Friday, February 6, 2009
Often the Catholic Church is criticized for "modernizing" previous canon, and taking divine authority to modify the religion, when really it's not the Church who's unreasonable, but the 10,000 year-old infallible "holy word" that's the problem! Why shouldn't it have the right to modernize its canon? Why not worship the organization itself? At least an organization can make rational decisions - an ancient infallible god cannot. Gods only give definitive answers, while the universe is questions stacked upon mysteries. Without definitive answers from supernatural beings, religion would be able to tackle relevant moral issues. Answers close doors; questions open doors to more questions.
Unfortunately, today the journey to supernatural belief is traveled in crowds, but the journey back toward reason is traveled alone.
Either the Bible is wrong, or our observed evidence is wrong, or written works can be taken metaphorically into absurdity and there's no such thing as a written word that has any specific meaning.
The Bible defines the god that it describes, and that definition itself should be the greatest argument against a 'god of the gaps' to its own believers. It mystifies me how many of them can continue to stretch the meaning of their Bible each time new scientific understanding emerges and still call it the infallible word of god. It leads me to believe that they don't actually believe in God as complete fact, but rather they believe in solidarity with their family and culture. In many ways, I have more respect for fundamentalists that choose to believe that everyone else is simply wrong - at least then it's clear they actually believe that the word is infallible and there's not so much of this doublethink.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
What we don't need is a supernatural explanation for our behavior. For many of us, a supernatural explanation is impossible to reconcile with observed evidence. For others of us, we prefer not to assert a particular supernatural explanation, and some would just rather not have the decision made for us. Supernatural explanation removes doubt and destroys rational decision making. For whatever reason, we choose to separate our daily ritual and our moral values from any supernatural explanation.
A Power from Our Will AloneBy virtue of our will alone we choose to follow our moral code, and not by the command of any god. We choose to neither court a reward, nor fear a punishment. When one of us sacrifices something for righteousness' sake, we don't do it for a reward in the afterlife, but rather for righteousness' sake. When one of us abstains, we choose to because of our obligation to righteousness - of our own will rather than in terror of divine wrath. A simple daily sacrifice by our own will, and with pure intention is greater than any sacrifice in the promise of reward. The righteous sacrifices and charities of other people are not worthless, and in fact, most of them are very noble; however, the the only righteousness in them is the righteousness of the intent: all measure of sacrifice and charity done for a promise of a reward is just a bribe.
As we deny that we are liars; that we are coveters; that we are gossipers, abusers, theives and adulterers, our sins become incorporated into our daily lives. Their justifications are solidified and their rough corners are smoothed over until they seamlessly form the foundation of a destructive life. While we see hurt and abused people abandon us, we further smooth over our own sin by blaming the victims of our crimes.
While we submit to these sins that make us different from everyone else, we reach back toward humanity by mentally placing other people into our own personal sin. We try to conform other people to our isolation. We convince ourselves that the people around us are also vindictive, judging, vengeful, spiteful, even violent. We convince ourselves that they're perhaps even more so than ourselves. As each other's accusers and accused, we drive ourselves away - one, each to the other.
Therefore, we say to ourselves that we're part of humanity, but we feel as though we're looking in from the outside. Because of our sin, we're afraid of people, and this fear drives us to be more dangerous ourselves.
Sin Enslaves Us
Our sin becomes our master as the secrets in our hearts grow, and as we invest more of our lives hiding from one another and nursing our diseases. Each black mark we secretly have in our lives is another restriction in our lives and a chain on our individual potencies. Every sin comes packaged with its own custom reason to not be able to do something. A bigot, for example, can't have company with his enemies, and a liar has to speak carefully. What a waste of individual power sin is! It hobbles the potential of everything we do in life.
Absolution Returns Us to Humanity and Frees Us
By seeking absolution, we feel at liberty to be human again. Although some people require the absolution of a supernatural being, we seek absolution by our own will alone. Through a process of discovery, repentance, confession and forgiveness, and then often restitution, the filth of sin can be dissolved and we can feel confident in our place with our fellowship in humanity.
There Is No Absolution In Deception
While deceit is inherent in sin, absolution begins where deceit ends, and the first deceit that has to be shed is self deception. Through rigorously established routines, we gloss over our daily sins, and may not even realize patterns that we're establishing in our lives. Only through an intentional method of discovery can we wretch these deeds from our own denial and bring them into focus.
Admission must be done daily - at the end of the day, if possible. While even the worst of us are just to our own family, the greatest of us are righteous even to our most hated enemies. Every day of our lives falls short of pure righteousness.
First, clear yourself. Before a pure admission can happen, all other concerns have to be set aside, but a short clearing is sufficient for a daily admission. After clearing, evaluate the time between now and your previous admission. Search for, and discover your sin, and as they're recognized, acknowledge and focus on the nature of the transgression. Most importantly, inventory the victims of your crime. Focus on them individually only as they come to realization, and if your mind jumps to the next, refocus until the sin is fully recognized. The sin is recognized when you have an understanding of the victims of the crime before anything else, and then a sufficient understanding of the gravity of the consequences of the sin. Finally, at the recognition of the scope of this sin, admit that it was you who did this sin by incanting that you have willfully done this sin:
"I gossiped about my friend. I have been a gossip."
At this point, the sin is admitted. As sins are admitted, we recognize that we're sinners, and that we're solely responsible for our own crimes. This step is important in our return to humanity, because while it's an illusion that humanity shares our own sin, it's truth that we are all sinners.
Repentance is a complete rejection of sin. We're repentant only when we renounce our evil actions and actively resolve to turn away from every part of them. If we're unrepentant, we remain unabsolved and can't return to humanity. Repentance is the very moment where we stand at the peak of an evil deed, and then willfully bring its wickedness into decline. In order to be perfect, as we will to be, we have to be repentant of all sins - no matter how insignificant.
If we were to end with admission, there'd be no absolution at all. Therefore, after you have admitted each sin, then meditate on what you would be like without doing these actions. Incant that you willfully renounce your evil actions and that you turn away from them completely:
"I renounce gossiping. I turn away from speaking evilly about my friend."
Only if our will is completely turned against our sins can we be repentant. If your intention is pure, then you are repentant of your sin.
Many times, in order to return to humanity, we have to confess our sin. With the deception of our crimes in our hearts, we'll never reconnect with humanity. Whether through anonymous confession to a higher initiate or your Humanist Method community, or a direct confession to the victims, confessions not only bring us back into humanity by eliminating a reason for us to be isolated - they also reinforce a habit of integrity and enforce a culture of personal responsibility. All absolution begins with at least one type of confession: the Admission, which is a confession to yourself.
If repentance alone wont reconnect us to our communities on a spiritual level, then a confession to other humans is necessary to eliminate the secret in our hearts. Righteousness is the destination of our lives, and the path is infinite, and so our intention is to confess all sin so that we may be perfect, and never isolated.
In any way that it can, restitution should be done to alleviate the victims or repair any damage caused by our sin. Restitution should be done with the pure intention of humbly taking the burden of the consequences for our actions, and should be completed in meditation of returning from the isolation and slavery of sin. Restitution should be performed according to the magnitude of the offense, and specific restitution often reveals itself while in the mediation of admission. Seek guidance with your community or with a higher initiate to find ways to do restitution if none is apparent.