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Trip Around the Sun

 

50 of 52 – The Congregationalists – again.

Have traveled about 562,000,000 miles - 2 weeks to finish the Trip Around the Sun.

 

In a message dated 4/14/2003 1:39:51 PM Pacific Standard Time:
T
he price you pay by following a religion is you drastically slow down your reasoning process. As a matter of fact, one of the keys to the Buddhist’s faith is 'reality'  - but is in fact 'illusionary'.


Response:

You all know I'm a scientist. I have never been able to accomplish the "faith" thing - even when putting great effort into the "church" thing, as a missionary, etc.

Still - I have met many who have both done it - and not slowed down their reasoning process. They separate them - it's almost like they have two lives. I'm thinking right now of a particular physicist who came up with great ideas for submarines in the Navy - while also functioning as an emotional and very dedicated Southern Baptist - who really wanted me not to burn in Hell. (Go figure.)

I think sometimes that we all have separations like this - the world we live in while dreaming is as illogical as it can be - yet beneficial. Some of my best ideas have come in early morning hours - during dreams. When awake, I have to separate the illogical parts from the useful - but the dream has still had its benefit - and the conscious time can clean up the work and get it onto paper.

Without that "freedom" to think without logic - many new ideas could not come about. Einstein had a bit against so-called "common sense" for this reason. Going well outside the square, he could settle back and make sense of it later. He thought common sense often got in the way of free thought. He called common sense prejudice.

Religion may work this way. Well - it does work this way for many. I have never had that advantage from religion - but I have from dreams, which are just as crazy. I have had many other advantages from religion – but could not have had those benefits without others who had the “faith.”


From an atheist:

Religion is most likely not an intentional decision. (It was a long essay – but this one line is the gist.)



Response:

Yes - probably. "Intent" is usually a word reserved for conscious decisions - planned and acted out.

For example - Is the heartbeat intentional? Usually it would not be considered so - yet everyone both has a heartbeat and needs one to remain alive. Even a little baby has one – and has no “intent” to keep it going.

If we could take a group of a thousand humans who have never heard of religion - put them in a new society by themselves to live and reproduce for thousands of years - history tells us that they will develop religions. It's a way for intelligent beings to deal with the unknown, which frustrates them. They have become intelligent enough to know about "death," for example, and they generally find death difficult to accept. So many of the religions they are likely to invent - will give the promise of eternal life. (We don't die - not really - the religion tells them.)

I think it is interesting to note that all the religions actually believe this – that religions are “invented” by people. They just think it’s only all the other many religions – and not their own, as their own is the one and only one which came from God and not from man. Just one of many – all the rest are man made. Isn’t that just a little amazing? Each one points at all the others and declares – “Man made this,” and they can give logical reasons why they think so.

 

The real issue then becomes - not should there be religions (because there simply will be), but how they ought to be used. Almost every religion is "designed" for good - but opportunists get in - and then much that is not good comes from the power of it. Religions bring about coalitions - thus power that can be taken advantage of. Religions give the opportunity to have political power. (Power of Policy.)

Religion itself is not the enemy - it has no capacity to be an enemy - only people can decide things - be friend or enemy, etc.  - Chuck


Tanks in Baghdad seemed undeniable, but Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's spokesman denied them anyway –

 

(What amazes me is that this amazes so many of us. What with millions of Americans denying that we have evolved from “lower” forms of life – look at all the evidence that is ignored in order to deny this. This is what religions allow people to do – give up their ability (or willingness) to think. (Our own religion is no less capable of this than Islam is.) They look to David and Goliath – and think, “All is not as it seems – We will still win this war.” They are wrong, of course – God does not fight in wars, but does only good. David got “lucky” with a weapon used from afar – requiring no bodily contact - thus negating the size advantage that almost surely would have given Goliath the victory otherwise.

 

 

From a Friend:

April 9, 2003
Wendy's Consumer Relations
Wendy's International, Inc.
4288 W. Dublin-Granville Rd.
Dublin, OH 43017

Dear Wendy's Consumer Relations:
I am writing to request that Wendy's change the message on its
outdoor marquees from "God Bless Our Troops" to "We Support Our
Troops".

After making this suggestion to the on-duty manager at the Wendy's
that I usually frequent (E. Broad near
Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road),
the manager told me that the marquee message was changed after
receiving a memo from the corporate office.

The "God Bless Our Troops" message reinforces a common prejudice in
this country that those Americans who do not believe in a god are
less patriotic.   Unfortunately, some feel is still politically
correct for mainstream society, media, and our politicians to hold
the unbeliever up to ridicule and to treat unbelievers as second-
class citizens.  

Now, Wendy's is participating in this prejudice with its marquee
message.    We agnostics and atheists are just as concerned about the
safety and well-being of our fellow Americans serving in
Iraq
Furthermore, your message does not support our troops who do not
believe in a god. 

