Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

The Common Person Wins the Fight with God

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Speculation suggests that the first religions were a response to human fear, created to give a feeling of security. Religion however can also simply be a method of answering the many questions that stream through our heads. Why do I love my children so much? How can my husband annoy me, yet bring out the best in me? Why is that sky so beautiful? How can I find meaning in life after horrible unspeakable things happen?

The political landscape of religion has been that authorities are in charge of providing solutions and prospecting the future of service to God. But this cultural norm is being challenged by the fact that the common person is capable and willing to serve God in health, wisdom, and purpose with or without authorities. Since time began, common people have been de facto soldiers in the fight for answers to common questions.

Human beings have a dual nature. As individuals we desire the freedom to be independent yet as social beings we live and work in groups for support and protection. Paradoxically, this dichotomy tempts individuals to struggle for ascendency in power or position in a group. The conundrum snowballs as some individuals appear to become helpless or dependent on those powers of authorities.

Society generally point-blank tells the common person that he or she is not entitled to make pivotal decisions concerning God and religion. That is the job of authorities. However, individuals and society are confronting this closely held cultural more head-on and taking seriously that the arguments used by religion are deeply oppressive to the common people.

Even though the greater society bars the common person from expressing their individual authority to serve God, we can serve God anyway. We can remove the paralysis that set in after religion gets distorted to serve authorities instead of God. We can stop fighting to maintain the past status-quo and instead fight for answers that help us in the future.

We all have the right and responsibility to serve God, fight for our wellbeing and strength to be useful in society. We can receive creative intelligent inspiration. Moreover, we can work together to build a momentum of individual freedom and equality to serve God as the whole that we are.

1 Timothy 6:12

New International Version (NIV)

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Ingredients in the Bible

posted by Cheryl Petersen

My last post talks about how we want to read the whole Bible, not just our favorite parts.

I keep digging in the Bible and find yet another story about some dude named Sheba who figures he wants to rebel against King David. (II Sam. 20) The King and his men ride out to put a stop to Sheba’s nuisance behavior. Sheba runs to hide in a city called Abel Beth Maakah. The King’s men start beating on the wall until a “wise woman” yells out to get the leaders attention. She asks, What is the deal here with all your noise and trouble making?

The leader answers, We want Sheba.

The woman rolls her eyes and says, Give me a little time. The Wise Woman goes into the city, finds Sheba, gets his head cut off, and then throws the head over the wall. The men bent on making a huge scene, left town. Peace was restored.

Bible story number three. In Judges 9 we read about Abimelek, a ruler in the land of Shechem who was bent on becoming king. At one point, his ambitious plan was looking promising, but he had to kill anyone who challenged his authority. During a battle, a woman dropped a millstone on his head, crushing his skull. Abimelek knew he was a goner but hurried to ask his armorbearer to kill him off so it would not be said that he died at the hands of a woman. His action only confirmed that conceit has no equal, but kills itself under the weight of aplomb and grace, ingredients which are equally expressed through both men and women.

All the Ingredients of the Bible

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Chocolate cake rates pretty high in our household. We use a favorite recipe that includes the ingredient of sour cream. Yum. Normally, the cake gets eaten before it gets frosted. Needless to say, the recipe sometimes doesn’t turn out. I forget an ingredient, or use a wrong ingredient, or don’t measure an ingredient right. Yuck.

When I read the Bible, I remind myself not to forget an ingredient. I strive to avoid the human habit of “selective reading” or “measuring” only what I think is right. Every ingredient, or element of the Bible, needs to be recognized and respected.

My dad raised me and my brothers and sisters as equals. He taught us all how to work on the farm. Dad also was a church going man, hauling the family to worship services every single Sunday, where we heard about a God that created children who had no superior or inferior complexes.

Later, as a woman, who eventually came face-to-face with male domination, I decided to grit my teeth and strive to read all the Bible, even though its text leans heavily on the side of a lousy view of womanhood.

I am rather familiar with the Bible stories reiterating the strength and courage of Ruth, Mary, and Tabitha—women who seemed to always have everything in place and work out quite nicely. But, reading these stories is like watching a feel-good movie. And, we all know the world’s reality is nothing like feel-good movies. So I dig a little deeper in the Bible and find other stories, for example of Abigail, the wife of a puny minded, cranky drunk, Nabal. (I Sam. 25)

The story claims that King David had asked Nabal for food, but Nabal refused the request. King David got peeved and decided to plunder Nabal’s possessions and kill him to boot. So, here is Abigail, stuck between 2 hot-headed self-righteous men. She gathers a hefty portion of food, loads it on donkeys, and goes to meet King David, bowing to the ground, Abigail requests a less turbulent outcome. That grant was requested.

Comparing this story to my own situation can be touchy because I really do have a great husband but one time, years ago, we were in the office of our tax accountant, feeling as though the tax bill was going to plunder us. A deduction occurred to me that might help. I mentioned it. I knew my husband didn’t know what I was talking about and the accountant, well maybe he got twirked that he hadn’t thought of the deduction himself, it was his job after all, but he pooh-poohed me as if I was talking about a new way to change baby diapers. My husband glared at me to be quiet. I bit my tongue. But I absolutely did not submit to egotism. I acted on the spiritual truth that egotism has no equal and self-destructs as patience and wisdom equally are expressed. For the next year, I changed baby diapers with patience and wisdom. Again, we were sitting in the tax accountant’s office and unasked, the accountant not only admitted his mistake by neglecting the deduction I’d mentioned the previous year, but figured out a way we still got reimbursed, because it was legitimate.

 

Direction Other Than Big Bangs

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Well, it was a bit of a bummer for thousands of people in San Diego who were prepared to watch July 4 fireworks over Glorietta Bay. Instead of seeing a distinct stream of fireworks for 20 minutes, there was a 15 second big bang of blur. Apparently, a computer glitch is the reason the 2012 fireworks went off all at once.

Of course, spectators were rather disappointed. Instant gratification is not all it’s cracked up to be.

It reminded me of the Big Bang theory.

Collider in which evidence of Higgs Boson was located picture Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Oddly enough, around the world, in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 4, scientists were smashing sub-atomic particles together at enormous energy levels and finally made the claim to have detected what has been dubbed the “God particle,” formally known as the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is believed to have originated during the Big Bang, thus helping to shape the subatomic particles that make up all matter in the universe.

Okay, I’ve never been a proponent of the Big Bang theory, mainly because physicists keep making new discoveries that undermine their theories about how the universe works. It’s kind of funny when you think about it and thankfully I’ve met physical scientists who will admit their truth today is probably going to change tomorrow.

I’ve also met religionists who have stopped arguing the unscientific truth that God created a material world in 7 days, rampant with beginnings and ends to everything from happiness to health.

It is unnecessary to flop between the material and the abstract. There is another alternative. After contemplating this statement from Science and Health, first written by Mary Baker Eddy, “The infinite has no beginning. This word beginning is employed to signify the only—that is, the eternal truth and unity of God and spiritual being, including the universe,” my approach to life has shifted.

Instead of trying to figure out beginnings and ends, my goal is to understand, or interpret, the infinite, the only. When I focus on infinite Love, I feel a reduction of the hate/love cycle. When I become more familiar with infinite Spirit and its resources of spiritual goodness, I become less bedazzled or disappointed with material things. When I realize infinite Mind, people and things around me exhibit more intelligence. When I feel infinite Soul, the past and the future don’t dictate my decisions as much as the now.

The infinite, the only. It’s interesting.

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