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religious backgroup, Cari's request

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  • flowjack11
    Cari stated: Also, perhaps, if you feel comfortable, you could share with us a bit of your past experience or involvement with religion. I am always happy to
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 10, 2005
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      Cari stated:

      "Also, perhaps, if you feel comfortable, you could share with us a
      bit of your past experience or involvement with religion."

      I am always happy to talk about myself, Cari.

      Before I do, however, I would like to express my appreciation to you
      for providing the links to the back posts. They were helpful, and
      that search gizmo thing you mentioned is also useful. You seem to
      do a good job keeping the discussion focused. Without it, and I
      can't speak for anyone else here except myself, I would probably get
      lost somewhere in the backwaters of my own poor-organizational
      skills.

      I will do the best I can do provide such background.

      My mother made me attend Non-Denominational Christian church
      services when I was a child and during much of my teenage years. I
      didn't like it then, nor do I now. It was a frightening experience,
      one that I am glad is well in the past.

      Beyond that, I haven't really been "involved" in religion, except
      that I find religious thought fascinating and have done much
      personal research about all kinds of cults, ancient and
      contemporary. I don't really believe anything, except that God
      exists, that He is good, and that He would like for us, also, to be
      good. I'm still trying to work out what that means, though --
      being "good."

      Lately, I have been doubting my vague and undefined conception
      of "good." I have been thinking that God is infinite in his wisdom
      and good only because all knowledge and reality of things in the
      world, universal laws and the rest, begin with him. Thus what we
      know is only God and there is nothing against which to conceptualize
      alternatives. Good is only an empty signifier which describes what
      existed before everything else; whether there is any intrinsic merit
      to what existed first remains to be determined. In other words
      there is no Badness as it has been traditionally understood by
      morality and ethics. There is only Being in contrast to God,
      or 'Being in time'. Perfection, then, is the original state of
      consciousness, and anything that proceeds perfection is unlike what
      came before it and, therefore, necessarily Bad.

      I'm not sure that makes any sense, though. Perhaps only in my
      mind. I am hesitant to just run with it, because I actually do
      believe that there is an absolute "good" and "bad"; I just don't
      know what they are

      I am inclined to believe that God is the best judge of what is good
      and bad, and it seems to me to be presumptuous to doubt His wisdom,
      even as I seem to be lacking access to it.

      I hope that helps and is in some way relevant. Re-reading it, it
      seems pretty self-indulgent and boring, not relevant to this board.
      But oh well.

      ,

      Chuck
    • lady_caritas
      ... you ... get ... Thank you very much, Chuck. Actually, I like to think that I m working with the other moderators, PMCV and Gerry, as part of a team, and
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 11, 2005
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        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "flowjack11" <flowjack11@y...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Cari stated:
        >
        > "Also, perhaps, if you feel comfortable, you could share with us a
        > bit of your past experience or involvement with religion."
        >
        > I am always happy to talk about myself, Cari.
        >
        > Before I do, however, I would like to express my appreciation to
        you
        > for providing the links to the back posts. They were helpful, and
        > that search gizmo thing you mentioned is also useful. You seem to
        > do a good job keeping the discussion focused. Without it, and I
        > can't speak for anyone else here except myself, I would probably
        get
        > lost somewhere in the backwaters of my own poor-organizational
        > skills.


        Thank you very much, Chuck. Actually, I like to think that I'm
        working with the other moderators, PMCV and Gerry, as part of a team,
        and we've appreciated support from many of our members.



        > I will do the best I can do provide such background.
        >
        > My mother made me attend Non-Denominational Christian church
        > services when I was a child and during much of my teenage years. I
        > didn't like it then, nor do I now. It was a frightening
        experience,
        > one that I am glad is well in the past.



        I'm sorry to hear you had a frightening experience, Chuck. My own
        upbringing was originally Christian, too, but not at all
        frightening. Would you categorize your Non-denominational experience
        as fundamentalist?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-denominational_Christianity



        > Beyond that, I haven't really been "involved" in religion, except
        > that I find religious thought fascinating and have done much
        > personal research about all kinds of cults, ancient and
        > contemporary. I don't really believe anything, except that God
        > exists, that He is good, and that He would like for us, also, to be
        > good. I'm still trying to work out what that means, though --
        > being "good."


