According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, April 17, 2014

David Foster Wallace, "The Key To Living A Compassionate Life"


"This Is Water," by David Foster Wallace (Full Speech)



David Foster Wallace, "The Key To Living A Compassionate Life"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/david-foster-wallace-keny_n_5148773.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000051&ir=Religion


The Huffington Post | by Carolyn Gregoire
Posted: 04/16/2014 12:05 pm EDT Updated: 04/16/2014 1:59 pm EDT

David Foster Wallace, widely considered one of the most brilliant writers of his generation, wrote prolifically about an incredibly wide spectrum of human experience. In novels, stories, essays, and magazine articles, he won legions of fans, established deep connections with readers and established a reputation as a towering intellect. But it was in his commencement address to Kenyon College's graduating class of 2005 that Wallace spoke with unprecedented directness, telling graduates in how to live in the "day to day trenches of adult life" with awareness and compassion.

The deeply moving and wryly humorous address -- later published in book form with the title This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered On A Significant Occasion, On Living A Compassionate Life -- quickly took its place among the most famous commencement addresses in recent history. And in the wake of Wallace's tragic death in 2008, the speech took on a new level of significance to his admirers.

"It captures his electric mind, and also his humility -- the way he elevated and made meaningful, beautiful, many of the lonely thoughts that rattle around in our heads,"as The Economist's magazine More Intelligent Life put it. "The way he put better thoughts in our heads, too."

Here are five universally applicable lessons from Wallace's now-iconic 2005 address:


1 - Ruthlessly question your own beliefs and assumptions.

Wallace is quick to dismantle our preconceived notions about the liberal arts cliche that education "teaches you how to think," and makes it the goal of his discussion to illuminate what this platitude really means. And it's not just about critical thinking or the ability to analyze or argue well.

An important part of truly learning how to think, he says, is becoming "just a little less arrogant" -- having some awareness of how little we actually know, and behaving accordingly.

"To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties," Wallace explains. "Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too."

Educating ourselves is a lifelong process of stripping away our deeply-held convictions and assumptions in order to transcend our own limited viewpoints and, as a result, allow ourselves to think more openly and broadly. For Wallace, this is a way to escape the confines of our own minds.

2 - Growing is a movement from narcissism to connection.

We live and think from a completely self-centered place, says Wallace -- and of course, it's natural to perceive all things relative to ourselves. This is the way we automatically engage with the world -- self-centeredness is our "default setting."

"Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence," explains Wallace.

But this self-centered mindset can keep us from engaging with the world with awareness and compassion. Our work as people who are learning to think, says Wallace, is to choose in each day and moment (for instance, when we're sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the supermarket, annoyed and impatient at anyone who might be slowing us down) to move beyond our own self-centered frame of mind.

"It's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self," says Wallace.

3 - Stay present and open.

Wallace's address touched upon an ancient truth: The mind is naturally unruly, and if we are to live with a sense of freedom and peacefulness, we must take some measures to gain control over it. Wallace quotes the old cliche, "The mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master."

"It is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive," says Wallace, "instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head."

But learning to stay alert and attentive are central to learning how to think. If we can learn to exercise some control over how and what we think, we'll become increasingly able to choose what we pay attention to and how we construct meaning from our experiences.

Wallace jokes that if you're unable to exercise this choice as an adult, you'll be "totally hosed":

"This is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out," says Wallace.

Through the "day in and day out" of adult life, Wallace says, we must choose how we react to countless small annoyances, boredoms, frustrations and injustices. When something doesn't go our way (even if it's simply getting stuck in traffic), we make the situation about ourselves -- what we want and how unfair it is that we're not getting it.

"That petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in," says Wallace. "Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop.

4 - Create your own meaning.

Learning how to think leads to the freedom to consciously impose meaning on your own experience.

"You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't," says Wallace. "You get to decide what to worship."

In some of the speech's most memorable words, he explains:

"In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you."

5 - Above all, be good to others.

We educate ourselves and learn to control the mind for one important end: To be less self centered and more connected to others; to choose compassion in as many moments as we can.

"The really important kind of freedom," says Wallace, "involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day."



