Tag Archives: God

My Life is Not About Me

galaxyI have heard several times lately from several different sources the message that my life is not about me. When I hear a message repeated over and over I tend to think I am hearing it for a reason. Maybe the universe is sending me a message because I am ready to hear it. Or perhaps the message is constantly out there but because I am ready to hear it, I am more open to it and so I do hear it. Both are possible but the common theme between the two is that I am ready to hear it.

This message that my life is not about me is usually conveyed in a religious context and I take it to mean that rather than my life not being about me, that my life is about God. But what does it mean to live a life not about the self but about God? I think it is clear that a person who lives a self centered life does so because he is motivated by his ego. The ego desires comfort, safety, wealth, power for its own aggrandizement and protection. It is distrustful of others, jealous, racist and acts from a place of fear ultimately. By contrast, a person who lives his life according to God’s plan will discard these egocentric qualities and motivations. This is where faith comes in because to do this requires a faith that ultimately all will be well and taken care of despite not keeping a constant fixation upon things being well.

It seems clear to me that God is not ego. What is a little difficult to pin down is a more positive definition of God. But this makes sense in that God is infinite, eternal and beyond comprehension. Naturally an entity fitting this description is beyond definitions and labels. Faith comes in here too in that it takes faith to relate to something that is so intellectually un-relatable. At the same time God is love (1 John 4:8) and thus God is completely relatable because love is relation itself. Clearly Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians is the opposite of ego:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor.13:4-7).

It also seems to me that God is both an “other” and at the same time intimately connected to me. God is an “other” in the sense that He is beyond all comprehension and I am not. Therefore the two of us are different and separate. However, there is also the sense that I came from God and have a connection with Him. In this sense living a life according to God’s plan might be the same thing as living a life in accordance to the will of my true self, which is the part of me that is not ego.

This Lent the message that my life is not about me has been made abundantly clear. I was all set to begin Lent when the sudden death of a family member disrupted everything. This event told me my life is not about myself because I cannot control or predict it. Because I cannot control or predict my life there is someone or something else in control that is not me. To the extent that I try to control or believe I can control my life I am acting in a manner that is contrary to reality which is always destined to end in failure.

God is eternal and as such, God’s plan is eternal. By contrast, my mortal existence is definitely not eternal (as was powerfully demonstrated by the death I just experienced). Accordingly, any plan that I come up with for myself is finite and not like God’s plan. Anything material (e.g. wealth, possessions, health, racial identity) is likewise not eternal. It seems to me that any sort of desperate clutching to these things would be contrary to God’s plan.

It also seems to me that if one adopts an attitude of surrender to God’s plan that a tremendous burden will be lifted. Jesus himself said that his “yoke is easy and his burden is light.” (Matt 11:30). But the question naturally arises, how can one know what is God’s plan? I think the approach to this question is to avoid those things that are definitely not God, like ego. Moreover, it seems logical that if one is acting in accordance with his true self that he will experience a lightness of spirit and an ease of action. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he describes the fruits of the spirit as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23). Clearly these are not the fruits of the ego. And I suppose faith must again come in to play in determining what is and is not in accordance with God’s plan.

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Monolog of a [W]hite Supremacist Part II

“Abiogenesis is the manner in which a radical autonomist pays lip service to the legitimacy of one’s origin in the barest and basest sense so as to not appear absolutely nutty if he were to pontificate on his TRUE belief about Origin which means NOTHING to him and so he embraces abiogenesis like the circular jerkular that he is… Still, he maintains his perpetuating self-annihilation.”

The definition of “Abiogenesis” is “the process by which life arises naturally from non-living matter.” According to the white Supremacist’s pronouncement above I assume this is what he thinks I believe as a “self-annihilating radical autonomist” (his labels). Moreover, I gather he thinks the reason I believe in abiogenesis is because, although I do not care about my ultimate spiritual origin or racial origin I must at leaPeriodic_table_svgst acknowledge that I have an origin otherwise I would appear crazy to some hypothetical outside observer. I will attempt to address each “point” in his theory in the paragraphs below.

