A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Immanence

Tim asks about the immanence of God, as found in discovering the wonders of the universe. More often than not, when I read stories about the universe I get more impressed on how small we are in relation to it.

Dailykos had a piece on how about three quarters of the mass of the universe is literally a void, of matter and energy. That's a universe where much of the language about God as Tim has noted, has too often not been up to the task.

I do find the immanence of God through personal relationships, whether that of humans or of other animals. The loving care of communities, of relatives and friends, of pets. And examples of people who are making a difference in the lives of others.

Immanent language makes sense, when one thinks of how we are constituted by our personal relations. Transcendent language makes sense when we consider the kind of universe we live in. Immanent and transcendent, keeping them together is key I think.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dependence

"The sense of dependence that is bred by recognition that the intent and effort of man are never final but are subject to the uncertainties of an indeterminate future, would render dependence universal and shared by all.

It would terminate the most corroding form of isolation that divides man from man at the foundations of life's activities. A sense of common participation in the inevitable uncertainties of existence would be coeval with a sense of common effort and shared destiny."

Whether or no we are, save in some metaphorical sense, all brothers, we are at least all in the same boat traversing the same turbulent ocean. The potential religious significance of this fact is infinite." -John Dewey from The Quest for Certainty and Common Faith.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Natural revelation

"We must seek and consider God in his works, which for this reason the scripture calls representations of the invisible thingsā€¦this should teach us all of such a God as it is necessary to know." John Calvin

I was thinking of the post by pastor Bob when he juxtapositioned natural revelation which starts with human experience versus special revelation which is God revealing God's self in Christ and in scripture.

I don't see how this division can be sustained. The Christ event as well as the stories of the early church were experienced by humans who lived in nature, in time, and in history. They are recordings of a kind of human experience.

So there's no way to get around the limitedness of our vision by appeals to special revelation. The apostle Paul can get knocked off his donkey and still he says we see only in part. But it doesn't limit divine iniative. Afterall, Paul was knocked off his donkey by the divine.

What we're doing is relativizing what we humans say about religion, etc. This is what the Barmen Declaration was doing, what the neo-orthodox did as well. Because we serve a transcendent God all human claims to unquestioned power, authority, are reduced to rags.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Christians Gone Wild

Several weeks ago, the mayor of Fr. Lauderdale held a press conference for his crusade against gay folks. He was armed with men in paramilitary outfits from a local fundamentalist church.

The sight of seeing a politician surrounded by a posse, one engaged in in a spiritual revival against "the depth of sexual sin in Broward County," is astonishing. The best statement summarizing this was from indy catholic bishop Bruce Simpson who said "I'm going to be ill."

"Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live.." Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama. I'll let the words speak for themselves. Should the Anglican communion survive? I can't say yes anymore.

And a group called "soulwinners" decided to evangelize UNC Chapel Hill. I'm sure most folks in colleges have come across traveling evangelists who come to these campuses to say the most awful things against students.

While volumes have been written on this subject I still marvel at how religion can be used in ways that are so destructive to one's self and others. The burden of religious faith for those of us seeking something different, is to figure out how one relates to this.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Belief



A friend of mine, who'll be a future guest blogger for this site wrote a piece I've excerpted below:

What does it mean to "believe" in something? My academic background is in psychology. I know what it means to "think" something. But that has to be different from what it means to "believe" something, especially in a religious sense.

If to "believe" is to "think," we have some real problems. I have asked different people who say they "believe in God" or "believe in Christ" or "believe in salvation" or "believe in the virgin birth" or "believe in justice" what they think about these things, and they have produced more answers than there were respondents.

I've been told that Catholics "believe" one thing and Methodists another, but when I ask what they think, there is great variety within, and overlap between, those groups. Because two people use similar words for what they believe does not mean they think the same things but it does somehow indicate a shared.. something.

I'm hesitant to equate belief with thought because I know my thoughts change day to day, even minute to minute. But I still believe. Belief seems more active, more about the overall direction I'm facing, the life I'm living, the experience I'm having. It might incorporate some cognitive elements, but it seems far more behavioral and affective.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thanks Collective Soul


I've come to the realization of my old age in that all my pop culture references are from the 80s and 90s. Thank goodness some of these icons continue on today in great form like South Park and the Simpsons.

And one of my favorite bands of the 90s keep on producing great material. Collective Soul released their new CD Afterwards and there's so many songs that are moving, toe tapping, and filled with warmth that it will easily remain one of my favorites of the band.

"As you wake just to crawl. Still you say good morning after all. You stand just to fall. Still you say good morning after all. You questioned this life. Sure you wondered about love. But you swear there's always hope." Something I needed to hear at this time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9-11 Reflections

9-11 remembrances raise various issues. But for me the notion of how small and interdependent our world is especially poignant. Several years ago, the Indigo Girls, made famous the hymn O God of all the Nations, the tune is Finlandia. I thought I'd share the lyrics.

Finlandia

This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation
May peace abound where strife has raged so long;
That each may seek to love and build together,
A world united, righting every wrong.
A world united in its love for freedom,
Proclaiming peace together in one song.