality exists at all, it must have existed in the distant past as cave paintings suggest. So what has become our modern experience of monotheism wasnt static, but instead has been transformed over time. Before the crucifixion, there was a diverse set of divided and sometimes conflicting spiritual forces. The crucifixion somehow unified all that spirituality into a single cause - as if against a common enemy.

    On this view, Jesus becomes something very different. Jesus is a kind of Greek hero, akin to Hercules and even Gilgamesh. Viewed in this way, through the crucifixion, Jesus was somehow transformed into someone capable of immortality. I believe this explains why Christianity spread so rapidly through the western world. Jesus wasnt in conflict with the ancient beliefs - instead he was literally the fulfillment of those beliefs. What the ancient peoples didnt understand is that the hero they truly needed would possess, not physical strength, but moral strength. Consistent with Christian doctrine, Jesus is showing the way to an immortal future. However, completely against Christian doctrine, Jesus cannot bring us there by magic. We are going to have find our own way, all he can do try is help us. Like the Jews who 2000 years ago who condemned Jesus to death, we have been expecting much more help from Jesus than turns out to be reasonable. Until very recently, Christians took their responsibilities in seeking salvation very seriously. It seems clear such people lived and died with much more hope about an eventual paradise than we do today. Could it be that we are left with the sense of hopelessness that we deserve?

    I fear that this is the state of the world for Christmas 2014. Mistakenly taking Jesus to be an omnipotent God, we have become disillusioned with him. Feeling let down, we have tried to strike out on our own in defiance of the teachings about the tree of wisdom. Unfortunately, by definition, any relationship are a two-way street. If we have turned our back on Jesus, we have hurt him. We dont understand the mysticism behind the second coming; however, we do know that Jesus is overdue. If we have a real relationship with Jesus, and Jesus doesnt have infinite patience, perhaps we are to blame for the delay (just as scripture would insist.)

    Never has humanity been so empowered - and yet - never has humanity been so utterly uncertain about where to turn. Our preoccupation with freedom has overlooked a very serious downside: there is such a thing as having the freedom to - make a mistake. In the wake of the human experience are far too many mistakes to count, and in some way, we suffer from all of them.

    So this Christmas, I implore my fellow humans to reconsider kicking Jesus out of his own birthday party. To believer and non-believer alike, I have terribly distressing news. In the voice of Scott Wolter: What we have been taught about Jesus - is wrong. Worst still, rationality clearly isnt up to the task of untangling the mess and the faith that should be our deliverance is seriously strained. Perhaps hope does remain, but it is anything but a sure thing and indeed, our path to hope remains obstructed by a deceiving demon.
  2. DeeVeeEight

    DeeVeeEight Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure how to reply but for some reason I feel compelled to try. I am not Christian, Catholic or Muslim. I was raised under the umbrella of Judaism but never had any official upbringing along those lines. I believe in God but I do not subscribe to organized religion. that being said.... I feel that MONEY has corrupted almost everything in all of our societies. Christmas is not a religious/family experience any more, it is a retail contest to drive our economy. I just had a discussion with my best friend a few hours ago - He just got home from his wife dragging him through several of the malls buying all sorts of gifts and spending all sorts of money for all sorts of people. The rest of the year she bitches at him because they have no money. She has refinanced their home three times in the last 7 years to pay off their debts and wants to do it again. It's all about consumerism and keeping up with the Jones'es. Common sense and love your fellow man can take a back seat.

    It used to be about spending quality time together and being grateful for having survived another year.

    Forget those values and morals, they are gone. So yes, I have to agree with you. The essence of what things were has been obliterated by media, government and industry.
    The important thing, I believe, is that we understand that our worlds are imperfect and that we do our best to be the best persons that we can. Keep to your faith, whatever it may be. Hold true to your values. Do your best to love your neighbor (but not his wife) and be a good shepherd to our planet. Hold on to HOPE, sometimes it is the only light in the darkness.
    And most importantly, DRIVE YOUR BUICK BECAUSE IT PUTS A SMILE ON YOUR FACE! Enjoy life and spread it around!
    And if I may suggest an alternative outlook to the religious/spiritual side of things, try reading "Many Lives, Many Masters" by Dr. Brian Weiss. It's a quick easy read that helped to change my life and put me at ease.

    Wishing PEACE, LOVE, GOOD HEALTH and HAPPINESS to all ! ! !

