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Thread: What constitutes authentic spiritual expression?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoseKitten View Post
    I know you and I don't seem to agree on much, but I wanted to comment on this. My husband falls into the group of people you mention. I swear, he could ask God to set a bush on fire, and if it happened, he'd say it was coincidence. Same with seeing ghosts/spirits/etc. We, together, have seen things... odd things. He just flat out refuses to believe they happened, and continues on business as usual. A deity could appear before him, answer his deepest questions, and he'd say it was just a dream (or possibly that he had a fever). I believe that my husband is protected by a thick bubble of denial.
    Paradigms build thick walls around themsleves to keep contradictory evidence at bay. For some reason your hubby has a vested interest in maintaining his position if he is that stubborn. Reality being more than we expect it to be can be a terrifying thing for many people.

    The US gov't did a study on the impact of a UFO landing...and it wasn't good. Many people would go insane, lapse into depression, some would commit suicide all because their itty-bitty reality bubble burst. I can't imagine that but there we are as humans.

    Hey, I don't dislike you I just disagree with just about everything you've written regarding Wicca and fiction based religions. Other than that, we're fine.


    )o( Blessed Be,

    Sundragon
    Come visit my blog

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    " Wherever you are is home
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    You don't live off it like a parasite.
    You live in it, and it in you,
    Or you don't survive.
    And that is the only worship of God there is."

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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nemyss View Post
    I'd agree with this, except the Lovecraftian deities get a certain amount of respect. Lovecraft is just assumed to have been channeling something deeper than fiction, and the idea of worshipping The Old Ones, The Deep Ones, The Elder Gods or whoever (my Lovecraft knowledge is running out) is seen as somewhat respectable these days. So why Cthulhu and not Edward Cullen?
    Perhaps from you they do. I have no more respect for Cthulhu-worshippers than I do for Cullen-worshippers.

    What it boils down to is this: I believe in objective truth. It's a central tenet of my religious life, my morality, and my day-to-day life as a scientist. I can't prove to you, objectively, that Zeus was or is fictional. I believe I CAN prove to you, objectively, that Edward Cullen, Gandalf, and Nyarlathotep are and always have been works of fiction. Therefore, I give more leeway to Zeus worshippers than to Gandalf worshippers. They might still be crazy, but I don't have as much supporting data to suggest it.
    Last edited by Tiberias; December 8th, 2010 at 11:04 AM.
    JFGI

  3. #33
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    A lot of original Wicca was based on lies. We know this. It wasn't an ancient religion, it was a modern interpretation of various beliefs and practices from around the world and all over history, myth and sometimes novels that are old enough to be called myth, with a bit of morality slapped on for good measure. Some of the first Wiccans and even some today genuinely believed Wicca is an ancient religion and the religion of witches throughout history. Some found out that's bollocks. From there, some disregarded Wicca completely and others stayed firm Wiccans, recognizing it for what it is: A perfectly good religion no matter what it's historical roots may be.
    I have no problem jettisoning anything I find to be overt fiction. Reinterpretation of ancient myths is fine as it is the nature of myths to interpreted and re-interpreted.

    Let me use Catholicism for example. Catholicism is full of mythmaking. For example many of the old saints are recomissioned pagan deities. There is a good argument to be made by protestant theologians that Peter wasn't the first Pope. Many of the saints were anything but saint like in their behavior. Catholicism is still valid as it has links to the past and reasoning that grants it credibility

    Voudou is a blending of varied mths and traditions but, it does have roots that connect it to other authentic traditions. It has some pedigree through its links to Yoruba religion and Catholicism.

    Sure Wicca contains fictions and myths just like Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. However, all of these religions were an organic spiritual response to their time and place. Each has threads connecting it clearly to human spiritual yearnings. According to Hutton's Triumph of the Moon Wicca was inspired by the Romantic poets, the transcendentalists, ancient pagan religion, ceremonial magick, hermetic Qabalah and other diverse influences such as theosophy and shamanism.

    Oddly enough reading Hutton helped bring me back to Wicca.

    Many of these source materials are legitimate ground out of which religions are born. For example, some scholars believe that the Greek gods were born not out of the mind of some priest class, but out of the inspiration of ancient poets. This may be the case...who can really know.

    Hermetic Qabalah is centuries old and is where Wicca's duo-thiestic tendencies come from.

    Crowley's influence is as plain as the nose on a Witch's face but no matter what his myriad personal issues were he knew magick.

