Peter Blane


Christians

Posted in Uncategorized by wusspett on August 6, 2016

Ugh. I really need to write this.  It’s in me, and I need to get it out – coherently.  I think I’ll take the approach that my creative writing professor said to use when I was in college: just start writing and edit later.

Note: I’m not saying things are black and white, and I’m also not saying “if it’s this way, then this is the only conclusion”.  This is my perspective, and I realize there are more grey areas than black and white ones.

I think the approach I’m going to take is by category.  Let’s say: the Bible, Jesus, church, and spirituality.

The Bible

Regarding the Old Testament law, the first few books were passed down an unknown amount of generations orally, and were thought to be first written down by Moses.  I have a lot of trouble with this, and, therefore, a lot of trouble with people who think we should comply with all it says we should do.  It seems Christians (and maybe Jews too) kind of ignore certain passages today and acknowledge others.  I would agree that there are still some good parts of the Old Testament to follow, but, in my opinion, it should be treated like stories.  This guy had some pretty funny commentary that essentially sums up my thoughts on Old Testament law.  So, zooming out, the Old Testament to me is: a creation story, history of families, laws, wars over territory, and prophets proclaiming God’s plan to send a Messiah (among other things).

I’ll do the zoom out version of the New Testament first: there are the accounts of Jesus’ life recorded years after everything happened from by his disciples’ perspective (aka: the Gospels), then a bunch of letters to different groups of people that the disciples had visited before (mostly written by Paul, a former Christian slayer), and a super trippy book at the end.  I don’t question very much regarding the 4 gospels that recount the life of Jesus.  Honestly, I think I could probably base my faith on the book of Luke (what a white-ass name for someone from the middle east).  Luke was a surgeon – supposedly – so I feel he would be inclined to be the most objective.  While science was certainly not the methodology it is today 2 millennia ago, people were generally curious about how things worked, and I like to think “Luke” also carried this mentality.

As for the letters written to “churches” (you’ll see why that’s in quotations in the section about church), these are quoted by pastors all the time as if they apply directly to the current church.  It’s a little silly (as in, mostly not silly, but kind of silly) to directly apply a quote translated from an ancient language from an ancient time from an ancient culture to the modern population of people.  While the human condition has it’s universal struggles, it seems like the level of seriousness granted to these passages is too heavy.  Not to mention, the letters aren’t directly the word of God – in the sense that Jesus had departed and was not around to say the words in the letters.  The claim is that these letters are “God breathed” – or influenced by God.  I don’t have a problem with people appreciating the advice, but to take these letters as law or act like the letters dictate how we are to behave is kind of silly.  Also, as a side note, I feel like Paul was one of those people that “killed it” or “crushed it” at whatever he did.  I think he was a super loud salesman type guy who bro-ed it up way too much.  When he was killing christians (his name was Saul then), he was the best.  Then, Jesus appeared to Saul and showed that He was superior to Saul and renamed him (this is the “road to Damascus” story).  I feel like I can see newly converted Paul being like “dude, bro, you are hardcore!  I’m in.  I will totally crush some sermons with you.”  All the other disciples were like “yeah, I’ll go to Corinth to spread the Good News.  Paul’s staying here, right?”

Now for Revelation.  I’m really not sure what to think here.  The context I was given growing up was that John, was one of the last of Jesus’ disciples to be executed.  However, they (the Romans), for some reason, decided to exile John on a deserted island.  This is where Revelation was written.  However, according to more recent sources, it’s very likely that the author of Revelation is a John, but a different John from the one who wrote the Gospel of John.  Either way, since Revelation has very little basis in reality as we understand reality, there’s no telling what all of it means.  What it does do is fascinate christians to the nth degree, and they love fantasizing about all the different possible outcomes.

Jesus

I think I’m good on Jesus.  He is portrayed as a perfect human being who would really fit in well in today’s society because of his inclusive attitude and progressive views.  Well, there is a bit of a caveat: Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”   Pretty specific for a hippy.  So, was He insane or was He the Son of God?  I have no idea.  All I know for sure is that He seemed to do some really extraordinary things, and, like I said, fit in more with current culture (of developed countries) than He did during that time.

