I’ve also just re-read the entire thread, and I realized that I think you and I are actually argueing relatively the same point, but from different perspectives. The thing is, I feel like my perspective encompases yours without contradicting it. From my perspective, you are describing a thing in two dimentions, and I am descriving it in four dimentions.
You said: “I have put in the effort of analyzing [the bibles] literary meaning and thus found the true meaning, which is not the same as what you are strawmanning it as in your interpretation.”
What makes you assume you’ve done more work at this than I have? What makes you assume that your conclusions are more right than anybody else’s? IS GOD TALKING TO YOU DIRECTLY??? OMG, that would be exciting. But I think you’re full of shit. You see, I actually have a theology degree – from Jesuits, no less. I suppose that may come as shock to you, being as I’m such a sarcastic punk and all… And even if I didn’t have a degree, nothing makes your conclusions about spirituality more right than anybody else’s.
Because the one thing that is truely evil in the worl, the ONE THING (besides beaurocracy), is to dictate to another person what their experiece of reality is. To tell them that their feelings, their experiences, are wrong, and that they need to accept your version. This may seem melodramatic, because I know, we live in a society that is steeped in this sort of evil, but if you could take a moment… just a moment, and consider that for me, these thoughts are not my “opinion”: they are my experience of reality. From my perspective, I am making very simple, objective observations. I’m not asking you to accept my version of reality, I’m only asking you to consider what it means for my experience of reality that the assertions I make might be facts, instead of just “opinions that are different from yours”…
IT MEANS I’M WADING KEED-DEEP IN RIVERS OF BULLSHIT, DUDE. It means everywhere I go, there are layers upon layers of messages trying to tell me that my experience of reality is wrong, and I need to adopt theirs (worship this way, god is over here, buy this, vote for that guy, whatever you do, don’t think for yourself, here we’ve got your thoughts packaged up for you nice and tidy for a new, lowlowlow price!). And from my perspective, anyone telling me that they’ve got a corner on the truth market of any subject, is an immediate flag to never take them seriously.
Yes, my metaphores are limited! They don’t work as explanations for every situation! They don’t work from every perspective! In fact, give me a few days, and I might interpret those stories in entirely different ways! But that’s just it… I’m not looking for a single answer to my questions. I’m only looking for more questions. Here, this artist here said it every so much gentler and more poetic than I can: http://kiriakakis.net/comics/mused/a-day-at-the-park
I’m not strawmanning your arguements as some willful act of mis-undertsanding you. I am attempting to use them as a process of qustioning your assertions and seeking better understanding of your meaning. It works better in a face-to-face conversation. It goes like, “ok, so let me make sure I’ve understood you correctly. What I think I heard you say is _. Is that correct?” Mabe my incourrigible sarcasm is getting in the way of that intention…
I am not systemmatically opposing the bible, I’m systemmatically opposing your interpretation of it. And lest you think that is somehow a personal attack on you (it’s not! I really value this conversation!), It’s just that I don’t think that you are as original as you think you are. I think that you more fully embody the typical, mainstream doctrine of the church than your ego would like to admit. My goal is absolutely NOT to convince you that you are wrong. My goal is to convince you that you being right doesn’t make other people wrong. I do not question that there is truth in your interpretation of the stories, but I see big fat glaring discrepencies between your idealized versions of the teachings, and the evil things that have been done by that institution. Minimizing discrepencies between intentions and actions. Taking responsibility for unintended consequences. Because you and your interpretations of of the bible cannot be searated from the crimes of the institution. They are linked, they are part of the same package, they have the same programming root.
But The bible just IS. I can question the sincerity and intentions of the people who wrote it, the people who translated it, the people who edited it, and the people who interpret it. And I can come to my own conclusions about what universal truths it may or may not contain. I can choose to ignore it completely and look for my answeres in the material world around me, because ultimately God’s universal truths will be contained just as completely in nature as they will in that book – Indeed, more fully and truthfully in the natural world, becuase the expression of the natural is the direct ongoing neverceasing voice of god, wheras books of any kind are translated through the thoughts of individual people, snapshots of their experience of reality, framed and defined by the perspectives of the time in which they wrote it.
My housemate gave me this gem of a metaphor: if lightness is positivity, pushing, expansion, then the opposite of that would simply be gravity, pulling, contracting, dark. So there is nothing inherently wrong with negativity, and there is nothing inherently right with positivity. It’s just an ongoing push-pull between them, it’s breathing. Breathing, heartbeat, pulsing, that is exactly what it means to be alive.
So the goal is not to eradicate all negativity and it’s not to step 100% into positivity, and the other way ’round isn’t the goal either. Accomplishing any of that would just make us not alive. Or the attempt to get there in either version, fills our lives with so much dissonance that our lives are indistinguishable from Hell.
The goal is just to learn how to breath better. The goal is to let go of resistance and step into conscious participation in universal life. The goal is to be a functioning member of the ecosystem.
What you would describe as “hell, evil, demons who want to pull us down into darkness, away from light”, I would simply describe as energy that wants to pull us out of harmony and allignment with that which is. I see no separation between the material and the spiritual, they are each other, they create each other. God is inside me and I am inside God, I am creating God with every exhale, and God is creating me with my ever inhale. But sometimes that disonance is necessary, when we need to separate ourselves from source for a while so that we can learn to define ourselves. It is the same as a growing child who needs to rebel from their parents for a while, to go away and rely on their own selves, in order to understand the boundaries of their own identity. Within every disonant current, there are eddies of new life, creation, opportunity.
And the absolute truth I see, is that nature loves variety. There is inherent value in diversity. Because diversity means abundance. Deviation from the norm is the vehicle of evolution, for growth. The truth I see is not that I need to strive for perfection, the truth is that I am already perfect, just the way I am, and that I am also always growing, learning, expanding, becoming more subtle. Coming back to closer and closer allignment with source, which is the infinite embodiment of variety.