Making Gods, Making Individuals

I’ve been reading about bicameralism and the Axial Age. It is all very fascinating.

It’s strange to look back at that era of transformation. The modern sense of self-conscious, introspective, autonomous individuality (as moral agent and rational actor) was just emerging after the breakdown of the bicameral mind. What came before that is almost incomprehensible to us.

One interesting factor is that civilization didn’t create organized religion, but the other way around. Or so it seems, according to the archaeological evidence. When humans were still wandering hunter-gatherers, they began building structures for worship. It was only later that people started settled down around these worship centers. So, humans built permanent houses for the gods before they built permanent houses for themselves.

These God Houses often originated as tombs and burial mounds of revered leaders. The first deities seem to have been god-kings. The leader was considered a god while alive or spoke for god. In either case, death made concrete the deification of the former leader. In doing so, the corpse or some part of it such as the skull would become the worshipped idol. Later on it became more common to carve a statue that allowed for a more long-lasting god who was less prone to decay.

God(s) didn’t make humans. Rather, humans in a very literal sense made god(s). They made the form of the god or used the already available form of a corpse or skull. It was sort of like trapping the dead king’s soul and forcing it to play the role of god.

These bicameral people didn’t make the distinctions we make. There was no clear separation between the divine and the human, between the individual and the group. It was all a singular pre-individuated experience. These ancient humans heard voices, but they had no internal space for their own voice. The voices were heard in the world all around them. The king was or spoke for the high god, and that voice continued speaking even after the king died. We moderns would call that a hallucination, but to them it was just their daily reality.

With the breakdown of the bicameral mind, there was a crisis of community and identity. The entire social order broke down, because of large-scale environmental catastrophes that killed or made into refugees most of the human population back then. In a short period of time, nearly all the great civilizations collapsed in close succession, the collapse of each civilization sending refugees outward in waves of chaos and destruction. Nothing like it was seen before or since in recorded history.

People were desperate to make sense of what happened. But the voices of the gods had grown distant or were silenced. The temples were destroyed, the idols gone, traditions lost, and communities splintered. The bicameral societies had been extremely stable and were utterly dependent on that stability. They couldn’t deal with change at that level. The bicameral mind itself could no longer function. These societies never recovered from this mass tragedy.

An innovation that became useful in this era was improved forms of writing. Using alphabets and scrolls, the ancient oral traditions were written down and altered in the process. Also, new literary traditions increasingly took hold. Epics and canons were formed to bring new order. What formed from this was a sense of the past as different from the present. There was some basic understanding that humanity had changed and that the world used to be different.

A corrolary innovation was that, instead of idol worship, people began to worship these new texts, first as scrolls and then later as books. They found a more portable way of trapping a god. But the loss of the more concrete forms of worship led to the gods becoming more distant. People less often heard the voices of the gods for themselves and instead turned to the texts where it was written the cultural memory of the last people who heard the divine speaking (e.g., Moses) or even the last person who spoke as the divine (e.g., Jesus Christ).

The divine was increasingly brought down to the human level and yet at the same time increasingly made more separate from daily experience. It wasn’t just that the voices of the gods went silent. Rather, the voices that used to be heard externally were being internalized. What once was recognized as divine and as other became the groundwork upon which the individuated self was built. God became a still, small voice and slowly loss its divine quality altogether. People stopped hearing voices of non-human entities. Instead, they developed a thinking mind. The gods became trapped in the human skull and you could say that they forgot they were gods.

The process of making gods eventually transitioned into the process of making individuals. We revere individuality as strongly as people once revered the divine. That is an odd thing.

Dogmatism’s Not Dead

I watched God’s Not Dead with my parents. It was the quite the experience. I had almost no expectations. I just went because my parents wanted to go. I’ll watch almost anything, when in the right mood.

God’s Not Dead is a Christian movie and my parents are Christians. I was raised Christian, but not the Christianity found in the movie. God’s Not Dead is full-on fundamentalism. My mom grew up in that kind of religion and my dad in a more mild variety. I, however, was raised mostly in the Unity Chruch, which is uber-hippy, pansy-liberal New Thought Christianity.

