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Hell - Finally going to attempt to address it
Posted: 17 March 2011 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Okay, hell has been brought up a few times and I have been hesitant to jump in because at his point I am going to actually lay some pretty deep personal beliefs out there rather than speaking in more vague terms, but here goes. Hell, as it is referred to in the Bible is not, as most preach, an underworld place. The Greek word that is translated to “hell” in scripture is “Gehenna,” which is different from the abode of the dead, which is Hades. Gehenna is a literal place in the Hinnom Valley. In the Old Testament, it was the place where Jewish children were sacrificed to the gods Chemosh and Moloch or Molech (by fire,) and therefore was considered a place of great wickedness, an abomination, if you will. In Roman times it became a dump with perpetually burning fires set to prevent pestilence. Gehenna became a metaphor for what we call hell. The passages refer to an earthly location and are speaking directly to the people at hand. I believe, if you follow the translation carefully in Matthew 23, Jesus tells that specific generation of Jews of the national destruction they will suffer within 3 generations. Probably referencing the massive fiery destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. They were being warned that if they did not change their wicked ways, the Romans would come in and destroy them. The Old Testament also refers to a hidden place and Hades, but not to a place of eternal burning. Even the references to unquenchable fires meant, when directly translated unstoppable, not never ending. The images we have been presented of hell and the notion that God is sentencing people to eternal burning with the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth does not refer to an afterlife, but to judgements placed upon nations and are warnings of impending wars and disasters. I am not a scholar and I know I am not expressing this terribly well, but the point is the modern Western idea of hell, while inspired by an earthly place in scripture, comes from other interpretations and works of fiction like Dante’s Inferno and other texts written centuries later. You need to reference more direct Greek translations of the scripture to see the differences. The King James is not as specific as people like to believe and has a bit of influence from the era. The devil is in the details and some of the details are not clear. Point being here, I do not think God sentences people to eternal burning. I do think that those who reject His gift do not get to be with Him. Maybe that simply means when things end, they end. For those who do not care, I guess the point is moot.

I believe that God has provided proof of His existence. I believe Jesus was divine, a part of God on Earth. God’s way of experiencing human life first hand. I do not believe it was contrived that Jesus managed to fulfill the 300 prophesies of a Messiah that were given centuries before His birth as part of a well planned ruse. The statistical probability given a 50/50 chance of fulfilling even 8 of the prophesies would be 10 to 157th power. The details of His birth, including location and bloodline, the flight out of Egypt, the miracles He would perform, and the fact that He would be tortured, beaten, and killed were all prophesies of the Messiah. One might be able to arrange, with hundreds of years of planning and complete cooperation and secrecy, the birth of an individual who fulfills 3 or 4 of the prophesies, but 8, 10, 50? I do not think so. Certainly, not every single one. I think Jesus was God’s way of revealing Himself to us. Hundreds of people witnessed the miracles. People witnessed His crucifixion. The words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” were chronicled. These were not words of despair, but the first line of Psalms 22, which is a psalm of praise. The Jewish people knew the scripture because they were taught by oral tradition and memorized it. Even in His agony, He made Himself an example and tried to show us that what He was doing was not unwilling, but a gift. God gave us free will. He allows us to do as we will, for better or for worse. He does not make us be good or bad. He gave us an amazing world and set us free in it. He allows evil in the world because otherwise we would have to lose our free will. We make choices and sometimes they have great repercussions, other times the repercussions suck. I also believe that God follows the basic scientific laws He lays out, and as such, chose to provide the greatest form of evidence and sacrifice He could through Jesus Christ. I do not think it was ever meant to be, “Accept this gift, or go to hell.” I think it was, “I love you and want you all to be with Me, but it is your choice. If you wish to be with Me, here is the path. You do not have to change everything about yourself, or give extra money to the church, or even join a church. All you have to do is accept that I love you enough to experience hunger, weariness, suffering, and death to be with you and experience as you do to prove to you that I love you.” I think to just force us to accept and believe would encroach upon our free will and He wanted us to choose Him freely.

