1. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    16 Jul '09 19:33
    In another thread, you wrote:

    I'm an ordained minister in the Christian tradition. At the moment I'm kind of feeling on my own; my denomination is liberal by orthodox standards, but not liberal my mine. I am therefore inactive in my priesthood. That is by my choice. That may always be the case; I really do not know. My Christology is different from anyone I know. I currently am practicing my stewardship of people and earth with animals; the innocents who seem to have no voice amongst the humans. Is it my own religion? At this point, I have to say it's my own expression of Christianity. No one I know expresses Christianity like me; either here locally or any of you in RHP land. You just don't. It's not an accusation. I don't think you're wrong. I'm just doing what I do.

    Is it a different religion? Seems like it to me, but I'm on my own here.


    Except for the formal theological education (and ordination, of course) my back-story could be described in much the same way (as Neil Diamond put it” “except for the names, and a few other changes” ). Have you ever read Fritjoff Schuon’s The Transcendent Unity of Religions? (Huston Smith’s long introduction is itself worth the price of the book.)

    Schuon distinguishes between “exoteric” and “esoteric” approaches. I find that particular language can be easily misunderstood, and use the terms formalist and non-formalist.

    The formalists assert that their particular religious form truly (and generally exclusively) captures the what might be called the spiritual substance, and that other forms either do not, or do not do so fully. The non-formalists see the possibility of the substance being expressed in many forms, from the perspective of the exponents of those particular forms. The non-formalist assumes the responsibility for “separating the wheat from the chaff” in any particular form, and is willing to bear that responsibility.

    It is not that the non-formalist uses no forms (my own language here might be confusing on that point); and she may even practice within a particular form. She just does not conflate form with substance.

    Formalism versus non-formalism seems generally related to that other religious/philosophical divide: dualism versus non-dualism. I have become a non-formalist non-dualist. Within the Christian paradigm, I am quite comfortable with the likes of Pseudo-Dionysius or Meister Eckhart, for example.

    The post below consists of a large chunk of quotation from a book on San Juan de la Cruz by philosopher Antonio de Nicolas. Nicolas uses the terms “discontinuous” and “continuous”.

    _______________________________________________

    Anyway, this one’s for you—let’s say as a gesture of regard for your many thoughtful posts on here. (Anyone else who wants to comment is, of course, welcome.)
  2. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    16 Jul '09 19:341 edit
    The following is from Antonio T. de Nicolás St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz): Alchemist of the Soul. Nicolás is professor of philosophy emeritus from SUNY at Stony Brook, and is I think the first native Spanish speaker to translate San Juan from Spanish to English.

    Any italics are in the original; any bolds or bracketed comments are mine (I hope they are not too disruptive).

    _______________________________________________________

    In general, religion is a comprehensive image which has organizing power for the whole of life, private and public. In its historical development (that is, examining the role religion has played in history) we may separate religion into two different systems: the first a set of discontinuous systems of religion, and the second a set of continuous systems of religion.

    In the [discontinuous] group we find the monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. They claim (1) that there is a Creator above and transcendent to creation, and (2) that their beliefs and moralities are exclusively true because they are legitimized by a unique, sovereign, divine and revealing authority. In the [continuous] group we find religions that are classified as pantheistic [I would say, more generally, “non-dualist”], mystical or incarnational. These all presuppose an original experience, capable of being repeated, in which God, cosmos and human soul are unified in an initial affirmation of the system.

    This general division compounds the problem, for in history both systems function at times together, or one through the other, as we see in the case of the mystics within the various monotheistic traditions. [E.g., Meister Eckhart, Kabir, and—according to Nicolás—San Juan de la Cruz.]

    The discontinuous religions claim authority from a transcendent God. They also claim from their followers belief in an axiomatic system of truths derived from theological propositions, and a system of conduct regulated by ethical norms generally attributed to the same authority as the revealer of beliefs. The believer, within these discontinuous systems, is graded in relation to his or her cognitive subservience to the system. …

    [de Nicolás here contrasts this with a discipline of “will, memory, imagining” that is an aspect of the continuous systems. One might include contemplation, meditation, lectio divina, etc. I find Nicoás at this point to be a bit vague, but I am not finished reading him.]