No preacher ever threatened or even implied I might go to hell. No Unity minister would likely even mention hell, except to dismiss it. God loves you! Period. Full stop.

I have nothing but happy memories of my childhood religion. I’m a heathen these days, but I still don’t think of myself as an atheist. I largely don’t care one whit about arguments for and against God. On the other hand, while tripping on mushrooms once I saw the entire world breathe in unison, as if it were all a single being. Dude! The world is a crazy complex place, beyond the meager capacity of my human comprehension. Who am I to say much of anything about the mysteries of the universe? If someone wants to call this sense of mystery ‘God’, they are free to do so and I won’t complain.

Anyway, if God or gods or Star Trek Qs exist, I doubt they care about my belief in them or lack thereof. Do I care if tiny organisms believes in me? Not really. I choose not to step on ants and worms, but I don’t ask if they believe in me first. I won’t claim to be their savior if they accept me into their hearts and I won’t promise them heaven nor threaten them with damnation. I’m certainly not going to attempt to inspire ant and worm prophets to write holy scriptures about my greatness. I’m just a big galoot traipsing through their tiny world. That is all.

That may sound dismissive. I actually have little desire to be dismissive. Faith is a personal thing. The personal part is what matters. I can’t speak about someone else’s personal experience. I’m fine with other people’s religion, as long as they don’t seek to impose it on me or proselytize it to me.

Even a fundamentalist movie like God’s Not Dead doesn’t overly bother me. It seemed disconnected from reality, but that is to be expected. It’s not like anyone forced me to watch the movie. That said, fundamentalists are more than happy to force their beliefs onto others. If hardcore fundamentalists thought they could legally get away with it, they’d likely make watching this movie obligatory for every child in school.

Many of them are no more interested in genuine dialogue than is the radical left-wing activist I dealt with the other day (see my post: There Are No Allies Without Alliances). But most isn’t all. I wouldn’t want to broadbrush all rightward-leaning Christians. Most fundamentalists are like most people. They just want to be left alone to live their lives how they see fit. But the average fundamentalist isn’t the one I’m worried about. What worries me are the fundamentalist activists, lobbyists, and politicians.

The one thing that stood out to me about that radical left-wing activist had to do with his worldview. There were specified roles one could play, but one wasn’t free to be an individual. There is no place for someone like me in that worldview. Likewise, in watching God’s Not Dead, I realized there is no place for me there either.

The movie is full of caricatures and stereotypes. Everyone was an extreme. Either you are hard right-wing believer or else you are some secular bogeyman, the three main options being a clueless professor, a sociopathic businessman, and a Godless communist. In this worldview, there exists no such thing as a liberal Christian, a moderate Muslim, a moral pagan, an ethical humanist, a mild-mannered atheist, or a curious-minded agnostic; certainly, there is no such thing as an intelligent, fair-minded professor. It turns out the professor secretly believes in God, but just hates him, what every fundamentalist suspects about atheists.

A freethinking individual is not welcome in either of these worldviews from the left and right.

God & Freewill, Theists & Atheists

God and freewill, two things that will forever perplex me.

I see them as basically on the same level, theological concepts. God is the faith of the theists. And freewill is the faith of the atheists.

I don’t mean this in a necessarily dismissive way. I actually am affirming the notion of faith. We humans aren’t as rational as we think. Whether theist or atheist, most people are always looking to rationalize. It might not be as obvious with theism, but apologetics is just an attempt (typically a very bad attempt) at rationalizing theism and apologetics is big business these days. Atheists aren’t off the hook, though. It is atheists, more than theists, who usually find it difficult to admit the irrational/nonrational components of life.

I say this as an agnostic who is hard put to take sides in most theist vs atheist debates, although I tend to go with the atheists when it comes to respecting intellect and science. Despite my sharing certain values with many atheists, I can’t follow atheists all the way down the path of rationality. The world is too strange and humans too complex.

Consider freewill. I’ve come to see the atheist’s focus on freewill as a substitute for the theistic soul.

Anyone who has studied psychological research enough knows that most things humans do aren’t rational or often even conscious. We really don’t know why we are the way we are or why we do what we do, but through science we can observe correlations and make predictions. If you know enough about a person, they can be fairly predictable. If humans weren’t predictable, insurance companies wouldn’t be able to make profits. Still, prediction isn’t the same thing as insight and understanding.

