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1  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Re: Being a Christian and still able to do OBE on: June 28, 2007, 15:42:01
Hey all,

In addition to the canonical scriptures already quoted, re: OBE/AP, there are also some very interesting verses in non-canonical texts such as the Gospel of Philip (categorized as Gnostic, but no less an original Christian writing) that are very worthy of reading closely and meditating upon:

Quote
Those who say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died. If one does not first attain the ressurrection will he not die? As God lives, he would already be dead.

And:

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Some are afraid lest they rise naked. Because of this they wish to rise in the flesh, and they do not know that it is those who wear the flesh who are naked. It is those who [...*] to unclothe themselves who are not naked. Flesh and Blood shall not be able to inherit the kingdom of God [see also 1Cor15:50]
(from the translation found at: http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/noncanon/gospels/gosphil.htm )

In reading these verses I think that OBE/AP is exactly what the writer is referring to.

Consider the following [...*] as the lacuna (the missing text) from the second quote above:
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It is those who [*are willing/able/not afraid?] to unclothe themselves who are not naked.

Does this resonate with anyone else? What do you think?

Personally, I have no doubt that OBE/AP is a sign of the evolving spirit/soul. In my experience, it has only been through OBE/AP that I have been able to breech the strict boundaries of the church of Christianity.

Notice that by using the term "church of Christianity" I am intentionally distinguishing between "Christianity" and "the church that has been developed with the same name". While the "church of Christianity" cannot exist without the New Testament, the New Testament texts in no way "need the church" to be spiritually powerful for those who can study and learn from the writers' thoughts in their own 1st century context. This, of course, in no way means that all NT books are equal and necessary, rather, just those that have the spiritual efficacy needed by each seeker.

In other words, "original Christian thought" and "the later Christian church" can easily exist as mutually exclusive entities; if people choose to completely break away from "the church", they can always keep studying the NT texts in whatever way speaks to them spiritually--and with the freedom to interpret them in their own personal way. Moreover, without having the church dictate which texts are valid and which are not, seekers can read a great many other texts---guilt free---from the early Christian tradition, as well numerous other texts from related traditions.

So, hang in there Sorrow. Remember Matthew 7:7-8:
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Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Peace,
~Beth








 
2  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Taking a Sabbatical on: June 24, 2006, 21:15:54
Hey all!

I am going to back into research/writing mode and will not be a regular poster or Moderator for a while. I will let everyone know when the book is finished.  

Since you already know that the other moderators here on the AP are of par excellence, you also know that the religion section will not miss a beat in my absence.

If any of you want or need something specific from me--please feel free to PM me.

Keep questioning, and never stop seeking for answers!

See you all on the flip side  wink

Love to all,
~Beth

p.s. -- In parting, I can't resist....grin
Par Excellence "Being the best or truest of a kind; quintessential"
Quintessential "Representing the perfect example of a class or quality"

p.s.s. While I am sure that the "Truth" lies somewhere beyond words, arriving at a desired destination usually requires some help along the way. I love the words that our cultures have created...they are one of the many vehicles that help us transform the unknown into the known. IMO, true wisdom comes from the expansion of the Mind. When Knowledge is coupled with Experience, an excellent path is created. So, seek all available knowledge. It's as simple as asking for directions...with the bonus that the mind expands with every turn  wink

:reading: ........... :think:  ......... then :reading: and :think: some more!!
3  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 23, 2006, 12:50:27
Official: 7 arrested in Sears Tower plot

By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 4 minutes ago
MIAMI - Inside a city warehouse, authorities believe, a group was hatching the early stages of a widespread terror plot — one that targeted Chicago's Sears Tower, an FBI office in Miami and other U.S. buildings.

On Thursday, authorities swarmed the warehouse in Miami's Liberty City area, removed a metal door with a blowtorch and arrested seven people, a federal law enforcement official said. Authorities in Washington and Miami were expected to release more details in separate news conferences Friday morning.

Neighbors who lived nearby said young men, who appeared to be in their teens and 20s, slept in the warehouse, running what looked like a militaristic group. They appeared brainwashed, some said.

"They would come out late at night and exercise," said Tashawn Rose, 29. "It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."

The law enforcement official told The Associated Press the seven were mainly Americans with no apparent ties to al-Qaida or other foreign terrorist organizations. He spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the news conferences.

"There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.

Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group. Rose said they tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.

She said she talked to one of the men about a month ago. "They seemed brainwashed," she said. "They said they had given their lives to Allah."
Residents said FBI agents spent several hours in the neighborhood showing photos of the suspects and seeking information. They said the men had lived in the area for about a year.

Benjamin Williams, 17, said the group sometimes had young children with them. At times, he added, the men "would cover their faces. Sometimes they would wear things on their heads, like turbans."

A man who called himself Brother Corey and claimed to be a member of the group told CNN late Thursday that the individuals worship at the building and call themselves the "Seas of David."

He dismissed any suggestion that the men were contemplating violence. "We are peaceful," he said. He added that the group studies the Bible and has "soldiers" in Chicago but is not a terrorist organization.

Xavier Smith, who attends the nearby United Christian Outreach, said the men would often come by the church and ask for water.

"They were very private," said Smith, 33.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, questioned about the case on CNN's "Larry King Live," said he couldn't offer many details because "it's an ongoing operation."

"We are conducting a number of arrests and searches" in Miami, Mueller said, which were expected to be wrapped up Friday morning.

Managers of the Sears Tower, the nation's tallest building, said in a statement they speak regularly with the FBI and local law enforcement about terror threats and that Thursday "was no exception."

Security at the 110-floor Sears Tower, a Chicago landmark, was ramped up after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the 103rd-floor skydeck was closed for about a month and a half.

"Law enforcement continues to tell us that they have never found evidence of a credible terrorism threat against Sears Tower that has gone beyond criminal discussions," the statement said.

The warehouse owner declined comment. "I heard the news just like you guys," George F. Mobassaleh told the AP. "I can't talk to you."

Several terrorism investigations have had south Florida links. Several of the Sept. 11 hijackers lived and trained in the area, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, and several plots by Cuban-Americans against Fidel Castro's government have been based in Miami.

Jose Padilla, a former resident once accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive bomb in the U.S., is charged in Miami with being part of a support cell for Islamic extremists. Padilla's trial is set for this fall.
___
4  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Spirituality & Sexuality on: June 23, 2006, 01:36:34
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But sometimes I just want to know who he is, where he comes from,
and why he picked me.

 grin That is the zillion dollar question for many of us when it comes to the fact that we can apprehend the astral realm, and others that try to -- cannot.

I have often wondered "Why me?" and "Who are they, and where exactly are they?"...:question:

I wish I knew as well. Maybe one day we will discover the answer!!

Take care and stay aware grin
~Beth
5  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Spirituality & Sexuality on: June 23, 2006, 00:05:13
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That does not sound like a spirit guide...not at all

Sure it does!  grin

In communications between the physical and the astral it is necessary to use the language of this world--and the physical expressions of this world--in ways that help us to understand, and to establish and maintain our individual relationships with spiritual guides and the other astral entities that surround us at all times.

First Shyness, let me echo Paker7, and say that as long as it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable, and you are unharmed by it, then there should be no reason why you shouldn't continue to learn about 'him' and about yourself through that relationship. If however, 'he' begins to make any moves toward the negative, i.e. suggesting that you think or do things that you know are morally and ethically wrong, then break off the communication immediately. (As with all relationships, whether physical or spiritual, always use common sense!)

