My Articles of Faith (part 2)

IN MY LAST POST, I shared some of my core beliefs, which I call "articles of faith," in a tradition going back almost two thousand years. In that post, I discussed my views of the nature of God. I gave only minimal rationale for my beliefs for two reasons: 1) these are statements, not arguments, and 2) this is not an attempt to proselyte. My desire here is merely to encourage the reader to carefully consider what precepts might form the basis of their own belief system.

In this post, I will continue positing my articles of faith, this time focusing on my view of the nature of man and mortality. To me, these beliefs are logical extensions of my beliefs about God.


I believe we are eternal entities who are presently clothed mortal bodies by God. For the same reason I believe in God when I gaze up at the star-strewn night sky, I also believe my origin is from that God and that he has placed me here on this earth.

I believe in eternal progression. Because God is love and agency is eternal, nothing we do on earth can prevent us from progressing, unless we so choose. Consequentially, what we do during our moment of mortality could not possibly change the entire course of our future, given the weight, depth, and breadth of our past experiences and accomplishments, as indicated by our presence here on earth.

I believe man’s destiny is to transcend mortality. Our eternal nature is intelligence, not mortal matter. Intelligence has no gender. Our spiritual and mortal bodies may contain parts and passions, but our souls do not. The body and its experience here on earth are tools designed to teach us specific lessons and when we learn those lessons we will discard those tools and move on to the realm of pure intelligence, perfected by mortality.

I believe there is a plan designed to help us transcend mortality. There are many probations that yet await us, tests and experiences that will help us progress on our eternal path, though I do not know the form these probations will take.

I believe the purpose of our eternal progression is to become gods if we so desire. That is the ultimate definition of God’s love—that we might have all that he has or experiences.


I believe the earth is perfect. Far from being a "fallen" planet, it is the ideal testing place for our mortal probation and was created to aid our eternal progress. When we pass beyond mortality, we will return to the realm of intelligence, unbound by mortal matter. The earth, as all physical things, shall pass away.

I believe God communicates with man on earth. He guides and influences us though inspiration, visitations and dreams, and through mortal guides and exemplars.

I believe in reincarnation. Each of us has lived may lives on this earth, progressing at our own rate. Mortality simply has too many lessons for one life, and God’s loving nature requires that we receive the maximum opportunity mortality can afford us so we will be prepared for the higher realms. This also explains the disparity in the quality of life and abilities across the human spectrum—the only just explanation for this is that each challenge and ability is designed to teach a valuable lesson and each lifetime has its own unique emphases. Wicked people are simply those who have not learned their life’s lessons and must continue returning to earth until they do. In contrast, those who master love will finally leave this world and move on to higher planes of existence.


My Articles of Faith (part 1)

FROM THE TIME OF THE APOSTLES' CREED, people have memorialized their beliefs in written form. In my religious tradition, thirteen "articles of faith" answered a newpaper editor's questions about a new church, and those assertions came to form the belief backbone of that religion. Benjamin Franklin wrote a little handbook entitled "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion" to formulate a method for attaining perfection in his personal life. Every week he focused on one of the thirteen virtues on his list, mastering many, including "industry," "frugality" and "sincerity."

Many people live out their lives unquestioningly performing a script given to them by others or by mindlessly rejecting it. Few people take the difficult step of examining what it is they truly believe and then formulating a system therefrom that guides their actions. In simple terms, writing down our beliefs -- creating our own articles of faith -- ensures that our acts are based on a coherent philosophy.

Over the next few columns, I will share my own "Articles of Faith," not to proselyte, but to encourage you to craft your own. My list of beliefs has given me great solace, peace and direction in my life. I'm certain writing your own Articles of Faith will do the same for you.


I believe in God. I have no evidence, save the stirrings of my heart when I contemplate the immensity of the universe on a starry night. Because it is human nature to anthropomorphize deity, I am not surprised that in a white male-dominated world, our image of God is that of an elder, bearded, white male god. Therefore, I use this imagery to refer to God, not because I believe God is male or even a singular entity, but for the sake of simplicity.

I believe God is progressing. Not just in power, progeny and domain, but in knowledge, experience and wisdom. If he were not, his life would be unutterably boring. Nevertheless, he is so far beyond us as to appear perfect to us.

I believe God’s power is limited. Because God is progressing, he therefore does not have unlimited power. For example, man's free will is self-existent, not granted by God, though it conceivably may be limited or expanded by him. God's own limitations do not diminish his power or authority; rather they serve as an impetus for his continuing progress, which gives his life meaning.