There is no rational reason to believe in freewill and yet most people believe in it. It is our shared cultural bias. Even most theists accept freewill, albeit a human will subordinated to the Will of God and/or a human will limited to a morally weak human nature (depending on the theology in question). We believe in freewill because our entire culture is based on this belief and so confirms it and supports it. Still, it is just a belief, one that doesn’t perfectly conform to reality.

Here is where I’m coming from. I’m not religious, but I am spiritual… a statement that most atheists don’t understand, although one could be a spiritual atheist (such as a Buddhist)… a statement maybe that even most theists don’t understand. On the other hand, my not being religious doesn’t imply that I’m anti-religious. I’m simply non-religious, but informally I’m attracted to certain religious practices such as meditation and even prayer (not that I ever feel clear about what I may or may not be praying to). My faith is more Jungian than anything. So, theological ideas such as God and freewill are only meaningful to me in terms of possible underlying archetypes that hold sway deep within the human psyche, if not also in the world at large.

My experiences and observations, my understandings and intuitions have made it hard for me to find a place in any particular Western tradition. Beyond the Jungian, I suppose I could put myself in the very general category of radical skeptic (i.e., zetetic) which I’ve at times identified as agnostic gnosticism or else as Fortean. I’m defined by endless curiosity, greater than any belief or reason.

The religous and philosophical traditions that I have been most drawn to are those of the East, whether the Gnosticism born out of the Middle East or the Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism of the Far East. In this instance, I was thinking about Hinduism. I often contemplate Saraswati, the goddess of creativitiy and intellect, the ultimate artist’s muse. Do I believe in Saraswati? I don’t know. It seems like a silly question. I’m tempted to respond as Jung in saying I don’t believe, I know… but that still leaves such ‘knowing’ unexplained. There is an archetypal truth to Saraswati and I feel no need nor ability to further explain what that might be.

I was thinking about all of this in terms of vision and inspiration. In my own way, I have a visionary sense of Saraswati and this inspires me. But the name ‘Saraswati’ doesn’t matter nor does the religious accoutrements. I’m not a Hindu nor do I want to be. Saraswati is just a reference point for a deeper truth that is otherwise hard to articulate. I don’t believe in God and yet I have this intuitive sense of the divine, for lack of better words. I don’t believe in freewill and yet I have this intuitive sense of a creative ‘will’ that drives me and inspires me.

There was another aspect of Hinduism that was on my mind. The idea of willpower is symbolized and embodied by the god Ganesha. I feel no particular attraction to Ganesha, but I like the idea of willpower as a god rather than as a mere psychological attribute or mere personal expression. This seems to get closer to what willpower means on the archetypal level.

We each are diven and inspired by some vision of reality. This is our faith, typically unquestioned and often unconscious. We simply know it as our ‘reality’ and as such it forms our reality tunnel. There is a Hindu belief that a god resides in or is expressed through each person’s secret heart, the Hridaya chakra. I interpret this in Jungian terms. We each are ruled by some core truth or essence or pattern, whatever you want to call it, however you want to explain it.

We can have a vision of God or a god and we can be ruled by it. But if we explore it more deeply, we might discover a greater truth to why we are drawn to such a vision. We can have a vision of freewill and we can be ruled by it. But we can seek to make this faith conscious, thus seeing will as something greater than a personal possession, control for the sake of control (in the words of William S. Burroughs, “is control controlled by our need to control?”).

Whatever your god or vision, is what is ruling you worthy of your faith? If your faith is blind and your being ruled is unconscious, where does that leave you?

Source of Bible Covenant with God discovered?

Source of Bible Covenant with God discovered?
By D.M. Murdock

god calling abraham to his covenant image

Archaeologists working in Turkey have unearthed an Assyrian tablet dating to around 670 BCE that “could have served as a model for the biblical description of God’s covenant with the Israelites.” […] 

Ancient treaty resembles part of the Bible

Canadian archeologists in Turkey have unearthed an ancient treaty that could have served as a model for the biblical description of God’s covenant with the Israelites.