Second, while it is certainly not the case in every situation, this masculine entity may well be the masculine part of yourself seeking integration into a balanced whole of both genders.

That is what the Sacred Marriage is all about. Becoming ONE with all aspects of yourself, both masculine and feminine--both physical and divine--is a goal that dedicated practitioners have been working towards for centuries.

Whenever I experience other entities in the astral, I try to pay attention what kind of rapport is established. In other words, is it a friendly connection, a hostile connection or yes, an intimate connection.  

Whenever it is a close and intimate connection, it usually makes sense to me after the fact--especially when erotic play is included--that this is actually a part of ME, trying to establish a bond that will bridge both realities.

These things are just my opinion--based upon my own experiences--but I am also a religion scholar and there have been a significant number of people who have written about unio mystica with the Divine Realm in both euphemistic and erotic language.

For example, read the Old Testament book titled Song of Songs (aka, Song of Solomon.)
http://www.ebible.org/web/Song.htm

According to the Zohar (a medieval Jewish midrash) the following explains what is meant by the references in the SofS to 'kisses upon the mouth':

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth [SoS 1:2]. What did King Solomon mean by introducing words of love between the upper world and the lower world, and by beginning the praise of love, which he has introduced between them, with let him kiss me? … it is that inseparable love of spirit for spirit that can be [expressed] only by a kiss, and a kiss is with the mouth, for that is the source and outlet of the spirit. And when they kiss one another, the spirits cling to each other, and they are one, and then love is one. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Topics/SongOfSongs/

The New Testament book of Revelation also speaks of the Bride and the Bridegroom, which without erotic language, or detailed euphemistic language, still implies the intimate union between the soul and God in physical male and female imagry.

Khalil Gibran also used euphemistic language to 'point to' human sexuality in order to provide metaphorical imagry for an understanding of the hoped for mystical union with the divine. For a beautiful example of such euphemistic language, read "A Tear and a Smile" aka, The Life of Love, go to:
http://www.kahlil.org/tear-16.html

Also, St. Teresa of Avila had quite an erotic romance going with Christ.
There is a famous sculpture by Bernini --known as the ecstacy of St. Teresa--that depicts her writings on the topic: http://encyclopedia.laborlawtalk.com/wiki/images/thumb/a/a8/200px-BerniniEcstacy.jpg

And finally, this kind of experience is not just for 'girls'wink See also the works of St. John of the Cross and Bernard of Clairvaux.


I hope this helps!:grin:

~Beth
6  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Learning how to die on: June 22, 2006, 01:30:44
It is my opinion that on this plane of existence we are born into bodies that begin the process of dying from the very moment of birth. For the rest of our lives, we die a little bit more each day.

"Enlightenment" may well be the realization that being in these bodies is not really 'living' at all, rather being in these bodies is to experience death in the making.

Sometimes I feel as though I am being held hostage in my body...it is not a good feeling. I want to fly free, to be free -- to be ME.

For some time now, I have been looking forward to the day that I die to this world.  I do not know whether I will be here one more day or several more 'decades of days' ... but, whenever I leave, I plan to leave with a smile on my face grin -- knowing that I will no longer be dying a little bit every day

~Beth
7  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion ............who is he? on: June 18, 2006, 01:34:45
As always David -- you are welcome!

~Beth
8  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion ............who is he? on: June 17, 2006, 22:11:21
Mustardseed,

Good day to you!
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Your conclusion that the bible is false, becomes the foundation stone of your line of argument. Please say you understand what I am getting at.
Yes. I understand exactly what you are getting at. However, this is not what I am doing. This is actually what you are doing, i.e. the bible is true and this is why. I come at this whole issue from a very different direction.

So, now let me beseech you to say you understand something as well. Okay?

I did not start out to 'prove that the bible was fiction' David.  I did not wake up one day and decide 'to bring down Christianity' because I did not like Christians, or some Christians, or had been abused at an early age by a Christian.

Yes, I did have questions within my Christian faith, so I invested the time (years of time) and money (lots and lots of money) to educate myself in the history of Christianity. I invested the time to learn the ancient languages of the bible -- and this was not easy for me at all!  Moreover, I was majoring in religion at a Christian university. So, I did all of these things not to prove that the bible is 'false' but to try and understand the bible in order for my faith to grow stronger.

I look back now, and truly, the thought would never have entered my mind ten years ago, that I would one day take such a position as I do now and be able to stand my ground in my conclusions. I still have to pinch myself some days to make sure that I am not having a very long lucid dream...

In the fall of 2000, I started out researching a concept in the bible for my Master's Thesis-- the Greek concept of the LOGOS--the WORD--as used by John in the Prologue to his gospel. "In the beginning was the Logos..."

At the time, I may have been personally searching for spiritual answers for my life, but -- academically/spiritually/intellectually -- I was still working from the premise that the bible was true, that Jesus had really lived, taught, died, and ascended.  I would not have gone so far as to say that Moses literally parted the Red Sea, but I still believed -- like you -- that Jesus was a real man and that the disciples and Paul were who the bible said they were.

Granted, I knew that something was not quite right about the way Christianity taught the bible as being a literal accounting, for I could logically see where narratives written decades after the fact could not possibly quote verbatim what actually was said and happened decades earlier. Nevertheless, I still believed that "it" did happen in some way or another. This is where I was -- spiritually and intellectually – and this is where I was when all of the sudden, my research started to prove ME wrong!

And it tore me apart David.  I felt like I was dying.

I cannot possibly put into words what it did to me, except to say that the realization hit me 3 weeks before 9-11. I was already numb from feeling like I had personally been hit by a spiritual bomb when I then watched on TV very real airplanes exploding into those twin towers. That whole summer of 2001 was an experience I will never forget, but will never adequately be able to put into words.

So, even though it was tearing me apart, I could not ignore what I was finding David, any more than I could ignore the God within me that was leading me to my conclusions.

I have done everything within my power to work with known facts, outside of any personal feelings I may have had for the topic at hand. In other words, this topic was near and dear to my heart from the very beginning, but I had to put my faith aside and take a look at the FACTS.

Over time, the facts continued to contradict all belief that I had in the bible as a literal history of anything. The facts just did not bear out my faith, and over time my faith in the bible and Christianity lessened more and more until I am where I am today.

So David, you are so very wrong to accuse me of being biased. Truth be told, I have spent more time than you could ever imagine, looking for data that would support your faith. If such evidence ever becomes available I will be the first to say I have been wrong. But until then, I stand firm on the foundation of not just my research, but the research of others working in this field of study. Moreover, I will continue till my last breath is taken to do what I can to help others liberate themselves from the misuses of the bible and to help them if I can with the spiritual crisis that no doubt follows an acceptance of the truth of the matter. I do not take any of this lightly...
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In any case here is a quote from Josephus ... However I am sure that you will say something like , he was a liar and not to be trusted, or was being politicaly correct hoping to gain favor with the powers that be.
You are right, I lend no credence whatsoever to Josephus. He is not a credible source, and I personally do not care what his motives for writing were.
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Notice that while Tacitus had no regard for the Christians of whom he wrote, he does mention Christ as being the founder of their belief.
I expect you will dismiss this saying that the conspiracy was already at work and that and that he did not know what he was talking about.

