March 27, 2011 by Bill
The question for today is at the heart of the problem we face as a nation. It is exactly the same question that was requested for my lectures at the University of Alabama Conference Center some years ago. I was asked to explore Carl Jung’s question: “Why are so many millions willing and eager to turn their lives over to outside authorities?”
Why are so many today, without thinking, willing to turn their mind/brain…soul/spirit…over to outside individuals, institutions, authorities and ideologies? Whether it be to Osama bin Laden or whether it be to Christian, Muslim and Jewish authorities of dogma, or whether it be to Republican or Democratic dogma…or whatever the outside authority or institution might be that is telling you what to think, what to believe and how to live your life.
Carl Jung put it this way in his essays: “It is a delusion when the Christian churches try to rope the individual into some social organization and reduce him or her to a condition of diminished responsibility, instead of raising him or her out of the torpid, mindless mass and making it clear that he, or she, is the one important factor. Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man, or woman, who is as well organized in his/her individuality as the mass itself.”
“Once more we see people cutting each other’s throats in support of childish theories of how to create paradise on earth.”
I devoted my lecture at the University of Alabama to four steps:
- Begin by taking a hard, critical look at all so-called religious authorities.
- Learn to trust your very own personal experiences and intuition. Thomas Jefferson said it well to his young nephew: “Your own reason is the only oracle given to you by God.” Jefferson always used “God” as a Deist, not as a biblical Christian.
- Accept the risks that go with taking control of your own life and its direction.
- Enjoy the joys and freedom that are a part of such a new orientation.
March 20, 2011 by Bill
When all the words have been written, and all the phrases have been spoken, the great mystery of life will still remain. We may map the terrains of our lives, measure the farthest reaches of the universe, but no amount of searching will ever reveal for certain whether we are all children of chance or part of a great design.
And who among us would have it otherwise? Who would wish to take the mystery out of the experience of looking into a newborn infant’s eyes? Who would not feel in violation of something great if we had knowledge of what has departed when we stare into the face of one who has died? These are the events that made us human, that define the distance between the stars and us.
Still, this life is not easy. Much of its mystery is darkness. Tragedies occur, injustices exist. Bad things befall good people and sufferings are visited upon the innocent. To live we must take the lives of other species, to survive we must leave some of our brothers and sisters by the side of the road. We are prisoners of time, victims of biology, hostages of our own capacity to dream.
At times it all seems too much, impossible to accept.
We must stand against this. The world is a great mysterious place, and its possibilities are infinite, governed only by what our hearts can conceive. If we incline our hearts towards the darkness, we will see darkness. If we incline them toward the light, we will see the light.
Those of great heart have always known this. They have understood that, as honorable as it is to see the wrong and try to correct it, a life well lived must somehow celebrate the promise that life provides. The darkness at the limits of our knowledge; the darkness that sometimes seem to surround us is merely a way to make us reach beyond certainty, to make our lives a witness to hope, a testimony to possibility, an urge toward the best and the most honorable impulses that our hearts can conceive. Read more
March 13, 2011 by Bill
In a newspaper interview in another state, the reporter said this to me: “the fundamentalists say that you are intolerant. Do you think that you are?” I said to her, “you bet…I am totally intolerant of intolerance. People that use God and the bible as a big 2X4 plank to hit all the rest of us over the head are beneath contempt and need to be resisted.”
In a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Salman Rushdie presented one of the great truths of our time. He said this: “Special interest groups, claiming the moral high ground, now demand the protection of the censor. The fundamentalist Christian Right say we must “respect” their beliefs and agenda.
Criticism, they say, is off limits as being disrespectful. Citizens of free societies, democracies, do not preserve their freedom by pussyfooting around their fellow citizens’ opinions. Skepticism and freedom are indissolubly linked. And it is the skepticism of journalists, their unwillingness to be impressed, that is their most important contribution to the freedom of the free world. It is the disrespect of journalists for power, for orthodoxy, for party lines, for ideologies, for vanity, for arrogance, for folly, for pretension, for corruption and for stupidity that I would like to celebrate, and that I urge you all, in the name of freedom, to preserve.”
I have never read a finer, cleaner estimate of the price of freedom. It is the latitude and longitude of a treasure, a treasure more valuable than all of the religious dogmas of this age. The treasure is human freedom.
The Christian right wants “respect” while telling everyone else “since we don’t like abortions, NOBODY can have an abortion. Since we don’t like gays and lesbians, NOBODY is going to like them or help them. Since we don’t like books in school libraries that are not on our agenda, NOBODY is going to read anything we do not approve of. Since we do not like evolution taught in schools, NOBODY is going to hear about evolution if we have our way. If we want prayer in school and public places, EVERYONE is going to have to pray”. And on and on into the dark night of superstition, ignorance and illiteracy…as their lives are saturated with an intolerance of all other opposing views. It pours forth from their fundamentalist pulpits in an avalanche of bigotry and intolerance for gays and lesbians, pro choice decisions, separation of church and state and on and on into a return of the dark ages. Read more