So, since I don’t have a good way to determine the legitimacy of Jesus’ claim, I think the only thing I can do is ask what His intent was and who it would make sense for Him to really be.  I will warn you now, this is purely speculative.  As far as Jesus’ intent, it seems He was really focused on people loving each other equally and not being judgmental of others.  At the time, this was incredibly unpopular.  It’s interesting, though, to think about the implications of what He was trying to do: get a message out about love and acceptance of all no matter the type of person.  In some ways, it seems like He knew that in order for people to survive and thrive (as a species), we would have to adopt these philosophies.  To me, and I’m sure I could very well be wrong, I think He was communicating to those around Him in the way they would understand.  That would mean, even if He wasn’t really God, he would say He was God so that people would listen to Him.  That would also mean that He would have to explain His connection to the Father and His abilities to perform miracles through the vein of Him being God.  Do I think Jesus was an alien?  Possible, but not in the way we think about aliens.  A 6th dimensional being manifesting consciousness into the structure of a 3 dimensional biological system (aka a human)?  That’s closer, but to me that’s as far fetched as any other possibility.  The point essentially being: the person we know as Jesus had to communicate advanced thoughts to people who weren’t advanced.

At this point, I have to zoom out a little and ask the same about who, or what, God is.  Since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and we aren’t sure how He originated, it seems like we need to understand the relationship (the purpose or intent).  Take Jesus’ claim of being the Son of God, for instance, and my proposal that He’s a 6th dimensional being manifesting consciousness into the structure of a 3 dimensional biological system.  In a way, you may imagine a 6th dimensional being having the capacity to help certain races get over hurdles as a species with religion in order to believe in a better future and have hope.

On the other hand, sometimes, it seems like we there is a subconscious connection we humans share with each other (and maybe other species on earth too).  It seems that we subconsciously will things to happen.  We have all these different groups of people that have specific bends that makes us diverse.  This innate connection gives us balance with roles that feel individual, but are all needed.  We create an Einstein, a Tesla, a Leonardo de Vinci, a Hitler, or a Stalin to force ourselves to strive for improvement and rid ourselves of more primitive ways.  Did we make Jesus because we subconsciously knew we needed Him?  I wonder this at times.  I wonder if what we refer to as God is really just what connects us together.

To conclude this section, my point is that no one around me – while growing up in the church – asked who or what Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit were.  The Trinity was just a lofty, out-there concept that was “too big to imagine”.  But, to me, I want to know why the concept of God is too big to imagine.  I’m not satisfied with a mysterious, floaty concept and taking orders from something I don’t understand.  I’m simply applying my imagination to explore a concept I feel most people in the religion Christianity are resistant to doing.  I’m just not that way, I want to know.  To be clear, I’m not against the Trinity, but I’m open minded to questions.  Plus, in the end (at least at this point), we don’t know the truth.  We cannot definitively prove that we go to heaven or hell when we die, so who am I to try pushing that on someone else?  According to Jesus, regardless of who or what He was or what His intention was, the greatest commandments were: love the Lord your God with all your  heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor the same way you love yourself.  So, for human to human interaction, the GREATEST commandment is to love people.  This is something I can agree whole heartedly with.