Nope, no conspiracy here at all. I have no doubt that “Christ” – “as a concept of anointing salvation” was very real. Further, he is talking about the persecution of Christians – not of Jesus. There is no doubt that the earliest Christians were indeed persecuted. This does not prove the bible to be a historical document. It only proves that Christians existed, and I have never argued against that FACT.
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City of Tyre
The two great cities of Phoenicia were Tyre and Sidon. Ezekiel as a captive in Babylon made some very specific predictions about the seacoast metropolis of Tyre. In Ezekiel 26 and 27 the destruction of Tyre was given in detail (592-570BC)

First of all, there is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that Ezekiel was written in 592 BCE. You are once again depending upon the bible -- to prove that the bible is true. Can you see where this is not a valid form of ‘proof’? This is what a ‘circular argument’ is David.  

Second, Tyre and Sidon have been through many cycles of conquering and reestablishment – just like most every city of the world, but neither of them were ever destroyed. In fact, one of my favorite ancient biblical scholars – Origen of Alexandria – was buried in Tyre around 254 CE/AD and the cities of Tyre and Sidon still stand today.
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expect you to say that the Bible is more recent and again use the argument that it is a Historical narrative to deceive the masses to believe the entire content

Yes, you expect accurately. I stand firm in my conviction that people are misusing the bible by selling it in toto as historical fact. This misuse does great harm to the people of this world; it keeps them ignorant of the truth about the bible, and moreover, it keeps them stonewalled from seeking and finding God in the world today.

The bible no doubt includes kernels of historical data, but…this does not mean that the events and people found only in the bible were real and historical as well.  In fact, the whole Di Vinci Code controversy is a good example: there are no doubt kernals of historical fact in Dan Brown's novel, BUT it is a work of FICTION and Brown never claimed anything else. Unless one is writing pure fantasy or sci-fi, kernals of history are found in most all fictional works.
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I look forward to hearing your take on the article, as it covers this issue a bit as well.

That article is just trying to disprove a scholar’s position using the same baseless claims that are always made to discredit those who are taking a new position that contradicts the power of the religions that are now facing eventual extinction. An article like that would probably look much the same with any new scholarly approach – only the names would be changed – but that same baseless rhetoric would be used over and over again to try to discredit the findings.

In fact, many critics of the new movement toward a factual understanding of the ancient world are being personally attacked by being called "anti-Semitic" "anti-Christian" and "anti-Muslim" etc.

Sound familiar? You have done the exact same thing with me.

All this does is clearly show that critics of the new scholarship cannot produce a legitimate arguable position in support of traditional religious understanding -- all they can do is find ways to personally attack the new scholar.

This is not only hurtful to the new scholar, but it is hurtful to their families and to their reputations.

All scholars will eventually be forced to look at the FACTS.  As I have said before: good religion is not good scholarship.

We (many people) are finding new FACTS every day that contradicts the traditional interpretation of the bible and the traditional position of the religions involved, but unfortunately (for you), traditionalists are not finding new FACTS in support of the bible.

It’s happening David. Everyday. More and more people are going to start thinking for themselves, educating themselves, and coming to the same conclusions that I am. In the second article you quoted, one of the people involved is Philip Davies, University of Sheffield, UK. Try reading what he has to say:

http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Davies_Biblical_Scholars.htm

Another fellow scholar of Davies is Thomas Thompson, University of Copenhagan, Denmark:

http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/copenhagen.htm

And Peter Lemche, also of the Univ of Copenhagen:

http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Conservative_Scholarship.htm

And here is a Wiki related entry, for scholars are already having to come to terms with the fact that 'biblical Hebrew' did not exist until after the first century CE/AD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_languages

We are at the beginning of the end of traditional understanding regarding the bible David, and all that it entails. During this time, a lot of fur will fly, and a lot of insults will be exchanged, and moreover a lot of reputations will be on the line, but, none of these things will change the truth of the matter: The Bible Was Creative Fiction. Not History.

It is just a matter of time before the world really catches on. In the meantime, it is my best suggestion that believers begin to establish a relationship with God outside of the bible.

~Beth
9  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion ............who is he? on: June 17, 2006, 02:32:40
Dear David,

Glad you are settled once again.

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Things we disagree on or should I say debate is:
Is the Bible historically correct

Did the Jews exist as a nation as described in the OT, and did Jesus live and act as described in the NT.

It appears that you yourself do not think so, and you base this belief on your research. My argument is, that instead of basing it on the principle, that you are innocent till pr oven guilty, you argue that since there is circumstantial evidence, and a motive, Christianity is a falsehood and in other words "guilty". This to me is a conclusion based on bias, and a one sided view of History.
First of all, I do not base my conclusion on my research alone--far from it! If it were not for all of the evidence (or lack thereof as the case is) my research alone would "prove nothing." What my research does is answer the question that is glaringly left up in our faces when all of the other evidence is weighted in. For example:

No other cultural source provides any evidence of any of the biblical events, when in fact some of them should, e.g. those that are mentioned in the bible as being involved, such as Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Rome, etc. It is not until after the passage of the 1st century that any historical evidence of Christianity begins to appear, and that is not biblical events, rather Christian events. No one can claim that Christians did not exist in the late first century and later. It is the biblical events that cannot be verified.  
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I believe that you are biased. I am not sure why. It could be personal experience, a dislike for certain Christian people or just a dislike of hypocrisy. Maybe it is a mix.
Will you stop it with the charge that there are Christians that I do not like?!? Yes, I do have a dislike of hypocrisy, emotional and spiritual abuse, intellectual manipulation, and the gross misuse of sacred things for the gain of selfish power mongers. What I like or dislike makes no difference in the argument of whether or not the biblical events were historical or not.
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My argument is that Historical revisionists or religious ditto, should be examined closely. Political religious or personal bias makes their arguments suspect. That naturally goes for the both of us, as I admit that I am probably somewhat biased and in so many words an apologist.
Did you understand from my last post that 'historical revisionism' is what Christianity is guilty of? Your use of the historical revisionist argument is not a good one for you to use if you still want to prove that the biblical events are historical events. In other words, HR actually proves your case to be null and void.

What you need instead is actual evidence, not an argument to explain why there is NO evidence. Do you see the difference? There is 'plenty' of evidence for every culture and every literate nation that was active and productive during the years 2,000 bce (ce) to 100 ce (ad) -- except -- the  Hebrews/Israelites and the events crucial to the New Testament.

How about this--since you cannot provide me with evidence that the Hebrews/Israelites DID exist, let me show you why they did not:

According to the bible, Moses was born around 1526 and the supposed Exodus from Egypt occurred around 1400. For near to the next 1,000 years, all the land of Canaan was supposed to be Israel/Judea.

This is where the problem comes in David:

Egypt was in control of Canaan from before this time until around 1010.

Look at those dates David, there is simply no way a group could flee Egypt around 1400 and then conquer Canaan forty years later and be consistent with the evidence. The Egyptians were in control of Canaan during that time—not the Israelites.

The bible would then have King Saul in reign from 1050 until 1010, but once again, Egypt was in total control of Canaan until 1010.

After 1010 was about the time that the bible would have King David come into the picture, but alas, no other culture mentions King David -- but do mention other territorial kings -- and archaeologists cannot seem to find anything that remotely accounts for the biblical claims leading up to, or of, the whole story surrounding his kingship.

As far as the Davidic and Solomonic kingdoms, as rich as the bible claims them to be, as powerful militarily as the bible claims them to be, you would think that somewhere, some other culture would at least mention them. They do not. Nada.

As far as the days of Jesus are concerned, due to the fact that Romans were very good about reporting their activities through letters and official ledgers, you would think that the Romans would have recorded the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. They do not. Since Paul no doubt had contact with the Greek intellectual community, you would think that the Greeks would have mentioned Paul somewhere in the annals of their written histories as well.

