Hermes' Thoughts

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Location: Boston, MA, United States

I am a clergyperson and was ordained in 1985 by the National Alliance of Pantheists. I received recognition through Our Lady and Lord of the Trinicrian Rose. I volunteer as a member of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Boston Living Center. I live with my partner and spouse in a timy apartment in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. I like writing poetry as well an prose. I have been a Witch since 1971. I was born in Binghamton, NY and lived there until 1984 when I moved to Maine.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Deity- Static or Dynamic

The question of the nature of Deity has been a fundamental one for as long as human kind has been able to conceive of it. What is it? What is our relationship to it? Is it even an It? Empirically you can not prove that there is something that exists called Deity, by whatever name you may call it. It takes a level of mystical recognition to experience the nature of Deity and that is often in the realm of the philosopher or the cleric. It is through a mystical understanding of the universe, with a dash of scientific understanding that you can glimpse that topic. So in this essay I will use my own mystical understanding and that of the empirical world of science. I can not prove anything, just sense it. It is purely subjective.
First, I will tackle the questions that I presented at the beginning.
What is it? And its corollary, is it an It.
What Deity is, is all that is. Literally, "All that Is". You can not see it, because it is so vast that it encompasses all the Universe, and likely more than that, and is it, and It, that is the problem and limitation of language. It is more than an It. Because it is All That Is, it by definition includes all that there is, male, female, asexual, non-sexual, incomprehensible. Historically, such an idea was partially understood in the Ancient World before Christianity made it its personal business to define it in a masculine image, according to the patriarchic world-view that eliminated all possibilities of any other form, at least on the upper classes where the money and power was. To the working classes it made little difference as long they could lead a productive life. In the last Century before the start of the Current era, in Greece, there was a movement in religious philosophy that identified a Deity that was unknowable, and identified that with a highly transcendant aspect of Zeus. I say that because we have the highest cognitive ability, as far as we know, on this planet, we can begin to grasp some of the nature of Deity. But by its very transcendant nature, though it makes it hard to understand its vastness, but as you can get an idea of the earth from a globe, so can you come to know something as vast as Deity is by looking through the eyes of the telescope. But we are inside of Deity, and to understand Deity is to look on us as a mere speck of an electron, a quark, of an atom, of a molecule, in an organ as a part of the entire organism. Whew!
Now you might say we are insignificant in that veiw though. Not so, for in so realizing we do something that is akin to the very nature of Deity that of understanding. For every last quark of an electron, neutron or proton is an integral part of that whole being. It can not be separated form it. But unlike that quark we have consciousness and by that the capacity to understand that whole.
I said this is a mystical understanding, didn't I.
Now comes the good part. What do we perceive the Deity to be? Well, a philosopher, whom I don't know the name of, once said that we create God in our image, not the other way around. We can better relate to Deity that way, so we see Deity as God, or Allah, or whatever, and whatever the depiction it is not as anything else but in something recognizable. I am not saying that they do not exist, that is not true, but they all are part of the whole, and are different ways of seeing the Deity. All are equally valid points of veiw.
That is a point to recognize, our understanding of Deity must come from the realm of our perceptions in order to have seemingly the belief that Deity is something we can communicate with. In reality, we are in constant communication as we are an integral part of Deity, so it our lack of understanding that limits us in that communication while on other level of our existence we never are out of communication with Deity.
As I stated before, we create our understanding of Deity because we can bring it down into a level where we can understand it. So we create it in our own image.
That brings me to the point where I really want to go. That is the nature of Deity Static or Dynamic. Many Christian and Muslim believers think in terms of the Static Deity, or that is my perception of what is that they believe. This means that what the Deity has proclaimed through a human agent at sometime in the past is the same as the Deity is today. So therefore the Deity that they see often comes across in their sacred literature as being cruel, and hateful at one time and kind and generous at others depending on what that form likes or dislikes about the Deities followers,or non-followers.
Is this true though? No. It is a misrepresentation of the nature of the Deity, usually to make a point for that's partisan side. Why make the point? Power. The power to control people. And who exercises that power depends on the structure of the institution that is created by the Prophet, that human agent that could have received that understanding with either the idea of getting power, or of a genuinely Spiritual message. That can be a tricky area to walk for the understanding of the human receiving the Spiritual message. It depends on the time, culture and the individuals life experiences. Human comprehension can be limited. Those limits can be from the difficulty of translating the Spiritual into the limiting nature of the human symbolic system. Like a wire, there is so much voltage it can carry before it can get to the point it overloads or the signal gets distorted. Language is limiting, and since we have not been able to use the full width or our telepathic connection, where pure thought needs no translation into symbolic form, thus we limited by semantics. Another factor is that it can get miscommunicated to others even when the original receptor received the message in realtively a complete understanding, or it can be deliberately be distorted so that the message becomes a pawn in a game of control.
But is Deity really Static? Does it never change? I look out into the Cosmos and see the Universe as dynamic. Science has found that the Universe everywhere is dynamic, from the minutest particle we see, to the grandest structure of the Universe at the limits of our technological reach.
I like to use the analogy of linguistics to explain this. A living language is a language that is constantly changing, evolving, coming from the inner workings of the people that speak it. When that language no longer changes then it is said to be a dead language, like Latin. It never will change again, and the only ones that speak it are those that learn it not as a dynamic language but as an Ecclesiastical language that serves only as a means of elitist communication.
If Deity is dead then the Universe would not change and that is not what I see. And Deity is not outside of it for then how could it possibly participate in its creation, and as a mystic I understand that Deity is imminent in its creation.
Now why am I going to such lengths to discuss the dynamism of Deity. The answer is in my incomprehension of the way Deity is depicted as Static. Would the Deity create something that it would call flawed? And condemn it to the worst of all possible outcomes where there is no chance of Spiritual growth, that is a cruel Deity. and indeed is not a creator at all and is as flawed as the creation itself. No, the Creator, the nature of Deity in Dynamic action is that of a ever growing Deity that creates with the intent of learning something about itself like an artist that is creating from the heart.
So if your God is a living God then it should always produce that which it is important to the on-going evolution of the Deity itself, and all of its parts.

Who Has The Agenda?

It is a standing joke in the Gay community about the Gay Agenda. The Fundamentalists continually say "The Gay agenda" and we look at each other and ask "Did you get this morning's Gay Agenda? I didn't." And we all laugh. But the truth is that the Fundamentalists really think that we have an agenda that is a threat to the world. The real question is Who does have the Agenda.
Earlier this year I read Sam Harris' book End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and The Future of Reason (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005) where he explores the real agenda, the agenda of the Fundamentalist. In it he talks about not only American Christian Fundamentalists but all Fundamentalists, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, even Hindu. They have one thing in common and that is that they are right and everyone else is wrong and that they will go to any length to make sure that they get their way. Now, the American Fundamentalists haven't quite in the same way as Al Qaeda set up a terrorist plot but they are not far from it when they kill doctors that perform abortions and bomb Gay nightclubs. It is not that there is any organized effort to do these things, but they do give tacit approval to those that do because the think that in the end that they are doing the work of God. That is their feeling, that they are doing the work of God, really. They really believe it. They pick and choose what they feel justifies their Biblical passages and justify their cause by it while ignoring anything that is contrary to that passage elsewhere.
Basically what they are saying is that "We have the only way, and because of that they should control the way everyone else lives". That sounds like Authoritarianism to me ,and if that is not an agenda then I don't know what is.
There two things that I, as a man of faith, believe in, and they are, the separation of Church and State, and Freedom of Religion. Both are cornerstones of American democracy, and have been placed as cornerstones because their is a history of religious abuse of power. Ever since the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the State Religion, the Orthodox Christian Religion, of which all Christianity descends from has been in a power struggle to maintain power. First they eliminated their competition amongst their own ranks by calling heresy those that believed differently from them, such as the Gnostics. It is only in recent years that we have found that the texts of their books and see that Christianity was any difference in belief other than that of the Orthodox view point. Gnosticism was much more about what Jesus' message was of that of the spirit, the Kingdom of Heaven, than about establishing a Church, which is the mistake that Paul made.
They were also on a mission to convert anyone, and would willingly kill anyone that was in anyway opposed to them. They closed down Pagan Temple that had existed for hundreds of years. Sometimes they even killed the priesthoods of these temples (e.g. the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus the trapped the priests and priestesses in the temple and starved them to death). They were the enemies of knowledge in another way. One of their saints lead a mob and burned the greatest library of the Ancient world, the Library of Alexandria to the ground. What great ancient works were contained in that library we have on hints at from manuscripts that survived by being copied and placed, not with any more intent than to have a copy, in other library and that by shear luck we still can read today.
It didn't stop there though. Through out history, if a religion can come to power it will make itself authoritarian and suppress at any cost the competition, because they believe that they have "the one true way". Christian history is littered with the corpses of the competitors that were seeking their own way to spirituality. Even some of the members of their own religious lineage were killed if they would not convert, such as the Albigensian, then the Jews. Not a century later, it was recognized that there still existed in the lower classes those that practiced the old ways, and innocent women, men and children were tortured, made to confess to things that were true only in the vivid imaginations of the repressed clergy, because it is only human that one give in when you have the promise of the end of pain if you say what they want you to say. It is that real heroes of the Inquisition that stood up and faced the tortures and refused to say the lies that the clergy wanted to hear.
Then, the Church divided even more than it did in the early day when the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches divided, as a reformer, seeing the abuses of the Roman Church called of a Reformation of the Church, and therefore protested against these abuses, creating the Protestant Churches. Then began the bloodiest conflict yet, where wars were fought as wars had not been fought over a difference of opinion. On both sides, they had the "one true way".
Since then even when not physically killing each other, there is a constant campaign for supremacy that started with Constantine (who saw in Christianity the means merely to preserve his empire, never really realizing that it would bring to0 it the power hungry as it still does today). I came from a Protestant family and Catholics were evil and their only desire was to take over the world. Of course, I say the hypocrisy in that, and saw too that my parents believed that they were the only ones that had the true way, though both had problems with how things went on in church.
I see the irrationality, and that is what it is, IRRATIONALITY. There is no one true way. There are many paths to Spiritual enlightenment. None of them involve power over others. None of them involves suppression of differences of opinion. They are derived from a genuine connection with Deity, a personal experience of Deity. It should never involve the abuse of power. Power should be not be a part of it at all.
Power is what the Fundamentalists want. That is their agenda. They have the "ONE TRUE WAY'. and if you don't believe that then you are wrong, and if someone just might kill you for being different then we will wink and say "Now you shouldn't do that."
How do we deal with it? You might ask. Do what Sam Harris says, Stand up and say No. No More, That is Enough. There will be always people that will want power. It is a human condition, unfortunately. There are some people that need to be lead, for they are too lazy to stand up and take the initiative themselves. We are a social species and therefore work best in groups and but someone needs to take the lead at times and that person is given a trust that they will lead in a way that is respectful and rational, without the need for self-aggrandizement, thus in a Spiritual way, that is open to question and rational inquiry, without rancour or undue criticism. It's a delicate balance that must be maintained.
So Stand Up and speak your mind. Speak out against the power hungry Fundamentalists. Sure you will be threatened, but you have a mind that was given to you by the Deity and therefore is meant to be use. And don't let their threats frighten you. You out number them, andc Fear is their only weapon.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The American Revolution Still Goes On

