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The Watering Hole - Conversations on 21st. Century religion.

Moments of Clarity



There are moments when we see things clearly, and change our direction.

Moments of Clarity

Over 1700 people in the US have felt so hopeless that they jumped off the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. It's a certain death. No take backs. Kevin Hines, 34 at the time, joined that statistic. But a split second after jumping he had a golden moment of clarity. He explained, "... I recognized that I made the greatest mistake in my life and I thought it was too late.” He was one of the few lucky ones.

Those moments of clarity sometimes come too late for a do over of a life lived with the wrong beliefs and attitudes. I really like do over movies, like Scrooged and It's a Wonderful Life. I also write them in my novels Death By Christmas: Be Kind Or It May Kill You, and Liars Truth. They remind us that there is a truth in our life that may be obscured by emotion, lies, propaganda, willfulness, identification (tribalism), improper raising, etc. We get so caught up in the devilish details that we lose sight of truth.

Sometimes that truth is about how special each one of us are. Sometimes it's that we have a lot of unfinished things to do in our lives, which is common among those who die, but come back (Near Death Experiences). Sometimes it's just reflecting on our lives and realizing that truth is the things we thought were so important, aren't the things that are really important.

What is true? Well, everyone has different ideas about what truth is, and this has been true since the days of the ancient philosophers, like Plato. It isn't anything new. Sometimes we talk about, "My truth," when it comes to understandings in our lives. By that we mean things that have held true in our experience.

Truth can get crushed. Technicians never take the word of other technicians for problems they have eliminated. Medical researchers generally start from scratch because different lab methodologies yield different results. In psychology and economics, half to a third of experiments can't be replicated to get the same result. Researchers choose the wrong beginning and end point, or the wrong set of data. Similarly in physical and medical sciences, results have to be obtained by other researchers, and then peer reviewed for problems.

I always liked former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld's declaration, "There are things we know, things we know we don't know, and things we don't know we don't know." This made him the darling of the press until he became disliked. But there is truth in that. Today we may have the truth, and tomorrow find there were things we didn't even know we didn't know. What we don't know can hurt us ... or change our mind.

Sometimes we talk about Biblical interpretations as being truth. Every bit of the Bible is an interpretation of languages used 2000 to 3000 years ago, and boy do languages and context change in even a 100 year span. Was there a moment of clarity in interpretation? Nope.

When Emperor Constantine said to the church leaders in the Empire that he wanted Christianity to be the standard, and that they should make an official list of approved letters and books, he never lived to see the result. It took nearly 100 years, and many still debate which books should be left in and which should be left out, and how to interpret different passages. Depends on your truth, I guess.

While Gnosticism was demonized as a heretical belief, and later Cathar men, women, and children were killed by the church in an entire region of France, similar ways of life remain inside the church. People remain celibate and refuse physical pleasures, while devoting their lives and thoughts to spirituality and higher ideals (priests, monks, and nuns).

There are over 200 different Christian denominations, each believing something different from the others. Christianity is a history of change. Even Catholicism isn't monolithic in belief There are nine different traditions, monks and nuns with very different emphasis and understandings, and very broad differences in what Catholics believe.

When Jesus was before Pilate, he posed the question, "What is truth?" Spiritual things have no physical proof. Pilate apparently was well versed in philosophy. He gave Jesus no time to answer, but told those waiting that he found no fault in Jesus.

Is the truth some quicksand that we have no hope of traversing? Something slippery that we can never put our thumb on so we can examine it like a bug? Jesus often said to the people, "Very truly I tell you ...." What did Jesus mean by that? Essentially he meant that you could count on this. Word. Straight up. You could take it to the bank.

The proof in spiritual things is experiential. Experience proves them right or wrong, and things often have exceptions, but are generally true.

Jesus said in Matthew 3:5, "“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit." Jesus was talking to the Jews, so he referenced the baptism being done by John the Baptist. It refered to the cleansing away of the times people had "missed the mark." Christians practice this as a symbol, if at all.

Entering the Kingdom could be done immediately by being "born of the spirit." It wasn't something that happened after death, or after having reached the perfection none of us will ever reach. It's not some future kingdom on earth. It's the spiritual Kingdom of God on Earth, right now and forever, which Jesus had been talking to everyone about.

Being "Born of the spirit" referred to a moment of clarity. It's a time when people see that their past actions have gained them little of real importance, but have earned them enemies and detractors. Their past actions may have alienated others. They may have hurt others. And the things they can hold in their hands actually mean very little. So in a moment of clarity and rebirth of their spirit, they turn away from that type of destructive and meaningless behavior and set their sights on love, what Jesus taught.

Most everyone responds positively to those who have goodwill for others in their heart. Like most things in life, there are a few who don't or take advantage. Sometimes we use those few to dispel notions of helping others. That's punishment and neglect of everyone, to punish a few. Jesus addressed that. He asked us to love our neighbors and our enemies. That means to want the best for them. That works best, and that's truth.

You can deconstruct that truth and ask if it's absolute. Does it always, without fail, work every single time? Nope. That isn't real life. But you can take it to the bank that it usually works and your life will be much happier when you count on it. And you can learn from others just who you have to be careful of.

That being born of the spirit is just the beginning of a major change in your life. It's hard to drop old ways of thinking and doing, even though they often lead to hopelessness and a jump off a bridge. Sometimes we just won't see. Jesus said, there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Then there are many who want to misuse you for their agenda. They have no real interest in you, they just have interest in gaining power or money or influence over you. They are wolves in sheeps clothing, talking things that appeal to the old you, and convincing you that the old way was better: Find ways to keep hating others. Find ways to keep mistreating others. Find ways to always be selfish and never share because it might be misused.

There is nothing to be gained from that old way of living. There is much to be gained in the ways Jesus teaches us.

- Dorian

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- Dorian

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