I believe God is perfect in character. Just as it is ignorance to ascribe limited human physical characteristics to God, so is burdening him with human personality disorders such as jealousy, anger, changeability, or a desire for retributive punishment.

I believe God’s prime characteristic is love. Therefore, he is no respecter of persons. There is no "chosen" race, gender, marital status, group identification, church or sexual orientation. It follows, then, that anyone who believes God is a respecter of persons—that he is a bigot—cannot by definition be inspired of God or speak or act in his name.

I believe God’s purpose is to help us become like him. Since, by definition, love wants what is best for the beloved, God desires that we achieve the knowledge and wisdom he has achieved.


The Great Political Divide: Let's Do Lunch!

THE GREATEST MORAL AUTHORITY in history, as well as the greatest example of that authority, is undoubtedly Jesus of Nazareth. He was born into a world where "an eye for an eye" was the culturally-mandated response to any offense. His gift to mankind was to supersede that maxim with a far more difficult moral imperative: Love your neighbor as yourself.

For two thousand years Jesus' followers have struggled not only to follow his difficult invitation, but to discern exactly what "loving" your neighbor actually means. Does treating my neighbor as I'd like to be treated include buying him lunch? After all, I'd like someone to buy me lunch, and with the hundreds of people I know and whom I consider "neighbors" (in a lunch-buying kind of way), I might never have to buy my own lunch ever again. Sounds good so far.

But what happens when I have to return the favor? If everyone expected me to buy them lunch, then I'd go broke. Every day, I'd have to pony up the cost of a lunch (and I'll bet most people wouldn't consider a burrito at Taco Bell a sufficient expression of my love for them) and I'd go hungry unless someone else was feeling generous and bought me lunch. (Now Taco Bell sounds downright proletariat -- Red Lobster here we come!)

It's easy to see how "loving" your neighbor and still managing to get lunch yourself requires that your neighbor not be someone who would take advantage of your "love." That aside for the moment, this brings me to my main point: the Great Divide.

We have all heard the phrase, "The world is made up of two kinds of people . . . " and what follows is an example of a dichotomy: those who like dogs and those who don't. Those who like cats and those who cats like, etcetera.

But one of the greatest (and apparently, the most evenly split) divides these days is politics. When President Obama claims a mandate to impose his policies on America, he's really only talking about the five percentage votes by which he won. Five percent is just 1/20th of 100 percent and cannot, by any terms, be called a "mandate." But, as Rahm Emmanuel says, "Never let a crisis go to waste," and that slim five percent has become carte blanche for the Dems to completely reorder life in the good ole U.S.A.

But if the mandate is insufficient, no worries. What really gives Democrats the "right" to make these changes is their wonderful and unassailable self-image. After all, they see themselves as morally and intellectually superior to everyone else. Morally superior because they take Jesus' charge seriously: they love their neighbor so much that they want to do everything for them, not only buying them lunch, but dinner, breakfast, late night snacks, pay for their school, cash in their clunker, give them a mortgage they cannot afford, and now even guarantee inadequate and expensive healthcare. (Remember that kid who asked Obama to get him out of his McDonalds grind? Done and done! Isn't He lovely?)

This manifestation of love is, in a Democrat's mind, proof positive of his moral superiority. His intellectual superiority is assured by the term he now cloaks himself in: "Progressive." Anyone who is not progressive must be . . . well . . . regressive: a troglodyte, a throwback, a BAD person, morally as well as intellectually.

All well and good, if you accept the premise that tossing out thousands of years of history and proven cultural mores is "progressive." Of course progressives (who used to be liberals until that label became tainted by the Law of Unintended Consequences, more below) usually cite examples of their progressivism in racial terms (no matter that Lincoln was a Republican and that many southern Democrat senators voted against the Voting Rights Act of 1964), but ignore what fifty years of their loving special interest politics have done to the black community: 70% out of wedlock birth rates and nearly half of all young black men in America in jail, largely for crimes against other black men.

Nevertheless, a Democrat/former Liberal/now Progressive is unconcerned with outcomes. The Professor in Chief is all about high-minded theory and postulates. All that really matters is intent. The Law of Unintended Consequences has no force in His universe. When someone (usually a throwback Republican) points out how $3 trillion (an all-too familiar number nowadays) thrown at "poverty" over the last few decades has only made the plight of the poor worse, the Annointed One and his minions merely say, with a straight face, that if we'd spent $4 trillion, the problem would have been solved. Nanner nanner.