 

There are, indeed, "atheists in foxholes."


I must assume that Wendy's had good intentions and did not intend to
prejudice atheists any more than Wendy's would prejudice against
blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, etc.    I ask you to please
discontinue your corporate support of prejudice against non-believers
and change your marquees to "We Support Our Troops."

Sincerely,
Tammy Miller

 

 

Response:

What has happened here is legitimate – but also the original message was legitimate. It is the sentiment of the one who wrote it, and if it meets the approval of nearly all the other Wendy’s employees, the sentiment does not have to represent every single person who reads it.

 

Were I the manager, however, (the complaint allowed a perfectly useable substitute), and I most likely would have done as he or she did. If the sign were a very expensive one, I might resist the change – unless the complainer wished to pay the cost.

 

There is a difference between a private (or even corporate) statement and an official statement of government. Religious statements on money or in public schools, in courts of law or presidential inauguration rites purport to represent everyone. These are more legitimately challengeable. Even with these, however, if the majority is very substantial, the road to change will be as difficult as those stats imply.

 

 

From a Friend:

Being inaccurate isn't a crime. It's only ludicrous. The big question is, “What has happened to free speech here in the USA?”

Response:
To get the best accuracy, it is best to hear all opinions (perhaps each of them inaccurate if taken alone) - to get the best "whole story." When we disallow one side to speak, we end up with very inaccurate pictures.

 

In many churches, for example - one can talk all they want about the flaws in evolution - but nobody is allowed to give a talk on the merits. The result is gross inaccuracy.

 

In many countries, if one’s opinion is considered “un-patriotic,” it will be stifled first socially, which should be acceptable – but ultimately it will be stifled legally or by other force - and called treason. With that side unheard, accuracy is unlikely.

 

If we could only follow the words around the rim of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington

 

(It’s in all caps – so I’ll put it that way -)

 

 I HAVE DECLARED BEFORE ALMIGHTY GOD MY ETERNAL HOSTILITY AGAINST EVERY FORM OF TYRANNY OVER THE MIND OF MAN.

 

The next step from free thought – is the freedom to speak the thoughts – to share them. We believe in free speech in our nation – why not in our Church?


From another Friend:

Anyone with an elementary education understands that people die in
war, but this does not make war always avoidable. A pacifist is someone
who believes that living under tyranny is preferable to war.


Response:
Ghandi was a pacifist. He did not believe that tyranny was better than war. He faced war - and died rather than fight back physically. He did plenty of fighting philosophically. Martin Luther King was a pacifist. He did more to get some things bettered in this country than any warrior ever did. The number of deaths during this era of improved race relations was very small compared to what warfare would have brought. And better than that – the progress continued after he was killed. Tyranny was not the result - but a better nation was the result. Sometimes pacifists are true heroes – unafraid and dedicated – anything but cowards.

 

We say the pen is mightier than the sword – do we believe it? Or are the swords just more fun?

 

An old Bishop of mine wrote and said that the Book of Mormon teaches that the evil will kill the evil – the righteous should not participate on any soil other than its own. (purely defensive) (Good old Moroni.)

 

The visit: The Congregationalists – again.

Note: This is the church that went to Hawaii – many have read the book or seen the movie. Congregationalists have traditionally been highly conservative. Yet this week, for the first time, this congregation is going to have a meeting in a much less formal than usual format – with electric guitars – “keyboard” instead of “organ” and a full drum set – and lots of noise.

(It’s interesting to note here that they have a brand new minister – a very young one.)

They will have their regular meeting at 8:30 – and then this one at 11:00. Some of the members, one of them told me, are attending both – partly out of curiosity. A lawyer among them talked with me before the meeting and indicated the ultra-conservative background – and thus the curiosity this is bringing about. It might be much as if we were going to have a Sacrament Meeting in this format – Would we attend two for that Sunday? I would.

He indicated that there was a kind of “demographic” breakdown – that they were not reaching the youth – and this was an attempt to begin speaking more in their language. By having two meeting every Sunday, they could do this without alienating those who might be either offended by it – or simply not “fed” well.

 

(This not reaching the youth appears to be a common theme – I’m finding it all over. I had the thought that they could learn some good stuff from the Mormons – who have perfectly formal meetings – and the whole families are there. I think it is because the youth are “included” in substantive ways. The Aaronic priesthood in Sacrament meetings – the talks from primary on up – the lack of paid ministers and thus the need for much more member participation – at all ages - all add up to a feeling of importance by the membership. Of course, at the same time – they’re not remiss by not having parties, basketball games, etc., etc., including such bands as this one coming up – but for dances – not meetings. Mormons are formal sometimes – other times certainly not.)

