This book is written as a direct and practical approach to spirituality for the under 30's. Faced with the challenge of the modern world view, putting together a spiritual life without a lot of belief is necessary. The basis for faith has to be foundered on something else other than received beliefs. The author offers a progression of steps to guide a person towards evolving a spiritual life that reflects Christianity's origins. He even offers a rational approach to scripture, but declines to endorse the usefulness of dogma or doctrine for the person searching for a place to begin their spiritual quest.
In the back of the 'Book of Sam' I have printed a number of questions for groups to discuss. In the book I am challenging assumptions and long held notions. These are often hold overs from childhood or past affiliations with religious groups that left a bad taste in our mouths. The aim of the book is to give you a different way of thinking about these important questions. Having a few friends to share thinking about these questions is a lot of fun, and the support you give each other encourages each to think outside their own little box. The questions are meant to be a starting point, so find some friends to sit down with, read the book a chapter at a time, then let the discussion roll.
Yes, something really weird happened on the way to the resurrection. For many the resurrection is hard to swallow, and is thought of as another biblical story with a lot of truth in it but it is not factual. There are a lot of stories in the bible for which this is true. However, the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium kept at Oviedo in Spain support the details reported in John's Gospel, and worse present us with a conundrum which hundreds of scientists cannot explain. Certainly it is not a hoax, no one can explain how it happened, and even today no one has any idea of how to reproduce it. It looks like the resurrection did happen. It was a fact and not just a nice story. The Shroud is genuine, so we have to just get over it. But what to make of it?
We love to use the evil label, but most often it is misapplied. No, people are not evil. Then what is evil? Evil is very present in our world today, but we like to use it to point the finger away from us and paint others with the adjective. No, evil is part of the fabric of our own world, and offers a refuge from the rigours of truth, justice and love offered by the Divine. Evil makes nothing, achieves nothing, but seeks only the denial of God's call to become.
How do you deal with emotional energy that just keeps you boiling? Anger, fear and hurt are the major groups. What do you do with your own emotions. Living among people means you are going to have to deal with what their actions re-stimulate in you. The green wire in an electrical cord is the ground. Its purpose is to groundout any static or short circuit so that current is not dangerous. There is a way to use your relationship with the Divine to do the same thing with your emotions. That energy in your anger is delicious, but it is really bad for you. Let it go, let it go to ground and dissipate. This will not happen without effort from you. It is a skill that can be learned.
Nobody is denied entrance to the spiritual realm, that part of us defies description but we all touch it now and again. Oh yes it is there, but there is no massive well advertised door with flashing neon lights. No, this is a road less travelled, and each of us has to seek it out. Above all you have to want to know this part of yourself. This part of ourselves is a natural outgrowth of our self-consciousness, and free will provides us with the curiosity to pursue it. This journey most often begins as a solitary adventure but you meet the most fascinating people on the road. Learning to see in this other dimension gives you ways of discovering so much more of those around you, and enables you to enter more profoundly the lives of others. Each person so encountered is a whole new universe.
Abusive people come in all kinds of flavors. Some are physically threatening, others have a more subtle way of threatening you. Most pernicious is the professional nice person who seeks to manipulate you by guilt or other emotional means. These can be your friends or parents, brothers or sisters. You are not in this world to make them happy, nor are you responsible for how they feel. So often they will hide behind their religion or social norms and expectations, trying to make you feel bad because you don't live up t their expectations. These people have a smell of the under world about them. They will give you a cold prickly all wrapped up as a warm fuzzy. Check out my bubble this week.
Everyone of us, whether we like it or not, believe it or not, is connected at a profound level with the origin of all things. Further, at the heart of everything,the very source of everything there is purpose. This universe, this world, your body are all an expression of that purpose. I met with a bunch of parents of teenagers who were all worried about their kids and spent their days in the car or on the phone smoothing the way for them.They were all exhausted. Nothing they were doing was awful or in any way negative. They were so busy putting out fires, and responding .to emergencies, they had lost touch with the deeper part of themselves, and from whence comes the very reason to care and love their kids. No wonder they were tired.
