Wednesday

The Times Are A Changing But Christians Aren't

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

From Bob Dylan "The Times Are A Changin'" Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

Western society has undergone dramatic changes in the past 50 years. Human rights have finally been granted to oppressed groups such as women, people of colour and homosexuals to name but a few groups. There is still a long way to go even within those groups as many areas are still denied them and prejudice is still alive an well on planet Earth. 

Christianity has always lagged behind what has happened  in society and is now currently feeling the changes that were made in the 60s. People are questioning their faith and the validity of their religion like no other previous time. The renewed search for the historic Jesus and the Jesus Seminar should be congratulated for bringing what was known about Jesus out of the universities and into public discourse.  Biblical scholars such as Bart Ehrman and Dale Martin are now accessible to the masses through the miracle of the internet. Never before has so much information been available to the average person.

In reaction, Christians are becoming more intolerant of other points of view. Churches are hotbeds of both Islamophobia and homophobia.  Despite a few attempts at bettering Christianity change has failed and Christians remain firmly embedded in 19th century dogma.  The Emergent Church turned out to be not much more than nice evanglicals. Interchurch dialaogue happens in a few places but doesn't change the participants. Eucemenical get togethers focus only on shared meanings. The church is resisting chhange. While some women clergy are allowed in some churces it is far from being universal.

The church has no-one to blame except themselves for the continuing decline in church attendance worldwide. The church service is irrelevant to the needs of most contemporary people savvy in computer technology where they can find information faster and in a format that they want. Time poor people don't want to waste time singing Jesus Jingles in church and paying tithes, offerings and love gifts for the privilege. Christians don't want to know why people are not attending their church services. In Australia only those within church are ever surveyed about their thoughts on church in the National Church Life Survey performed every 5 years.  It also does not include all Christian denominations.

I am confident that the Australian 2011 census will show a decrease in Christian belief from previous years. The waters are gathering and growing around Christianity. Christians will soon be drenched to the bone.  Meantime they just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Sunday

The Strata of Christian Belief - Possible Ways Forward Part 2

Stages of Faith, by James W. Fowler (published in paperback by Harper Collins, 1995.)

Stage 1--Magical World

ages 2-6, perceives the world through lens of imagination and intuition unrestrained by logic e.g., lives in a magical world in which anything is possible

Stage 2--Concrete Family

ages 6-12, sees the world as a story - concrete, literal, narrative family of ritual and myth e.g., "In the beginning, God created the . . ."

~Stage 2 collapses when teenagers use newfound power of abstract thought to deconstruct previous understanding of the world e.g., risk of rejecting religious beliefs of parents, and identifying with surrounding secular culture

Stage 3--Faith Community *

teenager to early adulthood or beyond, sees the world through the lens of the peer community e.g., unconsciously "catches" faith, values, and way of thinking from peer group or subculture tends not to question the accepted ways of thinking e.g., "if the Bible says . . . it must be true" or "if some group says . . . it's the Truth" difficult dealing calmly and rationally with issues that touches on one's identity

Stage 4--Rational Constructs *

adulthood (if) traditional answers stop making sense e.g., beliefs previously unquestioned are called into account; develops the capacity to step back (usually for the first time) and examine beliefs with reason universe is reconstructed with self-chosen concepts might experience deep disappointment/anger on finding some beliefs did not stand up to investigation

Stage 5--Numinous (Supernatural/Mysterious) Universe

mid-life or latter (if) it seems we have run up against the limits of rational thought e.g., the search for certainty can end in feelings of failure/despair; we come to live in a spiritual universe of mystery, wonder, and paradox e.g., we might return to sacred symbol, story, tradition, liturgy, spiritual
community, but no longer captured in a theological box

Stage 6--Selfless Service **

rare stage for many; identifies deeply with all humanity, and spends themselves in service of worldwide issues of love, and justice e.g., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, etc.

________________

(*) To those in stage 3 or higher, the next stage looks like a loss of faith, and the previous stage is repulsive. This can be seen when stage 3 engages in witch hunting, and stage 4 baits and taunts stage 3.

###################################

I have entered stage 5 and am interested in sacred symbol. There are many metaphors used for the mystery that is God such as light and wind.  I would like to explore the metaphor of music being life and God.

Suppose that all the music that had ever been composed was played one after the other. The melodies, harmonies, chords, scales, tone, timbre, rhythm, time signatures - everything that has to to do with melodic music is the physical universe that can be explored by empirical science. It is a grand art form. You are a short melodic phrase somewhere amongst the billions of melodic phrases - da-da da dum. That's you and your life. It is different form other melodic phrases because it is played at a different time and on a different instrument. Even if it is quite similar it is not exactly the same as to placement.  You melodic phrase finishes but the song cycle continues.

