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One August 31, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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Some time back U2 released a song titled “One” when I first heard the song I was not sure if they were making fun of a lover or friend who was a Christian or they were actually in support of the spiritual concept of one.  As time has gone on I have come to understand the song as expressing honestly the composers struggle with the spiritual concept.  Listen to the song if you don’t know it and let me know what you think is going on there.

In the book of Deuteronomy Moses tells the nation of Israel “the Lord is one”.  What did he mean by that?  The full answer to that question does not come until the New Testament when we see what Jesus Christ said and did, he said: “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me”.  Jesus and the Father are always on the same page.  If Jesus says something, no need to check with the Father to make sure they are in agreement.  They are always one.  The stock statement about Jesus is that “he was without sin” this is what that means.  Jesus also said: “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”   Just before Jesus was crucified he prayed to the Father for all his followers to be one also.  Are we doing that?  Do we speak with one voice?  Do we act as one?

The Bible makes the point over and over again that it is human nature for everyone to go their own way.  The Bible encourages us to go against nature and strive to be one.  Once again my spirituality without the Bible friends will say “You’re doing it again”.  Once again I will point out how the Bible is unique in expressing clearly this crucial spiritual concept that goes against human nature.  Once again I ask “How do we get this without the Bible?”  The challenge does not fully exist for us until we see the relationship of Jesus Christ and the Father and the results of that relationship. 

What binds us together?  What keeps us apart?  Are we one?

Obviously True Part Two August 30, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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In different settings this week I was involved in discussions on spiritual matters.  Pondering these various discussions afterwards I started thinking about what separates the various people sitting around the table (remembering the instruction of Jesus for all his disciples to be one just as he and the Father are one).  One obstacle to unity that is intrinsically difficult to breach is the various and contradictory things we each hold as obviously true.

We have each come to our separate understandings by the culture we were raised in and our varied experiences.  The crucial spiritual challenge Jesus Christ puts to his followers is to overcome these differences and become one.  Why is this so difficult?  One reason is a principle known in scientific terms as “incestuous amplification”.  If I am standing in a huge tiled space and I speak a word, I will hear that same word echoed back to me again and again.  In the same way if I am among people who believe as I do because we grew up in the same culture then what I say will have “resonance” with them and be echoed back to me and be reinforced regardless of wether or not it is true.  The longer I remain in this “incestuous amplification” environment the more obviously true these things will be to me and those with me.

So what happens when I leave the spiritual “tiled space” I have become so accustomed to?  Well my words now no longer seem to have the “resonance” they did before, wether they were ever true or not.  So here is the challenge: we must each strive to the best of our abilities and with the help of the Spirit of God, to be certain that what we hold as obviously true is indeed so.  This touches on what I blogged on the 27th, the necessity for an authoritative standard, this is what God designed the Bible for.  Now we understand one of the reasons why people confidently say all sorts of contradictory things about the Bible’s instructions.

Our job now is clear.  Sort through all the spiritual idea and instructions we each personally hold as obviously true and determine as best we can which are the truth and which are the result of mere “incestuous amplification”.  Then we can all come together in the truth.  We will then have a firm foundation to build on, share with others and pass on to future generations.

Spirituality Without The Bible August 27, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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People have said this to me: “I want to talk about spirituality not the Bible”.  Why do I insist that a discussion of spirituality have the Bible as a centerpiece?  Or to put it another way, can we have a discussion of spirituality without the Bible?  First, we need to define “spirituality”.  The definition I have been working on consists of two elements.  For the first element I’d like to quote from Wikipedia: “Spirituality is, in a narrow sense, a concern with matters of the spirit. The spiritual, concerning as it does eternal verities regarding Man’s ultimate nature, is often contrasted with the temporal or the worldly.”  To put it more simply spirituality is connected with eternal things, things that are permanent, as opposed to the physical world which is temporary.

For the second element consider the use of the word spirit in connection with a certain pattern of thought or mind set.  For example: the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law is talking about the thinking behind the law as opposed to the mere set of rules.  Another example is “spirit of ’76” or “they were all of the same spirit”  Now spirituality is an expansive concept but for our purposes here we can use the simple definition of spirituality as: an order of thinking concerning eternal things.  

Now we understand God to be a supreme eternal (from everlasting to everlasting) being and the creator of the universe.  This puts God as the ultimate authority and highest expression of spirituality.  Now man (born into and living in the physical world) is most familiar with the physical temporary world as opposed to the eternal spiritual world inhabited by God.  So who is a better authority on spirituality God or man?  God chose to place his instructions for us in the Bible in such a way  (over a period of fifteen centuries) to prove that it could only be done by God.  For example you or I could not give instructions and include what will precisely happen many hundreds of years in the future.  This is one way God proves he is the spiritual force behind the Bible, that the Bible did not originate in the mind of man.  This is important

Back to the proposition of spirituality without the Bible.  Man has over the years come up with many ideas and patterns of thought not in agreement with God.  We need to be familiar with God’s order of thinking in order to determine where a spiritual idea is from, God or man.  In other words if there is any spirit (order of thinking) not in agreement with God, who should I listen to, God or this other spirit?  God chose to place vital information  regarding spirituality (regarding eternal life) in the Bible, so if God is the centerpiece of our thinking the Bible should be the centerpiece in our study of spirituality.  Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Please feel free to post your thoughts.

