The Courage to Imagine…

the inifinite possibilities that life always brings

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Gratitude Tip: Just Do It

Posted by jeromefaraday on October 11, 2010

The following story is from today’s Sunday mass readings in the Catholic Church. It sums up well the quintessential gratitude tip: just do it.

And as [Jesus] entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
And as they went they were cleansed.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;  and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:12-19, RSV)

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Two Negative Institutions (That Really Don’t Have to Be) Part 1

Posted by jeromefaraday on September 16, 2010

[N.B- This essay is strongly informed by Dr. David Hawkins‘ wonderful book “Power vs. Force.” Long story short (although you should read the long story), power and powerful people transform the world, while force (e.g. violence, intimidation, fear, anger, etc.) corrupts, but never really changes anything in the long run.]

I’m going to stick to religion and education, although honestly I’m sure many others would qualify. Some institutions (business, etc.) we may expect to be negative, but religion and education are forces which try to provide very positive outcomes (personal fulfillment, wisdom, etc.). Yet, for many people religion and education are oppressive forces in their lives. Where is the disconnect between mission and outcome?

First, I’ll tackle religion. In practical terms, religion here means Western religion, primarily Christianity. It’s not to exclude or generalize, just that’s my experience and probably the experience for most of the blog’s readers.

For many people their concept of religion is a bunch of commandments, sins, perceived intolerance, and lots and lots of guilt. For others, however, religion is enlightening, joyful, transforming, and compels them to charity. Which is it? Both. In fact, you can see both elements in every religion of the world. What corrupts religion and turns it oppressive? I would argue the use of force.

Jesus knew that not everyone would accept him. He also knew that his power was strong enough to bring people into his movement. In other words, he didn’t need to force people in through violence, strong arm tactics, etc. The witness of his followers to this message brought hundreds of thousands to the Christian Faith in the early Church. The first Christians generally taught non-violence, change from one’s sinful ways, a strong sense of community, and a radical counter-culturalism. This message appealed to many and attracted many.

However, when Christianity became legal and eventually the state religion, a major change occurred. Everyone had to be Christian, including those who weren’t so inclined. Foreign tribes conquered by the Romans had to convert too, often by the sword. The powerful message of Jesus was diluted through the application of force. This process has happened with most of the world’s religions (except for Islam in which force came quickly when Mohammed’s army attacked Mecca).

The thing is, religion doesn’t have to use force to achieve its goals. In fact, at this point in history, thanks to widespread freedom of religion (at least in the West), the powerful message of religion can flourish. So, why isn’t it? Probably because most religious leaders don’t know how to operate in an environment of power. Even the concept of Christendom, where all are culturally Christian, is a form of force, albeit a largely benign one. Most Christian leaders still think it’s 1955 and everyone will conform naturally to Christian morality and belief.

I’m not one of those spiritual but not religious people. I am religious and don’t see it as conflicting with a ‘new thought’ worldview. Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller are proof the marriage is possible. However, the negative aspects of religion like force, control, and abuse, are not compatible. Of course, they’re not compatible with the tenets of any major world religion either. Basically, religious leaders and institutions need to do a better job of living up to their own ideals and they can do this by letting go of force and using the power of their founders.

Part 2 coming tomorrow

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Abundance vs. Materialism (Part 1)

Posted by jeromefaraday on September 13, 2010

Discovering the law of attraction via friends and The Secret has transformed my life. There’s no other way to describe it. However, I’ve always had problems with one issue: the seeming closeness of abundance and materialism. In fact, based on my web research, it seems to be a primary objection to theories of abundance and the law of attraction.

Some people have horrible views of money and wealth that come from deeply ingrained patterns they learned from others. Often, these people have good intentions. For example, someone may think Jesus wants them to be poor and miserable or that money is just something the elites use to control others. Others see the rabid consumerism of our culture and think (rightly) that there has to be a better way. And because ‘new though’ teaching often speaks of abundance, attracting wealth, etc. they just see it as another form of unbridled materialism.

I don’t think abundance has any connection with materialism. In fact, abundance, properly understood, is a completely opposite concept. Here’s why.

First, abundance is a concept rooted in positive emotions. Everything I’ve read about the law of attraction states that in order for it to be successful the person must tap into feelings of joy, happiness, excitement, etc. The feelings must be (or become) genuine and deep-rooted. Now, materialism, by contrast, is rooted in despair, which is a negative emotion and the functional opposite of joy. The materialist consumes to feel happy. The abundantist (neologism) feels happy and receives things, people, etc. to multiply it.

Second, abundance must always not only bless ourselves but also others. In other words, the blessings (material or otherwise) we receive are meant to be shared and distributed to others. In fact, it could be argued that a truly abundant person blesses others far more than he blesses himself (look at Mother Teresa). Materialism, on the other hand, is about placating a need (I almost used the word blessing here) of the individual, often at the expense of other people (e.g. I want that toy and you can’t have it.)

Third, abundance flows from gratitude. I’ve posted on this before and will again, but gratitude is the basis for all blessings. If we are not truly grateful for what we have now, we won’t enjoy any excess. In fact, that’s materialism in a nutshell: not being satisfied with our possessions and always needing more and more. The abundant person can treasure her possessions, while the materialist always thinks of what to buy next.

Read Part 2

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