Who's authority?

Discussion in 'Theology' started by wil, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Juantoo

    Esoteric Christianity is a very inclusive term. It is largely unknown yet I have over six hundred dollars worth of books on my specific path.

    Simone Weil is not technically on my path though I know it was in her. It is essentially knowledge of the human condition as described in the classic sense as Plato's Cave and the human potential from awakening to it. She understands this as well as I've ever read. I use her a lot because she is not associated with anything else so it doesn't become the usual put down of groups such as that is what Christians do or that is what Jews do. Simone is Simone and challenges you to think for yourself and above all act in accordance with your thoughts. She lived her philosophy.

    I am fortunate in that I know Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and whatever else on my path all with the common concern of the human condition within ourselves and how to deal with it. None of the tensions you read on this site exists with these people since we all know we are in the cave in a mutual effort to deal with it.

    Actually the people that have been my greatest influences I never speak of in public so as not to create any bad associations that could be harmful to others at a later time in their life. If people cannot take Simone's honesty and depth without being insulted, they could not take what has interested me since it doesn't flatter the ego.

    I don't know much of these Indian legends you refer to but I do have a great respect for their efforts. Christianity asserts the importance of "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This means respecting the level of earth within our being as well as the planet earth which the ideals of Indian culture does at a high level.

    I have a friend I know from another site who has Hindu interests and lives in rural Illinois. She knows the local Indians who regard her as the "wise woman."

    If you have a serious interest in Indian spirituality, I'll invite her to join us in a discussion on this topic and you two can lead. But again, with someone like this we have to be respectful and without the fashionable ridicule even though it may seem new.

    Another friend who I lost track of recently worked in a Catholic mission on an Indian reservation in Washington State. She told me how bitter many of the elders were against the whites. Once an elder lost his son to alcoholism which was rampant in the community and he was praying in his own way in the mission. She stood in the back knowing how he felt towards whites. Finally he motioned to her to join him since he said she was without color. Are we capable of dealing with our prejudice in trying times? How can we when so caught up in superficiality?
     
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Very good, then there is no dearth of resources from which to draw.

    I would welcome any such addition, as I would the addition of those of any sincere faith walk.

    Yours are fair and reasonable questions, and a lot hinges on who precisely comprises this "we." For my part, I cannot speak for others, and therefore have no answer to your question pertaining to others.

    What is more, in my opinion, is that I think to attempt to answer for others requires the imposition of one's will upon that of others...quite contrary to my understanding of spiritual pursuit.

    To answer your questions regarding myself alone, I focus daily on exposing my prejudices for what they are, and do the best I can to work with them either by eliminating them or finding a way to bypass and work around them. It would be foolish and dishonest of me to suggest I have no prejudices, but I also think the term is highly charged and misleading as it stands without qualification.

    Superficiality is another fraught term, for it seems to me a subtle point towards ego. Every person, even the most ardently non-superficial non-egoist, must of psychological necessity maintain a modicum of ego. It is what makes us, us. It is what makes our personality. The only way to have absolutely no ego is to enter a vegetative state, or die. No other alternatives are available. So the question is really about minimizing ego / superficiality, but it can never be fully eradicated while still drawing breath and living anything like a human life. In my studied opinion.

    With these considerations I conclude it is more productive to work with the egos people have already, building on that instead of tearing down, gifting tools instead of trying to reform and reshape everyone else into my preferred mold. I tend to believe G-d knows what He is doing when He creates each individual, and that it is a far better thing for me to facilitate each individual growing to their full potential on their own terms...rather than striving to remake the world into my personal ideal. For one, I am modest enough and too humbled in His presence to believe I have any clue about what is best for anybody else. I don't even know for a fact with any absolute certainty what is best for me. What I do know, and I choose that term deliberately, is that nobody else out there knows it all either. The ones that scare me the most, are the ones who sincerely think they do know what is best for everyone else. To me, that is just so...Orwellian, and in complete contradiction with spiritual freedom. The hidden message Huxley left us in "Brave New World" is the freedom exhibited by the caged indians, while the lunatics on the outside of the cage ran the asylum. In case you might not have read it, those lunatics were rubber stamps...what we today would call "clones." Because they were the majority, they considered themselves "normal." Yet there was no independent thinking among them.