Church

Yuck.  This should be easy to write.  I have very few positive things to say about church.  First thing you need to realize is that they are a non-profit organization.  The church, as it mainly exists in the US and Europe, is a non-profit with a name like “First Baptist Church” who accepts donations in order to pay for: a building, property, taxes, a paster (CEO), and employees.  They are a company first.  Whether they like it or not, if a pastor’s only job is being a pastor, the main focus is to get asses in the pews.  From there, the easiest way to people’s wallets is guilt and/or shame (props if you can do both in one sermon).  No matter the pure intention of the pastor from the outset, if that pastor has a family with regular bills, you can bet the sermons are going to need to have a way to guilt/shame you into a contribution.   We shouldn’t be bitter towards pastors for this, they are simply humans – like everyone else – supporting their family.  However, if you get caught up in believing that your pastor is “special” and that they can hear from God and need exactly 1,000,000 for a new building, don’t say I didn’t warn you.   When I have gone to these churches in the past and they need $1mm for a new building, it seemed odd that they said they needed that round of a number.  There’s just no way it is going to cost exactly 1 million flat.  When I was around those types of settings, I felt like the real cost was really like $927, 516.81 and they pocked the difference.  I could be wrong, but they’re humans with power and money.  That usually doesn’t pan out well historically.

I was right, this section is easy to write!  So, my other beef with church is that our culture says we have to go to a building and pay people to do these services for our religion to continue.  Why do we pay these people to do this full time?  Because we don’t want to.  They prepare all the shit we need to feel good, pack it into an hour, and we’re back to normal life – whew!  To make us feel even better, they have different causes they bring to us during certain parts of the year (Missionary Month, eliminating Sex Trafficking, helping earthquake victims in Haiti, etc.) that you can throw money at and feel better knowing “you did something” (but you didn’t).  This is all accomplished in a morning 1 day a week.  Oh, but wait, there’s more.  Churches need to make sure you are doing more time than just your hour per week.  The next level of religion is small groups.  This is where you all begrudgingly meet during the week after work and complain about your pathetic life as if no one else is having struggles like you are.  Usually, there’s a book everyone has to read (doing more time!) and usually you have to bring food to whoever’s residence you’re attending that week.  Of course, bringing food involves another obligation.  So, can you see what a time suck this all can potentially be on your life?  What does this do for people?  I have a theory that it’s a very pleasant distraction.  People don’t even have time to think about what they really might enjoy.  Or what else they could be doing with their family instead of:  1) stressing about making food for the small group, 2) making it to church on time all dressed up, 3) spending 4 hours a week reading a taking notes from a book that their small group is reading, 4) tithing 10% of their income instead of contributing to their savings/retirement/college savings (if they have kids).  These are just some examples.  I know church works for some people, and I understand that people like feeling good.  On the other hand, sorry – not sorry – that’s what it is.  It makes you feel good about yourself.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing!  The problem is, it comes at a much higher cost than it should.

Take a note from Jesus himself.  When He said “And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ]”, the Greek word for church is Ekklesia which referenced a group of people.  Theologians maintain that this means called out ones:

“In Strong’s Greek Concordance, the word ekklesia (word #1577) is defined as “an assembly,” and it’s from the word “ek,” (word #1537) which means “out of”; and the word “klesis” (word #2821) which means “a calling.” So ekklesia means to be called out, and obviously Christ is the one that’s calling us out.”

So, I have thus reinforced my already held belief that going to a church building to hear a pastor tell me his latest revelation is a waste of time for me.  A few things in summary of this Church section:

  • If you do choose to attend church, DO NOT be afraid to ask what % of your contributions actually go to helping people.  Naturally, don’t be shocked when they say somewhere around 90 – 95% goes to staff, building, maintenance, admin, website, etc.
  • In the same vein, when your non-profit church brings in it’s other non-profit friends, look them up to see their spend efficiency.  One article I saw (literally just googled “how much charity money goes to charity”) says the top 50 worst charities raked in almost $1 billion.
  • Be mindful of your time, and make sure you’re doing what you want:
    • Hours in a week = 168
    • Sleep (assuming 8 hours/night) = 56
    • Work (assuming 8 hours/day) = 56
    • Church (getting ready + commute + service) = 3 hours
    • Small Group (assuming 2 hours for dinner then discussion) = 2 hours
    • Preparing for small group (getting ready + food prep + reading + commute) = 3 hours
  • Total religion time per week = 8 hours (1.1 hours per day)
  • Total remaining hours (less work and sleep and religion) = 48 (6 hours per day)