I believe other religions have their own end game. Maybe for a good number of religions the endgame is reincarnation until the end of the world. Maybe for others it is just death and then it is as things were before they were born. But I think when Jesus said, “The only way to the Father is through me,” He meant that literally. Here is the path. Just believe and accept what is being given to you and you will join the Father. It is a gift. It can’t be earned through good deeds or sacrifice, which I think is another way of being fair, since some people have more financial ability to do good. Others have more time. This way the door is already open. It was not intended to be an ultimatum, but an invitation. This is what I believe.

I want to thank all of you for your questions. It has given me the encouragement to evaluate more carefully what I believe and why. The question of hell was something I struggled with and had a vague idea what I believed, but having to put it into words and look at more direct translations has settled much of my uncertainty. Sincerely, thank you.

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Posted: 17 March 2011 09:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t think anyone can understand hell…it’s pretty vague in all the Abrahamic religions…one thing is for sure…it involves fire.

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Posted: 17 March 2011 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I don’t think anyone can understand hell…it’s pretty vague in all the Abrahamic religions…one thing is for sure…it involves fire.

Strangly enough, that isn’t always the case, even in Western culture. I’ve seen some medieval and rennissaince concepts which portray it as one big massive lake of ice.

Either way, it’s not the sort of thing you would wish on your kids. Your neighbours maybe…. smile

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Posted: 18 March 2011 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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vhs_sunshine - 17 March 2011 09:24 PM

Okay, hell has been brought up a few times and I have been hesitant to jump in because at his point I am going to actually lay some pretty deep personal beliefs out there rather than speaking in more vague terms, but here goes. Hell, as it is referred to in the Bible is not, as most preach, an underworld place. The Greek word that is translated to “hell” in scripture is “Gehenna,” which is different from the abode of the dead, which is Hades. Gehenna is a literal place in the Hinnom Valley.

Well pointed out, VHS. I’d go a bit further, though, and point out that most prophecies in the Bible, whether Old Testament or New, only get written down after the fact—so Daniel prophesying about the downfall of the Babylonian, Persian and Macedonian empire is not that surprising. The author *knew* that those events have, in Joseph Smith’s favorite biblical phrase, “come to pass”! Likewise with allusions to the physical destruction of Jerusalem. It could be a pious fabrication. Same goes with the tales of the wickedness of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which is likely because their agricultural-based culture is less monotheistic than the severe, Wahhabi-esque, pastoral faith of the Judaean shepherds (IIRC Asimov discussed this in his secular history of the bible).

I still consider myself a Christian, but higher criticism, and continuing efforts by groups such as the Jesus Seminar, have revealed a very different picture of the Historical Jesus than we’ve been led to believe from a literalistic reading of the New Testament canon, if read assuming that the authors are not making anything up. I follow the teaching of Rabbi Yeshua, augmented by the ideals of the concept of the Divine Christ that has been formulated over time, but I don’t think the two can be equated. Actuality vs potentiality. But just as children can learn from Aesop’s fables, so can we learn from stories about the ideals of sacrifice, of the divine spark in us, etc. Which is probably how I find heretical stories such as Kazantzakis’ Last Temptation of Christ so moving. It describes a Jesus, not the orthodox one, that I can actually identify with. The author got excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church for his troubles.

As for hell — VHS, do you consider yourself a Universalist? They’re the first who explicitly rejects the concept of hell. Many liberal Christians probably identify with that position too, without necessarily adopting that label for themselves. I’m with you in identifying hell with what we do to each other—destruction of nature, the wealthy and powerful oppressing the downtrodden, etc.

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Posted: 18 March 2011 06:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Sunshine, that’s an interesting exposition on the concept of hell. Historically it’s probably as defensible as the hellfire and brimstone approach of eternal damnation but in the end there isn’t a shred of evidence that any of it relates to anything that is real. But at least you don’t believe in eternal and unremitting torture as an element of justice. Of course, that means that you don’t believe in the reported visions of the children of Fatima but that’s easily explained: people’s accounts of these things are subject to error. You see the problem, I hope.

