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Posts Tagged ‘self righteousness’

Consecutive Days Riding: 64                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 65

Today’s Mileage: 10                                            Total Trip Mileage: 562

The red line marks our progress.

As I ride the bike this morning I think about the candles burning around the world in temples and churches in celebration.  As I mentioned yesterday, for me, light and fire are symbolic of the divine. They provide us with guidance against ignorance.  They offer warmth against a cold inhumane world.  They have the ability to purify and cleanse, helping heal our wounds. Of course during this time of joy and celebration one does not have to look far to see sad scenes of death and destruction, abuse and hunger, of intolerance and hatred.

I recently received a comment  entitled “Pure and Undefiled Religion.”  The individual quoted the New Testament twice and included the following statements:

“And so it is that most of those who have chosen to follow The Messiah on The Narrow Way have had to “forsake their natural father, mother, brothers, sisters” and all others who will not follow The Messiah, because they “love this wicked world and their own life in and of it. What is declared to be “religion” today is truly the devil’s playground. Hope is there would be those who take heed unto The Call of The Only True G-D to “Come Out of her, MY people”!

He was critical of my blog, quoted scripture with certainty, and ended with the statement “Truth is never ending!” I responded with the following comment:

“I too believe in truth, but we seem to believe in very different truths! In my view the divine is large enough to embrace and love both of us! I choose to accept this “wide way,” if you choose to follow “the narrow way” then that is your choice. A student once asked me why it was that every semester it seemed there was always someone who was trying to “save me.” I just smiled and said: “They are just doing what they need to do to be the Christian they have chosen to be!” I am doing what I need to be doing (teaching, artwork, and blogging) to be the loving, spiritual person I have chosen to be! I appreciate that you visited my blog and took the time to respond to it! I wish you well on your journey… I will hold you in my prayers… as I hope you will hold me in yours. Have a wonderful and happy holiday.

This morning I received a response from him.  Again he quoted scripture, and directed ridicule at all of us “who do not follow the true G-D.”  I followed his comments back to his own blog.  I found that his statements to me were nothing more than a copy of the ramblings that filled his blog. Rants against the world at large, organized religion, and non-believers.

It is no wonder that this person’s comments appeared in the spam space of my blog?  They remind me of the individuals who stand on a street corner and cry out their condemnation of “passing sinner” without any knowledge of these individuals’ beliefs, virtuous actions or their relationship with the divine.  I suspect they view the negative reactions of the passing “sinners” not as feedback, but simply as sign of their righteousness.

It has been my experience that when some religious individuals embrace negative feedback or criticism, they often do not accept it as corrective feedback. Instead they exhibit an attitude of self-righteousness. They view the criticism as a sign they are on the right path. Any criticism or challenging feedback is ignored or ridiculed.  This response may lead them on a course fraught with dangerous consequences for their family, friends and society.

I have featured sunsets on today’s posting as they too are symbolic. They symbolize the end of a day and approaching darkness.  However, with their brillent colors they also plant the seeds for a new day, for a dawning and return of light. I receive criticism and feedback as gifts with open arms, as long as the other person is willing to: try to listen, try to understand and looks for common ground.  Let us hope that our churches, communities, nations and our world will see the sun set on divisive ideas and emotions which serve only to create schisms between us and them, between the natural and the spiritual worlds, between individuals and the divine.

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 43                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 44

Today’s Mileage:  10                                           Total Trip Mileage: 365

 

Elusive target

Riding the bike today I struggle to choose a Blog topic.  I am reminded of a time with my two sons. We were wading along, knee deep in the water of a slow moving mountain creek.  We spoke little as each lost himself in the exploration of the water and the shoreline. Suddenly, my oldest son began to splash about, slapping the water in a vain attempt to catch one of the small, black water bugs that darted about the streams surface.  They were too elusive.  He would focus on one, miss his mark and then another would come along. It made for a humorous display as his efforts came up empty.  I am reminded of those efforts as I struggle to find a Blog topic. Each time I think I’ve captured one, I open my fingers and it’s gone!  Then I see another idea out of the corner of my eye.

Taiami trail

When this kind of frustration happens with a client, student or friend I always tell them to step back and look at “the bigger picture.”  When I do this I realize that among the swirl of topics are patterns.  Many of the topics are cued by ongoing world events, conflicts of a religious and/or political nature.  Some topics involve situations of personal relevance arising from my interactions with colleagues, family and friends.  Other topics involve my professional responsibilities as a teacher and a scientist.  When I step back from the swirl of darting ideas,  I see  unifying topics. The question is where do I focus my attention, my questions, my explanation and answers?  When talking about spirituality and religion, one can focus on the forms (content) of these beliefs. These varied forms include types of prayers, conceptualizations of God and the divine, religious ritual expressions and symbols, to name only a few.  One might also focus attention on the function (process) of religious and spiritual belief systems. 

Belief systems can appear very different in form and content while serving the same personal and group function and process, providing a sense of security, group cohesion during adversity and shared meaning.  There are those who ask the questions: What is the true name of God? What is the proper way to pray? Which are the valid sacred scriptures?  They seek the proper form. 

Palm trees along the trail.

I personally marvel at the diversity of religious beliefs in form and content.  I am dazzled by the colorful and mysterious displays of dancing and chanting, colorful vestments, burial ceremonies and symbols of ancient times.  Like walking through a garden, the last thing I would wish is to have all the flowers the same, all the trees bare the same colored leafs or pathways of only one type of stone. Those who seek to plant only one flower in our shared human garden, to eradicate all others by labeling them as weeds or intrusive foreign invaders, set themselves and all humanity upon a path of conflict and self-righteousness.  I will not engage you in an argument of which belief system has the true or proper form, but I will engage in a discussion of how belief systems may function against a unification of our human endeavors to grow, cooperate and survive!

If I may return for a moment to the story of my son and the water bugs.  After several failed attempts and a growing frustration, the capture attempts ceased.  My youngest son moved over from the shoreline and joined us. “What are you doing?” he asked.  “Trying to catch a water bug, it’s impossible!” exclaimed my oldest son.  The youngest looked down as he noticing for the first time the insects boaters, his arm darted forward barely disturbing the surface.  “You mean one of these!” he opened his hand to reveal a water bug paddling about in his palm!  Sometimes a clear mind and simple focus yields the rewards we seek.

 A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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