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I don't know if this is the right flava of post for this forum, but it's on my mind, so I'll put it out there. It's about spirtuality and pluralism and salvation.<br><br>
I've been fond of Christianity for as long as I can remember because of the concept of grace. I'm sure my articulation of it is clumsy; I'm not a theologian. But, basically, it goes like this: you get salvation without earning it. We carry burdens by being human, by collecting the crap that comes from slogging around on this earth. When it comes down to it, we're not so hot at carrying them. They get too heavy. But it doesn't matter. If we just decide -- or answer the call -- to let them go ... they're taken up for us. Salvation. Freedom from the burdens.<br><br>
I know it's controversial to some. For one thing, it depends on the idea that humankind is inherently flawed, shackled by original sin. But if we set aside the "sin" talk for a second, the idea translates. The basic tenet of Buddhism is that suffering is the essence of earthly existence, that resisting it is ultimately futile, and that freedom from suffering comes from accepting that we can't overcome it. Letting go. Not girding up to carry burdens, but just letting them go. So one with other faiths ... there's a kernal of grace at the heart of most.<br><br>
I'm listening, again, to "Graceland" by Paul Simon. The narrator's busted up ... he's divorced, tumbling in turmoil; his traveling companions are ghosts and empty sockets; he says "losing love is like a window in your heart/everybody sees you're blown apart/everybody sees the wind blow." That's the stuff that happens to us, even good folks: loss and turmoil and shame, abandonment and unfulfillment. Ghosts and empty sockets.<br><br>
But he has reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland.<br><br>
All of us.<br><br>
What I wonder is this: as religion teaches it, the process of receiving grace is contingent on a partcular brand of cultural action. You accept Jesus Christ as the source of salvation, the lifter of burdens, the benevolence that frees you. Then (putting it crudely) you get the pass to heaven. Or you accept whatever prophet or deity is mandated. Choose the wrong one, and you're hosed, even though the process of recognizing the futility of trying to haul all this junk around and the commitment to letting it go looks and feels the same in dang near every human soul.<br><br>
By that blueprint, there's no reason to believe we all will be received in graceland. Some culture has got the right God and the right path. Everyone else is out.<br><br>
Can that be right? I'm not asking because I endorse some sort of namby-pamby relativism thing, where all belief is just as good as another. I'm saying: can folks receive that deeply meaningful gift of grace, that lifting of the burdens, that salvation ... without signing the right forms? And might the receipt of grace mean salvation now, on this planet ... that one's steps here are lighter, that freedom takes form now and here, not hereafter (maybe it does there too, but who knows?).<br><br>
I've asked the question in the other place, but I'll give my answer here, just because it's on my mind and in my bones right now: I'm with Paul. I have reason to believe we all can be received.<br><br>
Correct me if I'm wrong. Thanks for listening.
 

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Not sure what to tell you Hairy Trotter.<br><br>
If salvation depends on a God or a higher power, then I don't believe in salvation because I don't believe in a God.<br><br>
I'd rather not get into why I no longer believe in God. It's a long story.<br><br>
If I'm wrong about that, I know where I'm going. But I don't believe in either heaven or hell.<br><br>
I hope you find the answers you're seeking.
 

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So....there are no puppy photos after I spent 5 minutes reading that entire post?<br><br>
There's no real way to know for sure, I guess but....I'm with you and Paul on this one.<br><br>
And anyway...He's been right before...there really are 50 ways to leave your lover.
 

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This is a good post, and a good question.<br><br>
It's the kind of thing I'm rather shy about discussing in groups, too.<br><br>
It's the kind of thing I wonder about.<br><br>
I believe in grace. I've experienced grace according to a certain path.<br><br>
But there's a lot I don't know about grace.<br><br>
I'm guessing this is one of the things I won't know on this side of eternity.
 

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If we are all received, then why do you have to accept Jesus Christ?? Sounds like that leaves out alot of people on this earth, some living in the jungles of South America that haven't been exposed to anyone but their neighbors. How are they to receive Jesus Christ while they are living on this earth?<br><br>
I do believe in Heaven and Hell, and I know where I'm going. I don't need to fit a mold to get there, I also don't think you earn your way, I don't think practicing a "right" religion gives a ticket either. He will take anyone that wants to enter, and I think it'll be a self-evaluation. So far...I'm in. So EQ, if I'm right, you're still good to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I guess that's sort of the point I'm driving at. I don't think salvation is contingent on belief of a particular form. Including theism. Is it possible to achieve a deeply meaningful brand of salvation -- relief, joy, transcendence -- without a God figure entering the mix? Buddhism, in its purest form, says so, and it makes sense. I think there's something to that. (Though thinking in those terms tends to give rise to God-talk.)
 

