Thursday, January 12, 2012

SEEK THE LORD, what that may mean today. January12, 2012..note to Edward Fudge

Western Humanity  Carries A Strongly Felt  'Split' View Of Reality.
Hi Edward. I agree that we need ways to help us focus on what is ultimate. But I honestly don't believe our traditional religious views offer much help in 'how' to do what you are describing. If we think of  'seeking the Lord' as being moments when we consciously stop other thoughts and activities and have a period of worship, devotional or prayer;  to be consistent we would eventually need to 'do this' with our whole life and all the other considered 'more secular and less spiritual' activities which you mention will come to a halt. So most decide that we need to 'find the right balance' between these two different worlds... the 'spiritual vs the secular or material and 'body vs soul.' 

I think this  frustration that so many experience is a symptom of what is  'wrong' (what misses the mark or  is sin) with our  common view of life and reality. We have been led to a 'dual nature' belief of cosmic reality. In this view we are truly 'split' in our loyalties. We know from sacred text and a collective intuition we can't 'serve God and mammon' .  We live in a  perceived dualistic world where the two 'opposites' also do not intellectually have equal value. We have been carefully taught that the 'spiritual' is the highest value so whatever we invest of time and energy to the 'material' side is done with an uneasy guilt and a sense that we 'should' be doing more 'spiritual' things like  whatever we believe that 'seeking the Lord' is about.

 The problem is the 'dualistic' world view that we have inherited. This view point of a  'cosmic dualism' has come to us Americans primarily through some of the major interpretations of our inherited Christian religion and  the advancement of science. We could use the scripture to move beyond this 'dualism' but not by denying the places where scripture definitely teaches a 'dualistic' view of reality.  These  ancient people did not yet have the scientific or psychological resources except to have a 'dualistic' or split  world view.  To them it was natural .  Just one example: The sky for them ended right up there above the birds where they could 'see'  that the  moon, sun and stars were hardly larger than they appeared.  God was not far away at all, just beyond their eyesight watching over them like a kind 'father.' This point of view  was spiritually/psychologically true for millennia but something has changed in recent centuries and greatly accelerated even in recent decades.  We have made adjustments in attitudes and beliefs that ancient people were exempt from. For them they could be just like mother and father and life would be fine  but we know we do not have it that easy. We  are now confronted with the knowledge that the sky is just the beginning of an infinite expanse of space.  And our children  have integrated such 'new' facts of an expanded consciousness more than  most older ones likely have.

 We can easily get caught, for the comfort and convenience of it,  insisting that an outdated world view , that did not know what we know,  still can work  for us post modern people but the uneasiness of the conflict between two important  worlds  remains unresolved. The 'big split' has gradually become conscious to the  Christian masses but we've not yet found a suitable new point of view of our situation. We use fully the gifts of science but when science opens up new doors of consciousness such as Biological evolution, the Relativity of  mass, space and time, nuclear bombs,  birth control, a morning after pill, Climate change and that being by nature  LGBT  is not sick, perverted or sinful at all.  We, even with our high levels of  sophisticated education, attempt to snap  right back to a world view that was 'true' for  the ancients.  But we know they did not have all this new but true information. So for many open minded people there remains a serious gnawing deep within that things are just not fitting together like we feel  they used to.  We are correct in that hunch. We even can become nauseous or angry that reality as we once had it has changed without our permission. It seems nature or God is telling us that only a new reference point, a new world view is going to get us to wherever humanity is headed. We are being called to a new but different  trust or faith that a new world is coming and it potentially can be better than the one  we tend to cling too so frantically. Our experience in this may be much like when we were without warning  evicted from the warm perfect environment of our mother's womb.... to enter a new  and very unknown different world that was far more challenging than we felt we had the resources to survive.  Or like Adam and Eve once they more fully become humans and thus 'conscious of good and evil.' They now had to grow up and be far more  personally responsible and capable of making strong true judgments than when they  lived a mostly  unconscious biological life in the enchanted garden of Eden. Entering new worlds is what fully living as humans has always involved. But look how we have denigrated Adam and especially Eve for courageously becoming what God must have intended and longed for them to become- Conscious and genuinely responsible human beings. Nothing has changed in that sense for us. Still most of us long for a return to Eden not realizing that would a step backward  not forward in our level of consciousness and  in our God destined  development.