Let's not worry about the whole book for now. The gospels are enough to begin with. Look for parables. Jesus used them to clinch what he was trying to get across. They were simple stories and not intended to confuse you. To understand the parables you have to be just an ordinary Joe, and want to understand what Jesus was trying to say to the people before him that day and what He wants to say to you. There is a problem. You have to take it upon yourself to figure out what he said, what his disciples said later, and what others wrote and added much later. Nobody is trying to deceive you, but people had their own points of view and wanted to get them across. We are not studying theology here, so let's stick with what Jesus said, and leave the rest for later. We do have to identify what he dd not say so we can set it aside for the moment. Keep it simple! Here are a few hints for what to look for
Dimensions: Our every day world is full of boundaries, finite dimensions and limited horizons. We mostly live only on the surface of our lives, but there is another world within each of us that is extensive in its own way aw the physical universe. Finding your way in this other part of ourselves is an exciting journey, but it is complex because it demands truth in our inward parts. Being at home with the truth about ourselves is hard work. Exploration of this world lays a foundation for the growth of ourselves that we cannot imagine. We are invited to become but only based on a profound love of everything. That is what we first have to encounter and identify with. Learning to love, value and appreciate is the first step towards the very real power of the spirit.
We get soul and spirit confused. The soul is the emotional part of ourselves, but our spirit is that deeper part of ourselves that is not concerned with ourselves but rather concern for others. This generates huge amounts of energy, but if we are cut off from it then we short circuit that energy and ultimately it causes us problems. This disruption of the spirit or unconscious may express itself in emotional problems like anxiety attacks, nightmares, depression and other upheavals in our emotional selves. This is the realm imagination is born, creativity blooms, the appreciation of truth, beauty, music and much more flourish. It is also the pathway to that deeper union with the origin of everything, the Divine.
Learning not to be a victim begins before you meet the bully or abusive person. Any one of us has to decide what we will do in the face of abusive behavior. It doesn't matter who it is, family member, business associate, or stranger on Facebook. You have to determine not to be a victim before you are confronted with an assault. Know what you will do, and be clear about your response so that you don't have to think twice. Keep it simple, and don't engage with the person any more than can be helped. If you play with tar, you will get it all over you on the one hand, but trying to reason with an abusive person will always fail because abuse is never reasonable.
The gospels belong to you, not to any church. Common sense should be the standard approach to reading them. They were not written to deceive you, but personal interpretation was a sieve through which some writers strained what they had to say. Lots of writers today want you to believe everything you find in the gospels or even the whole bible, and others want you to throw everything out.Think for yourself. Much of what you read there was produced by people like you who were trying to make sense of what they saw, experienced, and thought. There is another component of scripture, and that is the way the divine responds to those who seek. That is also to be found in what you read in scripture. You have to figure out which is which, God's response or writers' opinion.
Don't bother. There is an old Buddhist saying, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." Don't give away your power to others by becoming followers. Don't even ask what does God wants me to do? or What would Jesus do? You've read a lot, thought a lot and heard a lot, now God is waiting to see what you have learned. "Life is a test, it is only a test and all our answers are provisional. We learn by doing not by copying others. Getting it right is not the issue but learning from getting it wrong so next time we have a longer history of insight and understanding. Walk in the light of the shadow of God, fear no evil but rejoice in the power of the spirit.
We know there are depths to us we do not visit. Maybe we fear their unknown depth or just don't know how to go there. Yet those profound parts of us are daily exercised or would be if we either knew what we were looking at or stopped to question what we were experiencing. The unconscious or realm of the spirit is a dimension of self consciousness. We can choose to live in the very conscious part of ourselves, or only occupy the emotional part of ourselves, but there is another alternative which is to delve deeper into the fountain of yourself. This may sound scary or risky, but all kinds of people have done this for thousands of years. The early hominids began it and drew on the walls of their caves what they intuited about the world of the spirit. Check it out for yourself.
The terms body,soul and spirit are bandied about without any clear understanding of the various terms. These are roughly comparable with Freud's categories, conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious. In the spiritual search something profound has to happen to the soul or sub-conscious. It is an initial confrontation that requires a realignment of priorities and values together with accepting a vulnerability never contemplated.