    When a particular system of religious practice is in power, that is, when a discontinuous religious system predominates, then other discontinuous systems are marginalized, expelled, or forced to convert, and their individual representatives are persecuted, suppressed, or executed. Inquisitions appear within the discontinuous systems in order to control other discontinuous and continuous systems of religious practice. …

    The discontinuous systems exert their power with the aid of universal narratives, set down in books and implemented through laws both divine and human. The continuous systems accommodate to any narrative but practice a continuous discipline that is imprinted in the body of the practitioner and leads not only to truths but to decisions in the world…and sets of signs for the reading of those decisions. These signs are not the same signs the discontinuous systems claim for obedience and guidance of the soul. [Actually, they might be the same signs, alternatively read.] A mystic may practice religion with his or her back to the regulating inquisition of the times, through spiritual procedures so deep no inquisitor may be able to penetrate or modify them. …

    The actual struggle between the discontinuous systems of religion and the continuous ones originates in the fact that the first group claims transcendence in order to destroy immanence, while the second claims immanence in order to build transcendence.

    _________________________________________________________

    NOTE: I do not define a “mystic” as one who eschews rational thought or reasoned empiricism. A mystic is one who acknowledges and responds to the (aesthetic) experience of existential mystery, in face of the fact that the “grammar of our consciousness” is not exhaustive of the larger “syntax of the cosmos”. A scientist, for example, can be a “mystic”, without any religion at all. Practicing “stewardship of people and earth with animals” is certainly not excluded.

    Mysticism is generally connected to the aesthetic side of things, which is why it is expressed in such terms as poetry, myth-symbology, story and Zen koans. Both those who credulously accept poetic and mytho-symbolic expressions as if they were propositional truth-claims, and those who dismiss them because as such truth-claims they would be nonsensical—both groups, I think, miss the mark, based on fundamentally the same error.
  3. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91531
    19 Jul '09 08:11
    So do you consider yourself a 'christian' on the outside?
  4. Joined
    17 Jun '09
    Moves
    1538
    19 Jul '09 16:15
    Originally posted by karoly aczel
    So do you consider yourself a 'christian' on the outside?
    You're either a Christian on the inside or not at all.
  5. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91531
    19 Jul '09 23:04
    Originally posted by daniel58
    You're either a Christian on the inside or not at all.
    Let me re-phrase: When you talk the talk is it in christian semantics or general spiritual terms. Or a mixture?
  6. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    20 Jul '09 00:27
    Originally posted by karoly aczel
    So do you consider yourself a 'christian' on the outside?
    Ummm… I am as I am. Whether the way I express my I-am-ness can or cannot be called “Christian” is of no concern to me. Sometimes it might be called “christian”, sometimes other things. But I do express myself in different ways—just as I appreciate different kinds of music. If I am listening to (or playing) Beethoven today, does that make me a “Beethovenist”? Does that mean that I am a heretic or a hypocrite if I enjoy Ravi Shankar tomorrow?
  7. Joined
    07 Jan '08
    Moves
    34575
    20 Jul '09 01:25
    Thank you for the posts; that is quite interesting and I'll have to follow up on the writers.
  8. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91531
    20 Jul '09 01:31
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Ummm… I am as I am. Whether the way I express my I-am-ness can or cannot be called “Christian” is of no concern to me. Sometimes it might be called “christian”, sometimes other things. But I do express myself in different ways—just as I appreciate different kinds of music. If I am listening to (or playing) Beethoven today, does that make me a “Beethovenist”? Does that mean that I am a heretic or a hypocrite if I enjoy Ravi Shankar tomorrow?
    Oh,um..I meant Badwater. But you know I word my questions so poorly... glad to have had a response .
    Your response seems quite' fluid'.
    So can you distance yourself from the teachings of christ when contemplating your personal spirituality? (thats for you vistesd)
  9. Joined
    07 Jan '08
    Moves
    34575
    20 Jul '09 01:40
    Originally posted by karoly aczel
    So do you consider yourself a 'christian' on the outside?
    I'm not sure what you mean by this so I'll try to clarify in and of myself.

