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Friday, December 20, 2002

Time out

I have not written for over two weeks. I've felt like I didn't know what to think about what. Decisions are hard for me and moving is a big decision. I finally decided that I just have to move since I don't have enough room in my studio and need at least a one bedroom. I've also found that just the pet deposit is going to be $200.00 to $300.00. That's terrible! The only thing my cat destroys is my furniture.

Since I'll have to come up with the deposits and the cost of moving I'm staying home this Christmas so I don't have the rush of getting ready to go somewhere. Today was our last day and I've turned off my alarm till January 2nd and plan to sleep a lot. This has been a very stressful month at work and I feel such a relief just knowing I don't have to go back for twelve days. How wonderful!

I did read "God at 2000" edited by Marcus Borg and Ross Mackenzie. It was interesting. There were articles by several authors based on talks they gave at a conference in 2000. Marcus Borg feels that god is not a father or a king but a lover. We have a relationship with the mystery when we have a relationship with god. We don't comprehend what is about us and we don't have to. God is not a god of intervention. Borg believes in a nice god. A non theist god. A god who doesn't expect anything from us.

Diana Eck doesn't want to move beyong theism but to a multitheism where we all see part of what is God. The problem I have with this is it becomes a little too politically correct as we are not allowed to criticize actions that someone else calls part of their religion even though we find their ideas wrong and repugnant.

Lawrence Kushner feels that it's better to have questions than answers. He says that a religious philosophy based on questions is more likely to come up with wonder and amazement, and I agree. Whenever someone has all the answers they tend to become autocratic and authoritarian, not to mention stagnant.

Joan Chittister says that we cannot "think" god, we can only know god. We become lonely when god is too far away and to high to notice us. We constantly seek ecstasy but have to work at aesthetics. She struck a chord with me when she said that historically atheism has been a denial of particular conception of god. That's probably true with me. I don't believe in the god that I was taught. Maybe I could believe in a different view of god, or at least not find it totally unbelievable.

Karen Armstrong said that an inappropriate reliance on reason alone is a characteristic of western religion and theology. To find god we need a more imaginative and intuitive method similar to that used in art. She also said that she was a nun but found that she couldn't pray, which is a drawback for a nun so she left. Now she just studies theology as her form of worship.

I'm afraid I didn't get much from Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Desmond Tutu because I was overwhelmed by the underwhelmed idea of god that I had wandered through. There were some good ideas and thoughts but basically it came down to just thinking good thoughts. Who needs religion for that?

I also finished reading "Conquests and Cultures" by Thomas Sowell. Though I've read excerpts from Sowell this is the first book of his I've read. It was good. This is the third book of a trilogy so now I need to go back and read the other two books but it's heavy reading and I'm sure there is a lot I missed just in this book. He shows how power and the rise and fall of countries have gone back and forth to different countries and how cultural capital is more important than wealth. People and/or countries that have valued entrepeneurship and valued learning new ways of doing things or, even better, encouraged finding out better ways of doing things are the ones who have flourished. He doesn't consider it to be a pat answer though and brings up other issues, but basically those who make their future, no matter how far down they started, are the ones who have a future.

He is also insistent that those who have more contact with western civilization and ideas are the ones that have higher standards of living and better lives. He doesn't pretend there have been atrocities on all sides but still insists that those that survived the europeans are better off than those who had little contact with them. He also brings up the fact that most native americans died from diseases brought by the europeans, not by warfare. It's not like the europeans said "Oh, lets kill them all off with our diseases!", it was pretty much inevitable, no matter how nicely they were treated. This is the same idea in Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel".

Tuesday a bunch of us from work went to see "The Full Monty" musical. I laughed so hard I was crying. It was so funny. It's great when you can enjoy something that much. The audience participation was great. The UA Presents series gets some great shows in but I can't afford to go to that many of them but we got a deal on this one.

Rachel Aschmann 2002.
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