    Lee in NJ
  3. Smokey15

    Smokey15 So old that I use AARP bolts.

    Amen. Commercialism has taken over every celebrated Holiday possible. Even former President's birthdays are tarnished with mattress sales. All we can do is teach our children, grandchildren and any who we can, just why we celebrate each Holiday. Bothers me that Christmas morning, in too many homes, turns into a 'greedfest'. Independence Day, only known by all too many as only 4th of July, as the "day we light sparklers and fireworks". No knowledge of why we celebrate. Easter. Ya, bunnies, baskets and eggs. My feeling is that if you are going to celebrate a holiday, then you better know just why. And we can lead by example.

    BUICKRAT Torque Rules!

    Edouard, you remind me of my Father.

    Thank you.
  5. 69GS455

    69GS455 69 GS 400

    Very good article. We as a nation have lost our way. I agree that Holidays are all about the bottom (DOLLAR) line and are over commercialized. The media is the frontrunner of all that is corrupt along with our elected officials.

    I am a Christian and I believe in God. I do not forsake anyone that has different beliefs than I and I do not rail against them. But I do despise those that feel they have the right to tell me what and who I can believe in and what is the correct way to say things or that I shouldn't say certain things.

    This is The United States of America, founded on the principles of God and all men being created Equal.

    I say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

    If you feel that you want to express your sentiments differently that is your right. I do not force my right on you and I expect the same in return.
  6. 70skylark350

    70skylark350 Well-Known Member

    Merry CHRISTmas. I Agree, the world has gone to hell in a bucket, at least I'm enjoying the ride. I go to church every week and it makes ME a better person. I do my best to be kind to others and I try to make it "cool" to be a good person. My family is my world and we honestly enjoy what little time we have together between work, school, sports, etc.

    I ask Jesus for things and he answers my prayers, I ask for realistic things, self help things. World peace would be great but it aint going to happen. All we can do is try to live our lives as a kind human being and teach our kids to do so as well. If enough of us do this the world peace thing will take care of itself.

    I try not to dwell or get depressed over things I can not change in the world, I live, laugh, love as the saying goes. My wife, kids and I had the best Christmas ever, we say that every year, and truly enjoyed each other. That is the true gift of Christmas.

  7. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    I applaud Edouard for his long and interesting essay. I don't agree with much of it, but it is a valid point of view. V8 Buick has made a kind of exception to it's "no politics" rule in the police officer killings in New York thread. As any serious response to Edouard's essay would involve religion, I'll not push our collective envelope. Regardless of your religion or lack of it, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2015, and Merry Christmas as appropriate.
  8. stickshift

    stickshift Silver Level contributor

    DeeVeeEight, excellent post
  9. rmstg2

    rmstg2 Gold Level Contributor

    Excellent post Edouard I admire anyone with the intellect to compose an excellent read such as you did in your post. There is a lot to say for having faith, which I have plenty. Being a Catholic I also believe in Gods grace as the only means for salvation. I can't condemn the nonbelievers but I can feel sorry for them. I also feel sorry for the ones that believe they can be saved by being a non sinner it isn't possible. There was only one human being to accomplish that and it was Jesus when he was here in human form. Thanks again for an excellent post and God Bless.

    Bob H.
  10. elagache

    elagache Platinum Level Contributor

    Thanks guys (Re: The Gloomy Quest for Hope - Christmas 2014)

    Dear Lee, Jerry, Steve, 69GS455, 70skylark350, John, stickshift, and V-8 Buick community,

    Thanks guys for your positive responses. I'm sorry to have effectively "vented" my miseries, but I'm really having a horrible time coping with the season and I desperately wanted to scream to the world: "knock it off people! - this whole thing is completely crazy!" :(

    It isn't at all that people are insincere about trying to do good at Christmas time. It is quite the opposite, people have that Christian moral underpinnings under their skin and they try very, very hard to do good this time of year. Indeed we try much to hard and come January we are justifiably let down: we are emotionally and physically exhausted.

    There is a long tradition of charity. We are very concerned to make sure everybody has something of the Christmas "magic," but magic cannot be bought. I live with my mother who is going blind from macular degeneration. There isn't anything I can buy or do make really assuage that painful reality. Some friends of the family are battling cancer and the odds are very much against them. What kind of a Christmas can these folks have and they are devoted Catholics?