Have you considered that the reason the prophecies were said to have been fulfilled is that people wished to believe they had been fulfilled? You write as though these occurrences are established fact. They are not. It is not hard to understand how people in that time of few writings and much superstition, fear and oppression could have said “Oh, yes, I heard . . .” and constructed a legend from that. Are you open to that possibility?

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Posted: 18 March 2011 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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PLaClair - 18 March 2011 06:24 AM

Sunshine, that’s an interesting exposition on the concept of hell. Historically it’s probably as defensible as the hellfire and brimstone approach of eternal damnation but in the end there isn’t a shred of evidence that any of it relates to anything that is real. But at least you don’t believe in eternal and unremitting torture as an element of justice. Of course, that means that you don’t believe in the reported visions of the children of Fatima but that’s easily explained: people’s accounts of these things are subject to error. You see the problem, I hope.

Have you considered that the reason the prophecies were said to have been fulfilled is that people wished to believe they had been fulfilled? You write as though these occurrences are established fact. They are not. It is not hard to understand how people in that time of few writings and much superstition, fear and oppression could have said “Oh, yes, I heard . . .” and constructed a legend from that. Are you open to that possibility?

Why would Jesus/God insist that the only way to heaven was through him? On what basis does that make any sense at all? For that matter, what does it mean?

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Posted: 18 March 2011 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Michel S. - 18 March 2011 03:40 AM
vhs_sunshine - 17 March 2011 09:24 PM

Okay, hell has been brought up a few times and I have been hesitant to jump in because at his point I am going to actually lay some pretty deep personal beliefs out there rather than speaking in more vague terms, but here goes. Hell, as it is referred to in the Bible is not, as most preach, an underworld place. The Greek word that is translated to “hell” in scripture is “Gehenna,” which is different from the abode of the dead, which is Hades. Gehenna is a literal place in the Hinnom Valley.

Well pointed out, VHS. I’d go a bit further, though, and point out that most prophecies in the Bible, whether Old Testament or New, only get written down after the fact—so Daniel prophesying about the downfall of the Babylonian, Persian and Macedonian empire is not that surprising. The author *knew* that those events have, in Joseph Smith’s favorite biblical phrase, “come to pass”! Likewise with allusions to the physical destruction of Jerusalem. It could be a pious fabrication. Same goes with the tales of the wickedness of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which is likely because their agricultural-based culture is less monotheistic than the severe, Wahhabi-esque, pastoral faith of the Judaean shepherds (IIRC Asimov discussed this in his secular history of the bible).

I still consider myself a Christian, but higher criticism, and continuing efforts by groups such as the Jesus Seminar, have revealed a very different picture of the Historical Jesus than we’ve been led to believe from a literalistic reading of the New Testament canon, if read assuming that the authors are not making anything up. I follow the teaching of Rabbi Yeshua, augmented by the ideals of the concept of the Divine Christ that has been formulated over time, but I don’t think the two can be equated. Actuality vs potentiality. But just as children can learn from Aesop’s fables, so can we learn from stories about the ideals of sacrifice, of the divine spark in us, etc. Which is probably how I find heretical stories such as Kazantzakis’ Last Temptation of Christ so moving. It describes a Jesus, not the orthodox one, that I can actually identify with. The author got excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church for his troubles.

As for hell — VHS, do you consider yourself a Universalist? They’re the first who explicitly rejects the concept of hell. Many liberal Christians probably identify with that position too, without necessarily adopting that label for themselves. I’m with you in identifying hell with what we do to each other—destruction of nature, the wealthy and powerful oppressing the downtrodden, etc.