        Well, your belief of an existent "good" God, regardless of lack of
        associated dogma, does not seem to disagree with a general,
        conventional Christian description of God.


        > Lately, I have been doubting my vague and undefined conception
        > of "good." I have been thinking that God is infinite in his wisdom
        > and good only because all knowledge and reality of things in the
        > world, universal laws and the rest, begin with him. Thus what we
        > know is only God and there is nothing against which to
        conceptualize
        > alternatives. Good is only an empty signifier which describes what
        > existed before everything else; whether there is any intrinsic
        merit
        > to what existed first remains to be determined. In other words
        > there is no Badness as it has been traditionally understood by
        > morality and ethics. There is only Being in contrast to God,
        > or 'Being in time'. Perfection, then, is the original state of
        > consciousness, and anything that proceeds perfection is unlike what
        > came before it and, therefore, necessarily Bad.
        >
        > I'm not sure that makes any sense, though. Perhaps only in my
        > mind. I am hesitant to just run with it, because I actually do
        > believe that there is an absolute "good" and "bad"; I just don't
        > know what they are
        >
        > I am inclined to believe that God is the best judge of what is good
        > and bad, and it seems to me to be presumptuous to doubt His wisdom,
        > even as I seem to be lacking access to it.
        >
        > I hope that helps and is in some way relevant. Re-reading it, it
        > seems pretty self-indulgent and boring, not relevant to this
        board.
        > But oh well.
        >
        > ,
        >
        > Chuck
        >


        Not at all irrelevant, Chuck, because your emerging beliefs can
        provide a backdrop for comparison/contrast to other ideas. :-) And
        sometimes that does help to at least gain an intellectual
        understanding, whether or not you agree with a concept.

        Generally, you appear to portray an anthropomorphic existent god, a
        godbeing with some human qualities, that is wise and good (open to
        interpretation), a god that "would like for us" to be good, etc. and
        one who can "judge." But then you say,

        "There is only Being in contrast to God,
        or 'Being in time'. Perfection, then, is the original state of
        consciousness, and anything that proceeds perfection is unlike what
        came before it and, therefore, necessarily Bad."

        Chuck, do I understand correctly that you are contrasting "Being in
        time" and "God"? If this god is not constrained by time, is it
        constrained by other limits, since the god you depict *is* existent
        and seems to have some humanlike characteristics?

        How does this existent god you describe differ from a Gnostic idea of
        the Unknown Father?

        Thanks,

        Cari
      • Alan Raider
        Cari asked: Chuck, do I understand correctly that you are contrasting Being in time and God ? You are correct. We are in time. We exist there. God does
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 11, 2005
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          Cari asked:
           
          "Chuck, do I understand correctly that you are contrasting "Being in time" and "God"?

           

          You are correct.  We are "in time." We exist there.  God does not exist in time and is not bound by it.

           

          I would like to remind you that while my concept of God does indeed have some human characteristics -- namely, that He is good and wants us to be good --, I do not know what that means, to be "good".  In other words I have no philosophy of ethics right now to call my own, and I am not sure what it means to be "good."

           

          Note that I present my ideas chronologically, i.e., "lately, I have been thinking that..." in other words I have been adapting my beliefs since having a more anthropromorphized God who wants us to be "good".  The point of the paragraph about the origin of "bad" and "good" is to expose the weakness of this more human, "good" God.  I feel a bit unconfortable with the belief, though, and slightly blasphemous.  Perhaps that has something to do with my upbringing.

           

          It is a moraline-free "good" and "bad", precisely because I haven't yet pinned down the distinction between the two, and I do not want to rest the distinction on a list of "thou shalt nots..."


          Cari asks: "How does this existent god you describe differ from a Gnostic idea of the Unknown Father?"

           

          They don't really, I suppose.  Only so far as the Gnostic texts from the Nag Hammadi build a mythos around their Godhead -- i.e. he lives with his Aeons in the Pleroma (or, as PCMV noted, in a place that is not quite within the Pleroma nor quite without it), the Universe was created when Wisdom fell from the Pleroma and birthed "the child God", and so forth -- while I do not claim to know anything about my God, the place wherein He dwells.  I only claim that he exists and directly caused creation -- hence the chronology presented in the views I have held in the past (God is good, wants us to be good", and, secondly, as defined in the paragraph about the distinction between "good" and "bad", a more 'deist' view that simply posits God's existence without having knowledge of him).  In other words, these days I do not claim that God is good, bad, or any of those -- just that He exists.

           

          To be honest, I am not sure what I believe.  Sometimes, I believe that God is good, and other times I feel that he has absolutely no sentiments towards us at all, at least not as we understand sentiments.  It is always changing, I find.  I would like, however, to focus my belives, make them concrete, presentable, and concise.

           


          lady_caritas <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "flowjack11" <flowjack11@y...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Cari stated:
          >
          > "Also, perhaps, if you feel comfortable, you could share with us a
          > bit of your past experience or involvement with religion."
          >
          > I am always happy to talk about myself, Cari. 
          >
          > Before I do, however, I would like to express my appreciation to
          you
          > for providing the links to the back posts.  They were helpful, and
          > that search gizmo thing you mentioned is also useful.  You seem to
          > do a good job keeping the discussion focused.  Without it, and I
          > can't speak for anyone else here except myself, I would probably
          get
          > lost somewhere in the backwaters of my own poor-organizational
          > skills.


          Thank you very much, Chuck.  Actually, I like to think that I'm
          working with the other moderators, PMCV and Gerry, as part of a team,
          and we've appreciated support from many of our members.



          > I will do the best I can do provide such background. 
          >
          > My mother made me attend Non-Denominational Christian church
          > services when I was a child and during much of my teenage years.  I
          > didn't like it then, nor do I now.  It was a frightening
          experience,
          > one that I am glad is well in the past.



          I'm sorry to hear you had a frightening experience, Chuck.  My own
          upbringing was originally Christian, too, but not at all
          frightening.  Would you categorize your Non-denominational experience
          as fundamentalist?
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-denominational_Christianity



          > Beyond that, I haven't really been "involved" in religion, except
          > that I find religious thought fascinating and have done much
          > personal research about all kinds of cults, ancient and
          > contemporary.  I don't really believe anything, except that God
          > exists, that He is good, and that He would like for us, also, to be
          > good.  I'm still trying to work out what that means, though --
          > being "good."


          Well, your belief of an existent "good" God, regardless of lack of
          associated dogma, does not seem to disagree with a general,
          conventional Christian description of God. 


          > Lately, I have been doubting my vague and undefined conception
          > of "good." I have been thinking that God is infinite in his wisdom
          > and good only because all knowledge and reality of things in the
          > world, universal laws and the rest, begin with him.  Thus what we
          > know is only God and there is nothing against which to
          conceptualize
          > alternatives.  Good is only an empty signifier which describes what
          > existed before everything else; whether there is any intrinsic
          merit
          > to what existed first remains to be determined.  In other words
          > there is no Badness as it has been traditionally understood by
          > morality and ethics.  There is only Being in contrast to God,
          > or 'Being in time'.  Perfection, then, is the original state of
          > consciousness, and anything that proceeds perfection is unlike what
          > came before it and, therefore, necessarily Bad.
          >
          > I'm not sure that makes any sense, though.  Perhaps only in my
          > mind.  I am hesitant to just run with it, because I actually do
          > believe that there is an absolute "good" and "bad"; I just don't
          > know what they are
          >
          > I am inclined to believe that God is the best judge of what is good
          > and bad, and it seems to me to be presumptuous to doubt His wisdom,
          > even as I seem to be lacking access to it.
          >
          > I hope that helps and is in some way relevant.  Re-reading it, it
          > seems pretty self-indulgent and boring, not relevant to this
          board. 
          > But oh well.
          >
          > ,
          >
          > Chuck
          >


          Not at all irrelevant, Chuck, because your emerging beliefs can
          provide a backdrop for comparison/contrast to other ideas.  :-)  And
          sometimes that does help to at least gain an intellectual
          understanding, whether or not you agree with a concept.

          Generally, you appear to portray an anthropomorphic existent god, a
          godbeing with some human qualities, that is wise and good (open to
          interpretation), a god that "would like for us" to be good, etc. and
          one who can "judge."  But then you say,

          "There is only Being in contrast to God,
          or 'Being in time'. Perfection, then, is the original state of
          consciousness, and anything that proceeds perfection is unlike what
          came before it and, therefore, necessarily Bad."

          Chuck, do I understand correctly that you are contrasting "Being in
          time" and "God"?  If this god is not constrained by time, is it
          constrained by other limits, since the god you depict *is* existent
          and seems to have some humanlike characteristics?

          How does this existent god you describe differ from a Gnostic idea of
          the Unknown Father?

          Thanks,

          Cari






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        • lady_caritas
          ... Gnostic idea of the Unknown Father? ... from the Nag Hammadi build a mythos around their Godhead -- i.e. he lives with his Aeons in the Pleroma (or, as
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 12, 2005
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            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Alan Raider <flowjack11@y...>
            wrote:

            >
            > Cari asks: "How does this existent god you describe differ from a
            Gnostic idea of the Unknown Father?"
            >
            >
            >
            > They don't really, I suppose. Only so far as the Gnostic texts
            from the Nag Hammadi build a mythos around their Godhead -- i.e. he
            lives with his Aeons in the Pleroma (or, as PCMV noted, in a place
            that is not quite within the Pleroma nor quite without it), the
            Universe was created when Wisdom fell from the Pleroma and
            birthed "the child God", and so forth -- while I do not claim to know
            anything about my God, the place wherein He dwells. I only claim
            that he exists and directly caused creation -- hence the chronology
            presented in the views I have held in the past (God is good, wants us
            to be good", and, secondly, as defined in the paragraph about the
            distinction between "good" and "bad", a more 'deist' view that simply
            posits God's existence without having knowledge of him). In other
            words, these days I do not claim that God is good, bad, or any of
            those -- just that He exists.
            >



            Thank you, Chuck, for your thoughts. Already more conversation has
            transpired regarding the Gnostic Unknown Father, so I won't belabor
            ideas by rehashing them in depth here, but I do have one comment that
            disagrees with your comparison. While you are going through this
            process on your path, consider that the Unknown Father was *not*
            considered existent, not a personal god, not a deistic god, not a god
            actually, in the normal sense of the word.

            Here's that Basilides quote PMCV mentioned that he has posted in the
            past:
            ......"There was when naught was: nay, even that "naught" was not
            aught of things that are. But nakedly, conjecture and mental
            quibbling apart, there was absolutely not even the one. And when I
            use the term "was" I do not mean to say that it was ;but merely to
            give some suggestion of what i wish to indicate, I use the
            expression "there was absolutely naught". Naught was, neither matter,
            nor substance, nor voidness of substance, nor simplicity, nor
            impossibility of composition, nor inconceptibility, imperceptibility,
            neither man, nor angel, nor God ; in fine, anything at all for which
            man has ever found a name, nor by any operation which falls within
            range of his perception or conception."......
            ( http://www.gnosis.org/library/basilide.htm )

            Gnostics recognized that we, as existents, could only perceive
            through images.

            "Truth did not come to the world nakedly; rather, it came in
            prototypes and images: the world will not accept it in any other
            form." (Gospel of Philip)

            What the Gnostics perceived was recognized as representing this
            absolute, infinite unknown. As you say, the Gnostics used mythos,
            representational narrative. But comprehending the images was not the
            same as literally changing the Unknown to a concrete existent.


            Cari
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