    In a deeply troubling way, Christmas is very much like the stalemate of World War I. We don't know how we got ourselves into this endless treadmill of parties, customs, rituals and merry making. We don't have any way to even throttle it, much less separate the good things we really want to do from the corruptions we want to eliminate. So we go on, year after year after year. It really is crazy and this year, I really wish that I could have made it stop.

    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  11. 70skylark350

    70skylark350 Well-Known Member

    God Bless you Edouard. God doesn't give us more than we can handle and there is a reason your are dealing with these issues. Life is short so please try to make the best of it and help those suffering to enjoy what they can. Prayers sent your way my friend.
  12. 436'd Skylark

    436'd Skylark Sweet Fancy Moses!!!!!

    Edouard- I believe they say it's darkest before dawn, the pendulum is at its lowest point before it starts to rise. I sympathize that your in a low spot in your life, but I hardly think it's a good time to question everything you have ever known. Dang man, the glass is half full.
  13. bhambulldog

    bhambulldog 1955 76-RoadmasterRiviera

    Re: Thanks guys (Re: The Gloomy Quest for Hope - Christmas 2014)

    For many years, I have encouraged my family to throw the commercialism out of Christmas.
    Several years ago I was successful.
    Lately we take the time and spend with each other.
    And don't worry about gifts.

    There is a place for religion and prayer on this forum
    I encourage you to look at this part of the forum
  14. Smokey15

    Smokey15 So old that I use AARP bolts.

    Well said. My prayers are with You & Yours, Edouard. You have friends here.
  15. 66electrafied

    66electrafied Just tossing in my nickel's worth

    Hi Edouard,

    Wow...I had to read that twice. Powerful; - that would be one word I would use to describe that essay. There are quite a few points where I will agree with your argument.

    I'll probably get my a$$ chewed out on this, so let me make it clear that I am not trying to offend or demean anyone or their belief systems, I am offering an opinion. If you are offended, my apologies beforehand.

    I am an amateur historian. I always wanted to be a full-fledged historian, but my father had other plans and tossed my a$$ into the street once I finished high school into the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1929, so I never got that degree. I had to work, so that study of history became my leisure activity. So in order to understand events that happened, my self-study has taken me from the Second World War where my family was decimated by the Allied armies as well as the incessant bombing that occurred after 1943, the post-war starvation period of 5 years, all the way back to the ancient civilizations as far back as Jericho. This self-study has now extended to over 40 years; and has taught me a great deal about human nature.

    First off, I'm nominally a Roman Catholic, but have only ever been in a church as a tourist. My family lost the practicing part of its religion during the last century being on the losing side of 2 world wars and enduring the Socialist Paradise that was East Germany. I've read the Bible. I've also read the Koran. One message that resonates down from my family's experience is that anything man-made, be it religion or be it politics is crap for idiots. A line out of an old "Who" song says it well; "we won't be fooled again".

    The big overriding question that kept coming up was "why"...and the lessons learned was that life is a paradox. The ancients understood ying and yang, and the relationships therein. They knew that the surface could seem beautiful while the insides could be rotten. Stories and fables to that extent exist from the dawn of humanity. When the hunters and gatherers first started coming together, they invented religion, partially to explain what they couldn't, but also partially to instill in their young a veneration for something they could not see or do anything about; - ie governments, another invention from about that time. It's a very cynical viewpoint, but think about it; - how else could you keep people in line and train them not to revolt every time they had a question? The separation between church and state is only a very recent phenomena, before the US it was non-existent. Any further I will not go here, I don't need this thread killed, but suffice it to say that's what the historical record bears out.

    Jesus Christ existed, history tells me that too. The best source we have of his life is actually Roman; written by a lapsed Jew named Josephus. Yes, he had an agenda, he wasn't too complementary. But he does effectively set the stage, explain the customs, and provide the climate in which Christ lived, worked, preached and died. It also tells us that he spent a lot of his formative years in Egypt, and he was educated in the Jewish traditions from that area. They were really big on mysticism there, as well as spirituality. I think you're right; - he does lead the way by saying that Christianity and salvation are within everyone individually, and not man made or sanctioned by some man made church or tradition. But here again, here's that paradox; - Christ liberates and then through the misinterpretation of those who are supposed to know and understand, gets strangled in translation, proving once more that plain speech is open to interpretation, and those who have the most clout do the interpreting. It also shows once more that human beings are opportunists of the worst order; - here is a new idea, and the first thing that happens is some idiot comes along and tries to codify it, withhold it, and generate money off of it.