But in the case of the prophesies of Jesus, they were well established centuries before His birth. As to the physical destruction of Jerusalem, sure it could have been pious fabrication, but I really do not think so, at least not in the example given in Matthew. I think sometimes when Christians consider Jesus they dismiss the humanity aspect. They focus on the divine, ignoring that He was also human, and that, in my opinion, belittles what He did. He was subjected to temptations, pain, weariness, hunger, etc. The Last Temptation of Christ, as I understand it, shows a moment in the garden when Jesus is tempted. I do not think the point is that He decided not to die and had to go back and fix things, as some have interpreted. I think He wanted to live, and again God said,“okay, but first I must show you what will happen if you make that choice. ” He sees the earthly joys He could experience, but sees that the message of divine love and salvation would be lost. He chooses, in spite of any personal human desires to give Himself up to an excruciating death…for us. That does not sound heretical to me. That sounds quite moving. I think some of us are a tiny bit too uptight and maybe cannot grok the concept of human and divine at the same time. I would use the word avatar, but I think some Christians might find it offensive.

I do not consider myself a Universalist. I try and keep my affiliations as broad as possible, because I am already part of groups that tend to conflict by the very nature of what they are, and I don’t like pigeon-holing myself into too specific a group because it seems to foster separation rather than unity. I don’t even do the Catholic / Protestant thing. I was “born Roman Catholic and will die Roman Catholic” according to my mother, but have also attended a variety of Protestant churches. I currently attend a Methodist Church, which incorporates my favorite things about the Catholic church (kneeling benches and candles) and the more emphatic protestant church (great worship music.) The reverend teaches the message and gives historical and contextual data which he encourages us to research on our own. I appreciate that a lot. It was not something I experienced as a teenager in the Pentecostal church. I consider myself just a Christian…who is Roman Catholic by blood? It’s an old world Italian thing, I guess.

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Posted: 18 March 2011 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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vhs_sunshine - 18 March 2011 07:17 AM

But in the case of the prophesies of Jesus, they were well established centuries before His birth. As to the physical destruction of Jerusalem, sure it could have been pious fabrication, but I really do not think so, at least not in the example given in Matthew. I think sometimes when Christians consider Jesus they dismiss the humanity aspect. They focus on the divine, ignoring that He was also human, and that, in my opinion, belittles what He did. He was subjected to temptations, pain, weariness, hunger, etc. The Last Temptation of Christ, as I understand it, shows a moment in the garden when Jesus is tempted. I do not think the point is that He decided not to die and had to go back and fix things, as some have interpreted. I think He wanted to live, and again God said,“okay, but first I must show you what will happen if you make that choice. ” He sees the earthly joys He could experience, but sees that the message of divine love and salvation would be lost. He chooses, in spite of any personal human desires to give Himself up to an excruciating death…for us. That does not sound heretical to me. That sounds quite moving. I think some of us are a tiny bit too uptight and maybe cannot grok the concept of human and divine at the same time. I would use the word avatar, but I think some Christians might find it offensive.

I do not consider myself a Universalist. I try and keep my affiliations as broad as possible, because I am already part of groups that tend to conflict by the very nature of what they are, and I don’t like pigeon-holing myself into too specific a group because it seems to foster separation rather than unity. I don’t even do the Catholic / Protestant thing. I was “born Roman Catholic and will die Roman Catholic” according to my mother, but have also attended a variety of Protestant churches. I currently attend a Methodist Church, which incorporates my favorite things about the Catholic church (kneeling benches and candles) and the more emphatic protestant church (great worship music.) The reverend teaches the message and gives historical and contextual data which he encourages us to research on our own. I appreciate that a lot. It was not something I experienced as a teenager in the Pentecostal church. I consider myself just a Christian…who is Roman Catholic by blood? It’s an old world Italian thing, I guess.

Rabbinical authorities would tell you that a lot of the prophesies foretelling Jesus as Messiah are taken out of context, or are due to mistranslations into the Greek Septuagint — cf. David Klinghoffer’s Why the Jews Rejected Jesus. I agree that Kazantzakis likely did not mean that Jesus actually erred and had to go back in time and fix things, more that it showed his humanity—he was tempted, but his mind then constructed what would have happened had he saved himself. I really like the portrayal of St. Paul in the hypothetical “Jesus didn’t die on the cross” future, though—telling him that it does not matter who the real Jesus is, what matters is that Paul has a powerful Messiah, the Redeemer, to sell to others. Which is, after all, what he did in real life. Sadly we don’t know much about the historical Jesus—cf. the Jesus Seminar and other efforts to reconstruct the earliest Christian texts in hope of stripping away later pious additions that are likely metaphorical at best.

