Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Sun Feb 27 01:34:21 UTC 2005
Great questions /observations. I agree, it is hard to seperate our
socialization from the actual experience. One or two humble comments
Michael Christopher wrote:
>>>For the intrinsically religious person, that is
>sort of what religion is like. There is a very quiet,
>subtle experience of God tapping on one's shoulder, a
>kind of reminder, "You promised to remember Me."<<
>--That's a good distinction. Is there intrinsic
>patriotism, a quiet, subtle voice reminding you that
>you're part of a larger group, a larger world? What
>would happen if one's political identity, one's
>allegiance to a particular group or ideological
>movement in a particular nation, conflicted with an
>impulse toward patriotism to some larger body that may
>be multinational and not associated with any political
>party? Christianity and Islam seem to involve that
>kind of conflict. The Body of Christ has no country,
>and the Ummah of Islam is supposed to be beyond
>borders. How is that conflict resolved in various
Only a religion that emphasizes the brotherhood piece can do that. The
sense of "all are one" is frequently an aspect of spiritual
experiences. The external / extrinsic part often excludes that, as the
jihaddists seem to do today.
>Another question: what happens if intrinsic religion
>gets tangled up with extrinsic religion? As in the
>person who has an inner spiritual experience involving
>Jesus, who on remembering and retelling the experience
>re-coats it with dogmas derived from his social group
>about Biblical infallibility, religious politics, and
>so on? Would such a person experience an intolerable
>conflict, given that the thing deep inside which
>provides a genuine spiritual connection to something
>greater is distorted by ideas derived from culture?
>I ask that latter question because in my own spiritual
>experiences I've come across Jesus once or twice,
powerful experience, I am in awe.
>he never said anything about gay marriage destroying
>civilization. But if I'd had the same religious
>experiences, which you would call intrinsic, while a
>member of a Christian group, I might have ended up
>coating what Jesus really was to me, deep down, with
>some extra layers of dogma about what Jesus wants.
>Biblical infallibility and literalism seem like a huge
>stumbling block, and when politics is added, even more
>so. These days, Christians who interpret the Bible
>"wrongly" (for example, if they reconcile the New
>Testament with gay marriage the way many Christians
>forego the admonishments in the NT for women to cover
>their heads, or if they reconcile evolution with
>Genesis) are treated not just as theological heretics
>but as political heretics as well. I've had numerous
>right wing Christians tell me that evolution is a
>"lie". Not just criticizing the theory, but claiming
>that everyone who supports it is deliberately
>deceptive. And a roughly equal number of Christians
>have told me that it's impossible to reconcile gay
>marriage with the Bible. What does one do if one has a
>genuine spiritual experience involving Jesus, but
>cannot conform that vision to the "political
>correctness" of scriptural literalism and
Good point. An experience doesn't answer all questions; in some ways it
complicates one's life alarmingly. Then one must hammer out pieces of
the meaning on the anvil of one's own experience.
Mythical story (ie, you need not believe in the literal story that
follows): In 1984, I did a survey of near -death experiencers. One,
Patricia, had attempted suicide at the age of 17 by drinking a poison.
Her mother - an alcoholic schizophrenic - rushed her to the hospital.
Patricia saw her body on the gurney.
She was told: "You were sent to earth to learn, and if you don't learn
this way you will have to learn in another way, much more painful. We
don't want you to go through that pain."
Lynn: What did they mean, "another way"?
Patricia: I don't know, they didn't explain. Maybe you go to hell. I
think it is reincarnation, you come back in an even worse life. But I
don't really know.
Patricia's humility "I don't know, I wasn't told" is refreshing and she
is unusual in that she acknowledged the limits of her experience and the
unanswered questions. Too often we confabulate meaning where the
experience has gaps. Religion is a messy business, not as tidy as we
would like to believe. The universe is strange.
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