Of course, this is proof positive of their uncircumscribable love for their fellow man. Except for the fellowman who has to finance their limitless largesse. He's the guy who gets screwed, because Democrats always make someone else buy the world a Coke. Congressional Democrats are currently exempting themselves from their vaunted healthcare plan -- their own healthcare will not be tampered with, because the taxpayers are already footing the bill. If it's not broke, right?

So not only do Democrats believe you're too incompetent to know what you want for lunch, they want to take you out to a tony restaurant, order steak and lobster -- for both of you! -- and then expect you to pull out your wallet and pay for it, as you fawningly thank them for taking you out to lunch. And they will do this every day of your life, if you let them.

I don't think Democrats are morally and intellectually superior to Republicans. But in terms of pure chutzpah, they have no equal!

Feel the love!

Reading the Spiritual Tea Leaves

I'VE BEEN THINKING about how much things change, and yet how little they really do. In other words, things appear to change because the particulars differ, but the underlying principles at work remain the same.

Case in point: the election of the least-prepared president in the history of the country prompted millions to writhe in an ecstasy prompted by His presence and the promise of change they really, really believed in. We're now seeing that change: an unprecedented restructuring of America toward statism and away from personal responsibility.

But Tuesday's elections proved how short Obama's coattails really are, though he inexplicably remains personally popular. Why? In a previous post I posited that many white Americans voted for Obama primarily because he was black, in order to prove to themselves and others that they were not racists, which of course, proves them to be exactly that, because racism by definition includes taking race into account when judging a person. Yet these same devoted voters stayed away from the polls in droves this last week, showing the true fervency of their love for the Dear Leader.

China and India, the world's two most populous nations, decline to be bound by the sort of legislation now wending its way through the U.S. Congress in the form of "cap and trade" restrictions on CO2 emissions. These two ascendant behemoths are responsible for over one-quarter of the "poisonous" (so says the EPA) carbon dioxide emissions on the planet. English PM Gordon Brown has declared that the world has just thirty days to prevent an environmental catastrophe if the proposed Copenhagen emission standards are not adopted worldwide.

Yet facts are stubborn things. There are more polar bears now than there were fifty years ago. The world has been demonstrably cooling for the last ten years. So, "global warming" has been cynically replaced by "climate change" as the Left's latest mantra. After all, who can dispute that climate changes? A low incidence of sunspots over the last decade is ultimately responsible for the cooling, but this takes mankind out of the equation and makes his attempts to protect Mother Gaia laughably impotent. As a result, only one percent of Americans rate "climate change" at the top of their concerns. (Wages and jobs predictably hold that position.)

Western religion is in decline, while childish, tantrum-throwing Islam rises steadily, due to low birthrates in the West and high Muslim birthrates everywhere. It is only a matter of time until Islam becomes the world's dominant religion. Christianity is on the wane except in the impoverished and uneducated Third World, and then only for the most strident evangelical sects. Church attendance in America is at historically low levels and is practically nonexistent in Europe. More than half of Americans judge themselves "spiritual but not religious."

What all these events and trends have in common is this: the ardent acolytes of politics, religion, and science prove a universal and innate human search for meaning. Historically, meaning was found through the three professions: the church, medicine, and the law. All three are now in decline. Given the reprehensible behavior of so many religious leaders, who can trust someone who claims to speak for God? Doctors until recently enjoyed great respect, but the healthcare debate has revealed that their vote (e.g., the AMA on Obamacare) can be bought as cheaply as anyone else's. And no examples need be given for lawyers, who are barely more popular than Congress.

So what happens when traditional sources of meaning and purpose evaporate before our eyes? The church is passe and uninspiring, with few answers that satisfy modern believers. Politics is a cesspool of needy liars and false messiahs. Its latest incarnation, the nanny state, is insufficiently adult to inspire respect and obedience. A nanny, after all, is not a parent; she's a teenaged babysitter. Can we believe in a government that takes from those who produce and gives to those who do not? Environmentalism is supposed to be based on science, yet supercomputer models of climate change are as wrong as a pocket dog in a tutu. Mother Gaia doesn't even know we exist. What then, can we believe in? What is the next religion?

Man is a spiritual being and religion, no matter how it's clothed, is an innate expression of his spirituality. But in today's world, what religion can truly satisfy our natural need for union with the Ultimate?

When no religion is believable, will we still believe in God?

Or will we see the following headline on the cover of TIME: "We're all Nihilists Now."