3 of 8
3
Christian freedom - an oxymoron?
Posted: 03 May 2007 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3765
Joined  2007-03-11
[quote author=“Jefe”][quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]But to the extent that you object to having Christian values forced upon you legally, politically, socially, or any other way - agreed - that is wrong.

Agreed.

That it why the judiciary must act to protect the rights of the individual from a potentially hostile majority in a democratic nation.  Rights, Liberties, Privileges, Equality to Define Self and Pursue Happiness, etc… must be preserved for individuals, no matter if they are part of the ‘majority’ or outside of the ‘majority’.

i.e. no Jim Crow Laws, no Prejudicial or Discriminatory Laws, no sliding scale of rights, liberties or priviledges based on any factor in the array of discriminatory features present in individuals.

If everyone would simply realize that they could one day be part of a distinct minority, perhaps there would not be as much dispute about this.  Everyone should be concerned about protecting the civil liberties that we have, even for those who may be repugnant to us (repugnant this side of criminal, of course). But it is difficult for the majority to think in those terms.  Foreign travel to places such as Saudi Arabia and India might be an eye-opener for many Americans.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 May 2007 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  480
Joined  2006-12-16

Let’s get back to the idea of a freedom that is not separate from surrender. I don’t think this idea is limited to Christianity at all - it certainly has been important in my journey.
For about 15 years I was involved in Tibetan Buddhism, and as part of my practice I did 100,000 full prostrations. In Tibet people will go on a pilgrimage and do a full prostration each step of the way. (A full prostration means that you go from a standing position to being flat on the ground.) This must be about as extreme an attempt at ‘surrender’ as it gets, wouldn’t you say?
There are all sorts of perversions the mind applies, like trying to make a business deal “if I do this unpleasant thing, I will get that pleasant thing” but you see, that perversion is not a fundamental problem - it is simply how the ego works.
The more fundamental problem in Tibetan Buddhism, as I came to understand, is that they do not have a good, functional concept of God.

Bruce - have you looked at the text Mahahaha offered us in the philosophy dept., the one on the trinity? You might find that interesting.

Ok, back to the ‘surrender’ thing.
I don’t know much about Christianity, but I strongly relate to the quotes which Bruce brought to the beginning of this thread. ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you fee’ must be one of the most famous statements in the history of humanity. It is also a statement I think everyone who posts on this forum would agree with - we just have different understandings of it.
My understanding is that knowing the truth is not an intellectual state, but a way of being.  It requires conscious surrender into truth which begins with an admission that there is something which tends to take me away from truth. It is a tendency to construct my own story, my own version of the world and other people, the tendency to serve my own desires and identify with my own confusion.

I can’t be free from that tendency on my own - I need something from outside, otherwise I’m just going around in circles. So I surrender, I admit that although I can only be in truth as myself and by myself, I need both inspiration and practice.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 May 2007 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  54
Joined  2007-04-03

[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]
You are wrong to say that secularists are not pushing their values. You may not know about Madalyn Murray O’Hair in Norway, but she spent years pushing her values on believers. She did not simply assert the right of an atheist not to pray or read the Bible in school, she and her ilk demanded that NO child be involved in such.  While the courts here have now made it clear that individual students can engage in prayer in school as long as it is not school-sponsored, for years schools were so afraid of getting sued by the ACLU that they did not allow religious expression at all in schools, violating the civil rights of believers. This is an example of secularists pushing their values on believers. This issue is not as big a deal as it once was, as students have become more informed about their rights. But for years one atheist scared the public into submission.

So it goes both ways.  If you say that neither side should push values on the other by legal or political means, you will get no objection from this individual.


It is the religious who first pushed their views on others. For millenia the religious have oppressed the rights of thinking people. Now that the secular want to push back you call “no fair!” The Religious Right have been trying to force their unsubstantiated beliefs on America through every legal and political means possible. Unfortunately for them, their beliefs have no rational basis in fact. So you can expect reasonable people to push back. Hard.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 May 2007 12:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3765
Joined  2007-03-11
[quote author=“mentor”]It is the religious who first pushed their views on others. For millenia the religious have oppressed the rights of thinking people. Now that the secular want to push back you call “no fair!” The Religious Right have been trying to force their unsubstantiated beliefs on America through every legal and political means possible. Unfortunately for them, their beliefs have no rational basis in fact. So you can expect reasonable people to push back. Hard.