Suppose that all the percussion elements are God. God is the drums, triangle, tambourine, etc that give the melody its backbeat. Except for timpani they are usually not tuned to a specific note. They are about striking an object and about silence. Some music pieces have no percussive elements at all yet they do have a time signature and a rhythm. Scores for percussion are different to scores for melodies and harmonies. percussion instruments vary as much as melodic instruments and each has its own specific tone and timbre. 

This is about everything to do with God that is completely different to melodic elements of music.  Exploring melodic elements may give you some hints as to the percussive elements but it is quite vague and unsubstantial.  In the same manner exploring God through empirical science does not give understanding of a God who is completely different to anything physical and measurable. Nor can one only examine one elments of the percussive elemnts, say cymbals in a drum kit, and think that one knows all about the drums.  Cymbals by themselves may sound completely strange and chaotic compared to say a regular snare drum beat.  There is also the element of silence. Silence is as important as the striking in percussive elements.  Experience of the silence might lead you to believe that percussion does not exist.  Thus the percussive elements demonstrate a transcendence of silence but at other times an immanence of the striking.

If God is the Ground of all being then being is the melodic elements and the Ground is the perscussive elements. There are completely different and need to be explored in different ways.  One does not explore music by abandoning all melodic elements. They are importnat. However, equally important are the percussive elements. One does abandon all percussive elements in order to explore music.  Both melodic and percussive elements make up music. Music is the grand theory of everything. The explantion of all that is - both Ground and being.

The very big question is HOW we explore this percussive element when we mainly have tools only for exploring the melodic elements. We cannot explore percussion in the ame way as melody. New tools are required. WHAT are those tools?

My guess is that we explore the mystery of God through the tools of mysticism.  However, this tool is  a primitive tool much like we would now view a stone age axe.  It is not particularly precise.  It may be misused.  There are many inferior copies.  I have no answer. All I have is a possibility that may or may not work. It is a tentative step forward. Explore the mystery of God through possibilities.

Monday

Secrets of Christian Musicians By The "Master Manipulator" Himself - Larry Norman

I learnt a great deal of stage presentation from the Master Manipulator himself, Larry Norman the Father of Christian Rock. Christians attending his concerts had no idea how much of their feelings were manipulated by simple psychological tricks and working the microphone that Larry used and that Larry told to a bunch of us musicians in Sydney. So much for the so-called "anointng"!
Tricks included:
- Stance (slightly on the ball of your feet to give the impresion of urgency)
- Use of microphone (close to the mike gives that warm and sincere sound)
- Eye contact (focus your eyes on something and you will appear more engaged an trustworthy)
- Tempo and scales can be used to manipluate feelings. Slow songs and minor keys for the tear jerk reaction. Fast songs and major keys to get the crowd excited.
- Lighting will set the mood
- Lyrical hooks matter
- How you dress and look matters
- Get applause after a number by breaking eye contact and remaining still for a few seconds.

Saturday

The Spirit Of Dogmatism

From Paul Tournier "The Person Reborn" (SCM:1967)

"Life is short," wrote Hippocrates. "and the art long; the occasion fleeting; experience fallacious, and judgement difficult." p.93

... each of us deduces from his personal experience a system of thought, which he sets up as the truth against all other systems of thought. ... I have the liveliest sense of the immeasurable greatness of God, in comparison with which all our mumblings are of no significance. ... The orthodox violate the law of love which their orthodoxy enjoins upon them, in persecuting any who do not share their dogmas. p.98

The spirit of dogmatism ossifies thought and sterilizes life. The person who is satisfied with one experienmce loses the dissatisfaction which could be the source of fresh experiences. p.101

He who claims never to have doubted does not know what faith is, for faith s forged through doubt. ... To set up one system or doctrine against another impoverises the mind by frezing it in a partisan attitude which obstructs the evolution of its life. How many upholders of orthodoxy seem to have fossilized minds, through having lost that unquenchable disquiet and curiosity which are the precondition of every advance in the spiritual life! As soon as one believes on possesses the truth, and encases it in a system, one shuts out other horizons. p.106

The spirit of dogmatism simplifies, opposes and systemizes. The philosophical spirit has a sense of the endless complexity of things. p.107

Friday

Fundamentalist Christians calling non-fundamentalists "fundamentalist"

We now have the very strange phenomenon of Christian fundamentalists calling people who disagree with them "fundamentalists" because they don't adopt the Christian fundamentalist viewpoint.