The tablet, dating to about 670 BC, is a treaty between the powerful Assyrian king and his weaker vassal states, written in a highly formulaic language very similar in form and style to the story of Abraham’s covenant with God in the Hebrew Bible, says University of Toronto archeologist Timothy Harrison.

Although biblical scholarship differs, it is widely accepted that the Hebrew Bible was being assembled around the same time as this treaty, the seventh century BC.

“Those documents…seem to reflect very closely the formulaic structure of these treaty documents,” he told about 50 guests at the Ottawa residence of the Turkish ambassador, Rafet Akgunay.

He was not necessarily saying the Hebrews copied the Assyrian text, substituting their own story about how God liberated them from slavery in Egypt on the condition that they worship only Him and follow His commandments.

But it will be interesting for scholars to have this parallel document.

“The language in the [Assyrian] texts is [very similar] and now we have a treaty document just a few miles up the road from Jerusalem.”…

[…] Although the article states that the archaeologist Timothy Harrison “was not necessarily saying the Hebrews copied the Assyrian text, substituting their own story about how God liberated them from slavery in Egypt,” it is nonetheless raising that very issue in a manner which breaks with the centuries-old tradition of bending all finds in the “Holy Land” and other places of biblical interest to fit the Bible, in attempts to prove the “Good Book” as “history.” It is obvious that this sort of bibliolatry appeasement from the more scientific segment of society is losing ground precisely because of such discoveries – and the implication of this one is a doozy.

God: Suffering and Longing

Posted on Dec 30th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
God’s Goodness is man’s suffering by which I’m not implying the good and bad as theological beliefs.  Its the ideal of Goodness (via our longing for it) that creates dissatisfaction of this world.  Even so, this tendency to idealize and to long is natural to the human psyche.  God or our experience of God isn’t in opposition to this earthly existence.

The reason that such immense ideals have an “otheworldly” feel to them is because God is the ultimate Other… which isn’t the same as saying God is separate.  This Other can also be experienced inwardly (if such a word applies), but this doesn’t change the esential Otherness.  God’s Goodness isn’t human goodness meaning it isn’t comprehensible in everyday terms nor can it be conformed to our purposes.  God undermines our entire sense of self and reality which isn’t a bad thing per se, but  its hard to interpret such an experience according to our normal beliefs and expectations of goodness. 

This world of suffering is Hell and our complicity with suffering is Evil.  I use these strong words because only they can convey the power of suffering when felt deeply.  But, by this, I don’t mean to assume any particular theological claims.  And, yet, I do mean to say that essentially both the Christians and Gnostics are right about God.  Thusly, without logical consistency and without psychological reconciliation, I accept my inability to separate my experience of suffering from my experience of that which is other than suffering… whatever one may wish to call it.

Or, anyways, this is what makes sense to me at the moment.  Unlike a pessimist of a materialist bent, I don’t deny any metaphysical possibility.  I have experienced something that felt like an Other.  Was it God?  Was it even good in the ultimate sense?  I don’t know.  It felt real… and, in this world of confusion, a glimpse of reality may be the closest one gets to the Good.

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Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 2 hours later

Marmalade said

There is only one essential statement in this whole blog:The Good of God is not the good of man. Its just my experience and that is all.

The only other choice is to go entirely with the Gnostics and call God Evil… which Icould agree with in the sense that they speak of the god of this world. The problem with the latter interpretation is such dualism doesn’t make sense of my experience, but maybe the Gnostics didn’t believe it as a fact… instead as something like a useful means.

What I do know is that this world is filled with immeasurable suffering. Yet, when I explore this suffering, I discover something other than any normal sense of this world.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 17 hours later

Nicole said

I think too often we ignore or gloss over this Otherness and its implications.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 20 hours later

Marmalade said

Part of me would say that I’m exaggerating too much, but there is a purpose for my doing so. Suffering, strangely enough, can be one of the easiest things to ignore or distract ourselves from. This is as true for me as for anyone else.

There is something freeing about simply stating that this world is hell. I spent years struggling against suffering, but I feel that struggle has become less. Whatam I freed from? I’m not entirely sure. An element of it has to do with imagination. For me, to imagine what might be is founded upon seeing things as they are. So, in allowing hell to be real, I can imagine heaven. Or something like that.

