GNL Number 47

the GOOD NEWS lately

a report of doings at meeting #47, Sunday, April 10, 2011
including liturgical notes, major themes,, and other odds and ends

INVOCATION

The most beautiful of all emblems is that of God, whom Timaeus of Locris describes under the image of “A circle whose center is everywhere and circomference nowhere.”
—Voltaire



THEME

We began with a few words about those here and those not. First, we were all happy to be here with Jack, again feeling good enough to have us at his home. And pleased to have his good friend and neighbor Mary join us again. Then a few words about those we were missing: Erynne working this Sunday; Vijaya still in India; Gail home with Virginia, who had been sick yesterday; and Cynthia expected to return later in the day from a visit with her sister. Adair, after the death of her friend and then her son-in-law last month, had gone to Maine for the week. And Christine was in Bassett. Cooperstown, doing pretty well after her first chemo treatment, perhaps even to come home soon when she stabilized. Chris had been very much in our minds. So we dedicated this meeting to her, that she be the more present with us, and we with her. To help us do that, we listened to a short but very beautiful and very special piece of music on a CD from her Community Library. This was sacred Jewish choral music and the piece is based on the passage Hear O Israel, The Lord Our God, the Lord is ONE. And, as Chris told us one time at COS, hearing this passage was what had first drawn her to study Judaism. During the music and for a few minutes afterward, we sat in silent thought and prayer for her.

Our topic—“God”/ the Ultimate/ the Universe/ the Force/ the Divine Reality—was one Sue came to eagerly, and she brought us several quotes from favorite (progressive) rabbis, along with paper copies of a list of some of the many “names” for G*d in Torah, Talmud, and Zohar, as well as a check list of several very different ideas of “G*d” from the contemporary teacher, Rabbi Goldie Milgram. See AFTERWORDS. ( Sue also relayed a note from Cynthia, who said she had no words of wisdom about the topic, but had to suspect that Love has something to do with “God”.)

Ann said she found her ideas about “God” unchanged from our last conversation on the subject. She still felt no need for a god or supreme being to “look up to”, feeling there’s something of supreme being in us all. She added some topical 6-wordies of course, and a wonderful quote from WAMC’s Bob Berman: ” God is just another way of saying that we haven’t got a clue.” See AW.

Anna C described herself as one of several children who went to Catholic school but were not raised as strict Catholics; the sense of God she developed was a more open and broad one, as she found resonating for her in the poem Desiderata she read last meeting. She and others also recognized the need we have for something/someone to “thank” (which recalled Adair at an earlier meeting citing the habit she’s developed of appreciating joys met along the way with a shout-out: “Life, I love you!”).

Jack, who felt good enough to host us after all, has been a Christ-centered Christian for many years, first as a Quaker and then as a Catholic, and for the whole time an avid reader of the Bible. He noted that God is referred to in the Bible as He not She, which he said not as if to remind us who was boss, but to call attention to the incompleteness of the recorders’ view.

Anna M recalled her upbringing in a non-religious Jewish family, but with thoughtful, ethical parents, and developing a secular humanist view herself, with no real sense or need of “God”. She brought along a book written by her cousin Maxine about her experiences in Israel and Palestine, Refusing to be Enemies, and this title reflects not only Maxine’s philosophy but Anna’s. Maxine will visit Anna next month, and we’re hoping we and Peacemakers can talk with her.

Like Jack, Mary is a practicing Christian, and she spoke strongly of how for her, Christ is guide, model, home. She had brought her bible and read several passages from the Old Testament, where God shows Himself forcefully, poetically to his human devotees, like Moses and Job. These were Exodus (to Moses), chapter 33: 18-23, and ch. 34: 5-8; Job, ch. 38:1-39; Isaiah, ch. 40: 10-12 and 18-26 and 28-31; and lastly, the familiar and beautiful 23rd Psalm.

Nancy said that “god” to her is the whole thing, everybody and everything, past present future, more than we imagine, all connected, all ONE. And that Nature is a doorway, especially for her, to grasping, feeling this. She also recalled Sue’s statement in COSnews #26 which she loves, and read this. It was her (free) translation of the prime Jewish prayer Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One (also cited at the beginning on Christine’s behalf): Yo! You stiff-necked God Wrestlers! the Is-Was-Will Be-Being in the Process of Always Becoming is our God—That BECOMING which all being carries in every cell and molecule (or quark, neutrino or particle), and expresses on every breath is ONE!!!!! N also read some quotes, and excerpts from Eckhart Tolle, for which see AW.

And finally, from a note to us from Adair, this closing line:'”God is Love” does it for me.’

We decided our offering this day should go to the Red Cross, for Japan Relief.


BENEDICTION

God is that indefinable something which we all feel but which we do not know. To me God is truth and love, Gos is ethics and morality.
God is fearlessness, God is the source of llight and life and yet is above and beyond all these. God is conscience. God is even the atheism of the atheist.
—Gandhi



NEXT TIME:

Sunday, May 8, 2011 (1030), at Jack’s place, unless he’s unable to host, in which case Adair has volunteered to have us at her house on Rosenburg Road. (And you’ll get an email or call a day or two before.) The topic is ART and CREATIVITY.



AFTERWORDS

from Sue:

God quotes & thoughts

What I read:

  • “God loves us into life.” Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
  • “I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t.” ~Jules Renard
  • In My End Is My Beginning
    “In the Beginning of Beginnings was Void of Void, the Name-less.
    And in the Nameless was the One, without body, without form.
    This One–this Being in whom all find power to exist–
    Is the Living.
    From the Living, comes the Formless, the Undivided.
    From the act of this Formless, come the Existents, each according
    To its inner princple. This is Form. Here body embraces and cherishes spirt.The two work toeggether as one, blending and manifesting their
    Characters. And this is Nature.”
    ~Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu, 1965, New Directions, p75 (which led to thoughts that this way of speaking/thinking is common to the origin stories and the mystical branches of many faiths–including Chuang Tzu’s Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism (the Kabbalist-Ein Sof), Islam (the Sufis) and the latest breaking waves in Physics.)
  • “the English word God “is an ancient Indo-European root, ghut, meaning ‘call upon,’ ‘invoke,’ or ‘implore.’ God is thus the being or entity upon whom we call”

a few I didn’t read:

  • “When we pray to the various names of God—such as “Loving Compassionate One” we are saying, “this is the attitude under which I want to meet you, God.” When we are doing it, we’re just talking to God, out of all our humility, love and need.” more of Reb Zalman’s wisdom)
  • “The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.” ~Teresa of Avila
  • “When people ask if I believe in G*d, I say, ‘No.
    ‘Then I surprise them by saying, ‘Actually, I experience G*D.'”
  • ~Reb Goldie Milgram, Meaning and Mitzah: Daily Practices for Reclaiming Judaism, Jewish Lights Publ., 2005.
  • “You ask: what is the meaning or purpose of life? I can only answer with another question: do you think we are wise enough to read God’s mind?” ~Freeman Dyson, quoted in The Meaning of Life, compiled by Hugh S. Moorhead
    see also attached file from Reb Goldie Milgram, Meaning and Mitzah: Daily Practices for Reclaiming Judaism, Jewish Lights Publ., 2005.

from Ann:

Once again a good and thoughtful session, and I’m glad Mary was there because it is always a good thing to see someone so committed and involved in their beliefs.

In reading the CoS newsletter, I am so glad Anna C provided us with the Desiderata in our March meeting.

We did have the topic of God in February, must have been last year. Having re-read my comments, not much has changed for me, so I reintroduce my thoughts, with a few 6 wordies added.

A
“God”/ the Ultimate / the Universe / the Force / the Divine Reality.
April 2011
From February, 2010, Church of Skippy – Topic(s) God, Spirit, Soul?
God = Spirit = Soul

I do not mean to offend or challenge anyone in my remarks; my comments are my thinking up to this point in life after having given some thought and done some reading, although not exhaustive by any means. The journey continues until total exhaustion occurs. I learn so much from the discussions at CoS and am so thankful to be a part of this congregation.