A Gift Of Charity Began It All


"One Time A Guy Gave A Homeless Man A Computer,
And The Recipient Did Exactly
What The Giver Expected"


Computer programmer teaches homeless to code




If I'd have heard about what this guy was planning to do before it all played out, I might have thought he was unrealistic or maybe even condescending. But after watching the video, I realized that there's a much bigger thing at play here: We need to remember that every human being is unique and full of potential. We don't know other people's stories.




From the Onion - God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule




God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule
http://www.theonion.com/articles/god-angrily-clarifies-dont-kill-rule,222/

NEWSGodISSUE 37•34 • Sep 26, 2001

[Adapted - R.E. Slater]

NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

"Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near [one of the war zones in Iraq]  the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."

Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called "an unending cycle of violence."

"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs. As a matter of longstanding policy, He has traditionally left the task of interpreting His message and divine will to clerics, rabbis, priests, imams, and Biblical scholars.

Theologians and laymen alike have been given the task of pondering His ineffable mysteries, deciding for themselves what to do as a matter of faith. His decision to manifest on the material plane was motivated by the deep sense of shock, outrage, and sorrow He felt over the Sept. 11 [and the subsequent] violence [years afterwards] carried out in His name, and over its dire potential ramifications around the globe.

"I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, [the] next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

Worse yet, many of the worst violators claim that their actions are justified by passages in the Bible, Torah, and Qur'an.

"To be honest, there's some contradictory stuff in there, okay?" God said. "So I can see how it could be pretty misleading. I admit it—My bad. I did My best to inspire them, but a lot of imperfect human agents have misinterpreted My message over the millennia. Frankly, much of the material that got in there is dogmatic, doctrinal bullshit. I turn My head for a second and, suddenly, all this stuff about homosexuality gets into Leviticus, and everybody thinks it's God's will to kill gays. It absolutely drives Me up the wall."

God praised the overwhelming majority of His Muslim followers as "wonderful, pious people," calling the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks rare exceptions.

"This whole medieval concept of the jihad, or holy war, had all but vanished from the Muslim world in, like, the 10th century, and with good reason," God said. "There's no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists, just like the vast majority of Christians in America are pissed off over those two bigots on The 700 Club."

Continued God, "Read the book: 'Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.' It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some assholes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war crap just to further their own hateful agenda. So now, everybody thinks Muslims are all murderous barbarians. Thanks, Taliban: 1,000 years of pan-Islamic cultural progress down the drain."

God stressed that His remarks were not directed exclusively at Islamic extremists, but rather at anyone whose ideological zealotry overrides his or her ability to comprehend the core message of all world religions.

"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims... the [poor] Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews - don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!"

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.


John 3:16
English Standard Version (ESV)

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes
in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Footnotes:
John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world


Beloved, let us love one another,
for love is from God
and whoever loves
has been born of God
and knows God.

1 John 4.7 (ESV, cf. 1 John 4.13-21)

John 4:7-21
English Standard Version (ESV)

God Is Love

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Footnotes:
1 John 4:20 Some manuscripts how can he




Down with Muslim Stereotypes & Up with a New World Vision

Pharrell - Happy British Muslims! #HAPPYDAY




These 'Happy British Muslims' Rock Out To Pharrell Williams...
And It Is Beyond Amazing (video)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/happy-british-muslims-pharrell-_n_5159645.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000051

The Huffington Post | by Yasmine Hafiz
Posted: 04/16/2014 10:54 am EDT Updated: 04/16/2014 12:59 pm EDT

These British Muslims have something they want you to know... they're HAPPY!

In this adorable video set to Pharrell Williams' feel-good hit "Happy," a diverse array of British Muslims bop along to the catchy tune as they go about their daily lives.

The video was created by The Honesty Policy, a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement. They describe themselves as "A group of young and curious Muslims saying what you’re thinking. Honestly."

They created the "Happy" video because:
We Brits have a bad rep for being a bit stiff, but this video proves otherwise. We are HAPPY. We are eclectic. We are cosmopolitan. Diverse. Creative. Fun. Outgoing. And everything you can think of.
This video is to show the world despite the negative press, stereotypes and discrimination we are burdened with we should respond with smiles and joy, not anger.
People are mainly responding with happiness, though as always, there are the occasional haters. Before comments were disabled on the video, YouTube commenter Marwan Benhafsia wrote, "Beautiful happiness.. Beautiful job.. I am happy for you guys.. u make me feel proud! We're Muslims and we love life and we dance and we sing! Keep going.."

Happy British Muslims, keep doing your thing!