In case you were wondering, this blog actually wasn’t intended as a direct response to the guilt thread in the God pod. This is just an extension of my recent thinking. I wrote this down in my journalaround a week agoand finally got around to writing it up.

The direct inspiration of this post is the essential statement I mentioned. I’ve had that thought for a long time. The realization that the Good of God isn’t the good of man came to me during a time (which we’ve talked about before)when I had fully relented to my own experience of suffering and longing, but I also feared losing myself in this experience of Other. I didn’t feel capable (or willing) to stay with this experience. Nonetheless, the memory of it is very clear and an everpresent reality of sorts… even if I haven’t yet come to terms with it.

Renaissance the Movie and Tim Boucher’s Thoughts on God

Renaissance the Movie and Tim Boucher’s Thoughts on God

Posted on Dec 26th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
This blog is a two for one deal.  I’ll offer you both a movie and a blog.

On this fine Christmas, I watched a very unusual animated neo-noir movie titled Renaissance.  It was enjoyable even if not precisely appropriate for this Holy of Holy days.  I’m sure Jesus would be understanding.  Why can’t anyone make a good neo-noir Christmas special?

The Wikipedia Article on the Rennaissance.

A good review by A.J. MacReady.

I was also spending some quality time with Tim Boucher on his insightful blog.  Here is one that particularly amused me partly because the funny quote he started off with.

God gets lonely too, you know

Three bears in the bed, and the little one said
“I’m crowded, roll over”
So they all rolled over and one fell out
Two bears in the bed, and the little one said
“I’m crowded, roll over”
So they all rolled over and one fell out

One bear in the bed, and the little one said
“I’m lonely”
– (from Sesame Street)

What I really found interesting was this diagram and a related quote.

I was wondering if there were any historical theological precedents wherein Jesus and Lucifer were two stages of the same entity. That is, Lucifer transforms into Jesus through a process of purification. Lucifer is thrown out of Heaven, descends like a meteor and burns, burns, burns, until one day he just cools off. At this point, he is transfigured, and rises into Heaven once again, like a rocket shot into space.

The quote is the third paragraph below the diagram, but I had the same exact thought when I saw the diagram.  Lucifer, afterall, is an angel.  Angels are direct manifestations, extensions even, of God.  According to some sources, Lucifer fell because his loyalty was so strong to God.  Lucifer coming into this world was the first time an aspect of God directly manifested on Earth, and Lucifer’s fall parallels that of Adam and Eve.  Lucifer led the way for Mankind to fully enter this world of limits and suffering, and so likewise Jesus in becoming Christ is the Wayshower back to Heaven.

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Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

So, God is to Lucifer as Jesus is to Christ.  Makes sense to me.  

In Lucifer’s fall (and even more in Mankind’s fall), God becomes more distant.  This tendency becomes magnified with Protestantism in that any supernatural phenomena was largely judged as Evil.  As such, Lucifer became the representative of the supernatural; and by implication representative of the greatest supernatural being of all, God.  

Lucifer’s supposed pride is the same pride that is considered to be the greatest sin in man.  Lucifer is the the pride of ego which Jesus resists, but from a more Gnostic perspective this is an internal struggle as much as a cosmic one.  All of us fallen souls are Lucifer and everyone who rises is Christ.

If you wanted get all Wilberian-like, you could say God is the pre-personal and Christ is the trans-personal.  But that is probably going too far.  lol

God’s Fake Fakes

God’s Fake Fakes

Posted on Nov 13th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
Here is an excerpt from PKD’s essay titled How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later:

In my writing I got so interested in fakes that I finally came up with the concept of fake fakes. For example, in Disneyland there are fake birds worked by electric motors which emit caws and shrieks as you pass by them. Suppose some night all of us sneaked into the park with real birds and substituted them for the artificial ones. Imagine the horror the Disneyland officials would feel when they discovered the cruel hoax. Real birds! And perhaps someday even real hippos and lions. Consternation. The park being cunningly transmuted from the unreal to the real, by sinister forces. For instance, suppose the Matterhorn turned into a genuine snow-covered mountain? What if the entire place, by a miracle of God’s power and wisdom, was changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, into something incorruptible? They would have to close down.