First of all, I do believe that life is constructed with non living matter. In other words the types of atoms that make up my body can be found on the periodic table of elements. At least some of the types of atoms found in my body can also be found in non living matter; iron for example. So in a sense I do believe in abiogenesis in that human bodies are constructed of the same material stuff that makes up everything else in this material universe in which we live. I suppose wrapped up in his accusation is the assumption that there is nothing special about life or that life is somehow an accidental byproduct of materiality coming together in random combinations. In other words, the belief in abiogenesis must also deny the existence of God or spirituality.

But this is not true. The belief in biochemistry can exist side by side with a belief in God. For the record, I do believe in God. I also disagree with his assessment that I believe in abiogenesis because my origin is not important to me. Let me repeat, I do believe in God as my origin and final destination and that is important to me. I suppose he is also suggesting that I do not hold my racial origin as important. This is true to an extent. I am interested in cultural history and I do have a certain affinity for the “white” race having been born and raised within that culture. But my whiteness certainly is not the most important part of my life or even something I think about very often. So he is correct when he states that my racial origin is not important to me in that I do not think it is ultimately important whether one race goes extinct over a period of time. This has been happening since the dawn of man. And races do not truly go extinct anyway; they interbreed with other races, produce mixed offspring and the genetic code is passed on. In this sense the concept of race is really an artificial construct, somewhat illusory and literally skin deep.

Although he has never clearly articulated the point, when he calls me a “self-annihilator” he seems to be doing so on two separate but connected levels; the material and the spiritual. On the material level he believes me to be a self-annihilator because my wife and I use contraception and have limited our offspring to two children. This (I believe he thinks) is self-annihilation on the racial level. Other races reproduce in larger numbers than white people and will edge white people out of existence eventually. On the spiritual level, I am a self annihilator because by using contraception I am disobeying God’s will and am acting autonomously. Accordingly, I am pulling myself away from God and in the process annihilating my self ultimately. As an interesting side note, on the material or ultimately less important level my use of contraception seems to affect a larger group of people than myself (i.e., my race) however on the spiritual or ultimately more important level my use of contraception only affects myself.

Finally I must address another interesting aspect of his accusatory statement regarding abiogenesis. Part of his false assumption regarding the motivation behind his other false assumption regarding my belief in abiogenesis is the notion that I am somehow concerned that other people will think I am “nutty” if I profess no belief what so ever as to my origin. The difficulty I have of even articulating this idea suggests how muddled and confused his thinking is on this subject. I am not sure who he thinks I fear will judge me on this belief I do not in fact have. What is more interesting is that this is an example of the subtle, psychological current of judgment and shame that surfaces from time to time in his ideas. This, I believe, is the true underpinning of his beliefs, the reason he compares himself to others, the reason he blames others and the reason he so desperately clings to his beliefs despite their logical flaws. Shame is a powerful yet subtle force that shapes the way a person views the world and treats other people.

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Dialog with a [W]hite Supremacist Part II

My faithful white Supremacist reader goes on to say, “An ‘ego’ entirely detached from the self is nonsensical[; a]s nonsensical as an ‘ego’ without a dominant self. So in fact, the ‘madness’ of one’s ‘ego’ is the making of one’s dominant self. Identifying that dominant self will then help one understand the origin of his inexplicable ‘ego.’”

My reaction to this statement is first, to marvel at the consistency of his position as it relates to the ego, shame and race. It seems like all the aspects of these terms that I find negative he seems to value as virtuous. In my world one should strive to separate from one’s ego but he sees the ego as an essential. I see shame as damaging. He sees shame as the glue that holds society together. As for race, he is in favor of separating people according to race and that it is desirable that races should strive for supremacy over each other. This is consistent with his view of the ego which is the source of pride, envy, lust etc. These are all qualities that would lend themselves to one person competing with another. Shame of course is the other side of the coin from pride and (to the supremacist) is the rightful mindset for the person who does not share the supremacist’s viewpoint.

Next he says, “The presumption is a God-ordained free will [be] ABLE to envelope even those ‘acting’ as though they had no God-ordained free will. Likewise, presuming no God-ordained free will assumes an inability ‘to act’ as though one had God-ordained free will. But this is not the ‘act’ of the radical autonomist… He very much ‘acts on’ a god-like free will. He only ‘preaches’ no god-ordained free will for the idiots that ‘will’ buy it as the excuse for his reckless, self-annihilating, totally detached ‘ego.’

