Tag Archive | "Religion"

Peeling the Cosmic Onion – The Meaning of God


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From India Divyaa Kummar…

gothic-angel-wallpaper-for-blackberry-curve-8900-300x225God is a word which actually means every word and everything...so it works more like a symbol containing it all – or we would need to use every word in our dictionary to describe, understand, express or refer to God…

As long as we desire to ‘meet’ or ‘become One’ with God- we are going to have a ‘God’ outside self to do that with & the Godself That I Am cannot consciously Be. Our yearning-while it plays a vital ripening role in the unraveling of Self- at the very core implies some degree of a state/sense of separation. The gnosis that there is no God ‘out there’ shifts us from this desire into knowing its more about a growing awareness …of our Godhood or the state of consciousness we call ‘God’

Surrender or homage can be to Guru God or Self… all three states are seemingly the same &yet each is a subtle shift into establishing as authentic Self. When nothing-not even our guru or god stands between Self-when there isn’t even a grain of sand in between-do we truly abide in Self. Ultimately abiding in Self is beyond devotion, gyan even love .Devotion to whom? Love implies another. And Gyan-knowledge of Self is still a hairs breadth from being Self! And yet as Self- a state of being beyond duality & thus what we call contradictions- even though there is no other we view all as aspects of Self, and thus though one is beyond devotion love and gyan…they exist in relation to Self & all its reflections.

To see everything & everyone as Self- God- is being established in Self or the state of ‘seeing God!’ To know that nothing is not Self/God- is abiding in Self or the state of ‘seeing God’. This is the much spoken about purnam darshan; this is that full blown mystical vision that the mystics speak about! Indeed it is the yearning to receive some other… mystical … ‘purnam darshan’ – God vision that keeps us from this moment to moment purnam darshan… from this moment to moment here and now state of tangibly ‘seeing’ God!

angel-inspiration-10Self/ God/Consciousness is all pervading… present in the un-enlightened as much as in the enlightened; in the densest of matter as much as in spirit; in the smallest of small as in the vastness. There is not a single thought that is not ‘God’…even what seems to be ignorant of ‘God’ …is ‘God’… there is not a single body that is not ‘God’… even what seems to be separate from ‘God’ is God …! In this God vision as we see ‘God’ in every person, thing, happening, non happening… we move automatically from personal consciousness and its self that sees god…to Universal- God Consciousness!

God’ – ‘Consciousness’ – ‘Spirit’ implies a dynamic state of being… a kinetic state of perfection…. not something finished and done with! As ‘God’ – ‘Consciousness’ – ‘Spirit’ experiences, expresses, and revels in Itself, through its ‘individuations’, It expands, deepens and enriches Itself… and then ‘that’ enriched God’ – ‘Consciousness’ – Spirit’ has more to experience, express and revel in… and thus individuates, separates, sets forth, begins a new game, dream, venture … again…and again… infinitely…always from this ‘more’ enriched experience of Itself! Infinitely (in linear language, because ofcourse all of this ‘happens’ in the now! It’s the paradox of how All That Is …ever becomes ‘more’! Each such ‘cycle’ is also called one day of Brahma.

‘God’ and ‘the world’ is one reality –and these are just two (of the many) ways of perceiving the One. But please note they are only different ways of perceiving the one… and not two different parts! Like a drop of water is wet and transparent- you can’t separate the wetness and transparency other than in labeling it towards its understanding! And thus is the world (life, people, events & things) God or Spirit! Maya- illusion does not mean that the world does not exist- as from our point of focus it does- it only means it is not the only aspect! You have not viewed the whole- that’s the illusion!

God is no separate ‘Whole’… indeed there is no separate inviolate ‘Whole’ as we sometimes think. God in not a noun but a verb- the entire process of creation and thus all that is – even as individuations or in separation- makes up this ‘Whole’! God’ is not outside, but neither is God inside you…God is everything and everywhere!

Evolution is inherent in our DNA! God is in our genes! Our goal… is our Source!

We often think in terms of Gods creating us; but in truth it is we who create our gods! Sensing our purest qualities as ‘self’, but unable to accept this vision as self, we project them onto a ‘god’ or goal outside. Our highest potentials, the gods we seek to be, are in actuality our source and immanent in our Dna; that record keeper so to say that keeps all that we are intact within us while we play the game of seeming separation and ignorance.

552190-bigthumbnailAnthropomorphism, whereby we personalize or humanize an abstract god-like quality, to understand it better is the basis of all mythology. We bring the abstract to life, by assigning them name and form and history even. The intangible aspects that make up our universe are thus made tangible and easier to understand.

Our gods are each a unique exploration of the Whole- each a finely honed focus of the Whole; taking ‘back’ or actualizing an inimitable, distinctive aspect of the Whole! And thus each ‘god’ shows a different facet…none ‘teaching’ exactly the same! And sometimes humanity gets confused as to which is the truth! But that’s the whole point of creation! Whereby each individuation explores and actualizes a unique aspect of the whole for the whole! We imbue the whole with a unique slant! And thus must we not get perplexed by what the different gods are ‘saying’, but take from each god what helps us create our own vision and realization of the whole! For if we all ‘go back’ with the same picture…what a waste of eternity!