I do not believe it is the model of Jesus that is the problem but the interpretation of him and some church teaching  that has developed over the last two millennia. I can see no way, with the particular levels of human consciousness during these two millennia, for it to have been any different. The strong 'dualistic' view of reality, of 'spirit vs matter' ,'mind vs material' or 'body vs soul' was a necessary  final outcome following the Age of Reason and the rational, logical  scientific view point that developed throughout the West and in all our institutions. But  mystics of various religions along with personal direct experiences of the Sacred and post modern science have  now led to the same paradoxical conclusion: that 'spirit and matter', ' mind and material', 'body and soul' , 'earth and heaven'  are of one cloth, are actually united and different moments of the same 'stuff'. There is no 'dualism' as the ultimate reality. This implies that all the other inner 'splits' in our minds are also not ultimate divisions but have their origins in human perceptions. They are  not eternal realities but temporary perceptions.Perceptions that we humans were never intended to take as  eternal realities. But we did and now our minds and souls are overstretched. We are paying the price for getting too comfortable on our mysterious human journey. We all became bonified materialists with nothing but words to say about the 'other' part of reality.  Even our religions have become materialistic. We value printed words on material paper as the highest meaning of the Word of God rather than expecting any more direct encounter and knowledge of God.  But this is what we were told. We were told we can  only try to copy those great ones  who preceded us.  But instead we find ourselves  in  an exciting time  that we actually can  take fuller personal  and collective  responsibility for ourselves and our world than we ever imagined would be expected of us. We just never considered that the ultimate source of all that is had that much confidence in our capacity to make judgments about things that no humans have had to face before.  We are called on to  find new answers to new problems ourselves.  We can't copy anyone who has come before.  We can no longer look to  ancient religious prophets or our national  founding fathers simply because they  do not offer specific  solutions to  the most serious problems we now face. In following Jesus Christians  must learn that this means we are to face our lives and situations as courageously, honestly, creatively  and lovingly as he most certainly faced his. We are far more comfortable looking over our shoulders to our favorite authority figures  when we are met with brand new personal and collective questions and needs. We thought Moses and  O.T. prophets or our American founding fathers already made the important decisions and they are surely more capable than we are.  Well that does not seem to be the case. We each are here for exactly times like these and we can't ask anyone to make sense of it or  to do it for us, for they would not know how to do what only we were uniquely  destined to do. It is never fair to ask a tomato to be a tulip. But each is very confident when asked to be truly themselves and make their unique contribution. Is it not time for it be the same for humans? This is a 'growing up' like most of us have never imagined possible.

This uninvited change  has come to scientifically mean that mass, time and even space are not the permanent  foundations of cosmic reality. Whatever it is that is behind what  is not ultimate and not  indelibly 'split' off from each other is rightly called God or  in Judeo-Christian language 'Lord.' The implication is that all of the activities that you mention ,unnumbered diversions for our thoughts, and constant issues that occupy our minds.,,,, tend to business, enjoy down-time, find recreation, are potentially just as much a part of participating in 'God or Lord' as whatever comes to our minds as being more so. Yes if one's life has only these kinds of 'materialistic' thoughts and activities(which I think is highly unlikely) and they are not perceived  themselves as all moments and activities in harmony and not opposed to the Spirit then one is living only half of life's reality. This would be the truly 'non spiritual' person, if there even are such persons. But today's typical religious person also participates in this greater part of 'material'  life without fully perceiving it as participation in the Spirit, for they think of the Spirit only being fully alive and operating  in ' worship, devotional, prayer ' moments. Whichever end of the problem we may as a human suffer from, the problem of both is that we are living in our inherited 'dualistic' world view. And for many it gets more uncomfortable each year. The problem does not seem to get better. What is it trying to tell us?