    I remember a poster that used to hang prominently in one of my grade school classrooms. I've looked for a copy for many years. It was a cartoon picture of hippos diving off a board into a boat...and as one more was flying through the air into an obviously overloaded boat, the caption read: "More is not necessarily better."

    I conclude; if more is not necessarily better, then average is not necessarily normal. Make of this what you will, it has taken me far.
     
  3. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Juan, IMO superficiality is a relative term and only an important distinction when trying to experience a higher or less superficial perspective. Two kids can be fighting in a sandbox and we could see it as superficial and much ado about nothing but to the kids it is important.

    Buddhism has this wonderful parable of the burning house which is the source of the expression: "Only fools fight in a burning house." Most are content to fight in a burning house since being caught up in superficiality, we don't experience the burning.

    The great teachings like Christianity and Buddhism are in a tough spot since they wish to allow a person to awaken to a depth of reality they are conditioned to ignore and often consider annoying. Yet it is the human obligation to help in the conscious evolution of our species.

    At first reading it can appear as a desire to mould the world into a subjective preferred mould but it really is the opposite. The essence of these great traditions isn't to mould the world but to awaken individuals to a conscious human perspective. It is no use to mould what we don't understand the value of before making the necessary efforts to experience beyond our own acquired ego limitations. It isn't that the ego is evil but rather it has been corrupted. The ego serves the necessary purpose of connecting our inner world with the external world but it cannot function as it should since it has become imbalanced and reconciled by imagination. It is precisely the acceptance and justification of this imbalance that sustains the fallen collective human condition the great teachings motivate us to awaken to.

    So in all fairness I can only use the term superficial in the context of the purpose of the essence of religion that seeks to awaken us to the human condition compared to the burning house in Buddhism and Plato's cave in Christianity.

    So when working in the world I would agree that it is best to work with egos and build self esteem. But for the minority that sense human meaning and purpose is beyond the limitations of our corrupt egos I believe it is necessary to speak honestly as to the human condition rather then pacify disturbed egos.

    What is our obligation on an Interfaith thread? Is it to lie to be acceptable or be honest in respect to the essential purpose of the great teachings which is to awaken to our limitations that prevent us from being ourselves? This is determined by the goal of the board. Is it to celebrate politically correct expressions of everyone's self importance or sharing a willingness to admit to the reality of the human condition that comprises our collective being so as to begin to recognize ourselves in a burning house unable to retain awareness of it through the continual attractions to our superficial attachments and what is lost through this slavery? If a willingness to admit our human condition is at all a part of it, then ridicule is foolish. What is the sense of an idiot calling an idiot and idiot? It seems more sensible to share on the nature of our idiocy.

    I agree that the average is not necessarily normal by objective standards of human being and its potential. However imbalance defines the norm for a facet of the Great Beast.which survives on the imaginations of the corrupt ego.

    Only the secular exoteric level of religions seek to mould the world. The esoteric seeks to aid in awakening for those sensing their sleep since it makes no sense for sleeping humanity void of conscious awareness, to mould anything in the objective sense while living in the dreams normal for this subjective sleep. All such attempts must crumble since everything in nature turns in circles. In contrast, esoteric schools are groups of people with the mutual goal of awakening and are hidden from the world. Obviously then there is no attempt to mould the world. However, the more consciousness normal for awakening that influences the world, the greater will be collective human being and the normal beneficial results of this growth.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    OK Nick and Juantoo —

    We're now into personal views and opinions, which is catered for elsewhere, in fact everywhere else, in the Fourum. So if you want to continue, by all means, but can you take it up under Belief and Spirituality?

    Thomas
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I too wonder iof it's basically because people have issues with authority.

    Thank you.

    Better than I seem to have said it, so far!

    Exactly.

