A Possible Gospel And New Testament

More Fun Than Fundamentalism.

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For further information, email Darius at possiblegospel@yahoo.com.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gospel, Chapter Eight: Saint Satan

New Readers, Please Note: There is an “About Possible Gospel” link at the right to give a quick idea of where I’m coming from in doing this blog. There are also a couple definitions at the foot of this post. You could call it an experiment. Or possibly, "virtual performance art?” Anyway, since I’m writing more or less in a gospel-style, sometimes I do state things forcefully. But I truly welcome all points of view in comments, very much including those of conservative Christians.

However: if instead of exchanging ideas you find yourself calling me names, sneering, attempting condescension, weeping, wailing, or otherwise gnashing your teeth, your comment won’t go through. Not that I mind being called, “The False Messiah.” (Yes, this was an actual comment.) Rather flattering in its way I guess. But most comments along these lines are more monotonous than humorous, and make for boring reading. So let’s keep it in perspective, conservatives. This is a miniscule blog. Christian conservatism, well-funded, well-organized, and increasingly well-established in America’s government, is in no danger from this little blog, which has maybe 12 regular readers. Twelve? OMG…!!!

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It’s a Tough Job, an’ He’s Been Workin’ Hard for This Administration

On the June 4 post, we noted that the New Testament presents Satan as entering into Judas to make him betray Jesus, allowing for Jesus’ crucifixion and salvation of the world. Satan is actually involved with helping to realize the divine plan from the ground up. For even more fundamentally, so to speak, we find him in the Garden of Eden (Genesis, chap. three), tempting Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - creating the very conditions necessary for the free choice that so many Christians firmly believe in today, and that thankfully prevented the human race from living in the innocent and harmonious love of God forever.

Anyway, my main point is that what with Satan going around doing so much good in the world, why blame him for anything?

Theogology

On the contrary – poor, devoted Satan! He is the “fall guy” in Other-God’s plan, doing all the unpopular sorts of things that Og himself would never even think of doing personally; and all for the sake of realizing The Plan. And in return for all his bad/good work, he’s going to hell! And yet what greater love is there than this: that one divine Entity (kind of) should give his life for his divine Entity friend! (Cf. John 15:13)

Satan as “fallen” angel? I think not! Truly the Devil is the veritable Saint of Angels, or even the world’s co-Messiah – and the one with the harder cross to bear!

The idea that in the end, Og sends a Satan who has done so much for him straight to hell would be disturbing, except that I am confident that any theologian worth his salt could be inspired to make up a deeply mysterious reason to explain this. Indeed, perhaps the deepest of all mysteries is the ability of theologians to explain their favorite dogmas in an infinite number of ways. Love is the greatest gift; but theology the most abundant one. Cf. I Cors 13:13

And with all this interaction among the Father, Son, the Holy Ghost, and the Devil, to say nothing of the intercessionary cast of the Virgin Mother and all the saints, I propose taking this opportunity right now to bow our heads and thank Og-the-Father that we Christians are strict monotheists who have left all forms of pagan pantheism light years behind. Otherwise, things would get really complicated - especially in today’s culture. Og would need to employ more theologians to do actual theology, leaving him fewer to spare for political speech writers.

Return to Kansas

Looking for something to really be afraid of? Let’s stop and consider whether we may harbor any unexamined fears or hatred.

But if you remain tempted by the Satan of Og, just click your heels three times and repeat after me (three times, of course): “’Devil’ get thee hence!” Mat 4:10 But be sure to say “Devil” in quotes.

As to the fire, have eyes to see the light: certain Wizards wearing long robes have been blowing smoke all along, not fire and brimstone.

Hell is hatred. Hell is bitter vengeance. Hell is unworthy of the mind of God.

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Definitions – for New Readers:

Og (“Other" or "Objectified" God): The Creator that western religion has imagined as existing separately and in distinction from being, existence, or creation itself.

God: Being, existence, or creation itself - which is itself in-process of creating; the only One in whom each of us truly lives and moves and has our being.

39 Comments:

At 11:07 AM, Blogger gautami tripathy said...

As I am Hindu, I do not know much about christianity other than what I read or watch on movies or TV.

So you will not be called names by me!
Infact I learn from your reflections..:)

For me GOD is one, it does not matter if we are Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever.

HE lives within us. Ultimately the soul merges with GOD!