God is a frequency, a vibration… a state of Being… and thus His/Her names (also frequencies) are ‘Gods’ most original ‘form’…and thus in chanting or being one with the name… we are one with its frequency …and thus with ‘God’.

The grass is greener on the other side … of the cosmos ! God/Consciousness wants to explore Self through the human experience and mankind wants to experience self through the God experience! God/Consciousness gets set for the pleasures of amnesia /maya /forgetfulness and those within it are all set for awakening into remembrance! God/Consciousness want to descend to earth to be All That is –tangibly; and humanity wants to ascend to be All That Is –formlessly. As seekers we sometimes get too serious and judgmental about maya! We forget that as God/Consciousness I have willfully spun maya- and like any good author or movie maker- I want the experience to be all engaging- it ‘success/fulfillment’ lays in that surely? It’s like writing a book or making a movie where I want all to forget themselves and be wholly drawn into its illusory charms for that duration rather than be able to remain detached through it all ! Yet as its creator I know that in every story I create its ending is inherent – it cannot be any other way- thus as this nears, I will automatically and spontaneously leave it behind- but as its Creator I wouldn’t want it earlier than that! Indeed inherent in the forgetting is the remembering-its seeded unto the game –and it will happen at the right time for each of us Gods as The God playing the game gets fulfilled! And when it happens… as the Gods we are awaken from our creation… we condemn it not…nor judge the others Gods still playing!

12842bfbd160237ef5952509e35e2387It’s actually all in reverse! ‘We’ desire growth, evolution, God….when God/consciousness desires us to turn the corner and start returning ‘home’! Thus first God /Consciousness seeds in us the desire to set forth and explore…indeed to forget Him/Her …and dive into the game whole heartedly no hold barred… as required for any game! And when we as individuation’s have played our roles in the cosmic play …then does God/Consciousness seed in us the desire to return …rather than set out further…then are we drawn to the path! And as God./consciousness prepares us further towards dissolving unto Him/Her…then does the seeking heighten and the yearning deepens. And yet it is only when God./consciousness is ready to wrap up the game through a you…Only when God…Consciousness desires the final merger … mating … union … does it ‘happen’…till then the mating dance …the foreplay….is what He/She desires…and we remain ‘here’ separate yet closely entwined in divine embrace
In surrender. In love which has no goals…!

God is human – is this true or false? There nothing like true or false – those are only two points along the one continuum. And the answer can change at every point…till we can embrace all without rejecting the other! So yes god is human as all of us are! But then god is not human – as it’s when we dis-identify with our ego self – do we realize our divinity. The gods of mythology have a human personality each- but then that’s a way of describing the various aspects of impersonal consciousness ( Its called Anthropomorphism, whereby we personalize or humanize an abstract god-like quality, to understand it better is the basis of all mythology. We bring the abstract to life, by assigning them name and form and history even. The intangible aspects that make up our universe are thus made tangible and easier to understand.) Our gods are each a unique exploration of the Whole- a finely honed focus of the Whole… taking ‘back’ or actualizing an inimitable, distinctive aspect of the Whole! And thus each ‘god’ shows a different facet…none ‘teaching’ exactly the same! And sometimes humanity gets confused as to which is the truth! But that’s the whole point of creation! Whereby each individuation explores and actualizes a unique aspect of the whole for the whole! We imbue the whole with a unique slant! And thus must we not get perplexed by what the different gods are ‘saying’, but take from each god what helps us create our own vision and realization of the whole! For if we all ‘go back’ with the same picture…what a waste of eternity!

A meditative imagery: view self sitting across an exquisite glowing Shiva/or letter I. View behind this Shiva/letter I- a series of them –each becoming just a little taller, wider & glowing than the one before –like a finely graded series of statuettes going infinitely higher wider & taller till the last fills up the cosmos- formless indeed-only the glow perhaps- & know these are all ‘you’! Thus as your I Am presence expands –you abide in the higher & larger Selves- you abide as awareness Itself .But you simultaneously exist as all! You are simultaneously the largest focus of All That Is & the ‘smaller’ more finely honed current focus too! As you do this, he ‘you’ who was sitting across & observing these aspects of Self-disappears! There was no effort to move from the ‘personality’ ‘ego’ self …! As you became aware of, focused on &aligned with your (range of) I am presences…you automatically moved into It! Not looking at them anymore, but now looking through their eyes – as them! And ultimately as the largest- awareness Itself- established in your I Am presence! And yet, as current self, who is not anymore the personality but an aspect of the ‘I am’ presence!