    Thanks, Dauer,

    Thomas
     
  6. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Juan, this is precisely the problem. The board is for indignant exchanges of religious snobbery rather than how an aspect of theology resonates with us. As you know it cannot be continued under Belief and spirituality since we've accepted the fact that Right Speech is meaningless and welcome all sorts of ridicule. Why discuss the personal in such a manner? The only place Right speech is respected is now in the context of religious snobbery.

    So we're stuck with the same ol same ol with the addition of religious snobbery that seeks to suck the joy of the experience of objective meaning out of the religious experience. Yeech!

    It is the same thing with philosophy. At one time it was referred to and expressed as the "love of wisdom." Now it has become exchanges in intellectual snobbery excluding both love and wisdom.

    Ridicule or snobbery. Take your choice.
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Nick —

    Whatever you may think of the Theology Board, it is not the place to discuss "how an aspect of theology resonates with us" subjectively — the other boards cater for that. Here we practice detached objectivity and look at the the content of theology itself.

    May I direct you to Dauer's post above? If you cannot see the point he makes regarding method, which is nothing other than the practice of every institution of learning across the globe, as anything other than "ridicule or snobbery", then I suggest the theological method is not for you ...

    As I have pointed out, here we discuss not what think, but the history, background and implication of what is thought.

    So the content is somewhat forensic, dispassionate, objective, and is argued reasonably, logically and progressively from an agreed common ground.

    You are offering your thesis on the strength of your own opinion, and you are asking us to accept it in blind faith.

    Thomas
     
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    While I agree with you in essense, Thomas, my own arguments have been based in the study of those *I* hold as authority...and I am of the opinion that for the most part so was Nick. My failing was only in not providing reference, but I know you know I am fully capable of doing so.

    So I suppose I need to return to my honest and sincere question. On this very thread, are the likes of Chief Seattle, Chief Red Cloud and medicine man Black Elk permissable to appeal to as authorities? Whether I choose to continue hinges on the answer, and I feel the answer will be quite revealing.

    Particularly on an *interfaith* forum.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2009
  9. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    I'm the first to agree that such a board is not for me. I also believe that institutions serve as spirit killers for students with this snobbery.

    The history and background is all color coated and the implication can only be that people seeking the experience of religion will learn to avoid theology like the plague in the way it is presented.

    No. The goal of religious teaching should include conscious detachment and what you sponsor though appearing as detachment is actually pure conditioned egotism denying the religious experience.

    No, I maintain that the strength of religion comes through its inner verification initially experienced as metanoia as opposed to being impressed by BS. The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith which could only come over time through inner experience.

    John advised us to test the spirits but snobbery has no idea what it means and considers such testing irrelevant when we can be told what to believe..

    The only thing you got right is that the board furthering this mindset is not for me.
     
  10. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Should I mention that the thought occurred to me early on that "appeal to authority" is a *specific* logical fallacy of its own?

    Emphasis mine-jt3

    non-wiki reference: (note the "edu" address)

    http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/itl/graphics/adhom/author.html

    But then, I didn't make the rules, I'm just trying to understand the rules.
     
  11. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Juan,

    this is taken from Introduction to Logic by Harry J. Gensler, p. 333:

    So, we can presume that in order for the Appeal to Authority to qualify as a fallacy either X is not an authority, the consensus of authorities does not agree with him or the statement in question assumes because of the opinion of an authority alone that A must be true. If X really is an authority on the subject in question and the consensus of other authorities really is in agreement with X and it has not been stated in one's argument that A must be true then no fallacy has occurred.
     
  12. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    As Spock would say: fascinating!

    Only in the secular world where God is made in the image of man could anyone possibly say they were an authority on God.

    Kasparov may be an authority on chess and proves it by his rating. What rating scale will determine knowledge of God that qualifies them as an authority?

    Dauer wrote:

    There is actually a debate as to who is an authority on God. Only in Secularism that lacks the humility to appreciate that we simply cannot be an authority since God is not made in the image of man, could this be possible.

    This board is destined to receive an autographed picture of the "Great Beast" himself to hang above it for efforts to further the cause of self deception above and beyond the call of duty.
     
