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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Notes From (Over) The Edge November 21, 2014

notes
“Jesus basically did only two things – he showed up for life, and he lived authentically and true to his nature.
Guess what?
You can do that too!”

      “Notes From (Over) The Edge
      [Unmasking the truth to end your suffering]
      — Jim Palmer

OK.  First. the negative.
About a third of the way through the book, I almost stopped reading.
Why?
Redundancy.
There’s a lot of that here.  A lot of redundancy.
I’ve made that complaint about one or two other books.
For me, it’s a bit off-putting; the redundancy and all.
To be fair,  this is a book of “Notes,” and many times our thoughts have reoccurring patterns as we re-visit and clarify our own understanding.
FYI, I didn’t stop reading, and neither should you.

The second negative isn’t really a negative.  It’s more of a where-in-the-world-did-this-come-from thing.  There’s a particular idea that Mr. Palmer asserts (and repeats a number of times).  Of course, I’m not against believing something “just because I choose to believe it.” Which, bottom line, pretty much covers most, if not all, of our beliefs.
He does, also, advise the reader to “take everything written here loosely like a breeze or a whisper,” so he’s certainly not claiming to have things “nailed down.” That’s a big sign he’s worth listening to.
I considered mentioning the concept I’m referring to here, but I’ve decided to let you discover it for yourself.

And now, the positive:
“Everything else!”
This is a powerful book filled with powerful concepts.
If “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” then get ready for a boatload of freedom.
This is going to have to find somewhere to fit in my top 5 list of books, which means it will have to knock something else out.
This is not a “Christian” book (as if there were such a thing), though it is certainly about the life and teachings of Jesus. Nor is it exclusively for those of a Judeo-Christian background. If you’re a human, you can benefit from reading this book.

You should know that an “end to you suffering” is not synonymous with an end to pain, misfortune, or other troubles “life” may bring your way.  The suffering Jim is talking about is the kind caused by not accepting life on life’s terms.  It’s always been hard for me to “flow with it” without giving up hope.  There’s an old Steve Taylor song called “Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel A Lot Better.”  There is a lot of truth to that song, and for me, those were the two options:  Struggle with life, holding on to hopes and dreams, or just give up and say “The hell with it.”
“Notes From (Over) The Edge” helped me continue on a path I’d already started, where I can see another option.  An almost hidden (to me), yet painfully obvious option called “living.”
Something I didn’t see (or couldn’t admit) for most of the years I spent in institutional religion was all the baggage.
So much BS.
So much dung passed off as godliness.
So many yokes that were anything but easy.
So many burdens that cannot possibly be considered light.

Jim Palmer, too, was an active, educated, bible-preaching “believer,” who, in many ways like me, lived and taught much he now knows was not just less-than-helpful, but downright damaging.  Damning, if you will, to both the speaker and the hearer.
But we were where we were, and now we are where we are. And life is what life is. And “God and life,” Jim reminds us, are inseparable.

Jim’s understanding, as relayed in this book, seems to incorporate teachings I’ve learned from some Buddhist meditation classes that my wife and I recently attended (which have also been very beneficial to me).  It’s my belief that some other traditions (possibly Ancient Greek thought and/or Islam) are also represented here.  (Jim can correct me if I’m wrong.)
Of course, truth is truth, and all truth is God’s truth.
Truth, as Jim tells us, is simply “the way things really are.”  Much suffering is experienced when we, knowingly or not, fight that truth.

There’s no way I can “review” all the ground covered in this book, but one of the most important for those who have been involved in the Christian religion is section 3: “Christianity’s distortion of the person, message and truth of Jesus.”
I’ve said before, many/most people in Christianity (and the principle is probably similar in other religions) are read to from their scriptures, and at the same time, hand-fed a meaning said to be attached to those passages.
Once that is done, it can be nearly impossible to read those passages differently.  But, if you can detach what you’ve been taught something says from what is actually written, well, it’s like being born again.
“Notes From (Over) The Edge” can assist greatly with that rebirth.

And maybe a certain amount of redundancy isn’t all bad.
Maybe we need to hear truths over and over until they replace the lies in our own minds.
I can only hope more and more of us join Mr. Palmer in going over the edge.


Buy the book.  Click HERE.

Some Quotes:

– You must rethink your entire way of approaching the matter of Truth. Currently you have it framed in the idea of having “correct beliefs.” Correct beliefs are the Booby prize.
– Your mind creates a preference, makes an attachment, constructs an interpretation, offers a response, and each of those responses conditions your way of thinking, acting and being in the world. [But] you are not your mind. You are responsible for managing your mind. The mind doesn’t always get what it wants.
– The “son of man” or “son of Adam” means a human one in solidarity with all human ones.
– We exist within a sea of energy that connects all atoms. Everything we experience has a single interconnected source.
[Doesn’t that line up with the Christian concept of God being “in all and through all?”] – ed.
Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Repent is another term that is often misunderstood. [It’s not] being sorry for your past wrongs, turning from your wicked ways… “Repent” means a deep and profound shift in perception. It’s like the scales of ignorance fall from your eyes. [It] literally means “beyond the mind.”
– Jesus would have never signed off on the modern and made-up gospel of the Christian religion.
– People knew the reality of God long before there were sacred texts. Enoch “walked with God,” and yet there was no Bible or prescribed set of doctrines to govern his experience of God.
– One does not have to be able to read the Bible, the Koran, the Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, etc. to be enlightened. You can be illiterate and one with God. There is something to learn from this.
Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Jesus did not launch into heady theological diatribes or pedantic teachings about God. Instead, he invited people to notice the birds of the air and lilies in a field, or told stories about a father and his sons or a hidden treasure.
Instead of accumulating more theological information in your head, return to your regularly scheduled life and start living it as each moment requires — nothing more, nothing less.
– Fundamentalism doesn’t just apply to ultra-conservative, fundy Christians. I’ve met progressive and liberal Christian fundamentalists, Atheist, Agnostic, and Humanistic fundamentalists, Buddhist, Muslim, and Jewish fundamentalists, and New Age fundamentalists. [They all think] someone has to be “right,” which means someone has to be “wrong.”
Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The “will of God” is simply to be your Self, and to be in the present moment and respond as the situation requires. Just live your life. The fundamental way Jesus lived his life was that he simply did the next thing and responded to situations as they required.
– There was a historical Jesus before institutional Christianity got ahold of him and did their extreme makeover. He was a much better Jesus than the on Christianity produced.

Buy the book. Click HERE.
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INSURRECTION November 20, 2011

INSURRECTION
– Peter Rollins

Wow. What a book.

In the introduction our author speaks of “reactionary movements that seek to return to the early Church,” but proclaims that one of the shortcomings of such philosophies is that “they fail to go back far enough.”
And so we begin the journey to bring to light the ways “Crucifixion and Resurrection open up a different reality” altogether.  A reality that has been predominantly absent from “church” as we know it.

The first 4 chapters make up “Part1: Crucifixion.”

Chapter One begins with a humorous story about a lying pastor, his golf  game, and God’s teaching technique.
This story is used to springboard into a discussion about desire.  We look at the desire behind desire.  Or maybe, the desire within desire.  We view different reasons for affirming God, as well as religious control and manipulation.  We examine faith, doubt, and the positive aspects of what the author calls a “journey into darkness.”

Chapter Two takes us deep, deep into the Crucifixion, and into participating in Christ’s death.  We see how it has often been rendered rather meaningless by a religion that glosses over it to get to the Resurrection.  We begin to understand that “The Crucifixion signals an experience in which all that grounds us and gives us meaning collapses.”
Those of you who, like me, are “youth challenged” may remember a 60’s TV show called “The Prisoner” staring Patrick McGoohan.  Our author gives us a synopsis of that show, and then draws some very interesting parallels to religion and it’s systems that imprison us.  This is the kind of chapter for which I would have paid full book price.

Chapter Three is called– “I’m Not Religious” and Other Religious Sayings. —
This had quite the ring of truth for me.  Some of the most religiously legalistic people I know are quite found of stating that “Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship.”  Their attitudes and actions prove their statements to be much less than an experienced reality.  We see how having only mental assent to a particular truth can itself insulate us from actually experiencing that truth.  This is a phenomena we see often among those who love to speak of grace while still trapped in and perpetuating the exact opposite.
“Cartoon physics” is also addressed: “that self-conscious beings will not fall until they look down.”  This has to do with facing the inconsistencies between our stated religious beliefs and reality.
We also observe how “communication involves both a stated message and a hidden one.”  “In fundamentalism, we witness a type of psychotic relation to language in that there is an attempt to banish the hidden message from discourse.”

Our next chapter is partially about the cost of no longer pretending to be ignorant.  It’s about letting go of the religious machinery that “protect us from facing up to the anxieties of our existence.”  We look at the marketability of certainty, and its use by the religion industry.
There’s a small section on Mother Teresa.  Although “she never stopped believing in God…she lived beneath the shadow of a profound sense of God’s absence.”
The whole of part one serves to show us the crucifixion in ways modern Christianity (as opposed to post-modern) usually avoids.
Without properly addressing the truth of Crucifixion, Resurrection is robbed of it’s truth as well.

Now we start “Part 2: Resurrection.”