 

(When I have been an adult “helper” [can’t think of the right word] at such dances, I found I could not even have a conversation, which is what I normally would want to do at a dance. It works better for worship, where we’re not supposed to be talking anyway.)

 

(Leona got home – the word is “chaperone.” That’s what I was when I couldn’t have a conversation.)

 

I entered the chapel at about 10:45 – 15 minutes before the scheduled beginning of the new “Contemporary” meeting. The band was rehearsing. There were two electric guitars – and an additional electric bass guitar – a Kurzweil keyboard – and a full drum set. All these were going with some enthusiasm. A young girl was singing the lead on this song – with two guitarists singing along. They all appeared “hopeful” to me – that they were about to become “stars.”

 

About 7 minutes before meeting time, the band broke up, but recorded music almost as loud continued.. The little gal who had been singing went to the side in a hallway – put a finger in one ear – and a cell phone in the other ear – which stayed in place until it was time to start. She talked a lot, but I have no idea how the person on the other end could have heard what she was saying.

 

The band started the meeting – with “Your Love, Oh Lord, Reaches to the Heavens.” I’d have to imagine that the expression of it here reached also to the next city.

 

After this and about two other numbers – the minister introduced the theme for the meeting – which was Bethesda and the healings there.

 

A teenaged girl gave a fine talk – I saw later she was with her husband – and was probably in her twenties, rather than a teen. She gave a fine talk – all word for word from memory. She lost her place a time or two – and was coached form the side, so I assume this was not her own talk – but something given to her for memorization. When she finished, there was applause. (On this trip, I have found applause comforting – the quiet after a good piece of work always seems a little embarrassing to me – like no gratitude is to be expressed except privately.)

 

The band returns to play “We Are the Church and We Stand As One.”

 

Minister’s talk:

 

I saw a Snoopy column recently. In the first frame he says:

 

“Yesterday, I was a dog.”

 

In the second frame:

 

“Today, I am still a dog.”

 

In the third frame:

 

“Tomorrow I probably will still be a dog. There’s little chance for advancement.”

 

We think we can’t change. But maybe your “I can’t,” is really an “I won’t.”

 

(So – I thought – he thinks maybe if Snoopy had a better attitude, he could wake up tomorrow and be a cat – or a real live boy?)

 

(I also thought – {note here: I have always had a problem listening to a talk without having side thoughts.} I thought about something that Socrates said: “If someone tells you that he can move that mountain over there by the use of his faith, you are at liberty to believe him if you will – but if he tells you that he will change his character, believe it not.” Where is this talk about change going? We, of course, are supposed to believe in repentance.)

 

Now there was a skit – very entertaining – two men watching Monday Night Football and conversing with each other. The husband of the young singer was one of them – and the minister the other. The skit was called “Life in a Rutshell.”

 

One guy says, “Monday is Monday Night Football – Tuesday is bowling. Wednesday is church night. Thursday is something – Friday is something – Saturday we always do something with the kids – and Sunday is Sunday.

 

Are we in a rut?

 

Naw – next Monday – instead of bringing Cheetos – I’ll bring chips and dip.

 

(There was more – but this is the gist. They were in a rut – and making very little change.)

 

Then the skit was over, and the minister continued.

 

I’m all for progress, so long as it doesn’t involve any change.

 

He tied this in with Bethesda – “Would you be healed? Then take up your mat and walk.”

 

Was being healed something we facilitated ourselves – by having the right attitude – by taking up our mat and walking?

 

The question Jesus asked had an obvious answer – so why did He ask it?

 

He asked, “Do you want to be made well?”

 

But surely everyone knows the answer – Jesus – the man – everyone knows this one.

 

He could have said, “So – you want to be made well – ok – then – take up your mat and walk.”

 

For I can do everything with the help of Christ, who gives me the strength I need.

 

Gives us the strength? Does not use his own strength for us? Instead – gives us the strength?

 

End of talk.

 

 

There was the normal collection – but no Sacrament (Eucharist – Holy Communion) – evidently, that is done only on the first Sunday of each month.

 

The meeting seemed short – there were a couple more numbers by the band – and the minister said:

 

“This is the town’s best kept secret – this band!!!” The kids were visibly pleased with themselves.

 

(Two visits to go – I may try to re-visit the Muslims, as they may be talking interestingly about now.)

 

I asked the advice of one on this – but I’ll ask you all – and if any want to respond, I’ll pay attention - -

 

For my last visit – I’m contemplating going to an LDS church away from home – and going as a non-member with knowledgeable questions. A little like I did with the Southern Baptists – challenging beliefs that are at least controversial. I would try to get them to let me visit with the High Priests – so that my questions wouldn’t go to the general congregation. What do you think?

 

50 of 52 – The Congregationalists – again.

 

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