Archive for the 'abstraction' Category

The germ analogy, again

March 7, 2013

The issue of drones is so much in the news right now that I couldn’t help thinking about its spiritual analogs.

People can impact another person with devastation from a distance, I think if they are already connected in some way, but of course if their belief system doesn’t include such intangible connections, they don’t see it, much less take responsibility for it.

As a footnote, I will add that I think physical drone strikes with automated planes dehumanize both the target and the predator, trying to eliminate the issue of suffering from the transaction.  But dealing with one another’s suffering is what connects us, as much as sharing in one another’s love.

Freeing souls

December 9, 2012

I was reading Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today, which begins with a passage from Isaiah:  “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me . . . he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”  Isaiah 61:1

Father Rohr connects this to Jesus’ ministry in a sort of metaphorical way, but sometimes I think what Jesus was really trying to do was to get unstuck some people’s souls that were more literally trapped, that his mission was similar to that of a traditional shaman but he used other methods.

I think Jesus’ teachings were in a sense secondary to a more targeted mission of figuring out why all these souls were getting stuck in their development.  I also think his strategies for helping people get unstuck have been in part misunderstood, that accommodations and study aids, as it were, have been mistaken for the real deal, but for me, his mission was hugely important, even if I don’t see it as Christians do.  I think people were having trouble connecting viscerally to “God” and I think thinking of “God” in the terms provided by Judaism and Christianity have been ways for helping people to try to connect to the universe more effectively and successfully.

The problem now, I think, is that people have gotten too wrapped up in literal interpretations of devices meant only for opening up the heart.  Once the heart has been opened, I think more abstract conceptualizations are then available and that we should be open to them.

The following really has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I’ve been wanting to link to this song for awhile.  It’s “Jesus” by Amos Lee.

Eliminating the category “evil,” not “evil” itself

August 9, 2012

There are certainly acts in this world that result in huge amounts of pain and suffering of others, but I don’t believe there exists an abstract category of “evil” and I do think that we create a problem for ourselves when we insist that there does.

I wrote a comment on the NYTimes website a few days ago, in response to the killings in the Sikh temple, about how once we start labeling people and things as evil, others are free to do likewise according to their own lights, and we are left to defend a border between words and action;  and about how I think that’s a necessarily permeable border, I don’t think we will ever eliminate some people’s crossing it, and I think we do damage to the community in our efforts to eliminate such crossings.

I wrote about how I would rather shift the whole paradigm to one in which we don’t perceive damaging and painful actions, and the people who do them, as evil.  I would eliminate the category, not try to eliminate contents to the abstract notion we have created.

I think this is related to FDR’s statement that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  It’s the idea of it that traps us, traps us in fear and traps us in dualistic thinking, and the two go round and round feeding each other.

God is a whole, there is no devil — only a golem we create or a bogeyman we imagine. God has a dark side, but behind it or within it, however we wish to conceptualize it, there is light.  There is always light, always.