David, I am not making up an anti-Christian position to try and sway you --or anyone else -- one way or the other. I am just calling a spade a spade. Where there is nothing, there is nothing.

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that "something was going on" that gave rise to the biblical writings. They were not written the way they were without reason. While that reason has yet to be ascertained, all rational and logical people who look at the ancient historical evidence of that period of time, can all conclude with reason that the biblical events are NOT historical. With my research, we can further know that the biblical narratives were amazing fictional creations, but what we don't know is "why" they were written or "how" the whole thing got out of hand.

Again, I am not trying to sway you to MY way of thinking David, rather, to see the only way to see ancient history without illusion.

~Beth
10  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Which "religion" gives the most spiritual growness on: June 14, 2006, 23:44:16
Strange thing about religion--it is not very 'spiritual' at all.

In my opinion:

Seeking God is 'spirituality'.
Thinking that you have already found God is 'religion'.

Spirituality is a journey to understand God.
Religion is a journey to understand humanity.


~Beth
11  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Soul Groups on: June 10, 2006, 19:15:15
I wrote:
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For example, I may actually be considered as a 'bad guy' to some people because they think I am trying to pull the comfortable rug out from under them, but I would like to think that some day they will see me as a 'good guy' instead. (I will post a parable after this post to explain better what I mean...)

Here is the parable:

There was once a little bird in winter
Singing from a snowy branch
As the temp grew colder and the wind grew bolder
Little bird fell to the frozen ground

In shivering despair the little bird could not sing
Until a cow came along in a plod.
Whether by chance or design the cow did resign and
Bequeathed the little bird with a patty

Shew! The little bird thought as it smelled its demise
How dare she do such a thing!
But as the heat from the patty warmed its wings
The little bird found it could once again sing!

Now along comes the fox -- that life sometimes will bring
And hearing that little bird sing,
He followed his nature and dug the bird out
Bringing freedom to the bird once again.

“OH THANK YOU” the little bird chirped to the fox
"I thought I would perish in there!"
“Well, you are certainly welcome” said the fox as he drooled
And then gobbled the bird UP then and there!

The moral of this story is:

Everyone that sh*ts on you is not necessarily your enemy -- and
Everyone that digs you out is not necessarily your friend!

~Beth grin

p.s. I just looked at the clock while writing this and it is 1:11 (cst) wink
12  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Soul Groups on: June 10, 2006, 17:45:12
Quote from: Nay
Those quotes are beautiful Beth, but I would enjoy hearing something from your own library.   smiley


Fair enough Nay. What DO I think...hmmmm...what makes "me" -- "ME"... :question:

First, I ran across a saying last night, which I feel is absolutely TRUE and very well worded:

I am a spiritual being having a phyiscal experience, rather than a physical being seeking a spiritual experience.

There is a vast difference between these two approaches...and whether that is the case for all, I cannot say, but it is certainly the case for me.

I don't have a whole system worked out in full detail, but with all of my experiences combined, phyiscal, intuitive, intellectual and astral, I can definately say that 'I knew before coming in', what I was coming in to do. I also knew what the condition of the world would be (to a certain extent) within which I was going to have to try to accomplish the things I was here to accomplish.

Then, at some very early point -- the moment of birth? -- a benevolent shake of my memory occurred and I was made to forget most all of the details of my future experiences here.

I received the first vivid clue to 'my origination' -- my true self -- when I was ten years old, which was the 'first piece' in place for "the puzzle" that was to become "my life." Other experiences occurred as time went on, and from all of these, I am where I am at this time in "solving this puzzle."

And I am sure, for me anyway, that it is a puzzle of a serious magnitude! shocked

I sometimes wonder, "What WAS I THINKING when agreed with this brilliant plan?"   :yikes2:

:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:

Then, in those moments of full lucidity, of both my goals and the world that I live in, I imagine that before birth I looked to this world and saw the way that it was, and I wanted to try and help make things better. When I look at my life 'here' -- from my place of origination 'there' -- I am able to draw the confidence and determination that I need.

However, sometimes my ambition, self-confidence and determination can take a serious dive. When I feel this self-defeat, I then turn the control over to a higher guidance :notworthy: -- you know -- the ones that have access to all of the details of "The Brilliant Plan"  wink  

I have already encountered what I am quite sure is "me" -- probably a more evolved aspect of "me" -- many times on this very challenging journey. So I like the theory of the metaphorical "sparks" in that, "part of me is here" and "part of me is there -- acting as my 'higher self'."

I have also come in contact with 'others' -- more affectionately known as "they" ... who are my true family 'there'. These are the ones that have access to "The Plan."

Because my incarnation did not come with a step-by-step manual of "The Plan," I must follow the directions I possess at any given time. Sometimes I think "my higher self" has a great deal of fun at my expense  rolleyes  wink but I can ususally figure out that these things are only intended to lighten things up for me, or to provide me with yet another directional clue!

I have a natural inclination to take my responsibilities very seriously, and to work hard to make them successful -- I think this is the Aries of my birth sign. Within this drive, I also have a very sensitive side that can bring my Aries to a screeching halt -- which is probably the cusp of Aries and Pieces that my moon is in. While somewhere on this forum I usually make a post most everyday, here in the city that I live, I can go many days without personally interacting with anyone other than the people that I work with, or the grocery store clerk -- this is my Cancer ascending sign moving in and out of the sand.

So yes, I think that our astrological signs can be a big help to us in understanding 'why we are the way we are'. Not as a predictor of future events necessarily, but of the natural tendencies to which we will always lean. Astrological analysis can help us "to know ourselves" as we have manifested ourselves in this incarnation. I also think that the negative tendencies in our charts should not be used as "excuses for bad behavior," rather as life lessons for us to overcome. Direct experience with the bad is a very good tool for choosing the good.

I do have a strong sense that 'my family here' was also designed specifically for my work here -- and not always as a loving support system from my physical aspect, but when I take a closer look, whatever they give me, is what I actually 'need'.

In other words, some of my family members are not my friends, and while it is hurtful at times, I know that this is more to give me what I need, than it is to take anything away from me. I have learned a lot from my family, and there is no doubt in my mind that as jug jug suggests, they are a part of me in more ways than blood. Whether they are actually sparks of "ME" I cannot say, but I do have a sense that they are an agreed upon part of the bigger scheme of my life. With this, I assume it is the same for them and their lives through relationship with me.

Regarding other people that I have come into contact with, whether nice or not nice, they have usually been a great help in my journey as well, whether it seemed to be the case at the time -- or not!  shocked And again, I help others on their journey as well.

The same holds true on the astral, although I am still trying to figure all of that out. I definately have what I would call, 'more close relationships' with the people I have encountered in the astral, than I do here in the physical -- the love I have for them is so spiritually visceral, that from time to time I really miss them. Occasionally I will be given the opportunity to visit briefly with them, which recharges me for the next period of time that I must journey without lucidly being aware of their presence.

Because my particular 'brilliant plan' here is a really a big one, and a tough one (compared to other people that I know that are living very different lives) I need all of these influences to help me accomplish what I am here to accomplish, but more importantly, I need to "pay attention" to these things as constantly as my 'humanity' will allow.

I am not afraid of death, because I know that I will finally be going "home." Not to some perfect paradise necessarily, but to that which is truly familiar and from which I originated. But as I said, most all of my life I have felt that I am 'away from home' which has led to feeling homesick at various times throughout my life. "Where" "home" is exactly, I cannot say. Unlike some people that have drawn conclusions in these matters, I only have what knowledge I have, and refuse to attach myself to some theory that I cannot verify for myself.