In Plato’s Timaeus, God does not create the universe, as does the Christian God; He simply finds it one day. It is in a state of total chaos. God sets to work to transform the chaos into order. That idea appeals to me, and I have adapted it to fit my own intellectual needs: What if our universe started out as not quite real, a sort of illusion, as the Hindu religion teaches, and God, out of love and kindness for us, is slowly transmuting it, slowly and secretly, into something real?

That perspective is opposite of ACIM.  In the Course, its because God’s love that he doesn’t (that he can’t) recognize the unrealities we create.  But I kind of like what PKD writes.  He seems to be saying that the divine descent into matter isn’t a bad thing.  Either way, you can’t hide from God.  With the Course’s viewpoint, we can’t hide in unrealities because they’re unreal.  With PKD’s viewpoint, we can’t hide in unrealities because God will find us even there.  No matter how you cut it, God will find you out (It almost makes me paranoid).

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1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

1 day later

1Vector3 said

Here’s my ecstatic version of that paranoia !!

He’s a real mind-stretcher, ain’t he, that PKD !!!?

Love it !!

Thanks for the bunch of interesting blogs !

Namaste, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

I remember having come across that blog post of yours.  Your way of thinking about the matter seems similar to my own.  Presence can’t be limited to anything or excluded from anything. God as Presence is present… in our thoughts and in this world.  If Hell existed, God would even be Present there.

I’m glad you liked the blogs.  I’m not sure what was motivating me.  It must’ve been God’s presence.  🙂

You managed to pick out the most personal of all the recent posts.  That isn’t too difficult to do… just find the one with PKD in it.

I’ve read this essay by PKD many times but I should give credit where credit is due.  A particular blogger reminded me of it and so my blog was directly inspired by his.  My addition was to throw in the perspective of ACIM.  The blogger I’m speaking of is Tim Boucher.  He is a favorite of mine in that he blogs about PKD, conspiracies, Gnosticism and Ken Wilber… sometimes in the same blog.  The blog that inspired this one is titled Fake fakes & God.

1 day later

brianna said

Hello this is Brianna visiting first time to this site and find it very interesting. I really like to join it.and really want to continue the discussion with this site..

——-

Brianna

[url=http://www.widecircles.com]Best Social Bookmarking[/url]

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

2 days later

1Vector3 said

Hi Brianna, welcome to this Community !! There is an Orientation Program in the first two posts here, that will help you learn to get around here. Feel free also to ask me or Marmalade, we like to help new folks feel at home !!

Marmalade, I respond to blogs via an inner call, not always the most personal ones. This one “called” me, haha !!
I will follow up and read Tim Boucher’s blog when I can…. Thanks for “giving credit….” with an interesting link.
Thanks for your words about MY blog and that comment!!!!
If Hell existed, God would not only be present there, God would be the creator of it, and the entire substance of it and all the activity of it, as well. The way I see God, anyway. So in a way, the whole idea of “God” becomes kind of a boring non-issue, from this perspective. Everything one could talk about is God, so let’s just talk about what we talk about! There’s no separate “God” to talk about.

More important, IMO, to talk about Quality of Life….

But, I digress from your topic. Carry on !!!!!!

Blessings, OM

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

Thanks OM for responding to Brianna! 

Hi Brianna!  What OM said.

I like this: the whole idea of “God” becomes kind of a boring non-issue.  What a lovely boring non-issue God is.  It is kind of pointless talking about God because you either get lost in abstractions or paradoxes.  All that can really be said about God is what you can say while speaking about something else.

I’m not familiar with what you mean by “Quality of LIfe…”  Okay, I just looked back at the blog you linked.  In reference to this, you mentioned a shift in perception.  I think I understand what you mean.  I’m definitely more interested in this aspect than discussing God, but even so shifts of perception are only slightly less nebulous than God’s Presence.

Don’t worry… digressions are always welcome!  There was no particular topic to this blog… just a mildly interesting product of the random thought generator I call my brain.