Spirituality

This is my favorite one.  I feel irreversibly connected to people.  As an introvert (at this point this shouldn’t be a shocker), this is very difficult for me.  I really love people.  I feel massive empathy and it isn’t unusual for me to be weighed down by the same burden some else is carrying.  It’s because of this connection I have that I feel inclined to think that we are all subconsciously connected, and that “God” is the aggregation of this subconscious that informs us of people’s roles.  This part of my spirituality I haven’t resolved.  What I do know is that the religion Christianity has given me tools to understand these feelings.  I feel the ability to talk to God no matter how I view Him – from a Christian perspective or as an aggregate subconscious.  I feel that He “speaks” to me just as He would when I thought of Him as the “Christian” God.  In the evangelical protestant portion of Christianity, believing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit include prophesy, which, in the modern accepted understanding within the aforementioned portion of Christianity, is basically defined as “hearing from God for others”.

This leads me to my next point on spirituality.  There seems to be a natural balance of types of people – once again referring to a collective subconscious.  I am very sensitive to the emotions and burdens of others, and easily connect and empathize.  This tends to cause me to seek inward peace since I experience many people’s emotions throughout the day, and I think this gives me my bend towards being a spiritual person.  Since I naturally operate in this way, I definitely understand that others DO NOT operate in same way I do.  Don’t get me wrong, it would be really boring for me to only be surrounded by people like me.  I enjoy the diversity of humans, and feel fulfilled and happy being able to explore so many interesting types of consciousness.  My point, though, is that there are people who don’t have a natural spiritual bend.  This is a good thing!  People like me help in certain ways and people unlike me help balance it out by helping in their ways.

As far as the daily inclination I have to seek inward peace, this spiritual experience is largely meditative.  Currently, my most meditative times occur while: putting my daughter to bed, running, or sitting in the sauna (headphones usually required).  The meditation is usually a focus on my current emotional state and separating what I feel from what others may have made me feel.  The other part is where I kind of “zone out”.  I like to picture myself as a large rock in a grassy field on a tall cliff overlooking an ocean.  I tell my problems or stress that they are the ocean, and cannot come up to me.  Then I just enjoy the landscape.  The great part is the imaginative state this can bring me into.  I don’t feel the need to go into this because it would be too long and descriptive without much substance.

The other part of my spirituality is prayer.  My thoughts on prayer have evolved quite a bit.  Growing up, I was taught that I had a relationship with God and that praying was speaking to Him.  I was also taught that God knew all my thoughts.  It’s almost comical thinking back and knowing that, while people tried to tell me prayer was the relational communication between us and God, it seemed very one sided.  Most the prayers I remember hearing growing up were essentially asking for help and for things to be favored to them and not others.  It’s like, you have this great chance to communicate with a higher being, and the best you can muster is to ask that being to do stuff for you?  It almost seems like the biggest sin should be how egocentric most prayers are.  It just seems so short sighted to pray in this way.  If I were God, I would ignore 95% of all prayers since people will feel fine once an emotion subsides, and will probably ask for the opposite thing tomorrow.  Anyway, off the soap box.  My point is that the evolution of what I pray or what God and I speak about has changed a lot over the last 10 years.  I used to do the same thing I am now upset at for people doing – I’d say “God, help me to be wise with my time and money.  Help so and so, help them to feel your presence.  In your name I pray, amen.”  How irresponsible.  Like, am I going to blame or get angry at God if I waste my time or money?  I was basically saying “help me to not be a dumb asshole, and increase dopamine in people I know.”  For me, it helps me to respect God more if He is a collective subconscious or a 6th dimensional being because it helps me respect His abilities and knowledge.  Like a father or mentor, but times 100.  What would you ask someone who could manipulate space-time and travel the universe with ease?  What would you ask someone who knows other civilizations that also has been around for the entirety of this civilization?  That’s the perspective I have now.  I say “Help me understand” or I’ll even ask Him things about Himself.  After all, this is a relationship, right?

Hope you enjoyed my take on things.

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