While I am certainly driven by my intuition, vis-a-vis my experiences with others, I am the type of human that has "to know." In other words, I am primarily driven by my intellect and I do not have to 'feel' something that I cannot eventually 'know' as well. If I feel something strong enough, I can 'know it' and it is up to me to possess it intellectually as well.  If it cannot be 'known' it is empty of meaning. In other words, to me, "faith without knowledge" is illusion and self-deception.

As to the 'physical world' and its 'soul', well I think that it is a combination of all of the souls that inhabit it at any one given time. Sometimes I get a lucid moment when it I can see that the 'bad guys' are really the 'good guys' -- and who our mortal inclination would label the 'good guys' are indeed the 'bad'. With contemplation, this is a very fascinating aspect of our existence that I think stems from our tendency to think of ourselves "as physical beings" rather than "as spiritual beings." Thinking that this world is the end all be all, everything is turned upside down, or rather --  downside up!!

For example, I may actually be considered as a 'bad guy' to some people because they think I am trying to pull the comfortable rug out from under them, but I would like to think that some day they will see me as a 'good guy' instead. (I will post a parable after this post to explain better what I mean...)

I know in my heart that I intend 'no harm to anyone' -- my conscience eats away at me whenever I do -- however, I am also right in the middle of something where this is unavoidable. Metaphorically speaking, sometimes the band-aid must be ripped off -- which can be quite painful -- in order for the wound to get the air it needs to heal.

So, what makes "me" "ME" it is a pretty complex puzzle, but I am always driven to contemplate "who" and "what" I really am!!  This is certainly not a complete accounting of my totality, and I always reserve the right to alter my opinion! In my experience so far, "I do know" that I must keep my heart and head in "my true home" and work within this world from that point of reference -- which is most definately a very big challenge at times~


~Beth
13  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Soul Groups on: June 10, 2006, 03:45:00
From 13th century Kabbalah (not the Hollywood version):

In the name of Joseph ben Samuel: "How will the soul be, which came in two or three bodies? And he quoted them saying that the soul multiplies into several parts, just as the candle makes several sparks, and serves in all the bodies."

According to Gershom Scholem, "It was in this sense that some people said that the soul becomes pregnant, as it were, reproducing itself in the sparks radiating from it. This concept yielded a new meaning for the term sod ha-ibbur, literally, "the mystery of pregnancy."

Late 13th century:
"Know that the soul is never reincarnated alone, save in the case, Heaven forbid, of a totally wicked soul, whose body had never done a single good deed--then does his soul come back to transmigrate [alone]. But as for the middling person (the average person) whose body has performed many commandments, his situation is thus: sparks of his soul remain behind [in Paradise] in accordance with the commandments he has performed; but the other parts enter into transmigration. This portion of his soul then comes mixed with the soul of a different reincarnate, who is in the same situation as he, or with [several] transmigrating souls, as mentioned.

There is another one that I can't find at the moment, but it was pretty cool as well -- it went something like this:

If upon ascension a soul lacks but one or two things that must be accomplished before living in Paradise forever, he can reincarnate those sparks that are in need of completion with another primary soul that has that same need. When that need is met for them both, then the spark of the secondary must repose until the primary leaves the physical and they then ascend together.

Anyway, I find the different theories of reincarnation fascinating.

For those that are interested, I excerpted these things from:

On The Mystical Shape of the Godhead,
by Gershom Scholem, a Kabbalah  scholar who is no longer with us.

The book is wonderful with chapters on Good and Evil, The Feminine Element in Divinity, The Transmigration of Souls, and the past chapter is...drum roll please...The Concept of the Astral Body!!

~Beth
14  Spiritual Evolution / Welcome to Spiritual Evolution! / Any 11:11ers on board? on: June 10, 2006, 02:27:09
I'm a 11:11er jub jub -- have been for many years --probably the early 90's for me as well. I am also a regular 7:11er...I wake up at 7:11 most every morning that I don't have to get up at 6:30 instead sad   wink

~Beth
15  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion ............who is he? on: June 10, 2006, 01:07:58
Dear Mustardseed,

I wrote:
Quote
Likewise, according to the bible, the Jews killed Jesus, so the Christians (Protestant and the Vatican) did nothing to stop Hitler from slaughtering them. It took the bombing of Pearl Harbor for America to even get involved in WWII, so who knows what else Hitler would have done if the Japanese hadn't bombed America at all. Both of these cultural tragedies were successful because even though the bible says to love one another, that did not include slaves and Jews. In fact, those who held the power to stop these travesties, actually justified them by quoting the bible!!!
To which you responded:
Quote
This is your conclusion, not a fact.

Not my opinion Mustardseed, but FACT.

Quote
Monday, March 16, 1998 Published at 19:35 GMT
Vatican Apologises Over Holocaust

The Vatican has apologised to Jews on behalf of the entire Roman Catholic community, for failing to speak out against the Nazi holocaust during World War Two.

In his letter accompanying the apology, the Pope said the holocaust remained an indelible stain on the 20th century.

The Vatican's long-anticipated response to the killing of six million Jews was published in Rome on Monday.

Here is the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/65889.stm

There is also this, from other demoninations:  
Quote
The past decade has seen many statements of repentance by religious groups:
 
The Southern Baptist Convention repented of their past support for slavery and racial segregation. The asked African-Americans for forgiveness of the denomination's past actions and for any residual racism left today.
 
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America apologized for the viciously anti-Jewish statements by Martin Luther, a leader of the Protestant Reformation.
 
The United Methodist Church apologized for the brutality of a lay Methodist preacher who led a massacre of Natives during the Civil War.
Here is that link: http://www.religioustolerance.org/pope_apo.htm

Mustardseed, there is SO much that you do not know about the religion that you defend with such passion, especially about the earliest centuries of the official church, where many atrocities were committed WITHOUT any apology at all.  

I have told you many times that what the bible says is NOT a default for what Christianity IS.

And my "beef" is not with the bible, it is with those that abuse it.

Quote
Well in that case I would say that you may be more Christian than you realize.
No. I am not a Christian Mustardseed. Like you, I wanted to make being a Christian into what I thought Christianity should be, but I finally came to the conclusion that whatever the original message was, it has long been lost to "Christianity" or to "being a Christian." The Church quite thoroughly destroyed it.

God could not, however, be destroyed. I am a seeker/follower of what I perceive to be "God." Without name, without affiliation -- without God ever  having been a human. Period.

Now that I think about it, with everything that you have said here, You are NOT as much of a Christian as you seem to think.
Quote
Free Churches in Europe look at what is happening in the US and shake their head,
IMO they need to be doing something besides "shake their heads."  There is a travesty going global based upon those biblical texts, and if "Free Churches" want to remain "FREE" then they had better start a global reformation of Christianity or, even worse things are going to happen.
Quote
I do however believe that I need to associate myself with the Bible, since this is where this truth is written down and where the ideas seem to have originated.
And David, I am about as "associated" with the bible as one can get.

I am still unclear about what you are defending, Christianity? or the Bible?

If you are trying to defend the efficacy (power) of scripture, you need not do that with me -- I am very well aware of that -- except, when it is taken literally it loses all of its power. It is only in its archetypal and symbolic form that it has any real power for me -- and then WOW. :heartsmile:

If you are trying to defend "being a Christian" -- well, I have already addressed that many times over.

Regarding historical revisionism, this is what taking the biblical events "to be true and historical" has been doing for all of these centuries -- revising actual history to fit the conclusion that the religion wants. According to your quoted piece:
Quote
Rather than analyze historical events, facts, their causes and consequences, and their interactions with other events, they defend a conclusion, whether or not the facts support it.