OMG, he is gonna moderate me!

:(

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger Hayden said...

count me your 13th, albeit mostly invisible, reader. ;-) don't cha' just hate lurkers?

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger crystal said...

Hi Darius ... hey, could you visit my blog today ... I have a post on Trinity Sunday by my former spiritual director.

About your post ...

I think the general idea is not that God planned for Satan (one name for Satan is Lucifer, bringer of light :-) to be a co-working evil, but that Satan chose of his own free will to turn away from God and God allowed it.

The idea that God uses Satan to do his dirty work is interesting (though I disagree) ... in college anthropology, we learned that in some native american tribes, the maternal uncle was the one who always punished the children in a family, so that the relationship between the child and parents wouldn't be harmed.

I guess Milton would say Sata would rather be in Hell, not that he's sent there :-)

About momotheism and the trinity ... it is pretty hard (for me) to understand, but I like it!

You probably know this, but hell was patterned on a sort of garbage dump outside the city walls of Jerusalem, called Gehenna, where the fires (and refuse) always burned. Before that, it was used as a place of sacrificing children to an earlier version of God. A scary place, for sure.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Within Without said...

Hmmmm....

Again, Darius, I don't pretend to be into religion or Christianity nearly enough to be on the same level as you or many of your readers, so sometimes feel a little hesitant to respond directly.

But can I offer this observation? That the devil is merely a convenient symbol, horns and all, invented by religious leaders to strike fear into the hearts of Man to scare the (pardon this) bejeesus out of him? We'll all be DAMNED TO HELL if we don't go to church every Sunday!!!!

That's what makes me so suspicious of the church and what makes it, as an institution (and that's all it is, no different from the White House or Congress or the Senate or WalMart headquarters or Buckingham Palace) a man-made enclosure for this or that.

The church, though, because it's all about things we can only guess about and opine over and wonder about and moralize about, lays a big guilt trip on us and injects fear into our hearts.

If it would just spell out the good values most of us already have and let us make up our own minds rather than trying to scare us into believing with things like the devil and rapture, we might all be a lot better off.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Darius said...

GAUTAMI: Yes, but I'm a loose, immoderate moderator. Didn't like activating that feature, but it's better than people having to wade through off-topic rants. Even the ranter, who knows who he/she is, is perfectly welcome to post a civil comment.

All I know about Hinduism is contained in one chapter in a book I read on world religions a long time ago; and of course, that Gandhi was Hindu. I do seem to recall something about Hinduism characteristically having the broad-minded outlook you articulate here, which to me is infinitely preferable to finding in religion a path to hatred.

HAYDEN: Glad you’re exposing yourself, so to speak!

HI CRYSTAL: I actually happened to post to your blog before you sent this comment…

Wow. No I didn’t know that about Gehenna. Sounds like a hell-on-earth – unfortunately there are plenty of those, no belief-system required…

Me too. That is, I don’t think God uses Satan to do his dirty work either, since I find no reason to believe in either Satan or a God-Entity. Just trying to highlight some of the contradictions involved in that whole Og/Satan/free will story.

The alternative idea you mention – that Satan chose evil of his own free will and God allowed it - has its own contradictions, per the June 1 post (“The Problems of Evil”).

I wonder if it’s possible to find meaning in ideas like the Trinity when they’re looked at as symbols and not ontological realities?

I guess the theological aspects of the world’s religions work, or don’t, in different ways for different people. For example, Christian symbols like the Trinity are understood by some as ontological realities – facts about existence, so to speak. Others find them meaningful in metaphorical/symbolic ways. For others, they’re a hinderance.

WITHIN, WITHOUT: I’m sure you’re right – that the devil’s usefulness for scaring people into adhering to the creed is one of the main functions of the idea, maybe the primary one. Like you, I would much prefer that religion keep the focus on the positive – how to go about being a better person.

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Although I do not pretend to believe in the "devil" he makes for much better copy in books and films.
The fallen angel was once apparently the favorite and his hostile takeover crashed and burned so to speak.
The deceiver has so many intriguing names like beelzebub and mephistophales that conjure up such sinister images of power and brand name recognition.Oddly enough I believe that people are more afraid of him than they are of his creator!

Our modern version, OK think Al Pacino giving Keanu the big speech about the absentee landlord WO! is so slick and savy..he IS the ultimate communicator.
I think that the "devil" has done a better job of marketing himself in todays world than anybody else. People around the world seem to agree on a great deal more about the "devil" than they do about his competition.

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger Pamela said...

I believe in the dark side and I believe in the 'going towards the light' side.

I believe both are real. Two sides of the coin, if you will.

I s'pose that makes me the minority here? :grin: I believe that we lived before we came to this earth and that we'll live on after we've left our mortal bodies behind. I believe in doing good to all people. I believe in serving people and not in hating anyone for having beliefs that differ from my own.

We all walk this earth together. We should get along.

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger crystal said...

I don't mean to go on about this, as I know it's only important to christians and only to some of them, but i think the thing about the trinity is that it's relational. I like this quote froman article I read ... The Trinity is ... perichoresis, a term conveying dynamic and creative energy, eternal movement, mutuality and interrelatedness. The three divine persons are what they are by relation to one another .... Moreover this interrelatedness of the triune God is not self-contained but is poured out in creation, Incarnation and final fulfillment..

 
At 11:31 PM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Devils, evil spirits, and the like have lurked among us forever. The great thing about mythology is: if there is a "good guy," then there must be a "bad guy." It's philosophical dualism at its best. If there is good in the world, then there must be bad in the world. If there is yin, then there must be yang.

Carl Jung would clearly call the "Devil" an archetype, and therefore some version of the Devil lives in all our psyches. Awareness can help us saddle the beast. If the ugly lurks in one, then it lurks in all. We must cast light upon our shadow to see it for it really is and isn't.

I strive to be "nondual" in my worldview. Being a Westerner, that takes work since dualism in all shapes and sizes has seriously infested Western culture.

May I recommend a wonderful book? It's called The Idea of the Holy, which was written by Rudolph Otto back in the early 1950s. Very powerful book that coined the term the "numinous." Google the book and the term if you would like to know more.

As always Darius, you make us think about what we think and believe. You devil you!

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger Darius said...

HOMO ESCAPEONS: “Lord of the Flies” – I think that's one of his titles too, as well as the title of a pretty horrific novel. (I mean, it’s good, but appalling.)

PAMELA and CRYSTAL: I wish all believers had your attitudes of respectfulness for the views of others and your ability to put at least as much emphasis on your words and conduct in relation to living/breathing people as on your beliefs.

I don’t know the explanation - it must involve psychology and sociology - but when some people get hold of religious beliefs, they become anything from shrill, hateful, and judgmental, to literally murderous. It’s one of the reasons, in addition to my inability to believe anything, religious or otherwise, without compelling evidence, that I have reservations about religious beliefs per se over the long run.

In other words, while I recognize how important and constructive religious beliefs are in the lives of millions of individuals, I wonder if there may not be something inherently divisive about religious belief that guarantees religion will remain a major source of division and strife in the world as long as belief-systems are perceived as central to what religion is.

Maybe not. Maybe “teaching tolerance” (I forget where that phrase comes from) is possible. But I have the feeling that, given that none of the world’s competing religious truth claims can be compellingly demonstrated, there may always be a minority of people who will want to force their view of the Truth on others, since they can’t point to any form of evidence to compel belief; and who will be full of hatred for anyone who doesn’t accept their religious Truth, viewing them as “evil.”

Pamela, I believe in “the dark side” too (should say that I know it – it’s so obviously an aspect of myself and everybody else) - and in “going toward the light”, and in “serving and not hating others”. As far as these last three go, I could clearly state why I believe in these things. Notice that here, “believe in” means feeling deeply, or knowing, that this is the best way for us to live. Here and now. These aren’t metaphysical beliefs concerning how The Big Picture operates.

On the other hand, believing that we exist before and after the existence of our mortal bodies is something that I can’t say I believe. It’s an assertion about how the wider world works concerning which I know that I lack compelling grounds to persuade myself of its veracity. All I can say is, "maybe..."

And so for me, Crystal, the same goes for the Trinity. It doesn't work for me personally because I can't believe the premise about the existence of the three Entities which is subsequently elaborated in the theology.

Still, all these things are things I once would very much have liked to believe. Now the most I can say is that I might like to believe such things, but personally they are in no way a requirement for me to know love, faith, God, and to experience what I can of life’s meaning.

As to how the Big Picture is designed, the details of that, I just don’t know; and haven’t found anybody’s statements to the effect that, “It’s like this and this and that…” compelling.

As to the stuff I do know, which is basically love, faith, and a few other ways in which we relate to the One as life or being itself, I’m sure that this is stuff everybody knows. None of it is incompatible with existing belief systems, but neither does it depend on them.

But few people end up spending a decade or two focused on thinking about these things, so I think that often people don’t know what they know – are not all that aware of it. And so what they do know, in so far as being aware of it, may not seem like enough.

Given how much of the gospels = basic Christian theology, I’ve been spending a lot of time on critical remarks, but will also be speaking to my positive outlook in some of the future posts. Don’t think I’ll manage much more than suggestions of it in this gospel-based/blog-post format though.

DON I: That’s my sense of it too – that the real “devil” comes along when there are things inside themselves with which people are highly uncomfortable, don’t look at, and then project some correlated misperceptions onto the world beyond themselves, demonizing others.

So that’s where “the numinous” comes from. Would you call that more of a belief or an experience, and how would you describe it – if you have time to elaborate. Unfortunately I’m operating under some inflexible restrictions on time and other resources myself, so at this point I’m finding that I don’t get to read much of anything beyond blogs.

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

Whenever I come here Darius, your post tie my tongue -- but not in a bad way.

I look so forward to the dialogue that will ensue that I am on pins and needles as to what or who will inspire me the most. This Blog cures my mind blocks!

When all is said and done, before I can say what is in my heart, you come back and say it for me in your comments to others. So please don’t think badly of me if I just sat back and enjoy the ride ---quietly.

One question, will this series be in book format soon?

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger kevin beck said...

The "fall guy." Hilarious.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hi. We are obsessed with good and bad behaviour. Christianity operates through a schema of reward and punishment. The materialist culture of modern times operates through a schema of reward and punishment. Parenting and the family operates through a schema of reward and punishment, imo.

I think we hit problems if we don't analyse and expose just what such notions of good and bad really mean. I think they effectively mean conformity and rebellion to the relevant ruling authority, be that religion, state or family.

As an example, buying a house and a car, driving to work, shopping at Walmart/Tesco... one may consider this the behaviour of a model citizen, a good citizen. But the term 'good' there only means a person who conforms to the norms and rules of his/her society.

I'm sorry if this is a bit harsh, but I just think we're not brought up to be good, we're brought up to conform.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Darius said...

LIQUID PLASTIC: Thanks, LP. Don't know what to do on publishing. I have four manuscripts - two good ones, two more maybe "entertaining" (in very different ways). But no "marketing platform." So no dice. Self-publishing is problematic because of the lack of distribution/sales/marketing.

KEVIN B: I can't stress humor enough. In one of the serious manuscripts I just alluded to above, I include humor in discussing religious experience - seriously.

BENJAMIN: You're anticipating a theme that will come up here later - getting past religion as a reward and punishment system...

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger Pastor Doug Hoag said...

It's very easy for people to call anything they don't like "satanic". The Religious Right is notorious for this. The result is an ugly demonization of other people.

I had a sem prof who said, "He may be the devil, but he's God's devil."

Satan is a Biblical character who has always baffled me a bit. The way he's portrayed in Job is fascinating, even receiving a definite article before his name-- The Satan.

But I agree-- Satan has been used as a scapegoat for aberrant and unusual behavior. He's blamed for every sin committed. Whenever something bad happens, next to God, Satan is the one who is blamed.

Maybe fundamentalists blame Satan to get people to stop blaming God for things?

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger Nabeel said...

Iblees (Satan) was the highest ranking person in the heavens .. he was a Jinn (King of Jinns) and yet he was the master of Angels .. and controlled the two beings .. satan was powerful and that's why he disobeyed God .. when God told him to bow down to Adam (a human made of clay) where as satan being a jinn was made of fire .. and he didn't bow down .. and hence was banished forever !!

 
At 7:26 PM, Blogger Darius said...

PASTOR DOUG H: "Maybe fundamentalists blame Satan to get people to stop blaming God for things?"

Wow. I never thought of that or heard anyone mention it, but of course: Satan is the ultimate "theodicy" or explanation of the existence of evil when you don't won't to blame God.

NABEEL: Geesh... His situation is even worse than I thought...

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger tigerlily said...

Carl Jung would clearly call the "Devil" an archetype, and therefore some version of the Devil lives in all our psyches.

I saw a segment on CNN over the weekend about exorcising demons (little satans, if you will). Bob Larson, a Christian minister, is training hundreds of people to exorcise demons because he doesn't want anyone in America to be more than an hour's drive from an exorcist. They did a profile on one woman who claims she has been demon possessed 4 times and exorcised twice.

I can't say for sure there is no such thing as being possessed by demons, but I do think there is a danger in projecting too much of our own inner darkness onto outside forces. If there is such a thing as demons, I also think there is a danger in promoting the idea that average Christians can be trained in how to deal with them in a few short sessions. ("Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.")

The great thing about mythology is: if there is a "good guy," then there must be a "bad guy."

I was thinking the other day that most stories work by having a villian to antagonize the hero. Part of the way the hero becomes heroic is by defeating the bad guy. Most people don't want to look within to find the villian, however, and prefer to see evil as being completely outside of themselves.

I've heard it said that saints aren't people who have no darkness in them, but ones who have dealt with their shadow. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, Satan didn't have to be an outside entity. He could have been the archetype of evil within Christ's psyche.

CNN link.

 
At 9:34 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Believe me, Darius, I understand your frustration. Been there....done that.

You said, ".... I wonder if there may not be something inherently divisive about religious belief that guarantees religion will remain a major source of division and strife in the world as long as belief-systems are perceived as central to what religion is."

You are not the only one to think that religion is a major source of division and strife in the world. I have run across several writers including those who have blogs who express the same opinion. That is a heavy load to place on the backs of people of faith who, for the most part, are not divisive and contentious.

Will there always be a minority who will want to force their religious views on others and will hate those who reject these views? Yes. But are you justified in condemning an entire system for the sins of a few? If the system (belief-system) were at fault, wouldn't it be a majority who behave this way? I don't see evidence for that.

You say, "...but when some people get hold of religious beliefs, they become anything from shrill, hateful, and judgmental, to literally murderous." Isn't it possible that these people were inclined to be this way before they got hold of religious beliefs?

Just my thoughts.

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Nobody mentioned the great line in the Usual Suspects where they say the greatest trick the devil ever did was to convince mankind that he didn't exist.

Nabeel summed up satan's wounded spirit with the whole pride comes before a fall and misery loves company thing.

That's what I was trying to say. Al Pacinos speech in the Devil's Advocate was brilliant. Especially about how lawyers are his greatest weapon. The ultimate backstage pass! LOL that was very clever.

Of course beelzebub (lord of the flies) is pissed off.
It was an outrage to lose to a little clay monkeyman.
Free will Schmree will!
Satan had real power and as the ultimate suicide bomber he is gonna take everybody with him when he goes down!
*unfortunately because he sounds so human I am convinced that he was a human invention.

 
At 10:46 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

hey mate I watched The Omen in the wknd...d u have any idea abt the 666?

Keshi.

 
At 8:21 AM, Blogger Darius said...

TIGERLILY: Gotta love Rev. Larson… the idea that no one in America should be more than an hour’s drive from an exorcist. Maybe he can franchise with Walmart!

Bet he’s pushing hard for equal access to health care, too.

Looking at your link reminds me that I once communicated with a blogger who swore to Satan’s existence because she had seen him possessing people in the aisles of her church. My unspoken thought was: sure seems like a lot of the possession stuff just happens to transpire when there’s a minister around who performs exorcisms…

To me it looks as though people often mix up psychological and religious phenomena. I’d like to hear believers in Satan describe why they believe in him. But so far, to me, there are so many obvious causes of terrible behavior that can be easily identified, that I don’t see how any added explanation is needed. And of course Satan’s problematic as an explanation anyhow, since you can’t “see” him apart from watching people behave badly.

I think you’re right that people often prefer to see evil outside themselves, and this is a big part of Satan’s enduring popularity.

SUSIEQ: I think I know the type of blog commentary you’re referring to. I’ve seen a lot out there where some atheists and skeptics equate religious belief with evil, which is patently ridiculous. All of us have known too many good people who are also believers. And it’s just as absurd to equate atheism with immorality. It doesn’t match the facts. Morality/immorality crosses all lines of belief/unbelief.

So again, I’m very much aware that religious belief systems play a constructive role in the lives of millions of people. And that there are plenty of sources of hatred and violence in the world beyond religious beliefs. Like you, I view it as patently false when people imply that all would be right with the world if we could only get rid of religious belief. Non religious believers are sometimes superstitious that way…

But I do think that religious beliefs tend to divide people for the reasons I’ve stated: first, religious belief systems aren’t demonstrably true. So they can be discussed forever. You’ll never have a situation where, say, large numbers of Christians start “recognizing” that Muslims must be right about Jesus being just another prophet – and how Mohammed is Seal of the Prophets, God’s final Word to humankind, and the culmination of all prophesy. Likewise Muslims and Jews aren’t going to “wake up” and "realize" that Jesus just had to have been God and Savior. So while at best, believers over time may become more tolerant of each other’s beliefs, I don’t see belief as a unifying force.

To me, this seems a shame. It’s thought that the root of the word religion may be, “re,” meaning, “again,” and “legere,” meaning to bind together – to bring together again. So I don’t see sectarianism as the realization of religion’s promise.

Second, when you put religious beliefs in the hands of a small minority of believers, it seems to translate into a supreme self confidence and absolute self-righteousness that lets them do terrible things in the name of their beliefs. Violent forms of fundamentalism are at the extreme end of this phenomenon, including Christians who murder abortion clinic doctors as well as violent Muslim fundamentalists. But you don’t have to go that far. Just look, say, at the supreme self-confidence of Christian George. No matter how many people die, no matter how much more dangerous a place the world becomes, no matter how much lower America continues sinking in the eyes of the rest of the world due to his “unwavering” positions, he remains – unwavering. God put him in office (along with a little help from his friends), so he knows he’s right. Here imo, is an outstanding example of how religious belief, in the minds of some, can become an enormous buttress for their own arrogance, egotism, and self-servingness.

HI HOMO ESCAPEONS: Unfortunately I haven’t seen the movies… Personally speaking, if anything could make me believe in Satan, it might be the reality of the Bush-Cheney administration. That really should have been a movie, where it would have been much more believable. Plus I wouldn’t have all the bruises from pinching myself to see if I’m awake when I listen to the news…

KESHI: All I know is what I saw on blogs – I guess “666” is on the list of Satan’s favorite things? I don’t quite know why. Maybe he thinks people are saying, “sex, sex, sex?”

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger Darius said...

Subject: Save NPR and PBS (again)

This was in my email, wanted to pass it on:

Hi,

Everyone expected House Republicans to give up efforts to kill NPR and PBS after a massive public outcry stopped them last year. But they've just voted to eliminate funding for NPR and PBS—unbelievably, starting with programs like "Sesame Street."

Public broadcasting would lose nearly a quarter of its federal funding this year. Even worse, all funding would be eliminated in two years--threatening one of the last remaining sources of watchdog journalism.

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS again this year:

http://civic.moveon.org/publicbroadcasting/

Last year, millions of us took action to save NPR and PBS, and Congress listened. We can do it again if enough of us sign the petition in time.

This would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting. The Boston Globe reports the cuts "could force the elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs." NPR's president expects rural public radio stations may be forced to shut down.

The House and Senate are deciding if public broadcasting will survive, and they need to hear from viewers like you. Sign the petition at:

http://civic.moveon.org/publicbroadcasting/

Thanks!

P.S. Read the Boston Globe story on the threat to NPR and PBS at:

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1864

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Canadians need and love these outlets too! If it wasn't for them we would have no idea what was really going on down there. I have lost a lot of faith in the mass merchandising of INFOTAINMENT especially pseudonews orgs like FOX AAARRRGGGHHH!
The crazy state of 24/7 advernews is brutal and dangerously susceptable to abuse from your existing quasitheocratic government.
I miss Bill Moyers on NOW.

 
At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Darius,

Thanks for the reminder to sign that PBS/NPR petition. I signed it, sent an email to a bunch of friends and posted a link to the petiton on a political blog I frequent. It's time to let our voices be heard again.

If it wasn't for them we would have no idea what was really going on down there.

The sad thing is we would know less ourselves.

I miss Bill Moyers on NOW.

Me too.

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger Zareba said...

Thought provoking as always. I enjoy what makes me think. Thank you. ...Z

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Leila said...

you drive an interesting point, darius. would that i were more learned in matters of theology and i would surely never tire of debating with you!

however, i am one of those awful people who pursue happiness, not only for themselves but for others as well.

funny enough, just before i came to your site i happened to be reading a poetry book, which said:

(please excuse me if i take up a lot of space, but i feel you might take interest to this, and coincidences should fain be ignored i reckon)

"i saw the demon in a dream
But how unlike he seemed to be,
to all of horrible we deem,
and all of fearful that we see,
his shape was like a cypress bough,
his eyes like those that Houris wear,
his face as beautiful as though
the rays of paradise were there.
i near him came, and spoke - "Art thou,"
I said, "indeed the Evil One?
no angel has so bright a brow
such yet no eye has looked upon.
why should mankind make thee a jest,
when thou canst show a face like this?
fair as the moon in splendour drest,
an eye of joy, a smile of bliss!
the painter draws thee vile to sight,
our baths thy frightful form display;
they told me thou wert black as night,
behold! thou art as fair as day!"
the lovely vision's ire awoke,
his voice was loud, and proud his mien,-
"believe not, friend," twas thus he spoke.
"that thou my likeness yet hast seen:
the pencil that my portrait made
was guided by an evious foe;
in Paradise I man betrayed,
and he, from hatred, paints me so."

---> from "On True Worth", Sadi (1194-1296)

To give you a bit of background, the poet was very religious (Muslim).

The poem doesn't say anything about blame. but it does make an interesting point - evil is a perception, not so much a state of being. or so it seems to say?

 
At 3:23 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

George Bush saying that 'God told me to go to war' is an incredibly easy way of deflecting attention from the fact that lobbyists told him to go to war, imo.

Homo Escapeons comments that 'the greatest trick the devil ever did was to convince mankind that he didn't exist.' How did he do that?

Fear is seen as a bad thing. 'Have no fear' says the Bible 365 times. But we do have fear. I think, generally, we're all a little scared by things and we say 'I'm not scared' and consequently fail to integrate the dark and shadowy aspects of our natures and become more whole. That's just an idea, btw.

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Darius,

Numimous means simply that sense of awe-inspiring wonder, which one might feel in certain places or situations where one senses the presence of God or spiritual beings - the sense of 'other-ness' about the situation. It is clearly a term describing one's experience of the divine or mystery.

Carl Jung built upon Otto's notion from The Idea of the Holy.

For me, the numinous manifests in my dreams quite often. It also happens when I experience synchroncity in my life, which increases the more I meditate.

Amazing stuff happens in my life all the time, but I am just not paying attention so I miss it. It happens in all our lives.

Namaste and blessings,

Don

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Sorry, I'm a bit in the zone tonight. Life might be a mere rollercoaster and you can scream with joy or you can scream with terror. I don't know if it makes much difference.

Hi Don. Synchronicity. Where I have gone (very) wrong in the past has been in thinking it was some kind of spiritual path, like it was leading somewhere ('The Celestine Prophecy' has that approach) and Wikipedia says it's just an underlying pattern to everything. I suppose one goes deeper and gets calmer and more balanced and just sees more joy in all?

Yeats wrote, 'Man needs reckless courage to descend into the abyss of himself.' Reminds me of Pheidippides, odd name but a recent visitor to this blog, who similarly advised that we 'plunge the depths of our psyches'.

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

One sees more love maybe, not joy. Wonder is a beautiful word. Lovely post again, Don. Exciting, yeah. Blessings x

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Darius said...

HOMO ESCAPEONS: There’s also a good program I used to listen to regularly when I was in a different NPR broadcast area that comes out of Canada – “As It Happens.” It’s more of a news magazine format than straight news, but the news side was really good. I first became aware of the US sending people abroad for torture several years ago, long before I’d heard anything about it in US media, when this program interviewed a Canadian citizen who’d been to Saudi Arabia and back…

RACHEL: Glad you’re passing on the NPR thing too. It would be easy to “misinterpret” this as an attempt of the administration to gain still greater control over the media!

ZAREBA, thanks for stopping in –

LEILA: Sounds that way to me too – like it’s saying something along the lines that evil is a human misperception; or the way that we view what we consider evil is distorted – a reflection of how it frustrates satisfaction of the things we think we want or need (so it “betrays” us).

If I infer your personal view of theology it’s a lot like mine: the opposite of happiness! But plenty of people do like theology you know…

BENJAMIN: Absolutely. I’m really afraid that we’ve reached a point of government of, by, and for the corporations. I mean, they’re literally writing their own legislation. With Bush, I can’t tell how much of the religiosity is strictly political manipulation, and how much he really thinks he’s a man of God. My best guess is there’s some of each.

Seems to me that way too – what you say about fear, that denying it’s no good. Because if you face it, without becoming completely fear-less, you do end up feeling much less fear, at least that’s how it’s worked for me.

DON I: That’s kind of what I was suspecting…

I knew “numinous” had to do with mystery, but thought it might also imply belief in Og. In the June 7 post, in replies to SH and maybe elsewhere, I give my take on what to me is the “irreducible” mystery of being-itself. (I was talking about “reductionism” with SH.)

I’m quite strict about not believing stuff, as people may be starting to notice. I mean, personally. What others believe is ok with me, as long as no one’s fighting about it, which is something I really like about most commentators who’ve stopped by here.

Of course, I do realize that religion = belief, or at least presumes it, in the minds of most people who consider themselves religious, especially in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. (I don’t know why they never call it that, which is what it is. Too many hyphens?)

 
At 7:57 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

lol haha good one ;-)

Keshi.

 
At 6:02 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Loved the word verification I had to use for this post: btwdu (Maybe: By the way, do you?)

In any case, thanks Benjamin and Darius for sharing your comments and reactions. I appreciate both of your "learnedness."

It's all a mystery. Very last drop of it (life). Words fail me like trying to hit a Sandy Koufax curveball. (I love baseball). But I still swing and try to hit the ball anyway. Know what I mean? That's words trying to describe what we can only really sense inside ourselves.

Numinous: neat word that I picked up in my studies. That's all. Just a word--pointing to (a) reality.

What is it that all of us seek? What is it that compels us to write words back and forth to one another on virtual chaulkboards called blogs? It is union and unity.

We sense deep inside ourselves we are all part of the same whole and we simply want to touch and be touched by the other parts to be made whole.

Blessings.

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger Darius said...

KESHI: Yeah, hyphens cause too much misery in this world.

DON I: Essential mystery and seeking unity - works for me!

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Looking for something to really be afraid of? Let’s stop and consider whether we may harbor any unexamined fears or hatred.

bravo, brillant post. always a joy to stop by here.

I don't know about some of the other faiths, but the ones that I have some knowledge of, it has always interested me how inorder to explain difficult theologies the resort was inevitably to convoluted philosophies... Christianity certainly hasn't been the only one, it seems it is a common feature of humankind to seek out complexity.

there are certainly lots of confusing obfuscations within various cultural manifestations of islam.

There is section of the Quran where this dynamic is alluded to. Surah II ~ The Cow. The long and short story of it goes like this: Moses receives a messege from God to tell the Isrealites to sacrifice a cow for God's sake. Well, the Isrealites return this by saying, "What kind of cow?" And Moses asks God, "What Kind"... this goes back and forth for a while, untill the Isrealites finally do what God requested, but just barely.

My understanding of this story has been to see our inherant nature to invent elaborate explainations for ourselves, and I see this as including why Og wants us to condemn and hate another group of people...

"God hates..." fill in blank.

As if!

When G-d ask of us surrender, why does it take so long for us to comply?

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Darius said...

KEVIN, thanks, and that's interesting that other religions also tie themselves into conceptual knots sometimes.

To me, a lot of it seems to have to do with the inerrancy of scripture idea, which, to be frank, strikes me as foolish.

The reasoning seems to go - with regard to every single line of scripture...

God said it.
God knows everything.
So it must be true.
God is really profound.
So it must also be really profound.

Therefore, one way or another, I'll explain any "apparent" contraditions and errors of fact; and even verses that are, well, not really so profound sounding, I'll deepen with a couple hundred pages of "apologetics..."

 
At 12:17 AM, Blogger Aidan said...

God is all onipotent, omniscent and omni present. God creates satan, being omniscent (s)He would know what that future held for our dear old lucifer. God was aware that satan would try to betray him, satan has no choice and is punished for being part of god's plan. Does any body else find this somewhat unfair?

Possible argument, that the bible is merely a primtive form of control. The first story of the bible do not ask questions or God will spank you.

By the way thank you for leaving a note on my blog. Good to see i am not the only to think this way.

Aidan

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger Darius said...

AIDAN: I do frankly agree with you that religion includes some childish aspects like the one you mention here. I'd like to see religion come of age.

 

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