Comment in this section: The journey starts hot; The “stunning” new view of ultimate reality (also- evaluating the NDE movement); Reframing Campbell’s outline of human story (the Hero’s journey); What are we, really?; The humanizing project; News cycles; Christ myth; Embracing Imperfection; Irresponsible environmental alarmism; Scattered Notes; Climate deniers.
The journey starts hot:
Dad called my sisters and I into the kitchen to stand in front of an early 1950s wood-burning stove. It had white enamel sides with a black iron surface. A pipe to vent the smoke exited the back and up through the ceiling. Dad stood beside the stove. He then tapped the tip of his finger on the hot iron surface for a micro-second and sternly warned us, “Just like that burns your finger, so your whole body will burn in Hell”. Yikes.
They say that we forget most of our experiences before six years of age. But some memories are so traumatizing that they permanently scar our consciousness. It happened when I was three or four, but that sermon-in-a-second was not forgotten. And it was supplemented in following years with repeated warnings that “God was gonna get us” for any bad behavior, for any unchristian behavior. Because we deserved to be punished.
I did not have the mental tools through my early life to think myself free of those “bad religious ideas” (Sam Harris’ term). Finding those tools took a lifetime of search and struggle. And before I scare off the religious readers, let me affirm that some version of atheism/materialism was never a serious alternative.
Sparked by those early years of religious trauma, I have spent my life trying to understand it all- religion, atheism, the spiritual, science, mythology, meaning, purpose, suffering, evil, good, love, exclusion/inclusion, domination/equality, life, and death, and more. What does it mean to be human? To be consciously human in an imperfect world? To see and feel beauty, goodness, love, but also randomness and accident, hatred and violence, sickness and suffering, and the rest that is life. Is there a better way to understand and explain all this to ourselves? Read the rest of the opening comment here