I agree that too much pigeon-holing is not helpful. One of the tradition I adhere to is Episcopalian, and I consider it to be “reformed and Catholic”. Methodists used to be Anglicans/Episcopalians—what I didn’t realize until recently is that their split has much to do, interestingly, with US independence; previously Methodists would preach but not perform baptism and eucharists, reserving those to the Anglican priest. Your viewpoint is refreshing — all too often, when I hear someone says s/he is “just a Christian”, they belong to a “non-denominational” church that is extremely conservative in theology and evangelical in practice.

How did you end up in a Pentecostal church, by the way? I’ve not been to one, and have likewise attended many Catholic and Protestant churches (haven’t tried any Orthodox ones yet), and tend to have a pleasant experience with all—but the more conservative Baptists (I’ve also been to a Baptist/UCC joint congreagation that is wonderfully welcoming, passionate and non-judgmental)

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Posted: 18 March 2011 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Affluenza - 17 March 2011 09:48 PM

I don’t think anyone can understand hell…it’s pretty vague in all the Abrahamic religions…one thing is for sure…it involves fire.

It is a human concept used to control people.  Here is a non-scientific source for you from a man who has been very influence in my life and I have a lot of respect for him (and yes, I have corresponded with him, as well as met him a couple times in my life).  He is (surprise) a retired Episcopal priest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6I5VSZVqc

It is a very damaging concept and what he says goes right back to hijacking developmental stages.  This is a retired priest saying these things too.

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Mriana
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Posted: 18 March 2011 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Mriana - 18 March 2011 05:06 PM
Affluenza - 17 March 2011 09:48 PM

I don’t think anyone can understand hell…it’s pretty vague in all the Abrahamic religions…one thing is for sure…it involves fire.

It is a human concept used to control people.  Here is a non-scientific source for you from a man who has been very influence in my life and I have a lot of respect for him (and yes, I have corresponded with him, as well as met him a couple times in my life).  He is (surprise) a retired Episcopal priest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6I5VSZVqc

It is a very damaging concept and what he says goes right back to hijacking developmental stages.  This is a retired priest saying these things too.

What he says is true but has nothing to do with any cognative development stage and the hijacking of it. It’s emotional abuse no doubt. But cognative? How is a childs cognative skills i.e how they process visual objects, numbers, space affected by religion?

I’m still waiting btw for your evidence… smile

I find it hilarious that you are now approaching me outside of that thread…lol. Cheers.

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Posted: 18 March 2011 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Affluenza - 18 March 2011 05:43 PM
Mriana - 18 March 2011 05:06 PM
Affluenza - 17 March 2011 09:48 PM

I don’t think anyone can understand hell…it’s pretty vague in all the Abrahamic religions…one thing is for sure…it involves fire.

It is a human concept used to control people.  Here is a non-scientific source for you from a man who has been very influence in my life and I have a lot of respect for him (and yes, I have corresponded with him, as well as met him a couple times in my life).  He is (surprise) a retired Episcopal priest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6I5VSZVqc

It is a very damaging concept and what he says goes right back to hijacking developmental stages.  This is a retired priest saying these things too.

What he says is true but has nothing to do with any cognative development stage and the hijacking of it. It’s emotional abuse no doubt. But cognative? How is a childs cognative skills i.e how they process visual objects, numbers, space affected by religion?

I’m still waiting btw for your evidence… smile

I find it hilarious that you are now approaching me outside of that thread…lol. Cheers.

Watch Andy Thompson’s video and you just might understand.  I really don’t have to give you any more evidence until you look into what I have already given you.

