Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

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WHAT SECRET?

March 17, 2011

In a recent entry that my son Adam posted, he mentioned religion, “The Secret” and the phrase “…cult-like following of obsessive, overly-positive thinking…” To say all of this irritates him is putting it mildly.

I absolutely respect (as does he) an individual’s right to believe as they choose. But like Adam, I too have big issues with organized religion in much the same way Jesus did. Oddly, this is not a subject Adam and I ever discussed at length.

While a much broader discussion is certainly warranted on the subject and the consternation it can create, my focus is on the two words Adam mentioned that got my writing juices flowing: The Secret. 

The premise of the film is that we attract our good/bad based on our thoughts and behavior. It’s called “The Law of Attraction.”

Many people have misconstrued this as a “cure-all” for their lives. Their (false) perception is you can attract wealth by simply believing you will be wealthy. The same goes for good health, love, happiness, relationships and so on.  Those taking this over-simplified path are ignoring the most important element: the Law of Attraction is much more about changing behavior than learning a thought process, which obviously makes it far more complex.

When I was the administrator of our church, we showed “The Secret” in our Fellowship Hall one Sunday after services. We really promoted the event. Combined with the hype it received nationally, we packed the hall. Afterward, there was a Q & A held by our minister, who had a very good understanding of the concept. She answered many questions in much the same way as she taught from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. The underlying theme throughout the afternoon was, “It won’t work unless you work it.”  Unfortunately, many walked away with the perception that “working it” meant if you pray for it everyday, believing that you will receive it, it will arrive.

Not so.

The truth is the Law of Attraction is no secret. It has been a mainstay in spiritual and religious teachings since long before Jesus walked the earth. Then after He arrived, was chastised and ultimately crucified for His teachings of spiritual principals, some in civilized society decided maybe He was on to something, They tried to capture these teachings with 66 books in a collection we’ve come to know as the Bible.

Sadly, most of us have yet to grasp the concept which is – Biblically speaking –  “You reap what you sow.” We go to church, read from one of the 50+ versions of the Good Book, celebrate Christmas and Easter and then give someone the finger when they cut in front of us on the freeway. We buy self-help books by the millions and still have no peace in our lives. We try everything to get to a better place in life, but nothing works, and yet we never ask “Why?” Instead, we move on to the next set of books, CDs and DVDs hoping the “guru” who developed them has our path to wealth and happiness – two elements of life that should never be conflated.

Occasionally, one of us breaks through the madness. We receive the proverbial a-ha moment (usually a critical, possibly life-threatening event, followed by thoughtful, quiet retrospection) that sinks in. We re-assess our life, make the necessary adjustments and then give ourselves the “What-was-I-thinking?” smack on the head for not realizing it years sooner.

Very slowly, our life begins to change. We don’t focus on problems, we focus on solutions. We quit worrying. We become attracted to the good in a situation, regardless of the challenge it may present. We are thankful for who we are, for the good that is in our life and for those around us who truly care about us. We distance ourselves from people or situations that negatively affect us. We see life, not through rose-colored glasses, but through the realistic lens of what is and isn’t important realizing that much of what goes on around us does not have to adversely affect us.

As Adam said in that same entry, you can’t control the pitch. Similarly, my grandmother used to say “Everything is already written.” (The pitch will be thrown). We have no control over it. (When, where or how it will be thrown). We can only live in the moment, enjoying life each day, no matter what is thrown at us, and know that there is far more good in the world than many would have us believe.

If you want peace in your life, you must first learn to be peaceful. The same is true for happiness, kindness, love, appreciation, forgiveness, understanding and discernment. As these attributes begin to permeate your being, you will attract the same from the world around you. 

No secret there.

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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THE CRUSADE

May 21, 2009

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This post will not be easy to write.

My faith is very personal. I don’t spew it onto others and I do not respond when others try to spew theirs onto me. In fact, I find it somewhat uncomfortable to even discuss my faith unless I’m in a “safe” environment such as my church or home.

It is my experience that most practicing Christians walk with calm, quite strength through their daily routines and a reasonably clear understanding about the natural and spiritual order of life. I also find that each person experiences these differently, through his or her own personal aperture and no two understandings are exactly alike.

It is not surprising that some wear religion “on their sleeve” often quoting Biblical Scripture in nearly every situation. I don’t begrudge them. I’m simply stating my personal lack of comfort with the practice.