So you think that atheists, because of past actions of Christians, now have a right to force their values on Christians? Isn’t the right thing to do to simply assure that neither side forces their values on the other side?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 May 2007 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]Let’s get back to the idea of a freedom that is not separate from surrender. I don’t think this idea is limited to Christianity at all - it certainly has been important in my journey.
For about 15 years I was involved in Tibetan Buddhism, and as part of my practice I did 100,000 full prostrations. In Tibet people will go on a pilgrimage and do a full prostration each step of the way. (A full prostration means that you go from a standing position to being flat on the ground.) This must be about as extreme an attempt at ‘surrender’ as it gets, wouldn’t you say?

 

Gad, Pat, a bit extreme.  LOL  You must have had the same teacher as a woman I met in Edmonton around 1975: her Tibetian teacher had assigned her 100,000 prostratations and she had a ways to go.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 May 2007 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”][quote author=“mentor”]It is the religious who first pushed their views on others. For millenia the religious have oppressed the rights of thinking people. Now that the secular want to push back you call “no fair!” The Religious Right have been trying to force their unsubstantiated beliefs on America through every legal and political means possible. Unfortunately for them, their beliefs have no rational basis in fact. So you can expect reasonable people to push back. Hard.

So you think that atheists, because of past actions of Christians, now have a right to force their values on Christians? Isn’t the right thing to do to simply assure that neither side forces their values on the other side?

And in Rome the Pagans persecuted the Christians, then the Christians got into power and persecuted the Pagans.  Is there a pattern here?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 May 2007 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3765
Joined  2007-03-11

[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]Ok, back to the ‘surrender’ thing. I don’t know much about Christianity, but I strongly relate to the quotes which Bruce brought to the beginning of this thread. ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you fee’ must be one of the most famous statements in the history of humanity. It is also a statement I think everyone who posts on this forum would agree with - we just have different understandings of it.

My understanding is that knowing the truth is not an intellectual state, but a way of being.  It requires conscious surrender into truth which begins with an admission that there is something which tends to take me away from truth. It is a tendency to construct my own story, my own version of the world and other people, the tendency to serve my own desires and identify with my own confusion.

I can’t be free from that tendency on my own - I need something from outside, otherwise I’m just going around in circles. So I surrender, I admit that although I can only be in truth as myself and by myself, I need both inspiration and practice.

Everyone needs the help of teachers in just about all areas of life. It would be very inefficient for each of us to have to learn everything on our own from scratch.  There are experts in every field that we can call upon.  Christianity offers Jesus as the teacher in the spiritual realm.  Some Christians try to also make him the expert in science, politics and history, but those fields were not his concern.  He was concerned about the human spirit; he wanted to free the human spirit so it could be restored to its original condition - the image of God.  No teacher can do a good job unless his students have faith in him.  You can question him all you want, but if you choose this path, the fundamental requirement is to trust in him.  In Christianity, the surrender is not to a principal or to a program, but to a person.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  480
Joined  2006-12-16

Bruce - My experience with Tibetan Buddhism is that surrender to a person is exactly what I should NOT do. A person or persons - since those prostrations were done to an image of ‘the lineage’ who had passed down the teachings.
A person is limited and seen as an object outside myself. Teachers are just people, and so, yes, in order to listen to a teacher I have to be willing to shut up, set my doubts aside and really listen. But not surrender.
Jesus is different. If Jesus were still in physical human form living in Vermont we would be having quite a different conversation, probably both of us on our way to Vermont. But that is not the case. As it is, we can’t have much of a conversation about Jesus because our experience is so different - I’m sure that for you Jesus is alive, but not for me.

It makes sense to surrender to an aspect of my own being, because that way I know what it is. I can call it the Unborn, I can call it the drive for truth - something universal, in other words, not ‘myself’ but directly felt by myself.
When I was attempting to surrender to the Kagyu Lineage, it was not alive enough. My guru was alive and seemed to represent what I wanted (freedom) so I tried to give up the freedom I had in order to surrender. No, it doesn’t make sense.

burt - early and mid 1970’s quite a few of us were discovering the Tibetans, and they are a fascinating and lovely group of people. I’m trying to remember the name of that old, skinny fellow who set up shop in Canada. My guru was the infamous Chogyam Trungpa, the drunken poet as he called himself. There were, and still are, many groups around doing these practices - a good friend of mine goes to Vancouver regularly because her guru comes over from Bhutan to meet with students there.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

That was a very interesting exchange bewteen Pat and Bruce, by just going in and reading that post (where Bruce quotes Pat) you might think that they are speaking about the very same thing.  In fact I could see a christian reading Pat’s statement and agreeing fully, however, an atheist would read the response from Bruce as a completely different situation from the quote by Pat.