  13. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi Nick_A,
    Again nice thought. I almost think there is some light shining from a door that is cracked open just ever so little. Anyway if there would be world wide consensus of who is G!D (not just in this small forum, which would be hard in itself) I almost can see the serenity of peace.
    So maybe the authority question should be discussed over in the Comparative part and the discussion here should be contained to within the different sects of religions. I'm not saying right or wrong. I think the thing that was tried here was to have discussions that are sheltered from outside thought. Whether the topic is truth or not outside of the sect is not important, the importance is to keep some of the "noise" out of the thread. Again, right or wrong I don't know, but I think it is respectful to do as the mod wishes.
    Joe
     
  14. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Nick,

    the whole question of 'authority on G!d' is somewhat moot here. As questions comes up, it would be more likely a conversation would mention an individual as an authority on particular 'Quaker views of G!d' or 'Kabbalistic views of G!d' or 'Evangelical views of G!d' which is quite different from saying an individual is an authority on G!d, end of story, no need to read or cite anyone else or to continue our questioning as their words are all we need. Just having interfaith conversation about these types of questions acknowledges that there are many different perspectives, each with their own representative voices. Sometimes, we can break up the groups those individuals represent into smaller, more nuanced groups and that's some of where, imo, things get a bit more interesting.

    I have my own views about G!d. Those views most certainly are at odds with the views of the pope. But I have no issue with the pope being cited as an authority on Catholic theology. Why do you?
     
  15. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Dauer

    I don't think there is anyone on this forum that is unaware that there are many different outward perspectives and each with their representative voices. I would know this as variations of the exoteric level of religious thought that include all of their experts and partial truths which is fine. All I object to is the implication that there is something substantive in it that warrants a respect not given to regular people or true individuals.


    To do so is nothing but snobbish elitism which has no appeal to me since I know the value that the true black sheep, the real individuals, that have transcended the exoteric conditioning to acquire something inwardly real that has not only benefited themselves but provided an essential beneficial conscious influence on society capable of only a few.

    I see no reason to parrot back what someone else has said if it has no meaning for me and personal meaning is considered here as the ramblings of the great unwashed and only fit to be in the arena where it can be ridiculed and torn apart.

    Simone Weil wrote:

    Somehow I get the feeling that this great unwashed understands Christianity far better than all these experts in theology so I'll stick with them and let the experts express all of their theories with protected sophistication..I prefer learning of the authentic raw religious experiences that are so gleefully scorned in the sophisticated secular world.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Nick —
    OK, then please harken to your own words.

    The Theology Board marches to a different tune than your own, please observe that, as we are all at pains to point out to you, this is not about your opinion, or Dauer's, or mine, its about a proven methodology that is universally recognised and acknowledged as the most reliable when it comes to discussing matters of doctrine and not matters of personal opinion.

    If there was nowhere for you to post on IO then the cry of censorship might be acceptable, but as you are free to post (according to your subject matter) to your heart's content under 'Belief & Spirituality', 'Christianity', 'Alternative', 'Modern Religions', 'Comparative Studies', 'Politics & Society' and 'Philosophy' ... that you choose to rail against one Board in the Forum which asks all to meet a certain criteria, which you refuse to acknowledge is, in fact, the practise of censorship upon the freedom of expression of others.

    If you continue to fail to meet the Theology Board criteria, I will simply move your posts to a general discussion area.

    Thomas
     
  17. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Thomas

    As long as it is a given that all this proven methodology of experts has nothing necessarily to do with reality and doesn't require any respect a regular person isn't entitled to.

    There is nowhere to post on IO where the form of respect offered here assumed in the word "scholarly." If I must choose between blind elitism and ridicule in respect to the truths of religion, I prefer ridicule. At least it is honest.

    You remind me of the Mafia types that go through the scholarly bit on Sunday church service and after coming out, deciding when to put the hit on Tony. This is why you haven't a clue as to the relationship between faith and reason even though you post an excerpt.

    I'll leave this board for you and Mee to post opposing experts. I prefer the opportunity to share with people what it means.

