Whorled View

December 23, 2006

The Bibical Birth of Christ is Accurate?

Filed under: Religion — lullabyman @ 4:32 pm

I saw a program on TV the other night about the validity of the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth in the Bible. They were talking about how the 4 gospels were sales pitches for christianity and how the authors may have taken some artistic liberties to make the story more compelling. It was a fairly unbalanced treatment, as you can expect, with most of the interviewees saying much of it was made up, and only 1 interviewee saying it was all real. At least the one who said it was all real was fairly intelligent and made a very strong case based on historical records and archeological findings.

To me the whole idea of finding God in an archeological dig is just strange. It brings me back to a scripture which had a great impact on my nearly 20 years ago, and has been the foundation for much of my belief-system ever since:

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
-1 Cor 2:13”

The whole 2nd chapter of Corinthians really brings this point home, but the above verse in short says that spiritual matters and temporal matters are two different animals and must be treated differently. In short, spiritual matters must be determined with spiritual evidence, whereas physical matters must be determined with physical evidence. It is foolish to look for God in a tomb or archeological digs because the concept of God is one of a spiritual nature.

By the same token, temporal matters must be determined with physical evidence. I see no reason why temporal matters must validate spiritual matters, and vice versa. The above scripture tells me plainly that I can study the history of the world based on anthropological evidence and make logical conclusions to satisfy my temporal questions on the physical origins of mankind, while having completely different answers to my spiritual questions on the spiritual origins of mankind. The two do not have to validate each other – and when they do seem to disagree we exercise something called faith. Faith really means comparing spiritual with spiritual instead of taking the easy route: comparing physical things with spiritual. Physical and spiritual … they are like apples and oranges. I know spiritually what I know spiritually, and I know physically what I know physically, and the two do not have to agree. That’s exercising faith – also a commandment.

And what is this spiritual evidence which we use to prove spiritual matters? Obviously it isn’t a beaker, or an archeological dig – those are physical things. I won’t bore you with a dozen scriptures, but will rather put it to you plainly: spiritual evidence is when the Holy Ghost witnesses to your soul of the truth of spiritual things. I can not tell you exactly how it feels to have the Holy Ghost bear witness, because when it’s happened to me it has been so entirely non-physical as to make physical descriptions inadequate.

However I can tell you how you can experience it (through prayer, study, humility, and desire), and I can also tell you how you can know for yourself whether you’re just experiencing a self-induced trance or a very real event given you by the Holy Ghost (also, all this is in the Bible, so you don’t have to take just my word for it).

Although the experience is non-physical, there are physical side effects that occur: emotions of feeling at peace, experiencing joy and happiness, and a oneness with everything that is good around me.

It gives you a shot in the arm that you can do better and be a better person. It leads you to do good and have a realistic and invaluable hope for yourself and those around you unlike anything you’ve experienced. You can’t help it but know that your true potential is great, while also keeping your feet on the ground firmly based in reality. That’s one of the reasons why the 12-step program for treating addiction is giving one’s self to a higher-power. The spirit of truth leads you to do good, and gives you the confidence to do what you need.

And lest you’re one of those who think it’s easy to be spiritually deceived by evil influences, here’s also a great way to determine whether or not you are: by what it motivates in you. (Matthew 7:16-20)

In short, the best way I’ve heard the manifestations of the spirit of truth described is in term of a taste. If the soul had taste buds, the spirit of truth is sweet like honey. You say honey is sweet? Well, so is the spirit of truth. For me, I’ve felt like someone put a spiritual battery pumping feelings of light and exhilaration through me. Sound drug induced? No drug in the world can make you feel that way with no adverse side effects.

It can be fleeting. It seems the spirit of truth is easily offended. I once was on the cusp of making the most significant decision of my life and experienced this feeling for over half of a day. It seemed like it should have been exhausting – but it wasn’t. It left as soon as I no longer qualified for the experience, or I no longer needed it (I’m not sure which). Other than that one experience I’ve felt it for just small glimpses – a second here, a few seconds there – just enough to put me on the right path. But I can remember whenever I’ve felt it, and what it meant, and I don’t need to experience it always. I feel to request spiritual verification after it’s already been given would be disrespectful and ungrateful.

I know what I’ve experienced, and that’s why I can see all kinds of physical evidence proving or disproving the birth, life, crucifiction, and resurrection of Christ with no effect (positive or negative) on my opinion of the matter. As the above scripture suggested, I have learned spiritually on this spiritual matter and I cannot deny those learnings without being false to myself.

In a temporal analysis whether things happened literally as explained in the Bible, or only symbolically as described therein – it doesn’t matter. Yes, it’s interesting and something I look forward to discovering as more archeological findings are revealed regardless what those revelations are, but there are some things that all the physical evidence will never be able to disprove and Christs divinity is one of them.

December 22, 2006

Be grateful Santa isn’t a jerk anymore

Filed under: Sociology — lullabyman @ 12:59 pm

Last night the 1964 claymation “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” was on. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid and nothing much was on so I watched part of it while bouncing between channels.

