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Post The "Gift" of Faith, and an Encounter at Starbucks (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 05/15/19 4:29 AM

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The "Gift" of Faith, and an Encounter at Starbucks (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 05/15/19 4:29 am)

Gary Moore writes:

I'm going to hazard a response to David Duggan's note of May 13th, which articulately says that faith, meaning religious faith, as exampled by his own deep faith, is a gift.

I think I may agree, in that "gift" has metaphorical enormity to take in the unknown. A gift sets apart its recipient from those who don't get it, and this is the mystery we've been exploring: Why can some people so deeply believe in what others don't find believable? As we've seen in this thread, mere religious indoctrination is not the answer, since it causes many to rebel and scoff at the stage props behind the curtain, while others emerge profoundly engaged...

Oops--just as I was typing these words, in a peaceful Starbucks store, a voice said hello and I looked up to see a very intelligent acquaintance, Tim Guess, who is also an evangelical missionary in Central America. He asked what I was writing about, and immediately the deep question of why some of us believe could be explored through a living, impressively bright source. He said when he had come to belief he found a great peace, a "resting," with a very solid confidence. But was it cultural? Had he been born under Islam, could a very similar-looking "resting" have come with different labels? He said, just as calmly and thoughtfully as before, that only Jesus rose from the grave. But how did he know that? There were 500 witnesses, he said. I kept things off the road of "Yeah, but..." and said it still looked to me like some people have a gift for coming to the great sense of rightness that can make such a difference in life. Well, I do confess I wasn't able to resist asking him about the Holy Ghost and three-in-one. He seemed more or less to say this is a mystery we should accept because it's reasonable--reasonable to him. So back to Square One.

My larger point here, though, is quite different: I said to my sudden source that I agreed with him about many of the ways of faith, in that this very moment, our sudden conversation, could be looked at as a confirmation.

But to me it confirms the profoundness of our ignorance about the ways our own elusive minds are part of whatever it might be that we choose to label as being ineluctibly larger--a something whose obscure but occasionally startling ways very much include our own mental machinations. Of course Tim knew the answer to that one, too, but was too polite to proselytize me on it.

Is it really as simple as all of us being lost in the great wood, and some seeing more specific shapes than others?  Reaching this question gives me a sense of peace, a sort of resting.

JE comments:  The God Gene?  Agnostics and atheists often assume, even if they don't say it, that True Believers are naïve at best, simple-minded at worst.  Yet there's no correlation between measurable intelligence and religious conviction.  Or is there?  One can Google a number of studies such as the following in Psychology Today.  One of the conclusions:  intelligent people are less likely to conform.


(You've found a peaceful Starbucks, Gary?  If so, I recommend you keep the location secret.)

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  • Religion, Man, and the Forest (John Heelan, -UK 05/15/19 1:41 PM)
    Gary Moore asked on 15 May: "Is it really as simple as all of us being lost in the great wood, and some seeing more specific shapes than others?"

    Oh yes, the old wood analogy! I remember a feminist quote, "If a man is alone in a wood, is any decision he makes intrinsically wrong?" The answer is a scornful "of course!"

    JE comments:  I am reminded of my favorite student interpretation (ever) of a Pablo Neruda poem.  Neruda's iconic "Walking Around" begins with the statement:  "Sucede que me canso de ser hombre/It just so happens I'm tired of being a man."  Why?  The answer is simple:  the poet wants to be a woman.

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    • The Forest, Dante, and Non-Sequiturs (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 05/17/19 4:41 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      As to my analogy about being lost in the great wood, I'm glad
      John Heelan (May 15) was struck by that question, but I thought
      the reference would be perhaps too obvious to Dante.

      I'm at sea
      (or at wood?) as to how both Johns have seemed to take it toward
      feminism. Because of one sentence with a forest metaphor? I've got
      to get out of the 14th century and wake up and smell the coffee.
      ("Hey, wow, look at that flying saucer!" "Yeah, reminds me of a dog
      I had once...")

      JE comments:  But Gary, some of the best WAIS discussions begin as non-sequiturs!  Still, I urge us to return to the topic at hand:  Cute Animals in Socks:


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      • Polari, A-Slang, Backslang (John Heelan, -UK 05/18/19 4:42 AM)
        Gary Moore responded (17 May) about non sequiturs.

        Having had to study dead languages like Latin and Greek as a teenager, I am comforted that language creation still thrives, such as reported in Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain's Secret Gay Language, by Paul Baker, 1 Jul 2019.

        As teenagers we sometimes hid our conversations from parents and others in authority by using "A-slang," "Backslang" and other disguised languages. Some of my family were Cockneys, born and bred, and automatically used the first words of rhyming slang, e.g. trouble (and strife)=wife, plates of meat=feet, barnet fair=hair, boat race=face, apples and pears=stairs.

        A frequently used pejorative borrowed from Yiddish was "bleedin' schnorrer" when somebody was describing somebody else who has upset them in some way.

        Language lives!

        JE comments:  How is it that after a lifetime's fascination with language, I never heard of Polari?  It's not just a language of the gay culture, but is shared by other marginalized groups:  circus performers, merchant sailors, criminals and prostitutes (per Wikipedia).  It borrows heavily from Italian (polari from parlare), Romani, Yiddish, and Cockney rhyming slang.  Wikipedia gives a fairly complete glossary:


        The Paul Baker book is dated July 2019--I presume that means it's forthcoming?  You can pre-order on Amazon.

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  • Ric Mauricio Explains the Trinity (John Eipper, USA 05/21/19 4:14 AM)

    Ric Mauricio writes:

    The essay "Why Are Religious People (Generally) Less Intelligent?" is very interesting.  (John E appended it to Gary Moore's post of May 15th:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mr-personality/201312/why-are-religious-people-generally-less-intelligent )

    It actually puts into writing my opinion of religionists in general. But I have to be careful not to think I am more intelligent than my Christian (or any other religion) friends just because I am more questioning.  That could lead to arrogance. I just have to smile, when they always end the discussions with "you just have to believe."

    But let me attempt to explain to Gary my take on the Holy Trinity. To me it is not a mystery, but most religionists fail to comprehend the true meaning of the Holy Trinity. God the father (or as Tor would put it, God the universe) is the universe and everything that makes up the universe, from the smallest grain of sand to the largest stars (and yes, everything is made up of very micro atomic particles; totally blows my mind, this scientific stuff). God the man is the physical manifestation of an intelligent being created by these subatomic particles. Yes, it is possible that there are other beings just as intelligent as humans, although I am finding that intelligent may be an overused adjective these days. OK, so they might be missing the third branch of the Trinity. God the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is enlightenment (ah yes, Zen and Buddhism share this concept). A question I asked my Buddhist mechanic as I pointed out his statue of the Buddha, complete with burning incense: isn't the Buddha something that exists within us? He smiled, and said "ah yes, you understand." When the disciples were suddenly beset upon by the Holy Spirit, it transformed them from the scared disciples of Christ to brave men willing to face martyrdom.

    Being a non-conformist or as I like to call myself, a gadfly, I will always question the prevalent opinion of the group. Yeah, gets me into a lot of hot water.

    JE comments:  Could we describe Buddhism as the ultimate articulation of the Holy Spirit?  Ric Mauricio does an admirable job of synthesizing the world's religions.  I have nothing profound to add here, so I'll close with a nod to OSHA:  with all the solvents and oily rags around, isn't it a really bad idea to burn incense in a mechanic's shop?

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