Thursday, 15 May 2014

An Argument for the Spiritual

Consider how old the universe is. Consider how big it is. Consider how long things were going on in this universe before life began on the earth, before human beings came a long, before consciousness arrived. It’s a long, long time and a very big universe. It really messes with our sense of scale. It’s like dealing with natural logarithms or probability, we don’t have a feel for these time periods and expanses of space. We have never needed to have a touch for these ideas until the last 200 years.
So we tell the story of origins and meaning of life with the wrong lenses on. We tell a story…That’s what we do. Our minds need stories, they are how we organise reality, put it on our plate chop it up and consume it. But our way of processing truth should not change the actual truth we are processing, like kids thinking that fish have fingers or that milk comes from supermarkets. Like Schrödinger’s cat.
There is a universe out there. It began 14 billion years ago. If a 24 hour day, represented the beginning to now, we come in less than the last second.
We look out and try to figure it out with our limits of intelligence and need to break everything down into bite size, intelligible morsels. But this story cannot be like the ones we know from our normal lives, can it? Does it have to be understandable and logical like everything else we know? Is it not possible that we cannot understand it but won’t admit it?
We have 5 senses that evolved to enable our ancestors to survive and pass on their genes. The senses did their jobs allowing us to perceive enough of the reality of the universe to survive. We apply these senses -useful for surviving – to the universe and try to figure out where it came from and what it means. Is it not possible that there are other parts of the universe that exist that we don’t know about (and that we would need senses different to the ones we have evolved to survive with) and that we need new senses to experience and to inform our search. To use an analogy, we would not expect a soldier who has developed the skills needed to survive in the jungle to be able to play a complicated piece of piano music only based on his experience in the jungle.
Why are we sure that there is nothing beyond what we can experience with our 5 senses? Surely, by definition we must admit that a new undiscovered sense would seem supernatural to anyone who didn’t have it. What must it be like for a person born blind to see colours for the first time? How could you describe the colour red to a blind person and how it is different to the colour green? We don’t have the language.
Of course it is possible that we have all the senses we need to eventually fully understand the universe. But wouldn’t it be a fluke that our evolution gave us all the senses we need for everything, even things that we didn’t meet along the way.
There are dimensions around us all the time that we simply cannot experience. Because our senses never needed to experience them to get us here. Similar to the 2D people living on flatland thinking it inconceivable that there is a 3D world, we might think  that the idea of other dimensions of reality is madness. But why? So is the colour red to a blind person and yet we know that the colour red exists. It would seem supernatural, i.e. beyond what we know and have experienced. Couldn’t there exist spiritual realm within the universe?  One which with  our laws of physics, expanded, could describe, new equations etc. A realm, that once we were used to it, would seem continuous with what we know.  Where a child could understand that a resurrected Jesus can appear in the upper room and then disappear. Where miracles make as much sense as putting on the kettle. A world where there is no difference at all between the physical and spiritual worlds, because there isn’t any difference, really. NT Wright continually reminds us that ‘our world’ is wrapped up, intermeshed with what we call ‘the spiritual world’. Like sugar in hot tea, we are diluted in the the spiritual world and yet rarely sense or realize it. Isn’t this what the final new creation is all about? If we open our eyes we can see glimpses and perhaps ‘see in part.’
So let’s realize that this is the reality we live in and ask God to enhance our spidey senses.
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 
2 Kings 6:17

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Place I Want To Get Back To by Mary Oliver

The Place I Want To Get Back To
by Mary Oliver
is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness
and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting
on the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
“The Place I Want To Get Back To” by Mary Oliver, from Thirst. © Beacon Press, 2006.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

If I Should Die

Okay I've only one minute left to live...
This is what I want you to know. All I've learnt - worth passing on. You are my child and this is what I want you to know, to increase the odds of your happiness. Not long now, it's all going fuzzy.
Learn about Jesus. I studied the arse out of the New Testament and I still don't understand a lot of the theology, but He is real. There is noone like Him. Read what he says about life. It is safe to open your heart to Him. He often does surprising things. The trick to open yourself up to Him, let Him know your need, trust Him and then stop looking for the answer. It will come when you are distracted and in a way you didn't expect. He loves surprises and to be unorthodox. That's been the way with me anyway.
The secret of life is to learn (it must be learned) how to live moment by moment. Harder than it looks. You must learn to not be controlled by your butterfly mind. Whatever effort it takes to become an observer of your mind is worth it. Live in the crow's nest watching the thoughts sail by.
Being sure of THE truth is not the point of religion. Learning to be sure of God is. Religions attract people who are looking for security and there's usually a system that promises security. There is no security except in God. No matter what brand of faith you go in for, no matter what the claims for having found the true interpretation of the bible, in the end, it's you and God. On your deathbed, your theology will not be your hope. You will be holding on to God. Any religion that tells you that God's unconditional love is conditional upon some interpreted truth is wrong.
The secret to peace, joy and healing is compassion. Firstly compassion for yourself and then for others. Without the first it's hard to have the other. When you feel critical of yourself and perhaps a little self loathing, learn to be kind to yourself and talk to yourself as you would a lost child at the funfair.
What Other People Think
Don't worry about others think about you. As much as you can ,let it wash over you. Honestly the ones you fear don't care that much about you and what you do. The only opinion about you that matters could not be more supportive or positively disposed to you. Learn (it must be learned) how to tune in this frequency every day. Learn to pray. Let it imbue your moments.
Most people get this one wrong. They go through hard times and think that this means that God's love is wavering. They get into a reward and punishment mindset about God. The trick is to see that there is no such connection. Is God involved in the circumstances of our lives. Yes, why else would we ask Him for things? However the links are not understandable ,most of the time. The miscarriage, the argument, the lost job, misunderstanding friend, do not have anything to say about God's love for you. This does not change. You are loved extravagantly always, mindblowingly. It is His nature to love. It is this love that helps us to endure the harder times and to turn the broken world around.
There are no sweeter words to God's ears than the words, "I trust you God". Especially when the circumstances in which they are said are difficult. Try this when you are in a tricky spot (or indeed when it's all sunshine and roses) "Lord I don't know how this will play out, for good or ill, but right here, right now, for the record ,I want you to know that I trust you because I know that you are good and all your plans and intentions for me are good". It's not a trick to get what you want. It a stance in life. It's a way of looking at the world. It's called faith, relationship. Trust.
That's it. Time's up. See you!

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