Truth is Truth August 25, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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I often hear heated discussions concerning the contradiction between science and the Bible.  If I say: “the Bible is the word of God and the truth”, sometimes the response I get is: “you mean you don’t believe in the theory of evolution?”  First let me say in response to that exchange that truth is truth.  Properly understood spiritual truth will be in perfect agreement with properly understood scientific truth.  In other words if you see a conflict between your understanding of science and your understanding of the Bible, your understanding of one or the other or both is off. This goes both for the secular “scientist” who wants to throw out the Bible and the religious zealot who wants to throw out science.

A parenthetical point here: How did we get to a place where people are asking me to “believe in” a scientific theory?  Scientific theories don’t ask to be believed in.  The proper way to handle a theory is to prove or disprove it by an examination of the facts or an examination of data from various experiments designed to prove or disprove the theory.  The Bible on the other hand does ask you to believe in something.  The central premise of the Bile is that God has made promises and given instructions, the response God is looking for from us is to believe his promise and follow his instruction.  You believe because God is who he is, he has the power to do what he says and the honesty and integrity to follow through on what he has promised no matter how absurd it may seem. 

Back to science vs. the Bible.  I do not see a conflict in the facts.  The conflict is between various inferences both sides seem unable to distinguish from the facts.  This type of thing happens all the time, especially where the Bible is concerned.  In the 19th century when Darwin first proposed his theories, man’s imagination let fly with all sorts of unfounded inferences and a conflict arose as religious folk aggressively defended against these unfounded inferences.  We need to get our thinking out of the 19th century and begin to separate facts from inferences.       

The supposed conflict between science and the Bible is a spiritual stumbling block (designed in by God by the way) that needs to be overcome by both the secular “scientist” and the religious zealot.  Truth is truth, fact is fact, inferences like theories need to be very carefully examined and kept apart from the facts in our thinking to avoid this sort of confusion and conflict. If we are able to accomplish this we can be certain our beliefs rest on the firm foundation of the truth.

Obviously True August 24, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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So we’re taking about spirituality and we’re talking about truth.  What does God or the Bible have to do with that?  Well, some will tell you that the Bible is the word of God, others would say obviously not.  Why the difference in heartfelt conviction?  Is it just a matter of opinion and all opinions are valid or is this a question that can be answered true or false?  Of equal or perhaps even more importance is: how did these various individuals arrive at their heartfelt conviction?  Was it by careful examination of the available facts or by simply falling in line with the prevailing local attitude passed down through the generations? 

The vast majority of people hold to the heartfelt convictions passed on to them by their parents that were passed on to them by their parents and so forth.  Most have not examined the available facts and arrived at their own conclusion.  (Some would correct me at this point and say “facts have nothing to do with spirituality”.  We’ll cover that later.)  Like the game of telephone where you line up a group of people and pass a message down the line by whispering one to the next, whatever may have been true in the beginning may have down through the years become distorted beyond recognition and as a result no longer true.  This “across generations” phenomenon accounts for much of the variety in spiritual practices.  If an individual does not investigate the traditions passed on from the preceding generation then what one sees as “obviously true” may indeed not be true at all.  This goes for everyone, even for those from a strong, ostensibly “Bible based” background.  In fact the more your tradition appears to be “Bible based” the harder it is to recognize how your tradition has wandered away from the truth.   

So how do we get back to the source?  How can we have a clue what the truth is?  This is where the Bible comes in. Written over a period of about 1500 years a careful examination of the text clearly indicates that the Spirit of God is the architect and focus of the book.  The Bible is designed by God to provide the baseline point of reference, the truth that we can then compare to what we hold as “obviously true”.  This is not something you will get just by hearing me say it.  You have to take the time to read and study the Bible.  Also this study must include other people.  You’re not going to get it just by locking yourself in your room and reading, God has designed the process to work with a community.  You cannot do this alone.  What I am saying here is true, obviously true to me after my study and experiences.  Some reading this will want to strongly state that this is obviously not true.  Please do not hesitate to post your comments.  That is what this space is for, of course anyone who agrees is also welcome to add their input.

Truth August 21, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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On the subject of spirituality there is such a wide variety of beliefs it seems impossible to understand what is the truth.  Some believe that whatever you believe, that is the truth.  Is that true?  Some believe there is no such thing as the truth.  Is that true?  My objective here is to expose and explore the truth and attempt to establish some sort of unity or agreement on just what the truth is concerning spirituality.

My hope is to draw in collaborators by using this forum to showcase ideas, interact and dialog.  So participation from anyone who reads this blog is strongly encouraged, post your comments, make suggestions and help guide this vehicle to a clearer understanding of the truth.  Next post we will start with substantive discussion.  

First Post August 20, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Spiritual Overview.
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This is my first post to the blog that bears my name.  My primary objective for creating this blog is to have a forum to discuss spiritual matters in the hope of furthering the cause of unity among the people who participate.  So if you are reading this blog and you feel compelled to comment, please do.  Our unity should rest on the truth.  So we need to explore just what the truth is.

This will hopefully be more interactive and collaborative than the essays posted on my website.  http://www.RattazziMedia.com  The essays can be a jumping off point for discussion also, so look them over and post comments here if you like. 

I am not sure how personal this should get, this is indeed an intensely personal pursuit to me, and I would be inclined to include my personal experiences.  But others involved might not be quite so interested in sharing, so we will have to see how personal this needs to get.  All for now.