In Chapter Five, Mr. Rollins maintains that “We hide every day behind a mask that is a Photoshopped version of ourselves.”   Some of the sections in this chapter are:  “I Wear a Mask That Looks like Me,” “On Avoiding the Truth of Who We Are,” and “Maintaining the Gap between Perception and Reality.”
We read some very interesting insights into people like Hitler and John “Junior” Gotti.  We uncover how we can hide the monster we may truly be, even from, or rather especially from, ourselves.  Ultimately we learn here that “Our practices do not fall short of our beliefs;  They Are Our Beliefs.”

We take a close look at grace and how “it is in experiencing the license of grace rather than the legalism of prohibition that real transformation becomes possible.”

Chapter 6 is titled “We Are Destiny.” We are given the proclamation that “Eternal life is thus fundamentally a transformation in the very way that we exist in the present.” We learn about what it means to participate in Resurrection. This is a recurring theme in the works of Rob Bell, and a number of other good authors. A theme which, if taken to heart, could bring about some rather radical, much needed change among those who name the name of Christ.
A brief analysis of “Chick tracts” is given. Most readers are probably familiar with these miniature graphic horror stories. If not, let me tell you they twist the gospel, and pervert the character of God beyond recognition. At the same time, they “merely reflect what we find in most churches today.”
We also explore the deeper meaning of loving God, religionless faith, how we participate in the creation of eternity, and “the proper Christian answer to the question of what God’s will is for my life.” Wile E. Coyote also supplies some theological insight.

The Seventh Chapter dives into the “Violence of Resurrection.” Not “the type of violence we witness in fundamentalism;” which is usually one directed at people, but “a violence against those systems that would oppress, destroy, and bring death.”
This chapter also mines real-world applications of truth from the movies “The Dark Knight,” “Collateral,” and “The Matrix.” Through these we recognize how we may be feeding the very systems we say we oppose, and how some of our “supposedly ethical acts come to resemble the exercise of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Chapter Seven also provided me with one of those wonderful “Wow” moments where you finally see something that has been in plain sight all along. It has to do with the ripping of the temple veil at the Crucifixion. It was one of those times where I saw how my religious training had blinded me to a very obvious truth.

Our final chapter unpacks Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
These divisions were considered the divinely mandated “natural order.” “Paul is here describing here how Christianity cuts across all political, cultural and biological divisions, rendering them null.
There’s also some interesting information about the difference between traditional Western fairy tales, and those from other cultures.

This is a very interesting, wonderful, and I thought, unique book.
In his comments on this book, Rob Bell says that Pete takes you to the edge of a cliff, and then pushes you off.
That’s a pretty accurate description of reading this book. It’s a fall I would highly encourage you to take.
—–

Buy the book (and read some other short reviews).  Click HERE.

SOME QUOTES:

– We must not be afraid to burn our sacred temples in order to discover what, if anything, remains.

– To truly unplug from the god of religion, with all the anxieties and distress this involves, takes courage.
Indeed, one could say that it takes God.

– The felt experience of God’s absence [is] the fundamental way of entering into the presence of God.

– There will always be an army of Job’s comforters who attempt to save our mythologies, and like Job, we must resist them.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– By allowing the Church to believe on our behalf… we remain firmly embedded in a religious worldview while denying it.

– [We need to bring] radical doubt, ambiguity, mystery, and complexity into the very heart of the liturgical structure itself.

– The foot of the cross is the graveyard where religion is buried.

– The “heart” in the biblical sense in not the inner life, but the whole man in relation to God.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– Religious experience cannot be properly approached as an experience at all. Rather, God is that which transforms how we experience everything.

– The claim “I believe in God” is nothing but a lie if it is not manifest in our lives, because one only believes in God insofar as one loves.

– [Concerning many fundamentalists] Their often sexist, homophobic, and racist rhetoric is aimed frimly at maintaining their position of power and thus is designed specifically to prevent change.

– “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.”
Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– Faith is about this life. Faith is lived out in love of the world.

– Resurrection is not something one argues for, but is is the name we give to a mode of living.

– It can be so hard to give up on easy answers and face up to our feeling of finitude, meaninglessness, and guilt.

– You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave not free, male nor female, black nor white, rich nor poor, Republican nor Democrat, liberal nor conservative, orthodox nor heretic, citizen nor alien, gay nor straight, Israel nor Palestine, American nor Iraqi, Christian nor non-Christian, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

 

Something To Think About September 15, 2009

Filed under: Social Issues — lifewalkblog @ 5:22 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3,532,191,566    Tons of produced food this year
1,017,441,250   Undernourished people in the world right now
1,140,270,380  Overweight people in the world right now
339,471,433       Obese people in the world right now
16,562                   People who died of hunger today
146,410,121        Money spent due to obesity related diseases in
                                  the USA today (US$)
26,913,148,211   Money spent on weight loss programs in the
                                   USA today (US$)

READ MORE AT:
http://zeekeekee.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/something-to-think-about/

 

 
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