    I try to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, so in that respect I'm a disciple of sorts. To call myself 'Christian' invokes a label that I don't think really applies to me.

    I see and practice a great deal of Eastern traditions in my expression of Christianity. I'm not particularly thiestic in how I view God, and in fact if the traditional notions of God do not apply then that's alright by me.

    I try to glean something from all spiritual writings, not just the Bible; but as far as the Bible goes, it's a closed document that does not literally apply today. That doesn't mean I can't learn anything from it - it just means that I have to put myself in the position of the audience of who it's written for, the audience of 1600 to 2000 years ago, and try to see what is being said to them in their time. If I can get something out of it, great. If I can't, well, that's ok also.

    So I'm Christian in this context.
  10. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    20 Jul '09 02:23
    Originally posted by karoly aczel
    Oh,um..I meant Badwater. But you know I word my questions so poorly... glad to have had a response .
    Your response seems quite' fluid'.
    So can you distance yourself from the teachings of christ when contemplating your personal spirituality? (thats for you vistesd)
    It’s not that I thought your question was poorly worded. It’s just that words like “Christian” and phrases like “what Christ taught” have become so loaded that any kind of direct answer is likely to be misconstrued.

    For example, when you say “Christ”—do you mean just Jesus? What does it mean (to you, to someone else) to say that Jesus is/was the Christ? Do you think that the word monogenete (I think I’ve got the Greek right), conventionally translated as “only begotten”, means unique or exclusive? Answer either way, and you’re likely to be somebody’s heretic!

    When Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life”, was he referring to his personal self, Jesus? Or was he making a more expansive statement about the divine “I am” that he had realized was manifest in himself? And all of us? Answer either way, and you’re likely to be somebody’s heretic.

    When the Siddhartha Gautama is called “the Buddha”, what does that mean? Does it mean the same thing as to call Jesus “the Christ”? (I think not, not exactly. But, I think that they are a lot closer than some Buddhists and a lot of Christians would like to believe.)

    Now, of course, you have had the opportunity to see lots of answers to these kinds of questions on here! You have seen arguments and counter-arguments, denunciations and counter-denunciations. I have been on here for some years, and have seen most of them more than once.

    The only real answer I can give to your question is the one I gave in the opening post: I have become a non-formalist non-dualist. The “spiritual” ground that I rest in is before all words, names and forms: Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Advaita Vedantist, etc. But I might find expression of it in any or all of those forms. (Despite the fact that he uses somewhat different terms, I affirm generally what de Nicolas wrote, that I posted above.)

    If I were going to speak “christologically”, I might say that the Christ (ho Christos) is the logos expressed, or manifest, as human being—or that ho Christos is one who realizes such manifestation—and that Jesus may be seen as uniquely realized, in the sense of being an ideal or sacramental eikon of the logos so manifest. That’s as far as I’m willing to speak in such terms. I have no interest in arguing over whether or not such a Christological view (sometimes called a “logos christology”, I believe) is “Christian”. ๐Ÿ™‚
  11. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91531
    20 Jul '09 03:54
    Originally posted by vistesd
    It’s not that I thought your question was poorly worded. It’s just that words like “Christian” and phrases like “what Christ taught” have become so loaded that any kind of direct answer is likely to be misconstrued.

