Tuesday, June 8, 2010

People! Who needs People?

I office at McDonald's, some of you know; two hours twice a day everyday, for 22 years now.  I read.   I also journal what I read.  Sometimes I read one paragraph in two hours.  I am also reading, very slowly, Metaphysics by Borden Bowne (1884), and Powers of Mind Adam Smith (1975) when I am at home.  I have on my next to read shelf The Syllogistic Philosophy by Frances E. Abbott (1906).  Consciousness is the theme of all my reading.

  When I journal, I draw pictures to myself of what my ideas look like, so I need highlighters.  At Mcdonald's I spread my highlighers and markers over a big table with my many notebooks since right now I am collating the ideas of two different scientists of consciousness.  People walk by on the way to the restrooms and most ignore me.  Sporadically, some one stops and makes a snide comment, a put-down.  I realized it is almost always old white American males.

  This morning I overheard an old lady sitting in eyeshot from me telling an old white American male that it's "time we take our country back from the 'negroes'."  Not much stops me, I learned to absorb my concentration and lose sense of my surroundings about 20 years of the 22 years ago.  But I stopped.  Since the afternoon before she had a conversation with a young employee and they slapped each other on the back because they love Jesus and are "good Christians". I have had some experiences with these "good Christians".  Some I even told it was obvious to me that they had never read the New Testament and didn't catch the ethics of Jesus.  They're the ones who write books like "What Would Jesus Do?"  and have bumper sticker likes "What would Jesus think, say, eat," etc?

   If we take our country back from the "negroes" do we send them back to Africa?  Or do we reclaim them as our slaves?  Did Jesus have slaves?  And if he was Middle-Eastern and not American didn't he probably have dark skin and not the light-colored Roman-like complexion of the old lady "good Christian?"

   I read a book on the history of NewThought once that talked about the violent conflict between the theologies of John Calvin and Michael Servetus.  Calvin, who had the backing of the prince in Geneva,  had Servetus burned at the stake for "heresy."  That was before the concept of separation of church and state.  But I wondered, "Who did Jesus burn?"  When Jesus said in Matthew and Luke
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."  (Luke 14:26), do these Bible literalists take that literally?  Everything Jesus said is open to interpretation.

   Borden P. Bowne was professor of philosophy at Boston University and a Methodist minister. He categorized his views as Kantianized Berkeleyanism, transcendental empiricism and, finally, Personalism, a philosophical branch of liberal theology, of which Bowne is the dominant figure. His masterpiece, Metaphysics, appeared in 1882 (which I think is wonderful!) and he was contemporary with the writings of Mary Baker Eddy which I use in my study of consciousness. Bowne towards the end of his life was tried for heresy by the Methodist Church, but acquitted.

   Frances Abbot was was an American philosopher and Unitarian theologian who sought to reconstruct theology in accord with scientific method. He was a contemporary of Bowne and Mrs. Eddy.  His ministry proved controversial, and in 1868 New Hampshire's highest court ruled that the Dover, New Hampshire, First Unitarian Society of Christians' chosen minister was insufficiently "Christian" to serve his congregation. Abbott is was said, once preached that:

Whoever has been so fired in his own spirit by the overwhelming thought of the Divine Being as to kindle the flames of faith in the hearts of his fellow men, whether Confucius, or Zoroaster, or Moses, or Jesus, or Mohammed, has thereby proved himself to be a prophet of the living God; and thus every great historic religion dates from a genuine inspiration by the Eternal Spirit.
He was removed from his ministry. 

And then there's Anthony DeMello.  a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who died in 1987. At the end of this post is a link to a you-tube presentation of his that I recommend to you.  I found it when a Facebook question from a young friend showed up and I wanted to respond. Her question was

Wondering why it has to be sooooo hard sometimes to let certain people go in our lives, even when it's the "right thing to do..." - and this includes friEnds that have moved on in their lives, for whatever reason, and leave us behind.
DeMello's books and materials were banned by the Catholic church and his teachings called "dangerous."  I guess beliefs are also so-o-o-o-o hard to let go, too.  Who did Jesus ban?

Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFdjBjBfPfc