A riot is the language of the unheard.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (via patriqueryan)
We are now officially on Vimeo. Here is our first video, outlining the general philosophy of “We Occupy Jesus” and serving as a general welcome message. Like and Reblog!
There is a genuine lack of reflection in the world today. I have this radical theory that this deficiency is driving a great deal of intolerance, hatred, fear, and even violence.
One example is the issue of how people read the Bible. I have lived this issue. I have taught this issue. I have fought this issue.
I have often heard the phrase “Believe it all or believe none of it.” Such an approach implies that you must believe it all literally at face value, or believe it is all a lie. However, nowhere does the text suggest that scripture is to be taken literally in all accounts. While the text is understood to be inspired (or “God-breathed”) even this concept does not mean “to be taken literally.” It simply means that the text was the work of individuals who felt inspired by God to write the text. Plus, said inspiration was often written as their witness to an event or tradition, or their community’s particular witness to an event or tradition. Those writings could be narrative, myth, poetry, wisdom, instruction, or a variety of genres not known for a literal interpretation.
The Bible is a group of reflections written by those who felt they were being inspired by God. I must emphasize, nowhere in the text does it imply that God possessed a human and forced him to write their part word for word, regardless of whether or not that was your preconception of inspiration. That’s not what it means.
Then comes the rebuttal of “If it’s not all literally true, then how can we trust it?”
This is an unnecessary burden to place on the text, especially since the text never claims to be inerrant. The Law existed before the Bible. Jesus lived before the New Testament. Heck, Abraham even lived before the Law! The Bible has never been the prerequisite for faith in God.
Then comes the rebuttal of “If it’s not literally true, all of it must be a lie.”
This makes no sense. If you had 20 news anchors covering the same event, giving 20 different reports, would they all be lying if the reports were not all identical? Would one segment be lying if it provided eyewitness testimonies that conflicted with other eyewitness testimonies? If somehow some specifics were lost in the retelling of the event, does that somehow imply the event was completely fabricated? Can we no longer trust anything anyone ever has to say about the event?
Sadly, many people see reality in such a way. Many theists believe that a belief in God is synonymous with a belief in a literal understanding of all Biblical texts (with the exception of Revelations, which is conveniently used for non-literal and metaphorical references to 20th and 21st century political themes such as the Cold War, the state of Israel, China, and Russia). This is simply unnecessary.
Not only is it unnecessary; it is harmful.
If you only think literally, you are basically exposing an inherent lack of faith. If it’s “all or nothing” then you’re basically saying God can be disproved with enough critical examination of an ancient text. And if your stance is “well I still believe it, no matter what those people who devote their lives to interpreting ancient languages say” then you’re basically checking out of reality in favor of a forced-delusion that not even God would ask you to believe.
The texts have always been pushing the reader to reflect on the meanings of these countless encounters with the divine. If you treat them any differently, they will indeed come across as fraudulent, ridiculous, and quite irrelevant.
They were intended to speak to the reality of the greater reality behind the literal events.
Now, do not mistake the intention here. Such lack of reflection is rampant outside the realm of theism. Many witness an event and immediately feel compelled to interpret the reality of the event, leaving no room for opposing views. Such thinking is the birthplace of hatred, racism, alienation, sexism, and violence to name a few.
Just let that sink in.
If we simply go about our business, pretending that business as normal is indeed normal, we become the corruption of society. We elevate the status quo as not only the way things are, but as the way things should be.
If we compromise the simple truths learned in grade school, that we are all created equal, that the color of our skin does not define us, we become Jim Crow. We are the supremacists.
If we bow our heads and shut our eyes while humming a tune to drown out the opposition, we are not for democracy. We become the tyrants.
If we call for the death of those who persecute us, we become the executioners. We become those who kill the prophets of old.
The Machine rages on. If you do not stand in its path, you are the machine.
The Sandlot or Cool Runnings?
If you haven’t noticed, we do post content related to the global #occupy movement. However, we have yet to directly address the level to which we identify with that movement. While we do not mean to imply we are associated officially with #occupy (because we’re not), this movement was inspired by #occupy in many respects.
Occupy Wall Street shattered the mold. It was a moment when everything changed. The genie came out of the bottle. There was no going back. The status quo is meant to be overturned at certain times. It is inevitable. It is necessary.
Occupy Wall Street exemplifies this reality.
We Occupy Jesus supports their struggle against the corporate powers of corruption, oppression, and propaganda. We will also condemn any form of violence, whether by police or protesters. However, we refuse to entertain the notion that #occupy is equally guilty. The movement has been largely peaceful and the police response as been disproportionately brutal.
We Occupy Jesus stands with you, #occupy, as well as all who relentlessly and tirelessly rage against the machine.
I used to identify as an atheist, but since converting to Buddhism I don’t quite feel right saying so, since while I don’t believe in a god, I do belong to a religion in which there are many supernatural beliefs and even in some sects, gods. As I get older, I more or less take the agnostic route. There may or may not be a God, and I’ll never know, and it doesn’t matter in my sect of Buddhism anyway.
But recently, I get to thinking, what are people even asking me when they ask me if I believe in God? What is God? In my coursework and even in the novels I read for pleasure, I come across many, many definitions of God. Maybe I do believe in God, but I don’t call it God. Is God love? Is God change? Is God the search for God?
I think I’ll start recording the various definitions of God I come across, and submissions for it or recommendations would be really really welcome; I know already I’ve come across many interesting definitions in books that I have since returned to the library (See Octavia Butler’s The Parable Of The Sower for the “God is Change” theory, it was quite interesting, but alas, I don’t have it here to quote.)
Re-imagining God is quite an endeavor. Kudos, and good luck.
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I’ve often been presented with the question “What would Jesus be concerned about today?” I would promptly envision him being concerned with the same issues I felt strongly about (obviously). After hearing this question for several more years (usually asked by my professors who probably just needed to fill up empty spots on agendas or quizes), I eventually became creative and basically said he’d be concerned with the opposite things, because Jesus usually did the opposite of what you would expect (just to mess with people. I still sort of believe that to this day). Later I became somewhat cynical of such questions, since no one knows what a 1st century Palestinian Jew would think about anything 2000 years later. I mean, even someone from the 18th century (I’ll use John Wesley as a fun example) would probably stand on a corner screaming insane things while throwing rocks at cars. Jesus would probably go into shock. There is absolutely no way to even imagine a 21st century Jesus, because a 21st century Jesus… wouldn’t be Jesus. To answer such a question, we have to re-imagine not only Jesus, but the question itself. Would a 2012 Jesus disagree with a A.D. 30 Jesus? Now, growing up a theist, I can hear the obvious rebuttal from all my old Sunday School teachers (and seminary classmates) ringing in my ears. “Jesus is still alive. He wouldn’t disagree with his A.D. 30 beliefs!” Well, I’m not listening to those voices right now, so lalalalalalala. Where was I? Oh yeah… While we may not properly be able to describe a 2012 Jesus based on the historical Jesus, what would be the equivalent of a Jesus figure today?
Postmodernism would say Truth does not exist absolutely, but exists in a way that is personal to each individual.
The proponent of Absolutism would disagree, holding to a strong belief in Truth external to individual perspectives.
The problem with postmodernism is that it unnecessarily neglects unifying principles.
The problem with absolutism is that is neglects the individual’s perception of Truth.
Truth can only be perceived through individual experience.
Yet, the individual does not define what is Truth.
Truth is what Truth will always be.
But the Truth will not always
look the same to you
as it does to me.