If you are using this as an example because you think that this is what I am doing, well, you are wrong my friend. I am trying to help people see where Christianity has been doing to 'revising'.

With true historical method,
Quote
history is inductive in its methodology, in that it accumulates the facts, tries to determine their nature and their connectivities and then attempts to weave them into an understandable and meaningful mosaic.

And David, events specific to the bible cannot be found, so those narratives are not eligible for historical validity.

The only "historical facts" that apply to "the bible" are:

1) the various books were written over a 350 year period (250 bce - 100ish ce)

2) people did in fact read it

3) a lot of people disagreed about what it meant

4) a religion was eventually created around it that grew so powerful that it maintained control over the entire western world for over 1,000 years.


~Beth
16  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion ............who is he? on: June 09, 2006, 13:03:34
Mustardseed,

No, you did not offend me at all. I just haven't known what else to say to you -- we are going in circles again -- but I haven't forgotten you.

I'll get back to you this weekend, I promise.

~Beth
17  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 08, 2006, 23:22:00
hey greatoutdoors,

Quote
Or are they to demonstrate that more than just Christians have their idiots?

Yes -- that biblically based religion today is extremely dangerous and out of control, regardless of which name it falls under.

It is madness run amok.
Quote
In my mind, the fact that Bush happens to be a Christian is not relevant --my disagreement with him stems from his political agenda, not his religious beliefs.

I don't think that fundamentalist religious people can separate their politics from their religion. The two go hand in hand, whether we are talking about Bush, or Huessin, or al-Zarqawi. All three claim to be following the will of God, and in total, billions of people are letting them do whatever they want.

In another thread I posted the following comment:
Quote
Religion is POWER; humanity’s self-granted possession of the will of God. As long as the reasoning faculties of believers are held hostage by their religions, the tenets of their religion will always play a key role in every decision that they make. This has been the case in America for the past two-hundred plus years and applies to both the voters and those they elect into office.
I would like to add to that, that this is also the case in Middle East politics as well as Israel, et al.

I think that religion is a very private thing that should be kept within one's heart, between each person and the power to which they turn.

Religion has no place in the public sphere, period.

I am not anti-Christian, greatoutdoors. I am anti any theology/ideology that uses its tenets, dogmas, doctrines, beliefs, to control people's minds, and/or influence public policy.  I want people to wake up and see how they are being brainwashed.

I am definately anti-Bush because he is an embarrassment to this country and his arrogance and guile have led us all into serious danger -- both domestically and abroad.

~Beth

p.s. If anyone comes across a "good news" article about religion, please post it here!! I am always on the look-out for some redeeming qualities.
18  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 08, 2006, 13:01:54
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed in air raid

By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer 6/08/06

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida leader in Iraq who waged a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and beheadings of hostages, has been killed in a precision airstrike, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday. It was a long-sought victory in the war in Iraq.

Al-Zarqawi and seven aides were killed Wednesday evening in a remote area 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala, just east of the provincial capital of Baqouba, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.

Al-Qaida in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and vowed to continue its "holy war," according to a statement posted on a Web site.

"We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," said the statement, signed by "Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Iraqi," identified as the deputy "emir" or leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

"The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme."

Video from the scene of the attack showed children scrambling over a flattened jumble of cinderblocks, concrete reinforcing bars, blankets and other debris. A pickup truck nearby was scorched and crushed.
19  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Separation of Church and State on: June 08, 2006, 05:28:42
Quote from: no_leaf_clover
Beth,

Maybe you've already commented on this elsewhere, but what do you think of the US in regards to separation of church and state? You think the two have been getting closer, or more separated, or what? I've seen policies going both ways, but don't follow that closely, and was wondering what your take on it is.

Hey, no-leaf,

As everyone here should know by now, ‘my take’ on things is never a quick or easy answer! I am a woman that has to try to see the whole picture before I take a particular position regarding most all issues!

In the two-hundred years since our constitution was originally written, America has changed a great deal. In fact, it hardly resembles the same country at all; but some things take longer to change than others.

The First Amendment was originally written in a historical context that knew what it was like to live in a world where 'religious belief ruled all'.  They knew what it was like to live under the rule of a King, which through the divine right of kings, claimed direct and sole access, and unlimited blessing, of God Almighty. A great many things that infringed upon the basic liberties of the people were justified by the King, vis-à-vis "God."

The First Amendment was originally written to assure that the government would never be able to use religion as a power base to control the people of this land. Whether known to the founding fathers or not, this is always a danger, even if they wrote a constitutional amendment to prevent it.

While the First Amendment definitely provides 'protection for the people of America’ from having the government institute an official ‘State Religion’, the First Amendment does not ‘protect the government’ from being infiltrated by the extremely religious-minded.  

Religion is POWER; humanity’s self-granted possession of the will of God. As long as the reasoning faculties of believers are held hostage by their religions, the tenets of their religion will always play a key role in every decision that they make. This has been the case in America for the past two-hundred plus years and applies to both the voters and those they elect into office.

Fundamentalist Christians are using the First Amendment to their advantage, and to a certain extent it is certainly their right. But in a true separation between church and state, the state should have no say in religion – and likewise, religion should have no say in the state.  While fundamentalists Christians enjoy the benefits of the former, alas, the State has not enjoyed the same benefit.  

This is what the founding fathers had no way of foreseeing, that is, that a government of the people, by the people and for the people could once again be controlled by a particular religion because ‘the people’ would make it to be the case.

Fortunately, for the religious, it has protection from the government. Unfortunately, for the non-religious, there is no protection from the religious!

Today, attempts are being made to bastardize the first clause of the First Amendment into becoming a blanket protection for the religious to do as they choose. The First Amendment is not a blank check for religion to monopolize the ethical and moral norms of this country.

The First Amendment has already been used to create a tax-free status for all churches and religiously affiliated organizations. This is a major flaw in the system: many churches preach politics from the pulpit and yet billions of dollars of tithing goes ‘untaxed’ every year. Other business entities have to pay taxes, but not the religious ‘businesses’ – and Religion Is Big Business. Tax-free exemption for a private religious business monopoly, that has proven its power in the political realm, is NOT a separation of Church and State, and is in my opinion, a violation of the very law that they use to procure such an advantage.

And it’s just getting worse! With Fundamentalist Christians wanting to teach Creationism as an alternative theory along side of Evolution in federally funded public schools, as well as the issue of prayer in public schools, and then the big brouhaha that erupted during the month of December over whether saying “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas” was a violation of the First Amendment – well, the whole situation is way out of hand!

What the Christian Majority does not seem to understand, is that there is a HUGE difference between freedom of religion and of religion having a monopoly over dictating 'what freedom is - and is not'.  

The current president used, in both elections, his religion as a major mobilizing tool to bring in the vote for him. Even if voters disagreed about some of his positions, or prior actions, his being a Protestant Christian carried a lot of weight in his supporters’ decision to vote for him (as opposed to John Kerry being a Catholic.)  

This administration is trying to use religion to control the basic freedoms that this country was founded to create and protect -- as well as to attack and attempt to destroy all beliefs that stand in contrast with Christianity. This president has even said that “God tells him what to do.” This is a very serious situation, and could have horrific consequences.  

So, ironically, the very same issues that the founding men and women of this country were trying to liberate themselves from, are the same issues we still face today. The 'master' has changed but the 'slaves' are still not free. So, what can we do about it?

Well, there is no longer a habitable country for people seeking freedom from religious tyranny to flee to! -- so there must be an alternative plan.