    Christmas as we know it, is a Victorian idea. The Pagan symbols that have since become part of the whole thing were dragged and borrowed by the Hallmark Greeting card company shortly after the Civil War in order to sell greeting cards during an otherwise slow time. Look at your own family histories; - was there any mention of Santa Claus, Reindeer, Christmas trees prior to 1870? Didn't think so. Funny thing is, we still hold up those Victorian ideals as the way Christmas should be; striving and building a tradition where nothing existed before. Now that same ideal has spread all over the world. In Germany when I was really young, there was no Santa Claus, there was St. Nikolaus and the "Christkind" on Christmas Eve. Now the whole Santa thing has replaced their cultural ideas. Here again, the bigger and more powerful carries the influence, in this case, North American culture. But here's also where the wheels fall off; the original message is fading, and the new one (corrupted) is replacing it. The way were doing it now, is not the way Christ would have liked it, in fact all evidence points to the fact that he'd be appalled.

    The original message was one of spirituality, hope, and strength that comes with being totally in sync with oneself and the universe. Know yourself, be confident in yourself, look into yourself and you will see God. Open and unlock the mind, explore feelings, thoughts, ideas, see the big picture. Christ used what we now call transitional learning to get people to look inside build upon their thoughts and feelings and achieve a certain internal understanding; - through his teachings he advocated a new way at looking at religion, God and the world; - all based on what he had been taught back in Egypt while growing up. When done correctly, this induces a "religious experience" like trance, where all of a sudden everything makes sense, and the world and the universe are understood. His disciples knew this, the subsequent generations lost it. Here again, you had to be there, and its the translation thing.

    Now before anyone jumps down my throat, yes, this is simplified, it's not a full explanation, nor am I going to provide a bibliography. But look it up, it's all out there.

    One thing is true here, you don't get this kind of spiritual cleansing by going out and getting the best deal on crap during Black Friday, or if you get PO'd about the fact that you spent so much on so-and-so only to get nothing back...

    Sounds like you are going through a pretty rough patch; - I'm sorry...
    I hope you will find the strength within to overcome it. Does everything happen for a reason? I don't know, that's another essay topic. All I can say is dig deep, look within, and you'll find the answers you seek. Be honest.

    Hope this ramble makes some sense; - Good Luck, and, Merry Christmas.
  16. Ken Mild

    Ken Mild King of 18 Year Resto's

  17. elagache

    elagache Platinum Level Contributor

    What if Jesus never returns? (Re: The Gloomy Quest for Hope - Christmas 2014)

    Dear James, Jerry, Marc, Ken, and V-8 Buick "armchair philosophers" . . . . .

    I know that you all are sincere in your sentiments, but all I'm really getting back from you guys is disbelief. Sorry it this truly is a wake up call and the bad news isn't just for me alone. 2000 years ago when your child got sick, you prayed - there just wasn't much else you could do. Jesus answered that prayer personally on at least one occasion. Since he left us, many many prayers were made, and how many miraculous curing do we know about? The west is founded on Christianity, but there is no denying, we have turned our back on it.

    Today, people who try pray their way out of a child's illness can have their custody taken away from them. Think we truly have religious freedom? - think again. This past year has seen another mind-boggling reversal in our moral foundations and nobody seems much worried.

    The truth is plain and horrifying. Western civilization now operates on the accepted assumption that science and only science provides us with an understanding of the world. It isn't a state religion because atheism is accepted as self evident. We are free to practice our "religious rituals," but this is considered nothing more than a kind of cultural practice from which we gain some sort of psychological comfort. The closest science has come to grappling with the existence of religious phenomena is Freud's dismissal of it as psychological delusions. The very faith that you all are proposing that I turn to for comfort has been completely marginalized in modern life and very few of us are fighting for the claim that yes spirituality it is real - it isn't just some sort of fantasy world.

    Marc, I strong disagree with your assessment of religion. You might want to consider the work of Klaus Schmidt at the Turkish site: Gobekli Tepe:öbekli_Tepe

    The site is over 10,000 years old, before humans had apparently developed agriculture. It includes stone monoliths weighing many tons. It undeniably required a sophisticated community to build it.