I have been called a "fundamentalist" by fundamentalist Christians yet it is utterly impossible for me to be a fundamentalist.

A Christian fundamentalist believes:

 1. FIRST SET

(1) the inerrancy of Scripture,
(2) the Virgin Birth of Christ,
(3) Christ's atonement for our sins on the cross,
(4) his bodily resurrection, and
(5) the objective reality of miracles

... later changed to .........

2. SECOND SET

(1) the inerrancy of Scripture,
(2) the Virgin Birth of Christ,
(3) Christ's atonement for our sins on the cross,
(4) his bodily resurrection, and
(5) the teachings of premilenialism

I hold to none of those beliefs and have deconverted from Christianity.

Another definition of a Christian fundamentalist:

The most pronounced characteristics [of fundamentalists] are the following:
(a) a very strong emphasis on the inerrancy of the Bible, the absence from it of any sort of error;
(b) a strong hostility to modern theology and to the methods, results and implications of modern critical study of the Bible;
(c) an assurance that those who do not share their religious viewpoint are not really 'true Christians' at all.
- James Barr "Fundamentalism" (SCM Press:1977) p.1

I don't hold to any of those beliefs either.

Yet another definition of a Christian fundamentalist:

Fundamentalists have no time for democracy, pluralism, religious tolerance, peacekeeping, free speech, or the separation of church and state." - Karen Armstrong "The Battle For God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam" (Harper Perennial: 2000 p. ix

I support democracy, pluralism, religious tolerance, peacekeeping, free speech and the separation of church and state. I don't fit that definition either.


The dictionary definition of fundamentalist:

fun·da·men·tal·ism
n.
... 1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.
2.
a. often Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
b. Adherence to the theology of this movement.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

I also don't fit that description as I have deconverted from fundamentalist Christianity, have no fundamentalist principles whatsoever and am a secularist.

By all the above definitions one who doesn't hold these beliefs cannot strictly be a "fundamentalist". I hold none of them.

Furthermore is the etymology of the word "fundamentalist" which again refers to none of my characteristics whatsoever ....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
fundamentalist

1920 in the religious sense (as is fundamentalism), from fundamental + -ist. Coined in Amer.Eng. to name a movement among Protestants c.1920-25 based on scriptural inerrancy, etc., and associated with William Jennings Bryan, among others. Fundamentalist is said (by George McCready Price) to have been first used in print by Curtis Lee Laws (1868-1946), editor of "The Watchman Examiner," a Baptist newspaper. The movement may have roots in the Presbyterian General Assembly of 1910, which drew up a list of five defining qualities of "true believers" which other evangelicals published in a mass-circulation series of books called "The Fundamentals." A World's Christian Fundamentals Association was founded in 1918. The words reached widespread use in the wake of the contentious Northern Baptist Convention of 1922 in Indianapolis. ...
The original opposition to fundamentalist (within the denominations) was modernist. ...

Applied to other religions, especially Islam, since 1957.

from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fundamentalist
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There are many other non-fundamentalists who likewise are told by Christian fundamentalists that they are a "fundamentalist".  You should dismiss such name calling as it is only deluded Christianese private terminology that means nothing in the real world.

Thursday

The Strata of Christian Belief - Possible Ways Forward

The way to know God is life and living life. "In him we live and move and have our being."  Acts 17:28. However there is a massive problem that there is no empirical evidence for God's existence and no philosophical proof of God's existence works.  Many theologians have stated that there is also a paradox - God is utterly transcendent and thus unknowable to human minds (like the Hindu Brahman) but at the same time utterly immanent and closer than one's own thought.  God is the great mystery of life.

All books (including the bible) are only the thoughts of humans as they try to articulate their experience of this paradoxical transcendent / immanent God. Jews see the holy spirit not as another person in a duality or trinity of the One God Yahweh but as the shekinah glory of God experienced by humans.

Spirit = mind = soul = psyche. They are all the same. One is supposed to use one's mind to know God. The mind experiences rational thought as well as emotion and intuition. Do not despise using all of your mind in the process of finding God.

You may use a book as a reference of how others have found God but they are all fallible and all have errors as well as truth. A short list of possible texts to explore:
- bible
- Qur'an
- Tanakh
- Great Hymn to the Aten
- Egyptian Book of the Dead
- Tibetan Book of the Dead
- Vedas, Sutras and Upanishads
- Tao Te Ching

Or it may be that you explore God through oral tradition such as the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime.

Find your own path.  Others can share their journey with you but your own authentic journey is the one that counts for you.

Monday

Creationist refusal to hunt for their evidence

Ceationism is about proving bible verses not doing science.

No creationist is looking for:
- the bones of Adam and Eve
- talking snake bones
- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
- the tree of life
- the bones of the angel who was guarding the tree of life (obviously drowned in Noah's flood).

The scientific method: Here are the facts. What conclusions can we draw from them?

The creationist method: Here is the conclusion. What facts can we find to support it?

Saturday

Exorcist Bob Larson on evil rock music

Bob Larson - "The Day That Music Died" (Creation House; Carol Stream, Illinois: 1972) *[Cost me A$1 in the "bargain basement"]

p.15 - The basic rock rhythm is syncopation. .... this explains the erotic body movements of dancers to the accompaniment of the syncopated or pulsating rock beat.

*[ J S Bach ...a Christian ... must have had the same problem with his classical syncopated music .....not!]

p. 179 - The origin of this Negro influence was, of course Africa.. These innovations were connected with heathen tribal and voodoo rites. The native dances to incessant, pulsating, syncopated rhythms until he enters a state of hypnotic monotony and loses active control over his conscious mind. The throb of the beat from the drums brings his mind to a state when the voodoo, which Christian missionaries know to be a demon, can enter him. This power then takes control of the dancer, usually resulting in sexual atrocities. Is there a legitimate connection between theses religious rites and today's modern dances? *[Larson answers in the affirmative.]

p. 181 - I was aware of the connection between demons and dancing even before my conversion. I speak from experience as to the effect rock rhythms have on the mind. ...As a minister, I know what it is like to feel the unction of the Holy Spirit. As a rock musician, I knew what it meant to feel the counterfeit anointing of Satan. I am not alone in my experimental knowledge of the influence of demonic powers present in rock music.

*[In his book "Rock and Roll: The Devil's Diversion, which cost me A$1.95, he writes on p.19 -

"The last rock and roll song I wrote was about a girl called Hurricane:
I call her Hurricane 'cause she loves up a storm,
I call her Hurricane but she don't do no harm,
She's warmer than sunshine, refreshes like rain,
She's my lovin' baby, she's my Hurricane."

I think he must have played saxophone. At least we know why he never got a song on the Top 40! Groovy lyrics. ;-)]

p. 182 - There is no difference between the repetative movements of witch doctors and tribal dancers and the dances of American teenagers. The same coarse bodily motions which lead such dancers into a state of uncontrollable frenzy are present in modern dances. It is only logical, then, that here must also be a correlation in the potentiality of demons gaining possessive control of a person through the medium of the beat. This is not entirely myown theory. It is the message that missionaries have urged me to bring to the American public.

p. 184 - An Friday and Saturday nights across America the devil is gaining demonic control over thousands of teenage lives. It is possible that any person who has danced for substantial lengths of time may have come under the oppressive, obsessive, or possessive influence of demons. Knowing this, churches and clergymen need to shed their cloak of compromise and firmly denounce rock dances. Dancing is no longer an artistic form of expression ( if it ever was) but a subtle instrument of Satan to morally and spiritually destroy youth.

*[ This was written in 1972 - 32 years ago - It is obvious that our politicians are demonically possessed as a result of listening to rock music and dancing and that is why they are elected leaders ..it's obvious ..isn't it? ...maybe ...perhaps ...aw come on ... play "let's pretend" ...]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He was in an early 1960s rock band himself, "The Rebels", before he got saved. He has made rather exaggerated claims about this band's commercial success and led people to believe they were some kind of heavy metal band, when in fact the only gigs they got were playing at high school sock hops and one Lions Club convention. Musically, they were about where Pat Boone was.
from http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Bob_Larson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

... Sharla Turman Logan, who was keyboardist for Bob Larson's high school rock trio, the Rebels, was interviewed by World. Logan, who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, listened as Cornerstone read her this 1974 quote from a Bob Larson book, Hell on Earth .... We did a parody of `Charlie Brown.' You know, `He's a clown / Charlie Brown.'" ... Sharla Logan heard the same story years before Bob first published it. "I saw him preach in 1965 or 1966, when I was in college at Greeley, Colorado." Logan couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I was offended. I was hurt. None of us ever did anything sexually or even drank. My father went with us to the concerts as a chaperon, and he would have picked up on any sexual stuff. We played at pizza parlors, rodeos, and churches. Everyone came, from little knee-high kids to grandpas and grandmas. But Bob talked about us like we were a bunch of sluts, if you'll excuse me. I was crying, sitting there hoping people wouldn't look at me. At the next intermission, I left." ...

http://www.cornerstonemag.com/features/iss100/larson.htm

FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE A "PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP" WITH JESUS

Since you personally know Jesus on an intimate basis, could you ask him for the cure for cancer? I mean if "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world" I assume he wants them to be cancer free. It would also help many other people in the world and we all know that "Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so" therefore he must also want all cancer patients to be healed.