What is needed to address this issue today is another amendment to the Bill of Rights that leaves the First Amendment in place, but adds another that better fits American life in the 21st century.

Here it the First Amendment as it now reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is the new amendment that I propose in complement to the First:

In maintaining respect of the First Amendment to this Constitution, and in order to protect the assurance of a free country, with full liberties for its entire people, all branches of the federal government and federally funded entities shall be free of religious influence, religious monopoly, and religious prejudice. Because religion has proven itself to be a potential threat to the assurance of a free country with full liberties for all, it shall be treated as any other entity as regards treason and sedition, whether it be an individual in the name of a religion, or a group associated with a religion. Further, all churches and religiously affiliated organizations shall no longer enjoy the benefits of having a tax-free status, and will, from this day forward, pay full tax liability on all income in the same manner as all other for-profit entities according to this country’s tax code.  

~Beth
20  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 05, 2006, 04:29:01
06.05.06
Masked gunmen kill 21 Shiite students

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Masked gunmen stopped two minivans carrying students north of Baghdad Sunday, ordered the passengers off, separated Shiites from Sunni Arabs, and killed the 21 Shiites "in the name of Islam," a witness said.

In predominantly Shiite southern Basra, police hunting for militants stormed a Sunni Arab mosque early Sunday, just hours after a car bombing. The ensuing fire fight killed nine.

The two attacks dealt a blow to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's pledge to curb sectarian violence. He again failed to reach consensus Sunday among

Iraq's ethnic and sectarian parties on candidates for interior and defense minister — posts he must fill to implement his ambitious plan to take control of Iraq's security from U.S.-led forces within 18 months.

Violence linked to Shiite and Sunni Arab animosity has grown increasingly worse since Feb. 22, when bombs ravaged the golden dome of a revered Shiite mosque in predominantly Sunni Arab Samarra.

Sectarian tensions have run particularly high in Baghdad, Basra and Diyala province, a mixed Sunni Arab-Shiite region. And Sunday's attacks came just days after terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi renewed his call for Sunni Arabs to take up arms against Shiites, whom he often vilifies as infidels.

In the minibus ambush, a car and an SUV stopped the vehicles near the town of Qara Tappah, about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad and near Diyala province, electrician Haqi Ismail, 48, told The Associated Press.
Ismail said he had been driving his pickup truck behind the vans and was stopped too. About 15 masked men wearing traditional robes known as a dishdashas forced everyone out of the vehicles, he said.

"They asked us to show our IDs, and then instructed us to stand in a line, separating the Sunni from the Shiite due to the IDs and also due to the faces," said Ismail, a Shiite Kurd.


He said the gunmen ordered the Shiites to lie down and before they opened fire one shouted, "On behalf of Islam, today we will dig a mass grave for you. You are traitors."

Ismail said he was injured but did not move.

"One of the gunmen kicked me to be sure that I was dead," he said, speaking from his hospital bed in Sulaimaniyah, north of Qara Tappah.

Two of the victims were high school students, ages 17 and 18, and nine were students at al-Yarmouk University in Baqouba, ages 21-22, said Qara Tappah's mayor, Serwan Shokir. The rest were men in their mid-to-late 30s, who worked as laborers or for the power company, the mayor said…

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060605/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_060604184314
21  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 05, 2006, 03:03:41
Hey Shinobi!!:grin:
Quote from: Shinobi
Hi Beth,

This position regarding Bush is more common than not.

How can this be?  His approval ratings are often cited at less than 30%.  You can certainly find areas where a political candidate will find favor by saying nothing more than "I like the Bible", but that does not describe the bulk of the country.  
I didn't mean common amongst all voters, I meant among those that still give him a high approval rating. I guess I assumed that would be an obvious deduction to make.

I only meant to point out that blind religious believers follow blindly regardless of what their leader does.  And Shinobi, maybe you would be surprised how many people do follow blindly. I saw a documentary last year that went around the rural areas of America and asked questions such as this, e.g what do you like about Bush? And I was amazed at the answers! -- not issue related, but because of his religious moral standards. Some even said they supported him because they didn't think that his Dad got a fair shake back in the early 90s, and they really liked his Dad. Or even, they really like his mama.shocked

Quote
Perhaps you've also been reading about the bed wetting that is hitting the Republicans based on those low numbers?  There is a growing fear that this coming mid-term election is going to result in some serious loss of control in Congress - it's all speculative and the Democrats seem congenitally incapable of taking advantage of the situation, but the President's foolish pushing of talk about the gay marriage amendment (and other 'social conservative' issues) is losing out to substantial issues like illegal immigration, what is going in the Middle East, etc.
Yes, and that is why I say that a great part of that 30% is made up of people that support him primarily because he is religious and not because of the serious issues at hand. Of his pet projects, they wholeheartedly agree, of the seriousness of the situation in the middle east, they are rooting him on to finish up and come home. Interestinly enough, out of the articles that I have read lately, the biggest problem that some of his most ardent supporters have with him is his position on immigration!!

It is all very selecting reasoning if you ask me.

Most definately the GOP has serious problems. A substantial section of the Republican base are having to step away from him for their election/re-election season. When the speeches really start coming in, watch and see how many of the GOP runners are forced to openly refute and defy him -- where only a year ago, they were still staunchly standing beside him.

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The bulk of Americans DO have religious convictions, most of that Christian.  That doesn't necessarily make them idiots or slaves to a Republican talk track.  Some, certainly, but not most.
 Of course there are intelligent Christians out there. I  hope that I didn't imply that all religious people are idiots, because that is certainly not what I meant to do. (That would make me look like the idiot...)

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Thanks for the thought provokers - take care!

Shinobi


Glad to read you!! I always appreciate dialogue with you.

~Beth grin
22  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 05, 2006, 01:13:05
Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer  

By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: March 31, 2006

Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

Patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms,
perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

Because it is the most scientifically rigorous investigation of whether prayer can heal illness, the study, begun almost a decade ago and involving more than 1,800 patients, has for years been the subject of speculation.

The question has been a contentious one among researchers. Proponents have argued that prayer is perhaps the most deeply human response to disease, and that it may relieve suffering by some mechanism that is not yet understood. Skeptics have contended that studying prayer is a waste of money and that it presupposes supernatural intervention, putting it by definition beyond the reach of science.

At least 10 studies of the effects of prayer have been carried out in the last six years, with mixed results. The new study was intended to overcome flaws in the earlier investigations. The report was scheduled to appear in The American Heart Journal next week, but the journal's publisher released it online yesterday.

In a hurriedly convened news conference, the study's authors, led by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston, said that the findings were not the last word on the effects of so-called intercessory prayer. But the results, they said, raised questions about how and whether patients should be told that prayers were being offered for them.

"One conclusion from this is that the role of awareness of prayer should be studied further," said Dr. Charles Bethea, a cardiologist at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City and a co-author of the study.
Other experts said the study underscored the question of whether prayer was an appropriate subject for scientific study.

"The problem with studying religion scientifically is that you do violence to the phenomenon by reducing it to basic elements that can be quantified, and that makes for bad science and bad religion," said Dr. Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia and author of a forthcoming book, "Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine."

The study cost $2.4 million, and most of the money came from the John Templeton Foundation, which supports research into spirituality. The government has spent more than $2.3 million on prayer research since 2000.

Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a co-author of the report, said the study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends.
Working in a large medical center like Mayo, Mr. Marek said, "You hear tons of stories about the power of prayer, and I don't doubt them."
In the study, the researchers monitored 1,802 patients at six hospitals who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery.