    You can keep your worship of elitism. It has no value for me.
     
  18. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Indeed.

    In an effort to return to the OP, it seems to me the nature of this thread is to establish who qualifies as "authority," and the nature of personal opinion versus what can only be called authoritative opinion. I had hoped that in the quote I provided earlier it would be self-evident that *even the experts* can provide no more than studied opinion (since "opinion" is not to be allowed, this seems to me quite contradictory)...and this only in matters of material evidence! How much more fraught when we enter the realm of spiritual matters??? :eek:

    In a courtroom it is not uncommon to have two or three "expert witnesses" both for the prosecution and the defense...duelling experts! This may range from ballistics to forensic medicine to weather anomalies, just depends on the trial in question.

    I do *opine* that the establishment of who is and who is not "expert" and "authority" in spiritual matters is quite complicated and very subjective. For one, name me *any* expert authority on spiritual matters who can or has (documented and verified) come back to us from beyond the veil and can definitively say without any question that they hold the only expert opinion on what constitutes the Divine? Just one? Not hearsay, not speculation, not official rhetoric...name me one spiritual master who has come back from the grave to definitively set us all straight. I can hear the Christians saying "Jesus did." Perhaps, but Jesus isn't being quoted as authority, the so-called authorities are busy jostling among themselves to try to define and interpret what Jesus said (*if* he even said).

    In fact, if there actually was this ephemeral spiritual expert authority who held the absolute knowledge of the Divine...it seems to me the world would no longer have any need for places like this forum because the world would already be "in perfect harmony." (spiritual expert reference: Cola-Cola ad, 1970's) These discussions about religious differences would be moot.

    An expert on ballistics is an expert because s/he has gone through extensive schooling probably in physics and engineering, probably worked in the field studying arms and armament, etc. etc. etc. and can demonstrate conclusively that if you fire a shot of this calibur from this type of weapon at this degree of inclination at this temperature and this wind speed and direction, then the projectile will land at this point with a margin of error of .002 +/-. THAT is an expert opinion, and can for the sake of argument be considered authority.

    However, what we have when we enter the realm of spirit, is somebody who extends promises that may (or may not!) be true. If you follow the Ten Commandments and Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself, you will go to heaven. OK, where is heaven...exactly? What is heaven...exactly? How does one know these things, exactly, having never *done* them? I'm sorry but, in my book that seriously limits who can be called an authority on spiritual matters.

    I will ask for a third and final time, a simple yes or no will suffice. Are the likes of Chief Seattle, Chief Red Cloud and medicine man Black Elk to be permissable as authorities pertaining to matters of spirit? It seems to me they are every bit as credible as any so-called church father, and if they are not to be allowed, then I think it is self-evident where this is headed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
  19. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Juan, my discussion with Nick on the previous page of this thread, following your post, might help to answer some of your questions. But to your question, yes or no can't suffice. Chief Seattle is relevant to some discussions, not to others. If I write a paper on medieval Muslim proofs for G!d and cite Chief Seattle, that's not valid. He's not an authority on medieval Islamic philosophy.

    Is he every bit as credible as any so-called church father? In many potential conversations, no. He's not a relevant authority. In the same way, in other conversations he'd be relevant and the church fathers wouldn't.
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Understood. However, this thread is about who is and who is not "authority." Therefore it seems to me quite pertinent.

    I know it probably seems like I am making a mountain out of a mole hill, but there *is* a method to my madness.

    Hint: there may be relevent teachings in places one wouldn't otherwise consider if all they went by was a knee-jerk opinion.

    So yes, *if* the thread is limited to Islamic teachings in the Middle Ages, it hardly seems fitting to invoke Chief Seattle. But what tidbits of relevence may lurk within Greek and Roman paganism from around the Mediterranean, or from within Diaspora Judaism from the same general locale? And then one must consider the specifics, which specific teaching and its content and context...and how might other spiritual teachings correspond? If one is limited to Islam *only,* they may find they lose a great deal of insight...insight I for one don't believe medieval Islam would discharge so lightly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009

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