And what’s the difference?  To me, Pat is saying that Yes, you must surrender to something outside of yourself in order to establish the ground of truth.  Without finding that substantial limit of “what constitutes acceptance” - you will merely be swayed by your own personal whims and desires.  I think that the scientific view and methodology fit very nicely into this sort of epistemic picture, but so does something like buddhism because it instructs the practitioner on the actions she must perform in order to find what is true (or truth) from a subjective realm going into the objective realm.  In this sense, scientific inquiry and scientific knowledge fits well with the buddhist methodology, the truth one discovers will not be “the objective truth” or “the absolute truth” - but if the practitioner is successful they will discover some version of the universal truth. The key here being is that THE ONE WHO IS SEARCHING IS CRUCIAL TO THE NATURE OF THE TRUTH ONE WILL FIND. Teachers (as well as experts) are important, but they are guides in fact, in buddhist philosophy it is important NOT to surrender to the teacher (even to Buddha), because that will get you to the wrong place.

And what’s the wrong place?  Christianity.  Bruce admits that he MUST surrender to the expert (Jesus) in order to know the truth, isn’t this just a lighter version of slavery? The teachers in christian theology have all surrendered to the expert and they all claim to possess the absolute truth (they know god).  If the student is to succeed, he too must surrender to the expert, there is no other way to god (absolute truth).

You know, as I was writing this I came to realize that Bruce is perfectly correct, in a sense.  If your goal is absolute truth, then you must in fact surrender to the expert.  In the real world truth is always relative because the context of the searcher plays a constitutive role in determining what is true.  When the “expert” says that flying fish are really birds that live underwater, the student looks at the known facts and concludes that this “expert” is wrong.  She concludes that whatever truth is, its foundational limits stand beyond the capacity of this “expert.”  But in the christian theology, if the expert says that the one god is a trinity (and thay all say that), the student must surrender to the “expert” and accept this logical oxymoron as an absolute truth.  But now we get back to Pat’s original statement, about the whims and desires of the searcher forming the foundation of his truth, because in this case the student’s NEED or DESIRE for absolute truth will trigger a surrender to the expert (Jesus) and all of the many sub-experts as well (christian theologians).  So they actually get their absolute truth, because that is what they want. It’s a self-fulfilling fantasy, enabled by the teachers but especially enabled by the expert above all (Jesus).  There is no such thing as absolute truth, but if you cannot accept that as a fact . . . guess what!  You actually find absolute truth (even if you have to believe that three is really one!).

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]For about 15 years I was involved in Tibetan Buddhism, and as part of my practice I did 100,000 full prostrations.

Pat, I watched the inner-city basketball film “Coach Carter” a few weeks ago. You could have played on his team. He was really into having his players do pushups, sometimes thousands at a time. In the course of the story, all his “boys” became “men”,  largely because of doing a lot of pushups. And poking their noses into their schoolbooks. Samuel L. Jackson was his usual didactic self.  :D

Yes, you must surrender to something outside of yourself in order to establish the ground of truth.

The difference is that scientists do not claim to have established the ground of Truth (with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Philosophy.)

Without finding that substantial limit of “what constitutes acceptance” - you will merely be swayed by your own personal whims and desires.  I think that the scientific view and methodology fit very nicely into this sort of epistemic picture, but so does something like buddhism because it instructs the practitioner on the actions she must perform in order to find what is true (or truth) from a subjective realm going into the objective realm.

If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. This is not a hand-in-glove fit, Bob.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  480
Joined  2006-12-16

A good question about surrender is ‘am I surrendering my intelligence and critical judgement?’ Because that’s where religion or politics or you-name-it becomes a cult.
How do I surrender in my current religion? By stopping. It’s called meditation, but a very good description of it is just this: STOP THIS TRAIN, I WANT TO GET OFF.
You get off the train, whatever it is, and then pretty soon you find yourself on another train, but you get off that one too, and never mind that there will be another train and you will be on it, but then you can get off that one, too.
Intelligence and critical thinking remain intact, nothing is ‘swallowed’. (Except maybe my pride.) You just keep getting off the train and back onto the ground of being nobody.
You have to believe there is some value to it because past evidence sometimes feels weak. The train is powerful, so it takes faith and inspiration to be willing to get off. Again.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  39
Joined  2007-04-17

There’s another way to experience surrender.  It’s called, surrendering to life.  It works like this. You find yourself in a situation you don’t like, and in a surrendered state, you accept it – just as it is.  In an unsurrendered state, on the other hand, you struggle against it.  The delta between the reality of the circumstance you actually find yourself in, versus the reality you would like to be in, is sometimes called the ‘pain gap’.  The more your desired reality differs from your actual reality, the wider the gap and the more you suffer.  The key is acceptance. 