These terms “God-ordained free will” and “radical autonomist” are terms he frequently employs. I have tried on several occasions to get him to define these terms with specificity but he never has to my satisfaction. That is, the definitions he proposed did nothing to clarify the terms in my mind. He seems to take offense when I ask him to clarify his arguments, often accusing me of feigning ignorance. But I don’t think I would be alone in scratching my head trying to make sense of the passage quoted above.

As best I can tell based on other comments he has made, “God-ordained free will” means a free will whereby the actor chooses to do what God wants him to do. If true, two questions logically arise. First, how does one know they are actually acting in accordance with God’s will. Second, is this any type of free will at all? By contrast (again, as best I can tell) “Radical Autonomist” seems to mean someone who denies “God-ordained free will,” seeks autonomy from God and acts in any way that differs with my white Supremacist reader’s sensibilities. There is circularity to this argument. Since he acts with “God-ordained free will” his actions are correct and therefore anyone who acts differently is a “Radical Autonomist.”

It seems to me that the ego and shame are the causes of much suffering in the world. And I do not believe God wants us to suffer. Accordingly, it is my contention that detaching from one’s ego is the means by which one acts with God Ordained Free Will. By contrast, believing the ego to be the self is to align one’s self with the desires of the ego. Among these desires are envy and indeed supremacy. I could argue this is actually radical autonomy masquerading under the guise of God’s approval.

I am sure he will disagree but the longer this dialog goes on the more clues I have into deciphering his “Suprema-speak.”

To be continued…

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The Book of Bud

Please check out my latest self-published novel entitled “The Book of Bud or the Thirty Day Novel Experiment” available on Amazon:

The Book of Bud

This is the story of Bud, a thirty-something, white, male working a corporate, cubicle job and feeling stuck in life. To become unstuck he decides to undertake the “30 Day Novel Experiment.” He has 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel. This works out to 1,667 words per day on average. Very soon after taking on the challenge his life begins to change and he learns there is no turning back.

Written reviews on the Amazon page are definitely appreciated!

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The Free Will Debate Part I

The free will debate has existed since ancient times. Anyone can read the various ins and outs of the debate as argued by various people. I think what is more important is the debate that goes on inside the individual.

On the surface, if I do not think about it too deeply it does feel as if I have free will. I can choose to turn left or right. I choose to make the moral choice (as I understand it) or not.

But it is conceivable that I am only experiencing the illusion of free will. When a thought pops into my head I take ownership of it. I claim the credit of my creativity. But if I think about it, I really have no idea where this thought originated. Perhaps someone, somewhere sitting at a computer is implanting these thoughts in my head and I assume they are of my own doing. In this model of consciousness there is a “me” capable of observing but that “me” is under the illusion that the thoughts I think are my own. But even under this model I seem to have the choice of choosing whether or not I will take ownership of these thoughts. But then again, this choosing could also be implanted by the guy sitting at the computer.

So I am stuck in the position where I cannot prove or disprove that I have free will. My religion teaches that God endowed man with free will. My hunch tells me I have some degree of free will but it is probably less than what I assume it to be without thinking about it too much.

Recently a white-supremacist who has been regularly commenting on my blog made the argument (if I understand him correctly) that “God ordained free-will” (his term) means actually having the limited choice between choosing to do God’s will or choosing not to do God’s will. See the comments to my blog post Procrastination When Writing is Essentially Laziness Only More Complicated. I am sure if I misstated his theory he will correct me in the comments to this post.

The question that arises in my mind is this: How can I know what is God’s will in order to properly exercise my God Ordained Free-Will in order to make the correct decision? From a Christian perspective the answer is that the Bible is the word of God and tells me what His will is. The only problem with that is the Bible says a lot of things that are open to interpretation. So I am still stuck in the position of not actually knowing the will of God.

This white-supremacist commenter also argued that the opposite of exercising God Ordained Free Will is the exercising of Radical Autonomy (his term). He goes on to say that Radical Autonomy leads ultimately to Self-Annihilation (his term yet again). Again, I am sure he will correct me in the comments if I am misstating his position. From my perspective, there are a great many hoops he needs to jump through in order to square his theories on, God Ordained Free Will, white-supremacy, and Christianity not to mention Radical Autonomy and Self Annihilation.

Of course this white supremacist has the free will to respond or not respond to this post in the comments. If he does respond (which I suspect he will) I assume he will believe his choice to respond is an exercise of “God Ordained Free-Will.” The debate will then proceed from there.