Gothic-Angel‘God the Absolute/Spirit’ and ‘God the world/matter’ is One –and these are just two (of the many) ways of perceiving the One. Thus ‘God/Spirit’ and ‘world/matter’ are just different aspects of the One. Please note they are different facets… aspects… or ways/angles of perceiving the One – and not Its different parts! Like a rose is pink and soft- and we can’t separate a rose and its pinkness and softness other than in speaking or understanding it… like a drop of water is wet and transparent- and we can’t separate the wetness and transparency other than in labeling it towards its understanding! Likewise we can’t separate God the absolute and God the world. And thus is matter (life, people, events & things) spirit… and thus is the world…God. Maya/illusion does not mean that the world does not exist- as from our point of focus it does- it only means it is not the only state of being! You have not viewed the whole-that’s the illusion!

God is no separate ‘whole’ abiding somewhere in the beyond! Indeed there is no separate inviolate ‘Whole’ or ‘Absolute’ as we sometimes think God to be. There is no whole without its facets… and thus God is not separate from the universe, worlds, you and me… indeed all that is… even our world and the seemingly separated indivuated you and me… together… are the state we call God. Thus God the Whole/Absolute is not out there somewhere … but immanent in very atom of existence

God in not a noun but a verb... the entire process of creation in all its states and forms – even what we call maya – makes up this ‘Whole’ … God!

God is not outside, but neither is God inside us …God is everything and everywhere!

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An Embarrassment to Christ


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From Larry Wohlgemuth…

Even the most militant atheist must admit that the words of Jesus are good lessons by which to live. Who can argue with honesty, charity, and love for your brother? It’s a perfect plan for living, but so few are doing it.

When you hear the words that come out of their mouths, the only conclusion you can reach is that they’re illiterate, because obviously they’ve never read the Gospels of Jesus. It’s wisdom upon which to build a rock solid foundation for a moral life.

Today, churches are likely to be seething cauldrons of anger and hatred towards the least fortunate. It makes you wonder if Jesus isn’t coming back simply because he doesn’t want to associate with his followers. It’s no wonder that people are leaving the church in droves.

It begs the question, how can people take such a beautiful plan for living and turn it into something that’s despised by just about everyone else?

Honestly, anyone who’s been to a fundamentalist Christian church understands that they’re several genes short of a full DNA strand. It’s not a particularly bright nor literate population with which we’re dealing, so the expectation that they’ve read the Gospels for themselves is slim. That means they’re relying on preachers, many with questionable pasts and personal agendas, to receive the message.

Now that that rant is over…

Understanding his audience and realizing that for the most part his parables were falling on deaf ears, Jesus retooled his message and boiled it down to two simple commandments:

He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ~ Luke 10:29

Just in case they couldn’t remember the story of the good Samaritan or to hand over their cloaks, Jesus made it real simple. Love your neighbor as yourself. How could you possibly misinterpret this simple instruction?

I knew a big Rush Limbaugh fan, and I was over at his house on the day after Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the band Queen, died from AIDS. Every time Limbaugh came back from a break he played Queen’s song, “Another One Bites the Dust.” After the third time I mentioned that this was a particularly heartless and cruel attitude, and my friend just laughed.

He said that Freddie Mercury, and all gays, got what they deserved for being homosexual. He explained that it was important for Christians to let these people die rather than to help them, in order to save their immortal souls. Some radio preacher had convinced him that all homosexuals were going to hell, and the only way to love them was to treat them so brutally that they would repent their sins and find their way to the Lord.

This radio preacher had bestowed upon him the ability to determine who was bound for hell and who should be treated with Christian “tough love.” Over time the number of people who needed this new form of Christianity expanded to abortion doctors and women who had abortions, people on welfare, and any other group with which my friend disagreed. These preachers appealed to his dark side, and he willingly obliged.

This is fairly representative of the fundamentalist Christian movement today.

This happens when the Scriptures are taken out of context, however people that desire to hate will find a way to do it, Jesus or no Jesus. So the Jesus of the Bible, the one who urged people to live communally and to care for one another, lives no more in these churches. He’s been replaced by his evil twin, the one who was on the side of the money changers and the Roman emperors while his brother died on the cross.

It began right after Nicaea in 325 A.D., when men like St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas developed the Just War Doctrine. It wasn’t long before that led to the Christian Crusades against Islamic countries, and the Spanish Inquisition where Christians turned on their own kind.

Then along came men like Martin Luther and John Calvin and the doctrine of sola fide, or by faith alone are you saved. The atrocities of Protestants subsequent to this were no less than those prior bad acts by the Roman Catholic Church.

What would Jesus say about all this? That heretical radical who ordered his men to put down their swords as the Roman guards came to arrest him. What would he say about the millions of American soldiers who are dispatched to foreign lands to slaughter people still living in huts? And how would he feel about the churchmen who convince their parishioners that it’s God’s will?

Though I sometimes find militant atheists just as tedious as fundamentalist Christians, it’s hard not to cheer for them in the battles they wage against Christianity. Ultimately, however, what this will require of us is to cast off the artificial divides created to keep us from understanding our true nature. That so many can be controlled by so few is not their fault, rather it’s ours. We’ve allowed them to convince us of our individuation rather than our unification.