“My husband just told me he’s leaving me.”  That might be my actual reality.  “I don’t want him to leave me”.  Might be my desire.  I can struggle, fight, gnash my teeth, resent, hate, and resist my ‘actual reality’.  In other words, I can add layer upon layer of suffering to an already bad situation.  Or, I can try - to the best of my ability - to stay open and deal with the situation out of a place of acceptance, or non-struggle (which does not mean non-action).  That doesn’t mean that I won’t experience pain or that I will ultimately get the outcome I want.  But with surrender, I can move through this situation with less suffering than I would experience if I faced it with resistance and struggle.  And I do it in the spirit of faith - faith in my proven ability to accept whatever life has to offer and to move forward.

Of course, it’s easier to surrender to something like ‘the will of God’.  Put it all in his hands and let him take care of the outcome.  “Whew! What a relief!” That’s one way and it works for many people of all different religious persuasions.  In my own experience, however, having done it both ways, I find more grace and meaning in having the courage to trust in myself - my own innate wisdom - to navigate through all of life’s ups and downs.  For me, that’s fearlessness, that’s freedom.

Bruce wrote:

Just tonight, in a worship service, I experienced the euphoria again - the inward, liberating euphoria of his presence. So for me personally, Christianity is freedom.

Bruce, I would hope that you’re aware that spiritual experience is not unique to Christianity.  For me personally, meditation and contemplation offer the way.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3765
Joined  2007-03-11

[quote author=“Namaste”]Bruce wrote:

Just tonight, in a worship service, I experienced the euphoria again - the inward, liberating euphoria of his presence. So for me personally, Christianity is freedom.

Bruce, I would hope that you’re aware that spiritual experience is not unique to Christianity.  For me personally, meditation and contemplation offer the way.

As I have stated before, I am not judging anyone else’s spiritual or subjective experience. In my surrender to Jesus (as I understand the experience) I am not becoming a slave but a son.  There is a freedom in being part of a family. I find that if I invite him to my table, he comes, and if I want him to leave, he leaves (just as he has left most of Europe, since they apparently don’t want him).  He is a gentleman. But I experience inward liberation more when I invite him to stay.  He brings inward liberation. That is my experience, and I don’t have to or intend to force it on anyone else.  You are in the best position to judge your own experience.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  39
Joined  2007-04-17

Bruce wrote: That is my experience, and I don’t have to or intend to force it on anyone else. You are in the best position to judge your own experience.

This statement you make may or may not be true.  But please try to understand that what I, as a non-christian, find offensive is that if you were to end that thought with honesty is would most likely go something like this, “You are in the best position to judge your own experience….however, if you don’t choose Christianity you’re just wrong —either you’re not trying hard enough, or you don’t understand it well enough, or you’re being closed minded, or Satan is at work in you, or whatever, but you can’t possibly have found an alternate path that isn’t somehow inferior to mine.” 

Salt Creek wrote:
You seem incapable of simply presenting your faith without including me in it.

Bruce wrote: You’re right. Apparently I can’t. I’ve tried and failed. Maybe it’s the nature of the faith, maybe it’s just me. I can’t seem to avoid universalizing it. It is something wonderful to me, and personal, so I guess I just can’t discuss it objectively. I’m sad that something that seems so beautiful to me seems so ugly to you.

Please don’t be sad.  Many of us have found a way that, to us, is full of a simple, straightfoward beauty and meaning and truth—without all of the ugliness and baggage that a substantial portion of your scripture puts forth. 

Here’s a thought that I would normally not ever voice.  I’ll do so now, however, to give you some insight into how arrogant and self-rightous the “my- religion-is-better-than-yours” mentality is:
My opinion, my way is more evolved and transcendant than yours and in so many ways you totally miss the point of your Gospel.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
Administrator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  480
Joined  2006-12-16

Hello Namaste - I’m especially interested in what you wrote because you and I seem to be pretty close in our ideas, but enough difference to add some spice…I’ll have to go back and find your other posts.
We’re also not so far apart earth-wise - supposed to be a nice weekend - I’m helping a friend in Klamath Falls dig her garden right now, so I’ll come back later and talk about God. namaste!

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 8
3
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed