Today's reflection from Vince Exley serendipitously fits in with a brilliant and lengthy conversation we've been having in the Catholica forum in recent days entitled "Searching for New Ways to be Catholic" [LINK]. Vince wrote this a few days before that conversation started. Catholica attracts a more mature readership many of whom are no longer prepared to put up with the religious bullshit anymore. They no longer have to please their parents, or the pope, but they're seriously trying to find answers to the meaning of Life. That's essentially what this whole discussion is about today: "What do we actually believe today" in the privacy of our own minds and away from trying to impress bishops and trying not to stir up the temple police?
A LOOK AT MY LIFE
I don't think there is any greater way of condemning belief in a 'GOD' than in comparing the following two images:
The first one is a sketch of how the Jews of the Old Testament saw the world. This understanding allowed for a God who could reach down from heaven and intervene with activity on earth. It was the view held by Jesus and all the early Christians. It allowed for a resurrected Jesus to ascend into heaven. It allowed for miracles to happen and led to the growth of a Christian religion that is heavily burdened with superstition.
compare that to this image...
The images above are a representation of what our own Milky Way Galaxy looks like if viewed from above and from the side. They are representations because humankind has not yet made satellites and telescopes that could travel to the place from which you could take these photographs. We live within the Milky Way and always view it from within as in the small photograph at right. In the images above you can see the approximate location of our Sun, about 25,000 light years from the centre of the Galaxy on the edge of the Orion Arm. Our home, Planet Earth, is a minute planet within a universe consisting of billions of galaxies. A universe that has been expanding for 13.7 billion years, a universe that expanded from a singularity. We cannot know where the singularity originated. We certainly cannot say that it originated from a supreme being or God — although we also cannot say that it didn't.
My views are changing...
Over the last couple of years I have viewed hundreds of hours of Teaching Company lectures [See: www.thegreatcourses.com.au] on such subjects as: Great World Religions, Understanding the Universe, Cosmology, Dark Matter, Great ideas of Philosophy, The study of effective reasoning, The art of critical decision making, Catholic Church history, Philosophy of Religion, Sceptics and believers, Religions of the Axial Age, Philosophy, Religion and the Meaning of Life, Tools of Thinking, and many, many others. All of this has brought me to the conclusion that I absolutely CANNOT accept as true anything that cannot be logically proven.
Therefore I cannot accept that there is a supreme being, God. I cannot accept that there is life after death.
No Life After Death!?
For almost 80 years the concept of a life after my death was a very comfortable balm to me. In the next life all that I had suffered in this earthly life would be made up to me. Now that has been completely taken away.
Life seems to be about suffering...
We human beings are simply animals, just like the rest of the Earth's inhabitants except we have reached a higher stage of development. Like the animals we are subject to all the vagaries of nature. We can be born whole or partly deformed, born into a land of plenty, or a land of constant struggle for survival. We can be born white, black, brown or yellow. Sex is very important to us but by nature or nurture we can be attracted to the opposite sex, or the same sex or even to paedophilia. Marriage seems to be an expected source of happiness but so many break down and it is obvious that to maintain relationships the idiosyncrasies and annoying habits of one's partner have to be tolerated. Also children can end up being a great source of disappointment.
Where do I find happiness?
First of all I don't think I ever really believed in "Life after Death". It never really guided me. What did guide me was an inner spirit or equanimity that accepted life's adversities and maintained a zest for living. Today, in old age I find that I don't have to be completely comfortable or pain free in order to be happy and enjoying life.
I have, after 80 years completely given away the Catholic church. In my opinion the whole structure of the Church is ridiculous. It's not worth the effort to try and reform it. However I have not given away my admiration for the man, Jesus of Nazareth. Every now and then great people arise in the world who offer great inspiration on how to live. Francis recently posted an article entitled "That was a Man". [See: www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=93765]. I thank you Francis for a wonderful post. This is how I see Jesus and that is the man I follow and admire.
That was a man!
by Francis, Kingsgrove, NSW, Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 10:33
That was a man! … and somehow we feel he is with us especially when we get together in prayer and in sharing the Scriptures ... and when we share him amongst us in the Breaking of bread. We loved those years when we and the women walked with him and took his instructions. We loved him for the person he was, a Jew and versed in the Scriptures ... and for the renewed energy we gained from him and for the way he taught and lived ... messages, we sort of knew intuitively, but had allowed laws and regulations to submerge.
He taught like he knew and lived what he preached not like we had regularly dished up to us in the temple and synagogues. He respected the religion but taught us not to be like the administrators. He taught us like he knew God and not just as we had been lectured about God. He taught us how to understand the Scriptures and wanted us to fulfill them. We saw how easily he helped the blind, sick and lame to get well. Somehow he empowered them to heal themselves though we thought he had special powers. All the time, we thought he was teaching us the Reign of God to be lived in the everyday world. Rather he was empowering us to be and do as he was obviously empowered. It is little wonder he seemed like a very son of God.
We loved him and felt we must always need him and we felt we would never deny him but, after he was taken by the Romans at Gethsemane we went into hiding fearing lest we meet the same fate. Our beloved Mary of Magdala told us Jesus has arisen and she had seen him. She was an important member of our group and Peter and John raced off to see the tomb immediately. After that we saw him too and knew he had, in some important way, risen to be with us always. Jesus had promised all of us his Spirit to be our guide and we felt we surely needed help. We kept to ourselves but all of a sudden something happened to us and we were wonderfully empowered and were really new men and women ready to face anything to establish Jesus’ We became, as it were, Jesus risen from the dead and ready to preach his way and teaching to the ends of the Earth. We gathered fearlessly in the temple and synagogues praising God for Jesus and we gathered in homes to Break Bread together.
We became known as a group and many accepted our word about Jesus and his way. Most of us traveled some near and some far and many believed in Jesus. Some of our 12 are being murdered for our faith and the rest know it will happen to all of us except we felt John, our mystic, might survive. However we knew the faithful, many men and women, now empowered by The Holy Spirit, will continue to serve one another in prayer, service and The Breaking of Bread. We have passed on through the wonderful men and women of our communities the Good News and we hope the Communities will continue to show how they love one another. We desire you of the future to have peace and not be disturbed by others if for any reason they try to steer you away from the Way of Jesus, Communities of love and service of one another and the Breaking of Bread.
Francis on behalf of the last of the 12.
My purpose is to remember the love that created me in God
Following the example of such people as Jesus, Gandi, Mandella and exuding a great love for the people around me is extremely satisfying. I live in a retirement village along with 90 other people and I find it easy to love them all.
Vince Exley submitted to Catholica on 24 January 2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?