We allow unscrupulous men to distort and magnify the miniscule differences between us, and use them to frighten us that our very way of life is ending. We take arms and travel to the corners of the planet to stamp out the latest “threat,” all because we look for differences and not similarities.

People in Russia, Iran and the Sudan all want the same things as you and me, and that’s to find love, get married and raise children hopefully to have a better life than did they. They don’t sit around all day despising our freedoms, rather I imagine unless we’re in their country shooting and bombing them, they scarcely give us a second thought. That the self-proclaimed followers of Jesus cannot see this gives us an insight into the extent of the sickness in their souls, and we should minister them as would the Christ. Since they cannot figure out the true path for themselves, they must be shown.

It’s time for unification, to realize our differences pale compared to our similarities, and to accept every man and woman as our brothers and sisters. It’s time for a kumbayah moment. What’s ironic is it’s the followers of the Christ that need to be shown rather than being the ones demonstrating. I think Jesus would vomit in his mouth if he knew the condition of his church today.

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Top Ten Religious Figures Of All Time


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While politicians, military leaders and entertainers come and go throughout history, religious figures last for all time, millions still following, respecting or worshiping them thousands of years after their deaths. The list below does not just include what theologians would call prophets, but also lists figures who had a significant impact on real world religiosity.  The placing of Jesus Christ of Nazareth at number one and the Prophet Mohammad of Mecca at number two was based solely on the numbers of followers, and not because of one being less or more important than the other. Putting together a list like this will invite both controversy and emotion, but it is not the intention to annoy, bother or insult anyone. It is simply a look back on those who have most shaped our ideas about faith, religion and secular thought throughout the ages of humanity.

1. Jesus of Nazareth (circa 7 BCE-36 CE)

With more than 1.5 billion followers worldwide, Christianity remains the largest single religion on Earth, and is why Jesus of Nazareth sites atop the poll. Even if it wasn’t the largest religion, however, it is beyond serious debate the impact this itinerant rabbi from Galilee has had on the planet. What is especially remarkable about this is that his public ministry lasted little more than two years, he never had more than a few thousand followers during his lifetime, he left no personal writings, and was even executed for sedition by the Roman authorities, all of which should have made him little more than a footnote in history.

2. Prophet Mohammed of Mecca (571-632 CE)

It’s hard to underestimate the impact this middle-aged merchant turned mystic turned religious leader turned military commander has had on history and the role he continues to play in the lives of well over a billion people around the planet. Considered by one sixth of the world’s population to have been the last and greatest of all the prophets, he is best remembered as the man who penned the Koran, one of the best known and most widely read sacred writings in the world.

3. Gautama Buddha (circa 563-483 BCE)

We tend to use the term “Buddha” as a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment or wisdom, but there was a real flesh-and-blood person behind the mythology. Siddhartha Gautama ideas of enlightenment and nirvana thrived in his own day. Quickly attracting a legion of disciples, his teachings laid the foundation for one of the world’s great eastern faith structures, Buddhism, which as of this writing claims nearly 400 million adherents worldwide.

4. Krishna (circa 3228-3102 BCE)

Like the Buddha, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between historical fact and metaphor when it comes to some of the most ancient religious figures. Though Krishna didn’t actually found the modern religion of Hinduism—it’s basic tenets already being in place prior to his arrival—among all of the Vishnu avatars, he is the most popular and the one closest to the heart of the people, which is why he remains so venerated five thousand years later.

5. Confucius (551-479 BCE)

Confucius (the Latinized version of his Chinese name, Kong Zi) was not a religious leader per se, but more of a philosopher whose teachings on personal and governmental morality, justice, and sincerity deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life.

6. Zoroaster (Unknown. Anywhere between the 18th and 6th centuries BCE)

Zoroaster, also called Zarathustra, was an ancient Persian prophet who founded the first historically acknowledged world religion known, not surprisingly, as Zoroastrianism. According to the Zend Avesta, the sacred book of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian philosophy entered the West through Judaism and Platonism and has even been identified as one of the key early events in the development of philosophy.

7. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

While Christianity is wrought with dozens of individuals who played a major role in shaping its doctrines and making it the faith structure it is today, few men had a greater impact upon the fragmenting the church in general than this fiery German theologian from Eisleben.

8. Moses (circa 1391-1271 BCE)

While the history of Judaism is filled with famous prophets and leaders-from Kings David and Solomon to the prophets Elijah and Ezekiel—no one man had more impact than did Moses, without whose guidance and leadership the modern Jewish religion would not exist.

9. Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844)

Easily one of the most controversial figures from the first half of the nineteenth century, it is difficult to imagine how one man, persuaded that he was a prophet of God, could start a religion—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (officially the LDS but commonly referred to as the Mormon church)—practically single-handedly, that would one day grow to over fourteen million worldwide followers.

10. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910)

Though the founder of Christian Science doesn’t have all that many followers any more (only around 30,000 or so as of late) her impact on American religious beliefs in the nineteenth century cannot be underestimated. Her controversial perspectives on everything from the illusory nature of the material world to her de facto rejection of a personal God and the concept of hell definitely put her somewhat outside of what is usually referred to as “orthodoxy”, though many of her ideas survive and can still be found in some New Age churches and other metaphysical and mystical traditions today

 

 

Source: Toptenz.net

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The Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue


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From Saudi Arabia Corespondent Eman Al Nafjan…

The Committee for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue (better known as the PVPV) is a Saudi Arabian governmental watch dog organization that operates like a religious police force, annoying, lecturing, harassing, beating and, as in the case below, attempting to murder its own citizens in the name of Islam. They enforce dress codes, the separation of men and women, along with other so-called “Islamic Laws”. The fact of the matter is they are over the top lunatics enforcing the institutionalized insanity that is life in Saudi Arabia. One could argue there is little religion left in Saudi Arabia from a governmental standpoint, as Islam itself has become lost in sea of antiquated Bedouin Tribal ritual, hijacked by those in positions of corrupted power. Eman Al Nafjan’s latest contribution below is but an single example of what many Saudis must deal with every day of their lives. As always, her dedication to shining the revealing light of truth upon those in power is inspiring.

The Commision for Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue, (PVPV), has done it again.

On Thursday in Ha’il, a region North West of Riyadh, a PVPV member was scouting this very conservative area for vice to prevent. He saw a woman shopping with a man and felt that her eyes (the only part of her that was showing) were too seductive and starting shouting orders at her to cover her eyes. According to her husband, he says that he heard this muttawa behind him shouting and paid him no mind until he realized that the PVPV member was addressing his wife. He turned around and told him to mind his own business. Then insults were exchanged until the PVPV member pulled out a knife and slashed the husband’s arm and stabbed him in the back, puncturing his lungs.

So far, so terrible but we could at least say that this PVPV member would be rejected and held at arms length by the commission. First day the report came out, the spokesperson, sheikh Mutlaq Al Nabit claimed that they still don’t have the details of what happened except that there was an attack on the PVPV and that was followed by an altercation and the PVPV member has not admitted that he had stabbed the citizen.

The next day another report came out from the same spokesperson, Shiekh Al Nabit claiming that PVPV members have every right to order women to cover their eyes if they are seductive, seditious and could push a man to sin. He also denied that the commission gave permission to the PVPV member to get into a fight and carry a weapon and claimed that all PVPV members are responsible and deserving of trust.

Yah right.

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Islam In America – An Experiment in Social Psychology


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How would you react if you saw a Muslim woman being mistreated in a store, not being served purely because of what she was wearing and the religion she follows?

ABC’s news magazine Primetime posed this very question and with the help of hidden cameras conducted a little experiment. The results are interesting to watch and at times, highly emotional. They show that while some Americans are prejudiced, most aren’t. The minority of those involved in the experiment who supported prejudiced behavior don’t realize North American culture as a whole is very much the New World, a civilization built upon the pillars of immigration and secular thought.

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Raiding Saudi


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From Saudi Arabia Corespondent Eman Al Nafjan…

Ok I took a break and I learned something about myself. I’m a polygamist, I’ve married this blog over the father of my children and now I’m attached to it and cannot stay away too long from my spoiled second husband, let alone two months. If I try, I just miss it more. I knew it all along but I had to give it a try.

Now that’s out of the way, I have to tell you what I was up to last night. My very dear friend Tine has finished her time here in Saudi and is leaving soon. Unfortunately, being cooped up in expat compounds; she has never had a chance to see muttawas in action. These lions of Saudi morality are a staple mark of life here so I couldn’t let her leave without the experience. That’s why we went on a muttawa safari. We headed to their natural habitat, shopping malls. And we weren’t disappointed. At Riyadh Gallery, a mall that opened about a couple of years ago, they had the World Cup match on this humongous TV screen that you can watch a mile away. I’m not exaggerating; people on all three floors were watching the same screen. There were about three hundred people there.. Halfway through the match the muttawa came in and ordered the TV off. There were two muttawas and one police officer escorting them. They strolled around this crowd searching for men without women. Because it is illegal for single men to go to a shopping mall. They have to be accompanying a wife, mother or sister. Every once in a while they would stop young Saudi men and ask them where their women were. One guy they didn’t believe had to drag a little girl over to the muttawas so she could verify that he was related to the group of women he pointed at.

Before the muttawas came in it was noisy and men and women stood next to each other looking up at the screen. At every highlighted moment in the match there was either a collective roar or groan. The atmosphere was electric. Then the muttawas came and everyone knew that these three men had come in long before seeing them stroll by. Even Tine remarked on how these muttawas must be feeling this power they had over the people. No one objected to having the match turned off. Women went scurrying off to find seats in segregated areas. Teenagers headed the opposite direction that the muttawas were coming from for fear that they would be stopped because of their hairstyles and low worn jeans. Everyone was silently glancing around, looking for the muttawas and guessing who their victims might be.