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you might find it interesting to google "decision theology".....there are differences of opinion on that......<br><br>
here is a real quick intro at wikipedia....<br><br>
"Decision theology is a popularized form of Christian theological belief regarding the way one must receive or achieve salvation in Jesus Christ. The premise of decision theology is that one must make a conscious decision to accept Christ, in contrast to some Reformed beliefs which reject free will. This view is most commonly found among many Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestant evangelists such as Billy Graham. It is generally seen by most Protestant theologians as a simplified, often over-simplified, form of Arminian theology that postulates co-operation between man's free will and the grace of God in salvation."<br><br><br>
if you want to read further, check this out:<br><br><a href="http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/1464/luther_warns_about_the_dangers_of_decision_theology.html" target="_blank">http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olym..._theology.html</a><br><br>
"Those who preach that man must "make a decision for Christ" invariably defend their teaching on the basis that man has "free will." Luther recognized this concept as a dangerous one. In his book, Bondage of the Will, Luther argues against such free will. In order to understand exactly what Luther was arguing against, one must understand how exactly free will is defined......."
 

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When faced with a spiritual dilemma I simply ask myself, "What would Wet Willie do?"<br><br>
Hey Hairy, did you post the same thing over at the Outhouse? It's probably getting more exciting responses over there.
 

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If "salvation" is a gift, it's one we give ourselves. The lifting of the burdens, the accepting and letting go of suffering, the deep feeling of compassion for ourselves and others -- I don't believe any of that depends on an outside power or on the belief in a particular story about an outside power. It's the common thread that matters, not the way in which you access the truth of that common thread.<br><br>
The stories (religion) are important, because they give people a way in to the essential truth. But once you've accessed that essential truth, you need to let go of the story and its "rightness" just as you let go of other burdens and suffering. At that point, it's just noise, static, stuff that interferes with your ability to feel and hold onto that compassion.<br><br>
Sure, we'll all be received at Graceland, if that's the formulation that works for you. But don't forget that there's not really a "Graceland" or some specific person there to receive you.<br><br><i>I'm sure that what I've just written seems incoherent to most of you. I think the words get in the way. I'm sorry for that.</i>
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As thanks for giving those five whole minutes, Dan, here ya go:<br><br><img alt="" src="http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j290/hizairytrotter/pups%20-%20week%201/pups-day12-2.jpg" style="border:0px solid;">
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think I posted something similar a few months back. I think there was some general religious poo-flingery going on elsewhere, so it got a few polite nods and then everybody fell asleep and started snoring.
 

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<br>
I like this a lot, Sue. I agree with you and Paul Simon. And your post is wonderful, Hairy. It broadens the mind and spirit to discuss these sorts of things.<br><br>
I believe in the idea -- maybe a cross of Ancient Greek Mythology and Kabbalah -- that our lives are a sort of a rope of indeterminate size and strength, woven before we are born. But from the beginning to the end of that rope, as long as we don't pull it too taught or stray too far, it will hold tight. As long as we're good to each other, and everything G-d gave us (this planet, everything on it, ourselves), whether we actually believe in G-d or religion or not, we reach the end of that rope.
 

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<dense brain cells churnin'><br><br>
Good read, HT.<br><br>
Can you give some examples of "burdens" to be lifted?<br><br>
Not snarky, just curious.<br><br>
</dense brain cells churnin'>
 

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This part stuck out for me. I've heard "accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior" many times but it always rings hollow for me. I wish the folks who say these things understood how confusing this is. What on earth does it mean?<br><br>
I fell in love with him and see my religious practice as an exploration of that love. This seems to have a different tone than "accept him as your savior."<br><br>
If I get some grace and salvation out of the deal, well that's a bonus.
 

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Thanks, Diane, for expressing so eloquently the thoughts that I couldn't quite form. Compassion is one of several key elements that I believe puts each of us in touch with "God" (or whatever deity you choose or don't choose) within us.
 
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