I still think that times of 'focus', 'centering'  or 'worship'  where we seek to be more aware of the ultimate center or God are important and necessary.(Some of the Eastern religions have ritual that tends to foster this kind of focusing more directly than our Western ones, although the commonly described Christian time of 'meditation and prayer' can also function as such focusing activity.)  A purpose of such focusing meditations would not be to get ourselves more in line with the orthodox views of God that are often  hand-in -hand with a dualistic view of cosmic reality, e.g 'God free us from our connection to material concerns and delights', but to help us regain our awareness that 'All is one' and  that we desire to stay with such  an ultimate reality in trust and faith. That becomes the postmodern Spiritual exercise.  I think this "Oneness" is the reality  being imaged in  the gospel expressions 'Kingdom of God' and 'Will of God' and 'Heaven.' The timeless Mandala type image, like below,  appears world wide across all religions(on so many older churches) and cultures as a symbol of 'Unity' and even as an image of the ultimate God. It places the idea  and archetypal expression of  a Monistic view of cosmic reality before us all as we come stumbling  into the  third Millennium.
The Mandala Appears Across All Cultures and Religions

An implication of such a change to a 'monistic world view' paradigm  would be that the more  we come to 'living' in a  truthful monistic view of reality and of God rather than a 'dualistic' one, the less any  'set aside time' to meditate this view that is needed.  As  a spiritual  'monism' becomes our natural mode of operation and living, having escaped the programming of  the dualism of  several millennia in Western  habit and thought,  then a need for  meditating to bring this' back to focus' or for a 'striving for balance' is less needed and felt. In a sense this means as one becomes more developed spiritually/psychologically the less 'religious' s/he becomes from an orthodox perspective. It would mean that 'faith' gives way to living in a greater 'reality' than had  before been imaginable.  I would suspect this would be parallel to living in a purer state of  love than humanity has yet experienced. Living in a  reality where 'All, though so beautifully different,  is  perceived as One'  is one where 'faith' is replaced by ongoing experience which is All  in spiritual harmony and where 'All is grounded in natural Love.' I doubt such perfection is  possible for even the most fully developed  human consciousness any time soon, but can remain a primary  human potential goal. I would consider this an aspect of humans more fully reflecting the 'image of God.'  I believe a N.T. writer has suggested such a greatly  needed  'monistic' replacing the 'dualistic' view of cosmic reality by saying, 'Whatever we do in word or deed  we can do it ALL in the name of the Lord.'  For it truly is ALL of  God. 
Blessings Always, Jim

On Thu, 12 Jan 2012 09:05:03 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge
by Mark Lanier

I will cut off . . . [those] who do not seek the LORD” (Zephaniah 1:4, 6).
I see the world whirling by. Days clip by at an alarming rate. Blink, and a few weeks are gone. Blink again and it's a month later. There are countless ways to numb our minds, unnumbered diversions for our thoughts, and constant issues that occupy our minds. If we are not careful, we tend to business, enjoy down-time, find recreation, and in the midst of the running days, leave seeking God out of the picture.
Stop. Better yet, STOP! Do not let this be your lot in life. You have no rewind button; there are no do-overs. Each moment that passes is gone, each day happens one time only. Make a decision, and get into a habit, where you constantly seek the Lord. Make him your constant companion. Start your day thinking about your service to him.
Thank him for the food you eat, each time you are blessed to eat it. Seek his insight when you make decisions. Spend your time in ways and activities that do not shut him out. When confronted with challenges and difficulties, seek his temperament as well as his solutions. As your day ends, in penitence and humility confess your shortcomings and seek his presence for your next awakening.
Seek the Lord! Your life will be transformed!
Excerpted from "Fall of Judah, Part 1," lesson for January 8, 2012 in Biblical Literacy Class, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, and reprinted by permission. Website: . Copyright 2012 by W. Mark Lanier and reprinted by permission.

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