On April 18th, 1775, at Lexington Green, in Massachusetts Colony there were farmers that stood up for what they thought was right. Though they still thought of themselves a Englishmen they felt that they did not have a voice in their government back in England, and wanted that Right to have representation and a voice. They started a revolution, though at first it was a Civil War, that would lead to a new and independent country that was separate from and more on tune to the beliefs of its constituency. Therefore the American Revolution started here in Massachusetts, and here we like to think that we were the birth place of Liberty. Even the Constitution of the United States is modeled after the Massachusetts Constitution.
The American Revolution did not stop there though, and spread through out the colonies. Nor did it stop with the end of the Revolution. Nor did it stop as a model of American government. Boston was the Athens of America (and still is).
In the early 19th Century C. E., it was in Massachusetts that the injustice of Slavery was first spoken out against. That cry went out through the country and finally ended in the end of Slavery in the United States.
Again, Massachusetts has lead the American Revolution. It was here first that the Right to Marry the one you love, whether it be the same sex or the opposite made no difference, and the same rights that heterosexual married couples have were given to those of the same sex. Now New Jersey has joined the revolution too. Bravo New Jersey.
The fight has not been won by any means. The revolution did not end with those first days in 1775 but continued for years. And there was opposition too even then. Loyalists wanted to stay loyal to the English crown and did everything to stop the movement. Likewise when the injustice of Slavery was loudly proclaimed there were voices that called loudly for it, saying there was Biblical justifications for it.
Likewise, there are those that justify the opposition of same sex marriage with Biblical justification, but they take out of context the words and use them to continue the justification of their reasons for the continuation of discrimination as they did in the South for Slavery and the oppression of the Black community in the last century. But if you read the text accurately and use the original sources not the mistranslations of the King James version, you will find that something entirely different is meant. The Old Testament prohibition that is interpreted to be against same sex love is really a prohibition against that of relations with a man that belonged to the priestly class of another religion, a Pagan religion. These men were considered as sacred in their own religion and therefore were not Jewish, in the sense of their worshipping Yahwah.
Likewise in the New Testament there is no mention of homosexuality by Jesus, but he does emphasize having a loving nature. He does condemn hypocrisy and intolerance. It is in the letters of Paul that you see that homosexuality is mentioned and that is usually quoted out of context to suit the purposes of those that are in opposition to same sex love. A closer and in context reading of the text will show he says that Jesus says nothing on the subject and that in his opinion it is wrong. In his opinion. Now it was in his opinion that he says that women are inferior to men and incapable of understanding the word of God. That is blatantly misogynistic. We know that is not true, women are as capable of thinking and understanding as are men.
Another line of irrationality is presented in the idea that giving the right of equal right of marriage will degrade the institution of Marriage. Let me take the religious aspect of that that it is a threat to freedom of Religion. First of all, Marriage is not a religious institution to begin with. It is a civil institution first. You must go to the State to get a license first before you can get married. Without that document, you are not legally married no matter what church or how many churches you are married in. It is a civil marriage first then a religious marriage second, for you can be as legally married by a Justice of the Peace as by a minister who also needs the sanction of the State of perform the service.
Secondly, how can the marriage of a same sex couple degrade your marriage. It only happens if you perceive it that way, and it is a matter of personal perception. It was similar to the argument to keep Blacks from being next door to you. It is your perception that is the matter not what is next door. If there is something wrong with you marriage it has nothing to do with what is going on outside of it but between the two of you.
Therefore I commend the State Legislature for their actions and say that the American Revolution still goes on.