Boy, Santa’s kind of a jerk in that movie. So is Rudolf’s dad, Donner. Up until the very end when it finally appears that they can benefit from Rudolf’s nose they (and really all of the North Pole males) are openly hostile toward Rudolf. Meanwhile Rudolf suffers a serious inferiority complex and when he runs away everyone, including Santa, seems to think “good riddance”. It’s only after Donner realized his son’s blood will be on his hands (hoofs) that he decides to look for him – which really perturbs Santa who seems all too quick to cancel Christmas. When Rudolf returns many months later as a grown reindeer nobody seems happy to see him – not even Santa, who more-less tells Rudolf that it’s his fault if Santa has to cancel Christmas due to Donner’s absence.

angry santa

I’ve also heard others complain about the whole sexist element (only the male reindeer have names except for Rudolf’s girlfriend, Clarissa), but I think that was really just to keep the story simple and focused on the traditional elements. The part where Donner instructs his wife to stay home while he looks for their son (“No! this is man’s work.”) was a bit sexist though.

My point is that this show was a perfect slice of our social history. Men were supposed to act that way. It was considered “manly” to be emotionally distant. It was also considered a man’s job to maintain the status-quo … even if that meant ostracizing someone because of the color of their nose, skin, or way they dressed or acted. One can look back on that in embarrassment or shame or anger, but those who do miss the whole point.

Point is, we’ve come a long way, and it wasn’t easy. The point is that my parents were social revolutionaries. Both the men and the women. My Dad, and most men his age, were spoon fed from their infancy that being a male chauvinist and an insensitive jerk was “manly” – a thing to be admired and emulated. But together the men and women of that era made a social change in the expectations of manhood and civil behavior that is unequaled in the history of mankind. Never before had men been expected to be sensitive and considerate and respectful of others. Until recently those were largely considered matriarchal traits.

Tom Brokaw and his “greatest generation” may be great for fighting for the liberation of mankind from despots, but the next generation after his, although flawed in many ways, fought in the social revolution that redefined who we are individually as decent men and women.

December 11, 2006

The problem with hoaxes

Filed under: Communications,Sociology,Technology — lullabyman @ 11:12 am

I was thinking about thwarting hoaxes this morning. Many of the e-mail virus filtering software claim to also deal with hoaxes, but do they really? I’d like to send a link for hoax-email-filtering to those I know that get sucked into hoaxes most often, but there’s so much email-filtering-software and none of it seems to make very significant claims about it’s ability to filter out hoaxes.

None of these websites allow comments to be attached to the information regarding each hoax. Any site that claims to identify hoaxes should be confident enough to allow public comments to be posted with each hoax indentification.

There are a lot of websites out there who claim to be the authority on identifying popular hoaxes. Snopes.com seems to be the most popular, and they do seem to have a thorough database – largely because they have such a large userbase who notify the webmaster of new hoaxes. I’m not a big fan of snopes though because I’ve historically seen significant bias in their methods (to the extent of improper identification). Furthermore their forums aren’t visitor friendly, creating and overusing their own acronyms and refusing to define them for thier visitors.

Here’s some other “hoax” resources:

Hoaxbusters.ciac.org and urbanlegends.about.com seem to be the most complete (at least they seemed to easily find very recent hoaxes I was familiar with).

None of these websites allow comments to be attached to the information regarding each hoax. Any site that claims to identify hoaxes should be confident enough to allow public comments to be posted with each hoax indentification. Other than hoaxbusters.ciac.org there is little to no qualifying information that gives me any warm fuzzies that the information they’re providing is unbiased, and yet nearly everyone seems to believe in them implicitly. Frankly I find that quite dangerous and misleading. Who made these guys the hoax gestapo, and why should we trust them?

… those who ridicule others for believing in a hoax might be just as rediculous if they implicitly put their faith in a hoax-buster of whom they know nothing about.

In short, it seems the whole internet hoax debunking mechanism is woefully innadequate. There is no policing of the hoax police. It seems anyone with HTML skills can establish themselves as an hoax authority, and those who ridicule others for believing in a hoax might be just as rediculous if they implicitly put their faith in a hoax-buster of whom they know nothing about. I challenge self-procalimed hoax authorities to at least allow some public discussion to be attached to each opinion about a possible hoax. Better yet – make it a poll so the public can read the comments and decide for themselves how hoaxable (yes, I just invented a word) it is.

And if there exists a reasonably priced and reliable hoax-filter for email will someone please let the world know about it? Thanks!

December 9, 2006

Al Jaffe Residue

Filed under: Miscellaneous — lullabyman @ 10:46 am

snappy answersWhen I was around 10 years old an Al Jaffe book called “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” came into my possession. 30 years later and some of the responses still dance at the edge of my tongue – but they seldom if ever break loose into earshot range.

“Are you growing a mustache?”, “No I’m growing a lip brow.”, or “No, that’s my pet caterpillar, thank you.” Al Jaffe was a genius.

I’ve since often thought he should do a follow up called “Snappy responses to unnecessary statements.” I say unnecessary things all the time, like “I’m going to go to the bathroom.” So what? Who cares if I go to the bathroom right then, right? So why did I have the compulsion to announce it like the queen of England was arriving? They’d probably be just as happy with “I’ll be right back”, or saying nothing at all.

Though if anyone responded with “Have fun!”, or “Keep us posted!”, or “Good luck!” I’d have to at least break a smile and remember that awesome book.

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