The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.

The researchers asked the members of three congregations — St. Paul's Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Mass.; and Silent Unity, a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City — to deliver the prayers, using the patients' first names and the first initials of their last names.

The congregations were told that they could pray in their own ways, but they were instructed to include the phrase, "for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications."

Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.

In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers' prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html?
pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=4acf338be4900000&ex=1301461200&partner
=rssnyt&emc=rss
23  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 05, 2006, 01:08:10
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"I'm not sure of anything he's done, but I like that he's religious — that's really important," Ms. Pulsipher said. …


This position regarding Bush is more common than not. shocked

There are none so blind as those who will not see...
24  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 04, 2006, 15:01:20
Driving the politics of America...

*****************************************

PROVO, Utah — Here in what may be the reddest city in the reddest of states, where Democrats sometimes gather like lost souls at the one Starbucks, most people are standing by President Bush.

"When I watch him, I see a man with his heart in the right place," said Delia Randall, a 22-year-old mother from Provo, the hub of a county that gave Senator John Kerry just 11 percent of the presidential vote in 2004.

"I like George Bush because he is God fearing, and that's how a lot of people in this area feel."…

These voters are among the committed Bush supporters who are standing proudly by him as he tries to reverse the poll numbers that are sliding even in Utah, hang on to Republican control of Congress, revive his agenda and stabilize Iraq…

This core group is a highly concentrated version of the Bush base, one that appears to be motivated more by general principles and a comfort level with the president than by specific issues or political trends. They tend to be impressed by Mr. Bush's faith and convinced that he understands their lives and values. They like what they see as his muscular foreign policy.

These supporters are mostly clustered in places like Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, the only three states where Mr. Bush's job approval rating is at or above 50 percent, and in smaller pockets in areas like the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala.; northwest Georgia; and the Florida Panhandle…
He's a man of principle."

All of the administration's perceived failures, including the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and the budget deficit, go through a different filter in these Bush strongholds. Sounding a familiar theme, Mr. Craft said he was distrustful of news media portrayals of Mr. Bush because "they concentrate too much on the negative and certain small things."

The redemptive narrative that Mr. Bush has often told about his life — a frequent drinker who found God and his political purpose in early middle-age — has greater resonance here than in other parts of the country. And people say they are willing to overlook major problems, or not blame Mr. Bush for trouble spots, because they like his personality…

"He's strong, and he doesn't waver," said Jaren Olsen, 18, a freshman at Brigham Young, the nation's largest religiously affiliated private university, who is from Albany. "I like that he is for the family, that marriage should only be between a man and woman. And the war, we need to finish what we started."

Another student at Brigham Young, Danielle Pulsipher, a junior, offered blanket approval of the president. Asked to name which of his actions as president she liked most, she was hard-pressed to answer.

"I'm not sure of anything he's done, but I like that he's religious — that's really important," Ms. Pulsipher said. …


In Provo, a prosperous city of just over 100,000 people built around Brigham Young, about 8 of every 10 voters are registered Republicans. Last year, Provo was rated the most conservative city in America by the nonpartisan Bay Area Center for Voter Research.

"This is a community committed to faith, family and freedom, and that translates to consistent popularity for George Bush," said Mayor Lewis K. Billings of Provo.


"People here like so much of what George Bush has done," Mr. Billings said. "I think he's got support on almost everything — except immigration."…

"I like his honesty," said Allison Wilkey, a mother of three.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/04/washington/04believers.html?
ex=1307073600&en=9aab61e5b34f3484&ei=5089&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss
25  World Cultures, Traditions and Religions / Welcome to World Cultures, Traditions and Religions! / Religion in the News on: June 04, 2006, 14:45:12
OGDEN, Iowa - The soldier's flag-draped casket is set on the gymnasium floor, below the unlit scoreboard, before bleachers crowded with mourners.

They are there for Sgt. Daniel Sesker, the young man known for an infectious laugh and a wide smile, his life taken abruptly by an improvised explosive device outside Tikrit. Inside his high school, those who loved him are just beginning to grieve.

Outside, near a cornfield awaiting planting, picketers thank God for Daniel Sesker's death, talk approvingly of his entrance into hell, and mock the mourners. Amid gusting winds, they struggle to hold up signs that read "Thank God for IEDs" and "God Hates Your Tears."

And back home in Kansas, tucked away in an office over Westboro Baptist Church, Pastor Fred Phelps need only think of what he's done, and he cracks a smile.

He has, for 15 years, directed a campaign unlike any other.

At curbsides, outside funerals and before state capitols, Phelps and his followers have branded this a nation of sinners, of people bound to live eternity in a fiery hell. They have called homosexuals the disgusting face of evil, and fallen American soldiers proof of God's wrath. And they've sneered at every other faith.

They are unapologetic in delivering their message and have no hope of convincing you, just as they say there is no hope for this doomed nation.

It's simply their duty, they believe, to let it be known that God hates you. That you're going to hell. That you're wrong and Fred's right.

Westboro's protesters first gained widespread national attention in 1998. A 21-year-old University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, had been lashed to a split-rail post, pistol-whipped, robbed, and left in near-freezing temperatures — all apparently because he was gay. Millions were horrified.

But not Phelps.

He and his followers showed up at the funeral with signs bearing their trademark message: "God Hates Fags." They chanted "Fags die, God laughs."

There have been thousands of protests since, at the funerals of homosexuals — but also at memorials for Mister Rogers, victims of Sept. 11 and West Virginia miners. There have been more than 25,000 such demonstrations, by the church's count.

Their belief in predestination — the idea that God determined at the time of one's creation whether they were bound for heaven or hell — is not unique. It stems from John Calvin's branch of the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is taught in mainstream churches.

Where Westboro parts ways, of course, is its emphasis on God's hatred and the way it spreads this message. Members believe they must alert the world's depraved sinners of their fate even though such people have no chance of going to heaven. They're not doing this to save you — they're doing it to save themselves…

The Westboro flock is out there all alone, both in their beliefs and in their methods. No other religious group has stepped forward to join them…

In the small sanctuary at Westboro Baptist — amid wood paneling, mauve carpeting and burnt-red cushions that recall a 1970s living room more than a house of worship — the congregation prays that all of God's chosen people will hear the call and make their way to this church. When the last person comes, they believe, Christ will return and the world will end…

The fluorescent lights shine on no crosses or paintings or statues, just a world map and a few signs. "Thank God for Maimed Soldiers," reads one…

"We pray for more tornadoes, we pray for more hurricanes, that Katrina's just a tiny little preamble," he says near his closing. "That's what we pray for."…

His demeanor shifts easily, quickly. He laughs, then looks sullen. Calls a granddaughter "love bug," then launches a brief tirade against Jews…

"That's one of the luxuries of being 100 percent right, absolutely 100 percent right," he said. "If you can read, you would agree with me."…

"They believe that what my dad says is law. He's the shepherd of the flock and he gets his inspiration from the Bible — he's the voice of God on earth," said the former Dortha Phelps, an estranged daughter who has taken the surname Bird to signify her freedom from the family…

He will die soon. His lifetime of preaching God's hate, he believes, has earned his place in heaven. And as his spirit ascends, protesters, no doubt, will assemble to celebrate his death.

Phelps has made it clear that he is overjoyed by the prospect. Bring a sign, he implores. Denounce me, defame me, he says. Dance on my grave, spit on my casket, laugh at my passing.

He knows the truth, he says. And in heaven, he'll just smile.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060603/ap_on_re_us/ministry_of_hate_2
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