New Age: Part 3

New Age: Part 3

Posted on Jul 24th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

Unity and New Thought denies evil any reality because God is all and all is in God.  There is no Satan and what appears as darkness is nothing more than a lack of light.  Just a false belief and a misperception.  As for sin (original or otherwise), evil, satan, and hell… its all the same in New Thought theology.  Good vs evil isn’t a dichontomy that is used in New Thought.  For instance, A Course In Miracles uses the terms of love and fear: “The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”  There really isn’t any more that can be said of it from a New Thought perspective. 
 
I was raised with no concept of evil and so I never thought about it growing up.  Even though I now understand it in the abstract, it doesn’t have much meaning to me.  As my grandmother (who was a Unity minister, a Science of Mind practitioner, and a student of the ACIM) used to say, “Everyone is doing the best that they can for where they’re at.”
 
In New Thought, God has no gender because God isn’t an anthropomorphic deity.  Rather, God is a spiritual principle something akin to monism or panentheism.  New Thought is the natural result of the evolution of the Judeo-Christian tradition taken to its extreme.  The Catholic God is more abstract than the Jewish God.  The Protestant God is more abstract than the Catholic God.  The New Thought God is more abstract than the Protestant God.  As rationality increased with socio-histoical development, God became ever more rationalized.
 
Unity uses the term “God” to refer to the divine, but the use of the term “Goddess” in reference to the divine is extremely common in New Age.  Even in Unity, nobody would care if you felt like referring to the divine as Goddess. 
 
Goddess combines the whole feel of embodied spirituality that is in line with the New Age’s desire to bridge spirituality and science.  The Gaia hypothesis is a case in point.  It was originated by a scientist, but was quickly spiritualized and has become one of the main tenets of New Age.  Nature and environmentalism are very important in the New Age. 
 
Plus, Goddess fits in with the whole female empowerment.  New Age groups have a high percentage of female membership and women often have leadership positions.  If I remember correctly, all of the ministers of Unity churches that I’ve belonged to have been women.  A major influence of the Goddess strain within New Age goes back to Gimbutas’ theory of ancient peaceful matriarchies.  Also, the rise of virgin mary worship has contributed to this.  New Age is the common person’s spirituality and virgin mary worship has a similar position within Catholicism.  There are many theories why the feminine principle is becoming more central.  I simply see it as the return of the repressed.
 
So, what is a Unity service like?  There is nothing particularly special about a Unity service.  Its very simple and bare bones.  Unity isn’t big into symbolism and ritual.
 
There is singing non-traditonal songs such as “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”  Come to think of it, God was referred to as Father in this song.  I just looked it up and I see that some versions have of course changed “Father” to “Creator”.  During the singing of this song, I remember that everyone held hands in a circle that connected the whole congregation together and everyone would sway back and forth.
 
Unity people are a smily and friendly group for the most part, but I have been to a Unity church nearby where the people weren’t as open as the Unity churches I grew up in.  One thing I remember is that people liked to hug and there was a specific point in the service that was for this purpose.  However, someone told me that Unity churches were much more huggy in the past than they are now.   I don’t know what would cause such a change.
 
Of course, there is a sermon.  But its quite different from most Christian sermons.  God is talked about in a less direct way.  There is much more neutral language.  Bible stories aren’t usually told.  Nonetheless, the whole service has a general Christian feel to it.

This blog is posted in the God Pod.

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about 4 hours later

Enlightened.thinker said

I love that Bible stories aren’t taught because ones interpretation of the story is sometimes askew in traditional churches and subjective!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 16 hours later

Marmalade said

I think the reason for this is that Unity strongly emphasizes developing your own personal relationship to Jesus/God.  A text tends to act as an external authority, but Unity teaches that the authority of God exists within our experience (and within the larger world).  A related thing might be how Unity bookstores stopped carrying the ACIM text because it was becoming too popular amongst Unity membership.  I’ve heard it explained that they didn’t want the ACIM text to become the Bible of Unity.  However, maybe they don’t want any text to become the Bible of Unity… not even the Bible itself.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 18 hours later

Nicole said

fascinating…

sandy : Activist and Ambassador

21 days later

sandy said

sending you lots of hugs!~

Marmalade : Gaia Child

22 days later

Marmalade said

Thanks for the hugs!  Hugs to you as well!