We decided to follow them, albeit from afar to see who would they take. They focused their energy on young Saudi men. They even went into the bathrooms looking for hiding offenders. Before we lost them, we had witnessed them apprehend two men. They made the two offenders come along as they continued with their morality raid.

Both Tine and I were angered by how passive people were. It’s as if they really believed that they were guilty of something. Hundreds of people shaking in fear of a couple of bearded men. No wonder that things remain the way they are. People believe they deserve to be treated this way. It took the muttawas about twenty minutes to finish their raid and just like when they came in, you knew that they left. The match was turned back on and everyone relaxed and became noisy again.

Before they left, I took Tine outside to show her how arrogant muttawas are even in the way they park. And sure enough, their jeep was parked on the pavement right next to the automatic doors. You would think they were an ambulance.

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Atheism: The New Fundamentalist Regime


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From Larry Wohlgemuth…

I love to take shots at fundies because of their big-headed belief in their omniscience. It’s so unbecoming. Now atheists are giving fundies a run for the number one spot on my list. Their increasingly vocal claims that ‘there is no God’ comes across just as dogmatically as the fundie that predicts eternity in hell unless we follow their prescribed plan for salvation. Polar opposite twins.

I’m not sure where these militant atheists who demand I believe as they do are coming from, but I welcome anything that provides me more material. I can mock the self-proclaimed all-knowing no matter what their beliefs. However it begs the question, what’s happening to atheists and why are they becoming increasingly outspoken?

For any who may not know my position, you can worship mountain oysters as your God if you wish, I really don’t care what you believe. I understand my beliefs are what they are; beliefs and nothing more. While I try to live by them I’ll likely pull the big kackaroo only to learn the extent of my fallibility. Maybe there will be some tiny part that I got right, however my shortcomings don’t scare me nor do I anticipate an eternity of torment for my error; it’s just another lesson.

However I have to speak up about something I’ve observed recently that’s happening in atheism, mostly made up of people that once seemed extremely comfortable in their own skins. I noted in an online discussion the other day another indication of the increasingly fundamentalist atheist meme that more than implied the rest of us should change for our own good.

A woman stated that all who held religious viewpoints were insane and that science was the only true answer. Did she mean the science that bled us with leeches to cure disease, or that refused to believe in things unseen, causing countless deaths due to postsurgical infections because physicians wouldn’t wash their hands? Maybe she referred to the research grant whores who’ve propped up industries like tobacco in return for large sums of money, or the thousands of scientists who wrongly predicted a global cooling disaster and impending Ice Age in the 1970s. I’ll give more credence to science when they can at least replicate the feat of building the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Another guy was arguing in favor of the Golden Rule. Did he understand its origin was religiously based, with the first documented instance being 5000 years ago?

“This is the sum of duty. Do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you.”
– Mahabharata 5:1517, from the Vedic tradition of India,
circa 3000 BC.

A woman interjected the possibility that the way you want to be treated is not the way I would like to be treated. Taking her valid retort a step further, what if I want to be treated merely as a faceless cog in a society-driven machine, then wouldn’t the Golden Rule demand I labor to ensure that you are treated similarly? It would be a recipe for disaster for a society that applied it literally, but this man was just as intent on forcing his belief on me as any fundie I’ve encountered.

Maybe a good place to start would be with the definition of atheism:

a•the•ism –noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

This definition is from Dictionary.com, but several others were the same; each using the word belief, disbelief or both in their characterizations, and isn’t that the crux of the matter? When you come down to it, when all is said and done, atheism is simply a belief. Now maybe I’m wrong and they have some proof, so I’ll give them an opportunity to present it here.

Waiting.

Still waiting.

That’s what I thought. They can’t prove their position any more than the fundies can prove theirs, or I can prove mine, ergo the word belief. The only time beliefs become dangerous is when one group tries to foist theirs onto others, which inevitably results in violence. I see that possibility in both religious fundamentalism and the growing militancy in atheism. Maybe we should all take a breath.

In case anyone is interested, or even cares, this is how far I’ve gotten. If I see a chocolate cake sitting on the counter then I know a baker is somewhere to be found; I don’t have to see her to know she exists. The fact of creation demands that there be a creator in my thinking. Beyond that I’ve taken various religious, philosophical and metaphysical concepts and cobbled them into a sustaining faith, but I don’t have a clue if it’s right. However when I look at images sent back from the Hubble telescope I rest comfortably in the understanding that it’s something impossible for me to know while I’m on the physical plane.

So please, spare us your proclamations of omniscience and enjoy the ride, because we think you’re just as full of shit as the rest of us.

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The Throws of Morality and The Secular Soldier


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460666225_123f6ceb92From Filipino Congressman Mong Palatino…

“Immoral” rock concerts were banned in Malaysia. An “immoral” gay group was disqualified from participating in the Philippine elections. Immorality was blamed for the natural disasters that hit Indonesia this year. It seems public authorities are playing the morality card to uphold the dominant social order in many Southeast Asian countries.