While you're at it you might also add a request for the cures for:
- Ebola
- Polio
- Lupus Erythematosus
- Influenza
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
- Diabetes
- HIV/AIDS
- Asthma
- The Common Cold

... all of which, along with cancer, are the Top 10 incurable diseases at the moment.

Of course, as you know Jesus personally, and Jesus said "If you ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14) then make sure that you end your request with a "In Jesus' name" to make sure it happens.

When Jesus gives you the cure for cancer can I be credited as the person who helped you ask Jesus for this monumentous medical breakthrough?

Friday

Steps to Recovery - Marlene Winell, Ph.D.

Steps to Recovery
by Marlene Winell, Ph.D.


The following is a summary outline I've come up with for recovering from authoritarian religions like fundamentalist Christianity. In my years of counseling experience, I've found that for a lot of people (not everyone), the leaving process takes time and has some important steps. This outline is not meant to be a formula or cover the issues in depth, but I hope it is useful for you to think about.


1. Get Real.
Be honest with yourself about whether your religion is working for you. Let go of trying to force it to make sense. Have a look at life and the world AS IT IS, and stop trying to live in a parallel universe. This world might not be perfect but facing reality will help you get your life on track. If you feel guilty, realize that the religion teaches you to feel responsible when it isn't working and tells you to go back and try harder, just like an abusive relationship.

2. Get a Grip.
Don't panic. The fear you feel is part of the indoctrination. All those messages about what will happen to you if you leave the religion are a self-serving part of the religion. If you calm down, you'll be just fine. Many people have been through this.

3. Get Informed.
Do everything you can to educate yourself. You are free to read and expose yourself to all the knowledge in the world - history, philosophy, other religions, mythology, anthropology, biology, psychology, sociology, and more. In particular, read about how the Bible was put together and church history. Read authors who have explained why they deconverted. Many websites have deconversion stories and helpful reading lists.

4. Get Help.
Find support in any way you can. Explore online forums to discuss issues with others leaving their religion. Join a supportive group in your area. If necessary, find a therapist who understands or go to a recovery retreat. Do the work to heal the wounds of religious abuse.

5. Get a Life.
Rebuild your life around new values and engage fully with your choices. Develop your identity as you learn to love and trust yourself. Take responsibility and create the life that works for you - in work, family, leisure, social - all the areas of commitment that make a life structure. Venture into the "world" for new experiences and new friends. This will take time but you can do it.

6. Get With the Program.
Accept the idea that Earth is your home and humanity is your true family. Consider participating in larger concerns such as caring for the environment or social change. Let go of expecting God to take care of all the problems. Join others to make the world a better place. You can begin with knowing your neighbors. Welcome to the human race.

7. Get Your Groove On.
Start enjoying sensation and pleasure as you relax with the idea of being an animal like all the others on Earth. Learn to be present here and now. Discover all the ways to appreciate nature. Enjoy and love other people instead of judging. Reclaim your creativity and express yourself any way you like, not just to "glorify God." Love your body and take care of it. Embrace this life instead of worrying about the next. Sing and dance and laugh for no reason except Being Alive.
--
Marlene Winell, Ph.D.
http://www.marlenewinell.net/
from http://expentecostalforums.yuku.com/topic/7983

Tuesday

EASTER SATURDAY


According to Christianity God (Jesus) dies and stays dead all Easter Saturday.

No longer did anyone have Jesus to go through to get to God as Jesus was dead. No mediator whatsoever. ( John 14:6. “NO-ONE comes to the Father except through me")

No longer was the universe held together by Jesus as Jesus was dead. The universe should have fallen apart. ( Colossians 1:17 "in him all things are held together")

No longer could you "live and move and have your being"(Acts 17:28) in Jesus ... oh ... wait ... you can't do that at any time since Jesus is a finite human.

When a third of God (Jesus) is completely stone cold dead how does anything happen at all?