    For example, when you say “Christ”—do you mean just Jesus? What does it mean (to you, to someone else) to say that Jesus is/was the ...[text shortened]... ch a Christological view (sometimes called a “logos christology”, I believe) is “Christian”. ๐Ÿ™‚
    So the broad answer would be 'yes',right?
  12. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91531
    20 Jul '09 05:47
    Originally posted by karoly aczel
    So the broad answer would be 'yes',right?
    ..and you did illuminate your position as regards to Christianity very succinctly. Again, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
    Your posting history is a dam good read - in or out of context๐Ÿ™‚
  13. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91531
    20 Jul '09 05:56
    Originally posted by Badwater
    I'm not sure what you mean by this so I'll try to clarify in and of myself.

    I try to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, so in that respect I'm a disciple of sorts. To call myself 'Christian' invokes a label that I don't think really applies to me.

    I see and practice a great deal of Eastern traditions in my expression of Christianity. I'm not p ...[text shortened]... it, great. If I can't, well, that's ok also.

    So I'm Christian in this context.
    For all their 'glory' and 'salvation' the christian religon remains sorrounded by controversy. I am not a christian but for the sake of a better world I would dearly love to see christians reconcile with the rest of the world, which would start by reconciling with themselves first, i guess.
    Your apparent quandry highlights a lot of pivotal christian/philosophic/spiritual questions that should be looked into ...
    Of course my vantage point is different to yours , so as always I'm very thankful for a fresh insight!๐Ÿ™‚
  14. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    20 Jul '09 06:38
    Originally posted by karoly aczel
    ..and you did illuminate your position as regards to Christianity very succinctly. Again, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
    Your posting history is a dam good read - in or out of context๐Ÿ™‚
    Well, thank you for the compliment, karoly. You generally read me pretty well—and that’s saying a lot, because I struggle with the words.

    Also, sometimes I’m writing in a specific context, or to a specific person—and I might say things differently in another context, to someone else. But one always has to be aware on these threads that others are reading and thinking, and will respond, as well.

    I have spent a lot of time trying to find ways to speak that are not hooked to any particular “form” (such as Christianity or Buddhism). I don’t say that that is necessary, only that it’s been necessary for me. The two “ikons” that are within my sight as I write this are a large copy of Rublev’s “Trinity” and a fat carved Buddha (unless one counts an African drum!). Each is expressive in its own way.

    Suppose you were to ask me about the Christ—and we were sitting here face to face—and I took up my drum and began to improvise some rhythms? Might that not be a better answer than any words I can say? The doctrinal side of religion is all “left-brained”. Spirituality—contact with the real that is prior to all formulations—is essentially “right-brained”. As the Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan said, the true religion is music: the music of your heartbeat and breath, of the hummingbirds as they dart, of the wind in the trees… And dance, and color… Words are a paltry attempt to point to—that!.

    I can speak of the “implicate expressive ground”—or I can drum and dance in and from and of that ground. Maybe I can find a way to do that in words…

    Be well, friend.
  15. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91531
    20 Jul '09 07:021 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Well, thank you for the compliment, karoly. You generally read me pretty well—and that’s saying a lot, because I struggle with the words.

    Also, sometimes I’m writing in a specific context, or to a specific person—and I might say things differently in another context, to someone else. But one always has to be aware on these threads that others are read ...[text shortened]... nd from and of that ground[/i]. Maybe I can find a way to do that in words…

    Be well, friend.
    As for ''struggle with words'' it is no doubt an ongoing one . Of course the language(s) has always been changing to reflect what is going on aound us , but ii seems more important than ever to get our information flowing.
    (By now a planet that has reached our level of evolution should have one primary language,but thats another story...)

    The type of english required for this meidium is unique for its purpose. The lack of substantiating data that normally accompanies a testimony (even live on the phone), is a crucial factor that determines how 'discussions' may be conducted. (eg the absence of tone,etc.)
    As to the pros and cons I suspect that influence from the internet ,(in actual spiritual affairs), is limited to being indirect influence. I'm sure its not always the case, but for the most part...

    So I guess its "bang,bang!" from my drum and hopefully a fine-tuning of my typing skills in the future๐Ÿ˜ต
Back to Top