Friday, August 26, 2011

Socrates . . . and His Friends

You meet the most interesting folks at Bill Peach's "Socrates Cafe" group that meets at Meridee’s in Franklin. These groups are springing up all around the country and consist of folks who like to exchange their philosophical thoughts and perspectives in an atmosphere of conviviality rather than discord.

Last week’s presentation was given by a former Methodist minister, now an Agnostic, I believe. He told us about a small tribe of people living in the jungles of Brazil; the Piraha, who totally live "in the now". They have no written language; no memories, no culture, no art, no religion. The article he referenced was written by Dan Everett (for anyone wishing to "Google" this on the Internet.)

Another gentleman avowed his agnosticism, as well. When it came time to identify myself, I hesitated. How can I explain my beliefs in one succinct sentence? I thought.

I finally settled on, "well, I think I coined a new category, Buddhist-Leaning Red Letter Christian Conservative Liberal." I think they got it but I’m not sure.

Ever since then I’ve been wishing I had the opportunity to explain in greater detail. So here goes.

I am long past the point of arguing about whether God exists or not; I believe arguing is "pointless". Actually, I don’t much care. Whether there is a God or not, whether he coined the Bible or not, I have lived my life as though He is and did. Based on the values and teachings I found in this book, I like what it has produced in and for me. (I think that makes sense.)

It doesn’t matter to me whether the Bible is literally true or not; personally I do believe inspired men wrote it. On the other hand, it has been translated so many times by so many people, it probably contains errors. I don’t think, however, the errors are significant enough to change the ultimate valid message. Which mostly boils down to love. Love of God, love of self, love of neighbor.

If I had been born in the jungles of Borneo I don’t know what I would believe. But I wasn’t and I don’t worry about it. My belief is that if God is God (and I chose to believe He is) and if it is necessary to believe in Him, He will figure out how to make that happen. And if He isn’t, and it’s not, it doesn’t matter.

Because of what my parents taught me about life and love and God, because of what my churches have taught me, I am who I am today. I read that Book, I study that Book. (Although I must confess I still have problems with the story of Abraham and Isaac and the story of Job.)

Because of where I was born, when I was born, and who my parents were and what they believed, I grew up believing the Bible to be God’s word to us; it was a conservative Christian home.

Part of what I absorbed spiritually as a young girl was understanding that God was watching and listening. I knew I couldn’t lie or bullshit him. He knew. ‘Cause He Was Always Right There With Me.

It doesn’t matter whether this is true or not. It’s what I believed. Thinking this saved me a lot of grief one way or another.

Studying the Bible has made me into the person I’ve become and I am content to be that person. I like what I have learned about life and living from that Book. So if I find out some day it was all a fairy tale, I still would think following the teachings of Jesus would make the world a better place for all of us.

I believe truth does not conflict with truth. Whatever scientific truth there is, whatever religious truth there is, whatever the discipline, truth does not conflict with truth. If there are apparent conflicts, it is because we don’t fully understand what we are trying to understand. I believe all of creation fits together like a puzzle when complete; it is all sacred and connected.

I also think what I know compared to what there is to know is about the size of a grain of sand on the beach.

Through the years my ideas about God and what "life is all about", "why are we here?" have changed; evolved. Whoever it is that I now am, I am satisfied and content to be here.

Twenty years ago or so (twenty years??? time flies whether you’re having fun or not!) I decided to consciously make this admonition a part of my response to life:

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
—Phil. 4:8, King James Version

If you look for good, you will find it.
If you look for bad, you will find it.
What you send out comes back (Karma).
Every . . . thing . . . matters (Andy Andrews (1).

I believe -

If you seek God, you will find Him.
If you do not seek Him, you will not find Him.
I believe He is as personal or impersonal as you wish Him to be.
I believe all cultures and societies create a God in their own image.

I think everything must have a beginning, a creator. I can’t conceive of something coming from nothing. (Notice I said this is what I think; others would dispute this.)

So something created us. So who created the being that created us? If some one, some thing, must be the creator of what is and you keep going back . . . your mind just finally goes into a mental spasm. Because there is no answer.

At some point you must simply decide – do I want to believe in a Master Creator, a Supreme Being, or not. 

And then live your life accordingly.

That is the journey, the road, I have taken. It has worked wonderfully well for me so far. For me, God is as close as my thoughts. I talk with Him whenever, wherever I feel the need. I’ve done this since childhood. His answers come back to me in all sorts of ways. Sometimes by something I read, sometimes even by words and phrases that "pop" into my head. Sometimes by the words or the touch of a friend – or even a stranger. They say or do just exactly what I need at that particular time.

I continually experience the presence, the protection, and the love of God. Throughout my life He has intervened and protected me and my family. He has walked with us – sometimes carried us -- through the storms and the calm seas of life.

This is my reality.

(1) New York Times best selling author, masterful storyteller, and inspirational speaker Andy Andrews reveals The Seven Decisions that will transform your life into a brilliant adventure! Using wit, wisdom, and remarkable true stories to illuminate The Seven Decisions, Andy proves that everything you do matters, not just for you and your family today but for generations to come. In this riveting, thought-provoking – and often very funny – performance, you will learn how one man’s resolute courage shaped the history of the world. How the life of one baby saved over 2 billion people and counting. How when you persist without exception, miracles occur. Why you never have to live any part of your life in fear. And so much more!