To protect the morals of society, the youth arm of Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS Youth) proposed the banning of the Michael Learns Rock reunion concert in Malaysia last August. This is the same political party which banned the concerts of “indecent” music stars like Beyonce, Avril Lavigne and Gwen Stefani in Malaysia.

Malaysian Muslims also weren’t allowed to watch the Black Eyed Peas concert because the show was sponsored by an alcohol company.

PAS Youth accused the foreign artists of corrupting the minds of the public. The group claimed that these types of concerts “will not help motivate the people to become good citizens, but instead will weaken their morals and mental strength, and at the same time will drag them down to drown in the turbulence of lust.”

For promoting same-sex relationships, which are contrary to religious beliefs, the Philippine Commission on Elections has rejected the petition of gay group Ang Ladlad to be recognized as a party that can run in the 2010 elections. The poll body used religious texts like the Bible and Koran, instead of legal documents, to justify its ruling.

The Ang Ladlad group was described by the government election body as an immoral party because it espouses same-sex marriage and other equality demands of the Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender or LGBT sector.

Indonesia’s Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring surprised many when he asserted during a prayer meeting that the powerful quake that rocked Indonesia this year was due to declining public morals.

During an interview he said, “Television broadcasts that destroy morals are plentiful in this country and therefore disasters will continue to occur.” He cited the Indonesia-made porn DVDs which are available in street markets as proof of public decadence. His statement about the immorality-disaster link was supported by the influential Indonesian Ullema Council.

The concert ban in Malaysia, the anti-LGBT ruling in the Philippines, and the immorality equals earthquake thesis in Indonesia confirm the dominance of traditional and conservative values in modern Southeast Asian societies. Despite the economic and technological advances in the region, medieval thinking still reigns in many countries. Government bodies are still ruled by old bureaucrats who cling to feudal values and beliefs. Tech-savvy leaders like Tifatul Sembiring still espouse anti-scientific views.

Church leaders are expected to remind the faithful about the need to follow the teachings of their religion. On the other hand, public officials are not required to subscribe to a particular religious doctrine in fulfilling their constitutional duties. In fact, they are disallowed from using their power and position to advance and impose their religious beliefs on the public.

Secular institutions and public officials usurp the role of the church when they act as guardians of public morals. Their mandate is not to serve as spokespersons and proxies of church leaders. They should not behave like morality cops who dictate what is right and wrong for everybody. Asian countries may have won their political independence decades ago but many are still not free from the clutch of religious bigotry.

To maintain peace and order, governments always devise procedures to control the activities of their citizens. The morality card is being played to produce desirable attitudes, sentiments and behavior among the population.

Perhaps the morality issue is used today in response to the worsening global economic crisis. Governments are afraid that the jobless and hungry segments of the population will express their frustration through radical actions. By invoking morality, governments aim to discourage dissidence.

By banning concerts, denying equal rights and blaming immoral behavior for the occurrence of natural disasters, repressive governments with democratic trappings are hinting that they are ready to displease a certain segment of the population if it will serve their political interests.

Today, immorality is equated with rock stars, same-sex relationships and pornography. Soon the sin of immorality might be extended to all those who dare oppose the policies of the government. Moralist politicians want to normalize the practice of naming things they dislike as immoral. It is important to prevent the morality cops from monopolizing the debate on what constitutes moral and immoral behavior.

When hypocrites accuse our favorite rock stars of being immoral, we should advise them that they can choose not to listen to these immoral entertainers. When gay groups are disqualified from running for public office, we should appeal that all corrupt politicians should be prevented too from holding a public position.

Asserting equality demands is a moral right. Rejecting bigotry is a moral stand. Defying unjust policies is a moral act. If we are labeled as immoral because we refuse to surrender our principles, then by all means, let’s prove that sometimes promoting immorality can be the most subversive act we can achieve in our lifetime.

 

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The Multiplicity of Faith


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faithThe day before yesterday marked the beginning of the holiest time of year for Christian’s worldwide. But Christmas, isn’t that in December? Yes, Christmas is in December, and with all the snow the U.S. received these past few weeks it might have felt like December.  In actuality, however, the holiest holiday for Christians is Easter. Easter is the focal point of Christianity, based on the belief Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of the Father, was crucified on the cross (Good Friday), and on the third day rose again (Easter). Easter is on Sunday, so what happened the day before yesterday? Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of Lent.

Lent is a forty day period during which Christians fast in what is considered to be the preparation of the believer. Historically, observing lent meant all animal products were forbidden and even went as far as to require only bread was to be eaten. With that said, as civilization evolved so did Christianity. Present day Irish Catholics like myself are required to abstain from the consumption of meat on Ash Wednesday and on each Friday during the holy period. The forty day fast is meant to signify the forty days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the Devil. 

Catholic credence aside, religion, regardless what the belief system it may represent, is on the outs with the younger generation; and not just here in the United States, but the world over. Increasing fanaticism within all of the prominent religions has overshadowed the positive place religion has in our cultures. The Catholic Church has been marred by numerous counts of child molestation, the Jews are frowned upon for their abhorrent treatment of Arabs in Gaza and Palestine, and Islam is viewed with negativity and even fear throughout the world for the horrific actions of only a few. Today, more than ever, it’s clear being religious not only carries a stigma, but requires one to constantly defend their beliefs.