I do, however, take serious issue with public policy being directed by one’s personal interpretation of the Bible – a group of 66 individual books written in different parts of the world, at different times, most of which were literally spoken to scribes, in different languages, who then wrote what they heard. Contradictions within the Bible aside, the very fact that there are so many interpretations of the Bible and therefore different Christian denominations, convinces me that any elected official using his or her interpretation to make public policy is highly inappropriate.

So imagine my surprise when I read “And He Shall Be Judged,” an article by Robert Draper published this week. Draper is the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush  and a correspondent covering John McCain’s campaign.

As much as I don’t want you to stop reading this page, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read Draper’s article. I’ll wait. 🙂

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, allowed the use of Biblical Scripture on the covers of top secret Worldwide Intelligence Updates prepared for the President and others to reinforce the belief that invading a sovereign nation was the Christian thing to do, much like the warring Christians and Muslims during the Crusades.

Here are some of the covers as reported by GQ Magazine online.

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Apparently, Bush liked the idea, using the term “Crusade” when he addressed the public on the invasion.

He continued applying religious terms to justify the War on Terror.

His certitude was complimented by his admirers. They believed that Bush’s application of his Biblical knowledge towards public policy was the proper way to lead our nation.

Bush continued to gain confidence about his decisions, with an arrogance no leader should ever display. Here are some quick clips.

I will NEVER discount or criticize the beliefs of others. This nation was founded on the concept of individual freedoms – religious faith being one of them.

But we are a SECULAR Republic functioning as a Democracy, not a Theocracy. Our forefathers specifically stayed away from religious teachings when creating our Constitution. This is how the separation of church and state is implied and applied in our form of government.

The idea that Donald Rumsfeld allowed CHRISTIAN Scripture on the covers of top secret Intelligence Updates to help justify a military action is abominable.

I pray it never happens again.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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CONTRARIAN

March 20, 2009

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My last name means “contrarian” in Greek. I’m about to live up to it – again.

Most of us grew up with the story of Adam and Eve and how Eve enticed Adam to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge – after she partook – against God’s orders. By doing so, they both committed the ultimate “sin” (disobeying God) thereby committing all of us to pain, suffering and mortality through the curse that God placed upon them which will not be lifted until the second coming of Jesus Christ. (I know there’s a serpent in the story, but I find it more than challenging to wrap my head around the concept of a talking serpent.)

adameve2A couple points need to be made before I go on. First, I realize that although it is absolutely not my intent, I may upset some of my Greek Orthodox, Methodist and Evangelical family members and friends. And second, I want to make it clear that these are my personal thoughts, and not those of my church or our minister.

That said…

The story is an allegory. If you believe the story actually happened, then all human beings on this planet are blood relatives and we’re all born from incest. So let’s stay with allegory, shall we? In addition, I believe we humans are – and always have been – created with free will and the power to reason.

With this in mind, I have some questions. (You’re shocked, I’m sure.)

According to this allegory, Adam and Eve became aware of many things that they did not know or care about prior to eating the fruit. Was their new-found knowledge about good and evil, a bad thing? Did this knowledge really make them less “perfect?” Would God really create beings only to “curse” them and force them from their surroundings?

adamevebanned6I think not.

The idea that God curses people was a man-made concept to control peoples’ religious thinking through fear of His supposed “wrath” and “condemnation.”

This allegory does not represent the God I know. I believe we are born with the ability to choose (again, through free will and the power to reason.) It is, among other things, what separates us from other mammals. Why couldn’t we believe that Adam and Eve’s actions resulted in knowledge that is helpful to mankind, not detrimental? If God did not want them to have the knowledge, why create the temptation?

The answer that is always given, of course, is, “…to test their obedience.” What if it was, instead, to test their free will?

Surely God already knew what the outcome would be, did He not?

He is, after all, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, is He not?

The God I know would not have been at all surprised or disturbed by Adam and Eve’s choice. The idea that all of us are cursed because they “disobeyed” doesn’t make sense if we are to believe that our God is a loving God, as Jesus taught us. Through Jesus, we learn that God is not judgmental, wrathful or condemning. He taught us that we have the ability to walk in God’s light, if we so choose. If we choose not to, so be it. How does choosing not to mean we are somehow cursed?

If I am born in His image and likeness, with free will and the power to reason, then I was born with the ability to challenge religious concepts, such as the one presented in this allegory.

Because of Jesus’ teachings, I live my life knowing I am free, without limits and unyielding to fear.

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How different this world would be had we focused on God’s love all these years instead of man-made concepts about His supposed “wrath” and “condemnation” in some allegory.

Still love me?

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com