    Theosophy is an extremely profound system of spiritual insight based Blavatsky's understanding of Eastern Thought.

    Sure there was a certain portion nonsense in Wicca, but modern authors and practitioners have done what we could to trim that away though some still cling to old fictions. Wicca certainly has roots in authentic traditions of the past even though it reimagines some of them to serve its puposes. Wicca is a syncretic modern religion.

    If Wicca were taken whole cloth from known fiction I would toss it in the dust bin. Naturally I would just make up my own religion as it would certainly be more relevant to me than anything a sci-fi author could dream up. It is possible that some ancient deities were pure fabrications but we cannot know that. The Cullen's and the Jedi are complete fictions and we know this beyond a shaodow of a doubt.


    )o( Blessed Be,

    Sundragon
    Last edited by Sundragon; December 8th, 2010 at 11:28 AM.
    Come visit my blog

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    " Wherever you are is home
    And the earth is paradise
    Wherever you set your feet is holy land . . .
    You don't live off it like a parasite.
    You live in it, and it in you,
    Or you don't survive.
    And that is the only worship of God there is."

    - Wilfred Pelletier and Ted Poole

  4. #34
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    Sci-fi and fantasy authors have created religions as good as and sometimes better than "authentic" religions. Sci-fi and fantasy authors have, on occasion, created religions. Gardner's a good example.

    "Authentic" religious practices sometimes have as high a chance of being based on a made-up story as "fiction based" religions.

    Cthulhu is quite capable of bringing nightmares, despite his origins.

    Every god was a story once.

    ~ Blog: Kitten of Discord ~ Twitter: @DiscordianKitty ~

    "Demons have existed [...] for at least as long as the gods, who in many ways they closely resemble.
    The difference is basically the same as that between terrorists and freedom fighters." Terry Pratchett, Eric


    Respect is earned. So is disrespect.


  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Njorun Alma View Post
    I can’t help but wonder what makes a valid individual spirituality.
    Depends on what is meant by "valid." If that's a political question, the question itself is often too political to be very valid. Politics (office, often religious, city, state or national) doesn't make a very good lens with which to examine and judge religion.

    As far as a spirituality or religion being valid goes, I hope it's something people can actually follow, have needs met, meet other's needs, add some beauty and excellence in this world, and hopefully some fitting compassion and joy.

    It's not the number of followers (that criteria is rather political).

    It's not how old or new the spirituality is (also political).

    It's not even if it started out as a joke or a statement meant to shake up the status quo (Jedi, some Neopagan Druidry).

    It's not whether it's made up, based on ideas from Sci Fi (something that's had its impact on many paths, even major new religious movements) or what have you.

    It is about whether the people practicing it can live it, be enriched by it, rather than only manage to dysfunctionally act out unresolved issues or wear it like a fashion statement. (This is not to say that costumes or fashion shouldn't be enjoyed/used. Absolutes like that often miss the major points.)

    It's about if the spirituality can do something for the practitioners and betters humanity as a whole, directly or indirectly, something that's not to be judged by public acceptance of path and spiritual or religious identity (that's very political), but by the words, joy, love, compassion, actions, intent, and follow through of practitioners (now we're able to focus on evaluating mental, spiritual and social wellbeing).

    I'm of the opinion that a religion or spirituality can be fun, even silly at times, as long as it enables (rather than hinders) people to display the kind of moral and creative stamina about the things that really matter because this can complement the imagination, joy and human compassion I'd hope to see in a path, and vice versa.
    Last edited by sari0009; December 8th, 2010 at 11:54 AM. Reason: lack of caffeine? lol

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Njorun Alma View Post
    1. As I said, I have no problem with trance work, visions obtained via meditation or self-induced semi-trance states. That's all good and well and I enjoy partaking in such things every once in a while too. It's amazing what the human mind can conjure up.
    Your point of view of course. There is no actual evidence for or againt the existance of spiritual realities. To each his or her own in this matter.

    2. Because self-induced trance and meditative states are not the same as mental illness, and most good quality psychiatric and psychological institutions recognize that.
    I've been through the system and the one thing that helped me was a therapy heavy on self-reprogramming of the brain, meditation and visualization. We were even encouraged to conjure up as vivid fantasies as we could to use as a coping mechanism and utilize them in difficult situations.
    People can have profound spiritual experiences anytime, anywhere. You can see an angel on the crapper. You can see a vision during dinner while watching TV. Spiritual experience does not simply wait for the incense to be lit and the chanting to begin. You draw an artificial line because it is what you are comfortable with but that doesn't mean that such arbitrary delineations are valid. The experiences of many individuals shows your arbitrary line to be invalid.

    Furthermore, I can call myself spiritual while being an atheist if I so chose. Spiritual can also mean "of the mind" and just because some people think that one cannot have a spirituality and still be a skeptic and an atheist doesn't make that universal law.
    I like how your making appeals from authority. You're allowed to do this, say that and so and such because you have special knowledge I don't?
    Sure it can mean "of the mind" but that is a modern spin that very, very few of our fellow humans would agree with. That doesn't mean it is wrong, but that it is a very new interpretation of that word. I didn't deny the aesthetic value of calling things "spiritual" if you choose. For me though, the word spirit has a meaning that, for you, it cannot. For those with a religion or non-materialist belief system the word spirit isn't merely a euphemism for something else as it must be for a materialist.

    For both of us our spiritual response to things is a chemical state in the brain. For you, as a materialist, it cannot be related to any other level of reality because you don't believe in anything like spirits, the afterlife, a Ground of Being, etc. If I am wrong, tell me. If you beliive in the same things I do that are commonly referred to as a spiritual reality then I stand corrected.

    For me, the spiritual response I have to certain things connects me to a greater reality that is both here and beyond this world. That is a very, very big difference.

    At some point we may have had certain similar experiences but how we interpret them is very different in the same way the word spirituality has an entirely different connotation for both of us.


    )o( Blessed Be,

    Sundragon
    Last edited by Sundragon; December 8th, 2010 at 11:53 AM.
    Come visit my blog

    Sorcery and Spirit

    where I discuss Magick, Mystical Spirituality and whatever else comes to mind.

    " Wherever you are is home
    And the earth is paradise
    Wherever you set your feet is holy land . . .
    You don't live off it like a parasite.
    You live in it, and it in you,
    Or you don't survive.
    And that is the only worship of God there is."

    - Wilfred Pelletier and Ted Poole

  7. #37
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    Psychic abilities fall under the same category as other artistic and creative talents, IMO. Just like it's difficult to judge art unless you yourself are an artists, so it is impossible to know if someone claiming contact with spirits is actually doing so unless you do it as well.

    Science and math are artwork as well. Those in the same field understand it, those who aren't, don't. I have a brain for math, but still cannot comprehend how someone can calculate the collision of astral bodies that they say formed our planet Earth as we know it and gave us the moon in the sky.

    Popular opinion, along with groupie mentality, dictate which type of artists are going to be honored and revered by the masses, and which are going to be marginalized. People may love sculptures and artwork, spend gobs of money on it; which would place those who understand it at the forefront of society. Suddenly there would be a real need for those who can look at a piece and can tell if it is something beautiful, or just an ugly wreck of twisted metal. If people hate art, then only a handful of people would care to learn the difference, and those who spend years and years developing their talents go unnoticed and are laughed at by the popular crowd.

    Right now popular opinion has us trusting the mathematical calculations of scientists, to provide us with the most accurate history of our universe. But we could live in a society that thinks it's absolutely ridiculous to think that math can give you these answers! Anyone thinking their high IQ gives them unique abilities to calculate the age of the universe, would be proscribed drugs to bring their IQ level down to "normal", so they can be like the rest of us. Afterall, why would we trust math for answers, when we can just have a psychic ask one of the spirits that was around during the formation of the Earth??

    Which brings us around to the relevance of spiritual paths. Much of any religion is based upon groupie mentality. We believe that God talked to Abraham, and base a religion off of what was said. We don't seek to repeat the process, and have God talk to each one of us. No, we are "God talked to Abraham" groupies. Or we become groupies that believe the famous psychics get more answers from the spirits than we do, and therefor know all the secrets of the Universe. Or that the angel Moroni talked to Joseph Smith and laid the foundations for the Mormon Church.

    We can go traditional, and believe that Fundamentalist Christianity from the 1940's is the One True Way. Or that some ancient religion from the Golden Age of Greece was IT. Or the Celts. Or Egyptian.

    There's really no difference then if our choice of religion happens to be something others find ludicrous. We hold our logic as to why we choose to be a groupie of what we follow, and do it. And the benefits of a community of fellow believers are real and evident.

    Scientists have their own groupies. There are those who make a philosophy and spiritual path based upon the most complete and accurate discoveries of Science. The groupies are not scientists themselves. They do not understand how the discoveries are made. But they place their faith in those who do. A person with a degree in science, can stop his scientific work and become a spiritual guru to the masses of people willing to hang on his every word.

    Those who actually do the science, do not benefit from the spiritual path that comes from following them. They may like having the fans, but spiritually they get nothing. Just like the leaders of the other paths. They are trail blazers, scientists exploring the great unknown. Placing our trust in Einstien's genius gives us comfort. Learning his calculations and following in his footsteps (and correcting his work); is to do the same thing he did.

    Listening to God for yourself and risking your neck to follow Him into unknown situations, is to live like Abraham. Or better yet, follow an unknown God into unknown situations... You don't get to benefit from the comfort (or stagnation) of the Abrahamic religions.
    Tobias



    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

    -Dwight D Eisenhower

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias
    But consider this: A theoretical physicist uses calculations that most of us can not comprehend, to arrive at conclusions that have no physical proof;
    But the calculations of which you speak are based on mathematics. If the proof is sound, then the conclusion is just as valid as 2+2=4, if more complex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias
    Science and math are artwork as well.
    No, they're sciences. In physics and in math, something is either true, false or unknown. Quantum Theory is true -- it has been both mathematically and scientifically proven. So-called "Intelligent Design" is demonstrably false. String theory falls into that realm of unknown: the math works, but we can't know for sure that it's true until our technology catches up to the point where we can test the theory's predictions.

    Now, if you're doing science right, it can be artistic. But that doesn't make it art: in art, there is no objective true or false -- what's true for one person might be false for another. That's okay, but it's poor grounds for understanding our shared reality. As much as I love both astrology and the Tarot, I classify them each as art.

    Faith is easy -- until the moment you actually need it.

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    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all convictions, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity."

    Ė W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscordianKitten View Post
    Sci-fi and fantasy authors have created religions as good as and sometimes better than "authentic" religions. Sci-fi and fantasy authors have, on occasion, created religions. Gardner's a good example.

    "Authentic" religious practices sometimes have as high a chance of being based on a made-up story as "fiction based" religions.

    Cthulhu is quite capable of bringing nightmares, despite his origins.

    Every god was a story once.
    QFT.

    As an avid reader of fantasy fiction, I've come across religions that I would be a part of in a heartbeat. D'Angeline religion from the Kushiel's Legacy series is one that I think would appeal to many Pagans (especially Christopagans), and not just for the sacred prostitutes! I've adopted the commandment "Love as thou wilt" into my own personal philosophy of life. It seems like a sensible bit of advice.

    Now, having said that, I've also encountered a group of people who seemed to sincerely believe in daemons from Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Really, how is the concept of a daemon (one's soul manifest in animal form) different from the concept of totem/power animals/animal spirit guides/[insert your preferred term here]? Granted, I think they might be taking it a little too far (fiction being fiction) but we've had discussions on this very board around this idea of spiritual beings in animal form.

    I guess my point is that there are authentic expressions of spirituality that one can take from fiction. I know people who use the "Litany Against Fear" from Dune as a way of keeping calm during stressful situations.

    Well, and sometimes fandoms do strange things...

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix Blue View Post
    But the calculations of which you speak are based on mathematics. If the proof is sound, then the conclusion is just as valid as 2+2=4, if more complex.


    No, they're sciences. In physics and in math, something is either true, false or unknown. Quantum Theory is true -- it has been both mathematically and scientifically proven. So-called "Intelligent Design" is demonstrably false. String theory falls into that realm of unknown: the math works, but we can't know for sure that it's true until our technology catches up to the point where we can test the theory's predictions.

    Now, if you're doing science right, it can be artistic. But that doesn't make it art: in art, there is no objective true or false -- what's true for one person might be false for another. That's okay, but it's poor grounds for understanding our shared reality. As much as I love both astrology and the Tarot, I classify them each as art.

    Psi abilities (and tarot could be argued to be precognitive or seership) would fall under science. Mediumship, telekinesis, etc, would fall under Paraspsychology - although I will grant that it is a very, very, soft science. But it does attempt to qualify and measure these abilities in an objective way, and stand up to scientific testing.

    In terms of talking to Deity and having them communicate back? I have no idea what that is...but it is neither science, or art. Mysticism is what it is - and that is a completely different animal that cannot be defined in those terms, imo.

    To try and even discuss them in this way really doesn't make much sense to me. But then again, I am wired to be more of a skeptic of these things than anything else.
    Last edited by Twinkle; December 8th, 2010 at 03:25 PM.
    "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common:
    instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views,
    which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering."


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