It is hard to get the whole picture when we constantly see only one side. Being Irish Catholic, this week was another wake-up call, as the Pope meet with Irish bishops about a widespread cover-up over abuse reports. Perhaps if we were to take a look at Religion from another view point, it would change your perspective.

I often hear the argument that religion is outdated and that modern constitutions and laws have taken its place. However, in looking at the pillars of modern law it is hard to find anything that hasn’t been influenced by religious text. Far before formal governments, religion guided one’s life. Religion is a vessel that offers interpretations and explanations for many of life’s greatest questions. 

Religious texts offer us a guide by which to live our lives. Many of the lessons we teach our children, “Turn the other cheek,” or “Do onto others as you wish done onto you,” are rooted in religious texts. Religious texts are rich with lessons to help guide one’s life and manage interactions with others.

Religion has a very constructive place in our society, but the modern media chooses to ignore positive stories and impact of religion to do good in the world. With its constant trumpeting all that is wrong with religion, the media has played a large part in turning many Americans against religiosity as a whole. Gone are the days of a quality Christian education bringing together mind, body, and spirit – at least in the United States. Even Christian soup kitchens and homeless shelters have come under fire.

Older people often have a tendency to believe that to be religious one must strictly adhere to all that a religion requires, whatever that religion may be; but I’m not so sure.

So many times I’ve heard people say I was raised Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, but I’m not anymore. That being the case, they still continue to hold on to the core values and beliefs found within their Holy Scripture. When we’re young, religion provides the black and white structure needed to give our lives a moral compass. When we grow older, religion evolves with us as well – regardless if we choose to accept this. Some of us might not agree with the organized faction of a religion, or the path upon which a religion choose to relay its message.  With that said, so much of what is good within us is derived from faith and religiosity.

And for those of you who think we would eventually learn the moral essence of humanity within a secular vacuum free of religion, I ask you to consider Thomas Hobbes.  The politcial philosopher believed people were in fact inherently evil, and if given the opportunity, would act devilishly in the name of hedonistic self-preservation.

So the next time you’re walking around and happen to see someone wearing a cross, don’t assume they support priest abuse, are abortion fanatics, or gay bashers. If you see someone wearing a yarmulke, don’t think they’re an Arab hating Zionist. And if someone is wearing a hijab or a kandora, don’t assume they’re going to blow something up. Why not ask about their beliefs and what their religion means to them. Because if you just walk by blindly, and continue to believe in the preconceived notions you hear in the news, you are no-less of a fanatic than the people you criticize.

Your fanaticism lies in your prejudice. 

 

From Gibbs Burke…

Writer’s Note: In the spirit of Lent, I would like to wish everyone good health, love, and prosperity. I know that I am not without sin, so I am sorry to all those whom I’ve offended.

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On the Verge of Chaos


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2188452373_9e77d78edaYemen is one of the most impoverished and religiously fundamentalist places on the planet. Its own government even understands the fact that urgent political and economic reforms are needed to fight the cancer that is al-Qaeda, slowly spreading throughout the nation. They recognize the fact that continued al-Qaeda militancy risks stability and will only bring problems to an already troubled country.

Poverty is conducive to an atmosphere of radicalization and with nearly half of all Yemenis living on $2 a day, millions of people feel alienated and disenfranchised. Roughly half the population is also illiterate and the nation recently ranked 182nd out of 191 countries in general knowledge aptitude tests. In other words, Yemen is prime territory for al-Qaeda recruitment. Hopelessness, poverty and illiteracy are all hallmarks of those most often drawn into terrorism.

Following the December 25th attempt to blow up an American Airline with 300 people on board, under pressure from both Saudi Arabia and the Unites States, the Yemen government officially declared war on al-Qaeda. The States and Saudi also happen to be Yemen’s two biggest donors. Al Qaeda aside, Yemen is also facing a nation wide water shortage, a secessionist movement in the south, and a Shiite Muslim revolt in the north. In other words, it is a country on the verge of both chaos and collapse.  

“The challenges in Yemen are growing and, if not addressed, risk threatening the stability of the country and broader region. The government of Yemen recognizes the urgent need to address these issues which will take sustained and focused engagement,” said a government statement.  

In an emergency interventionist meeting planned for this week, the G8 nations (Canada, the United States, Japan, Italy, France, the UK, Germany and Russia) the Gulf Cooperation Council (the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman) along with Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey will meet to discuss Yemen’s fragile and potentially hazardous state. United Nations representatives and officials from both the Word Bank and the IMF will also be present at the meeting set to take place in London. Security, health, education, and economic reform are expected to take center stage.

The attempted December 25 made the international community realize that if Yemen is left on its own, al Qaeda could transform the country into something along the lines of Somalia, the tiny nation’s lawless neighbor just across the Gulf of Aden.

From David Anthony Hohol…

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