    Schmidt points out that it is the first evidence of deities. Cave painting before this suggest a more primitive notion of religion akin to ancestor worship. Schmidt's interpretation of the monoliths is compelling that they portray a religious system with human-like gods that have power over the natural world. Schmidt therefore comes to a remarkable conclusion: religion wasn't invented by people with improved technology such that they now had enough free time to think about such things. Gobekli Tepe predates agriculture, therefore Schmidt concludes, religion, not technology, was the motivation for civilization. The first civilization that we know of came together to build the religious center: Gobekli Tepe. If Schmidt interpretation is correct, the west it literally throwing out the baby that made our world possible with the bath water. National Geographic has made a documentary on Gobekli Tepe called "The Cradle of the Gods." It is well worth seeing.

    This essay I've written is a desperate attempt to rescue spirituality from our modern apathy about it. The question of how religion and science could be actually depicting a single reality should be one of the most important areas of scholarship. Instead, Rene Descartes is about the last man to try to take on the task seriously and that in the 1600s. If my take on the situation is correct, salvation is anything but a sure thing. On that view, judgement day will be a very ugly event indeed and perhaps Jesus will just wait until we all blow ourselves to bit before trying to make the Earth right again. We have come much too close to destroying ourselves to have any sense of comfort at this point.

    Sorry, but that's how I see it.

  18. Jeff Corey

    Jeff Corey Registered User

    Just simply pray that "God's will be done"....that's it! We sometimes forget that and get caught up in what we want God to do for us but it doesn't always work out that way, so just let him handle it, he knows what's best for us and when to deliver it.
  19. 66electrafied

    66electrafied Just tossing in my nickel's worth

    Hi Edouard,

    I'm always open to a new interpretation on religion; I am a hard-core cynic and I will need to be shown. As a cynic, the paradox is optimism; - and you'll find a lot of cynics are actually optimists because they understand how things should be happening. (yes, that's a stretch with some people, true) I am human, but have no hope for humanity. They are a lost cause because they are animals, and I am one and just as fallible.

    I forgot about the Turkish site, I had heard something about it a long time ago. Now that you've mentioned it, I will check it out. I guess my main point (however convoluted and diluted it was) was that spirituality and one's own beliefs should be bigger and more personal than some organized man-made program that due to the fact that the nature of the beast is fallible and incomplete.

    The argument can be made that in modern life the roles of religion have only exacerbated long fermented issues that normal, sane people should have had the intelligence to work out by now. But anything that plays on human emotions and core beliefs tends to bring out the worst in our species and not the best; - part of that paradox I referred to.

    Is there a role of religion in this society? I don't know. Christianity is better suited to life in modern times and works best with science simply because it does allow diversity while others look for absolutes. Here again, humanity is all about diversity while looking for elusive absolutes.

    Am I an atheist? No, but I have not found a way that satisfies my reason for being while addressing my needs. My spirituality is all about me, because in reality, no one else cares, and this is one area where I can afford to be selfish. I learn how to treat people properly and be a decent human being by analyzing and evaluating things for myself. There is nothing out there "organized" that allows me that, they all want to put me into a quasi-tribal unit that will make me conform and close my mind.

    Interesting how communication and perception can differ between people; -

    " This essay I've written is a desperate attempt to rescue spirituality from our modern apathy about it. The question of how religion and science could be actually depicting a single reality should be one of the most important areas of scholarship. Instead, Rene Descartes is about the last man to try to take on the task seriously and that in the 1600s. If my take on the situation is correct, salvation is anything but a sure thing. On that view, judgement day will be a very ugly event indeed and perhaps Jesus will just wait until we all blow ourselves to bit before trying to make the Earth right again. We have come much too close to destroying ourselves to have any sense of comfort at this point.

    Sorry, but that's how I see it.

    That's your quote, and I like it; - I agree with your take on it. That may well be what might have to happen.
  20. bhambulldog

    bhambulldog 1955 76-RoadmasterRiviera

    I think I got the sentiment with which you wrote.
    I'm not as good a communicator as you, so my post might not have reflected that I do understand your sentiment.
    And, I do not disagree.
    Except, I would say that modern medicine and its healing are miracles that happen everyday.

    I hope things start looking up for you,
    And I'll be praying for you.

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