Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Seven Heavenly Behaviors

 We've all heard of the seven deadly sins and Pope Gregory's counter balancing virtues.

  • pride / humility
  • greed / generosity
  • lust / chastity
  • anger / patience
  • gluttony / temperance
  • envy / charity
  • laziness / diligence

I've thought often on this list.  While it balances each other, it misses to lessons of Jesus.  Moreover, it can be a bit confusing.  Should I show temperance in all things?  Temperance in my charity and generosity?  Should I display chastity with my spouse?  What should I be diligent doing/not doing?

Behold!  I have visited this list and find it lacking.  Perhaps, we need a better list of behaviors and attitudes to help us live more closely to the parables and lessons Jesus taught.  Here is my list of the seven heavenly behaviors:

  • Be Humble
  • Be Grateful
  • Be Kind
  • Be Patient
  • Be Forgiving
  • Be Understanding
  • Be of service to all others. (now replaced with: Be Compassionate)

Go out into this world in accordance with these seven heavenly behaviors.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Confirmation Bias: Achieved!

Lately, I have been wondering how to refine my beliefs into a pithy phrase.  The one line I often go back to is "Love Unconditionally."  Without conditions: who, what, where, when, why . . . whatever.  "Love your enemy" is too conditional.  Love everyone.  "Love someone more than another?"  Again, that's conditional.

Love unconditionally means going beyond the normal "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." or "Do unto others as you would have done to yourself."  It means without any conditions whatsoever.

Now for the tangent...

I've been listening to Bart D. Ehrman's presentation on "How Jesus Became God".  At the end of his three day presentation, he summed up his presentation with the following:

Christianity was a religion of development.  What we think of christianity did not emerge right away.  Christianity, in many respects, is not so much the religion of Jesus - the religion Jesus had.  It’s really more the religion about Jesus.  That’s an irony.  That it's not so much the religion of Jesus.  It’s the religion about Jesus.  And that religion about Jesus changed, modified, transformed over the years … it was even invented over the years, because it isn’t what Jesus was preaching.  Jesus was a Jew from rural Galilee who understood himself to be Jewish and probably had no idea of starting a religion.  He was preaching Judaism.  The correct understanding of Judaism, but christianity became something else.  It became a religion of gentiles, and Christ ended up being not an apocalyptic prophet but God himself. This is a remarkable change.

It triggered something inside me.  I have often wondered why christians spend less time "loving unconditionally" and more time  "being christian".  Bart's words hit me.  The christians I meet are celebrating their christianity by celebrating the events of the life of Jesus, not living a life he described.

This reminded me of a Buddhist saying:  "Do not seek to follow in the steps of buddha, seek what he sought."  Don't pay attention to buddha.  Pay attention to what buddha was doing.  It's a stretch, but do not seek to focus on Jesus.  Focus on what Jesus focused upon.

Why celebrate christmas, easter, and such?  Celebrate loving one another.  Why gather in groups so large we don't have the opportunity to get to know one another beyond assuming they share a common belief?  Why not focus on helping one-on-one others?

I am also reminded of the early christian book, the didache, and descriptions of how early christians met.  Some of my education in group dynamics also started kicking in.  What we need is encouragement to press beyond - to strive beyond the limits we think we have, and to support one another as each of us love unconditionally.

To that end, we need small, intimate, groups coming together to share our successes, admit our shortcomings, and strive to do better.  There are no leaders if we are all striving to accomplish the same goal.  Groups smaller than seven people often break down into leader/follower configurations.  Groups larger than 30 also begin to become stratified.  While twelve is a good balance of people, it is not the only number that works.

The ideal gathering, in my current view - subject to change, would be 10-25 people coming together on a weekly basis to celebrate what the week provided.  If the group membership dropped below eight, they should merge with another group.  If the group grows beyond 30 people, it should split in two or three groups.  Breaking up the group should done with the concept of Love Unconditionally in the forefront.

Why gather?  Being able to openly profess one's accomplishments and shortcomings without judgement provides a support network to help one another stay focused on the goal:  loving unconditionally.  It is a difficult aspiration, easily limited by a person's awareness.  Recall, nothing is obvious to the uninformed.

What do christians need to celebrate?  One another in our efforts to seek what Jesus sought.  Bart's words are the confirmation of what I already knew.  But then again, I'm biased.