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Shame is Self-Annihilation

Shame is the hatred of the self or at least the belief that the self deserves punishment. Not all shame is bad or inappropriate. In fact, shame can be healthy when one commits a bad act and seeks to atone for that act. In this circumstance shame informs the self that the self has committed a bad act. Shame becomes a problem when it expands beyond this role and dominates a person’s life and infiltrates every moment of existence. When shame expands beyond its useful role it becomes difficult to live a moral life according to Christian morality as defined by Jesus. Specifically, when asked in the Gospel of Matthew which is the greatest commandment Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (MT 22:36-40).

A person I recently interacted with who is a self-avowed white supremacist and Christian whom I believe to be shame driven expressed that because he does not love himself he is not required to love his (presumably non-white) neighbor. I found this to be a clever loop-hole but it ultimately fails for two major reasons.

First, to love God (the first and most important commandment which even my white supremacist acquaintance would acknowledge) he must also love God’s creation which is an extension and reflection of God. God’s creation includes one’s self and his neighbors. Certainly this love is not unconditional. In order to love something whole heartedly (as the greatest commandment requires) the love cannot come from a place of obligation. The heart must have the free will to choose to love or to not love. To love out of obligation is merely going through the motions, is not whole-hearted and lacks real value.

Second, in the absence of self-love, shame will expand beyond its useful role because in this environment shame does not serve to bring the self back from error but rather to annihilate and perpetually punish the self. With this type of shame naturally comes comparison to others, resentment of others and jealousy of others. In this environment it is impossible to love one’s neighbor or one’s self. I believe if one cannot love himself he cannot truly love God. Life becomes joyless and hateful to the self and the others with whom he interacts. Under these circumstances there is no room for the Holy Spirit to enter the heart. This is self-annihilation. According to Saint Paul the fruit of the Holy Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. (Gal 5:22-23). None of these fruits can ripen in an environment of shame and hatred for the self and one’s neighbor.

Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the Book of Genesis specifically states “they were both naked … and were not ashamed.” (Gen 2:25). But when they ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they became aware of their nakedness, became ashamed, covered themselves and hid from God. (Gen 3:7-10). It was shame that separated man from God since the very beginning. It is also shame that separates man from himself and his neighbor (extensions of God). This is why shame (the absence of self-love) is ultimately self-annihilating.

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Hang in there

In my mind there is a poster of a cat  hanging on a rope or something. Underneath there is a caption which reads “hang in there.” I have seen it somewhere before like on an inspirational poster. There is an industry that makes these things and there are customers who are there to buy them. There is the sense that the people who made this poster have all the answers. They know that life constantly changes and the bad times will end  and there will be good times after that. But there is also the sense that the person who made this poster saw a picture of a cat hanging from a rope and put the caption underneath it because it was cute or funny or he thought someone might find it inspirational. Who knows what the poster’s creator’s personal life is like?

If the creator of the poster does not have all the answers would that make its message any less powerful? Part of me wants to think so. I suspect that part of me is my ego. On the other hand, perhaps the creator of the poster was merely a pawn being used by God to convey to me a message in my darkest hour. In that case the poster’s creator’s personal life should not have an impact on my assessment of the poster itself. On the third hand, perhaps there is nothing behind the poster. Perhaps statistically people like cats and inspirational statements. Put the two together and the creator of the poster will make money.

Can the poster still be meaningful even if there is no God and the poster was created by someone with cynical intentions? Can I still draw meaning from it if I just randomly happened upon it and I just randomly happen to be going through a bad period at that particular time? There is the sense that I am a sucker if I see the poster and it was made cynically and there is no God and I still feel my heart warm when I see it. This assumes that both my outward actions and my inward thoughts are both being observed. In a sense they are. I am observing myself and I can see both my outward actions and thoughts. My ego can see me and criticize me. God can see me

Perhaps I am the creator of the poster. I do not remember making it but I did and I placed it in my life at just the right point to give me courage to wait out the bad times. After I die, when the veil of life is lifted and I have a chance to read the script of this production and take a look back stage I  will know the real reason why I made that poster. I will remember my thought process at the time of its making. I will smile knowingly at the private joke I had with myself and the punchline I would never get while living my life.

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