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Mriana
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Posted: 18 March 2011 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Mriana - 18 March 2011 05:06 PM

It is a human concept used to control people.  Here is a non-scientific source for you from a man who has been very influence in my life and I have a lot of respect for him (and yes, I have corresponded with him, as well as met him a couple times in my life).  He is (surprise) a retired Episcopal priest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6I5VSZVqc

It is a very damaging concept and what he says goes right back to hijacking developmental stages.  This is a retired priest saying these things too.

You’ve met Spong! I’m ... I won’t say I’m jealous, I wish I have had the chance too. Have you read Richard Holloway? He was the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and is very much like Spong—http://homepages.which.net/~radical.faith/holloway/index.htm

His book Godless Morality is quite impressive, given his Christian background. Not anti-Christian, but also open to nontheistic bases for morality.

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Posted: 18 March 2011 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Mriana - 18 March 2011 05:48 PM
Affluenza - 18 March 2011 05:43 PM
Mriana - 18 March 2011 05:06 PM
Affluenza - 17 March 2011 09:48 PM

I don’t think anyone can understand hell…it’s pretty vague in all the Abrahamic religions…one thing is for sure…it involves fire.

It is a human concept used to control people.  Here is a non-scientific source for you from a man who has been very influence in my life and I have a lot of respect for him (and yes, I have corresponded with him, as well as met him a couple times in my life).  He is (surprise) a retired Episcopal priest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6I5VSZVqc

It is a very damaging concept and what he says goes right back to hijacking developmental stages.  This is a retired priest saying these things too.

What he says is true but has nothing to do with any cognative development stage and the hijacking of it. It’s emotional abuse no doubt. But cognative? How is a childs cognative skills i.e how they process visual objects, numbers, space affected by religion?

I’m still waiting btw for your evidence… smile

I find it hilarious that you are now approaching me outside of that thread…lol. Cheers.

Watch Andy Thompson’s video and you just might understand.  I really don’t have to give you any more evidence until you look into what I have already given you.

I watched the video already… wink It’s a very popular video and I had seen it a while ago…

Thanks…

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Posted: 18 March 2011 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Michel S. - 18 March 2011 05:51 PM
Mriana - 18 March 2011 05:06 PM

It is a human concept used to control people.  Here is a non-scientific source for you from a man who has been very influence in my life and I have a lot of respect for him (and yes, I have corresponded with him, as well as met him a couple times in my life).  He is (surprise) a retired Episcopal priest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6I5VSZVqc

It is a very damaging concept and what he says goes right back to hijacking developmental stages.  This is a retired priest saying these things too.

You’ve met Spong! I’m ... I won’t say I’m jealous, I wish I have had the chance too. Have you read Richard Holloway? He was the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and is very much like Spong—http://homepages.which.net/~radical.faith/holloway/index.htm

His book Godless Morality is quite impressive, given his Christian background. Not anti-Christian, but also open to nontheistic bases for morality.

Yes, but it was only a couple of times.  I also have had a correspondence with him, in which I’ve kept his letters.  I’ve heard of Holloway, but I haven’t read anything by him.  I’ll be sure to check out his website.  Thanks.  Spong was very encouraging of me becoming a humanist, esp after I lost any belief I had left.  The priest I served with as a lay minister wasn’t so nice about it and I thought she was my friend.  Apparently not, but Spong is a wonderful man and I would dare say, despite the little contact we had/have, he’s what I would call a friend.

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Posted: 18 March 2011 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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VHS, are you constitutionally incapable of understanding what paragraphs are????  Separate your points so they can be addressed, rather than blathering on interminably. 

Occam

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Posted: 18 March 2011 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Total Posts:  156
Joined  2010-10-14
Occam. - 18 March 2011 06:21 PM

VHS, are you constitutionally incapable of understanding what paragraphs are????  Separate your points so they can be addressed, rather than blathering on interminably. 

Occam

He’s made progress…it’s a tad more readable than his last topics OP.

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As I look back on my life, If I could have the glorious moment
The wondrous opportunity to comprehend
The chance to see my younger self
One time, To converse
To hear his thoughts

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