Written for the under 30's, this is a book that explores the fountain of our spirituality. Where and how do we find identity, see our neighbor, hear the divine, live in this modern world with integrity? Short and to the point, the book is written to be thought about rather than proving a point. There are notes for book clubs to use or discussion groups to chew on.
This is theology expressed as narrative. It is of the early ' ministry and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, and includes the growing awareness Jesus had of his calling. His learning curve, the assumptions of those around him and the growing antipathy of the authorities combine to make the story a three dimensional event. The story is told through the conversations and confrontations with those around him. He pursues his mission statement, which results in the authorities realizing the danger he represents and condemn him to death in his absence. HIs escape to Galilee, puts off for a year the inevitable confrontation which leads to his death. This latter part of the story is told in Jesus the God App, Part 2.
Jesus: Part 1 and Part 2 have not been published yet. They are revisions of the 450 page book, Jesus, The God App. They are written as Theology expressed as narrative. This passage figures in Part 2. The raising of Lazarus is one of those things that really put off serious modern readers from taking the gospels seriously. Yet I believe the event happened, but of course was interpreted as only people 2,000 years ago could do. We have plenty of stories of people being in a coma for weeks and months and then coming to. I think this is what we have here, but that should not detract from what Jesus did. Lazarus would have been dead without Jesus' taking charge of the situation and bringing him back to life. There is reference to this episode in the Babylonian Talmud. Did this precipitate the sudden appearance of Jesus down by the Sea of Galilee and saying to the disciples, the time is here. Let's go! The gospels are accurate, but is it us who have put them in a straight jacket? There is so much there we are deprived of considering. This is why I wrote the book, using narrative to explore the theology.
How do we modern people, with all our knowledge and understanding of the world about us, read scripture? The value of the insights found there are like diamonds hidden in the earth. We need their wisdom so badly, we have to consider the questions people of 2,000 years ago had to wrestle with for they are the same we are faced with. Over time we can trace the divine's interaction with people, we can learn how it happens and identify the divine's presence in our own lives.
This is theology expressed as narrative. A carefully crafted story of Jesus' ministry and teaching from the raising of Lazarus, the ministry in Galilee to the final scenes of the crucifixion. Endnotes help reader trace the story told in the gospels. References to outside authorities, e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus and the Shroud of Turin support the historicity of the events. What was it like to be Jesus, what did he think he could achieve by dying on the cross and what on earth were the disciples expecting? This is a story of evolving understanding and ultimately a huge leap of faith in the face of a virulent evil that sought his utter destruction.
Inspired by conversations with a young adult who had profound questions about becoming his own person in the face of the confusion of present day social challenges. Practical help is offered in the search for meaning, purpose and authenticity. A fresh approach towards faith for the nonreligious or a rational use of Christianity by the faithful are both addressed. This is a practical consideration of such subjects as evil, Satan and other ancient religious metaphors, giving them a modern context by which they can be understood and dealt with. The difference between superstition and faith, the need for authentic spiritual experience rather than emotional misapplication goes hand in hand with a clear identification of the soul and the spiritual changes that can happen in a person who seeks. This book seeks to center the person by establishing their solidity, recognizing the uniqueness of others, and laying a foundation for social relationships and responsibility. At the same time religious concepts are given new life, some put in their place and faith as an experience illustrated. This book encourages an understanding of how the language of psychology and faith cover the same issues. The Divine is never far away from the reader as the 12 chapters unfold the various subjects covered by the original conversations. This book engages both the intellect and the emotions as well as something else that is evoked and given expression, namely the spiritual reality of the person.
So many enjoy sharing their opinion of you, but what do they know? You may dance to their tune and say exactly what they want, but that doesn't change anything.They will just move the goal posts to keep you pandering to them, trying to earn their approval. No, not looking for other's approval or positive opinion of you frees you to be yourself. This is a solid place to stand, and since that place is founded on God's hope for you, there is no second guessing. Messing up, failing or pulling a stupid becomes something to talk about, laugh at, and even learn from. You don't have to wear any of it. You are free, walking in the shadow of God, without fear of ridicule, and daring to rejoice at who you are, with all your bits and pieces on display. "World, what you see is what you get. Like it?"
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