I prefer to think that I am not beholden to a supreme being, I believe that what is attributed to a supreme being is in all of us, to greater and lesser degrees at any one time, but that for many people a supreme being becomes a crutch/excuse/reason for not doing something, explaining what doesn’t seem to have an explanation, what doesn’t make sense, what hurts, as well as what is joyous. How can the imperfect mind describe the perfect and ideal? And guilt!! I don’t know why people put themselves under a cloud of guilt because they don’t live up to God ideals? Someone passing on successes and failures to God is OK by me, which does not mean that I do not have answers that work for me. Mostly we know what we need to do, what needs to be done to survive and that is the motivating force to keep us going, together; our challenge is to do it with kindness and love. If/when, we fail, then we fail each other, not a supreme being. I prefer to think that sense of the human bond of love (soul, spirit?) as not supreme, not divine, not other, but a very real connection between people (secular humanism?). Everyone knows more than I do about any/everything; do I also need to feel inferior because I have let God down?

And the word God is useful shorthand when questioning, swearing, pleading, thanking, unloading, justifying “sins”. I guess, for me, the hypocrisies of religion and the claim of a divine (perfection) connection leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Certainly many people experience great joy in “God’s love”, this is a non-issue for me. The joyous, elated, serene happy, compassionate, etc. feelings we all get don’t have to come from anywhere else, IMHO.

I have no problem with others believing in “God”, what works for someone else is a good thing and should not be disparaged, just let me believe what I believe, and please don’t feel sorry for me because I don’t get it!!!! Please do not say that I’m really a good Christian but I just don’t know it. I don’t want that mantle, that burden. I do not doubt that Christ existed, a good teacher, a good man – divine? – not for me. In fact what is divinity? Best, ideal, perfect. All creation, all that exists is divine?

I’m not sure/clear about having to suffer to be enlightened either, a whole lot I don’t understand about this thinking, this experience.

This looks like it’s all about me, well it’s all about my thinking at this point. I do feel that “I” is not the important factor here; that’s my challenge, to figure out how to be me without it all being about I. This also sounds so cut and dried in my mind, that is far from true, the edges are very fuzzy and open to alteration, I hope.

Bob Berman: “God is just another way of saying that we haven’t got a clue.” Bob is the fellow on WAMC who addresses questions and observations about our universe. He understands (or seems to) pieces of the universe that I couldn’t even create in my imagination.

Six Wordies

  • Behold God, surely equal to Goddess.
  • By needing reasons, we created God.
  • All gods all speak with one tongue.

from Nancy:

  • What is there of the divine in a load of bricks? What is there of the divine in a barber’s shop?…..Much. All.
    —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is a maxim of our fathers that there is in every god an element of the divine.
    —Anatole France
  • God does not believe in our God.
    —Jules Renard
  • God is in the world, or nowhere, creating continually in us and around us.
    —Alfred North Whitehead
  • The true God is the God of things as they are.-
    –G.K. Chesterton

God is Being itself, not a being.
Being is the eternal, everpresent One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to life and death.
—Eckhart Tolle, in The Power of Now

There is only one absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it. When you find that Truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human action can reflect the Truth, or it can reflect illusion. Can the Truth be put into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. They only point to it.

The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth. Jesus tried to convey that when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” These words uttered by Jesus are one of the most powerful and direct pointers to the Truth, if understood correctly…..Jesus speaks of the innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman, every life-form, in fact. He speaks of the life that you are. Some Christian mystics have called it the Christ within; Buddhists call it your Buddha nature; for Hindus, it is Atman, the indwelling God. When you are in touch with that dimension within yourself—and being in touch with it is your natural state, not some miraculous achievement—all your actions and relationships will reflect the oneness with all life that you sense deep within. This is love.
—–Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth

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