I have an issue with organization because it relieves people of the ability to think for themselves. I have been blocked from Atheist discussion sites when I point out that the ‘Atheist Church’ is a horrible idea. It followed the exact pattern that I predicted, as well. The request is made for more locations. To try to achieve uniformity, certain guidelines are established. Someone disagrees with one guideline and a schism occurs. ‘They don’t ‘not believe’ like we ‘not-believe,’ so they are no longer associated with us.’ The Atheist Church hasn’t even lasted a year before the split occurred. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/atheist-church-split_n…) It is the same process one sees in Paul’s letters to various distant Churches. His bias as to the guidelines he assumed Jesus meant, made into the dogma of the Book he didn’t write.
The denomination I was raised in was Fundamentalist, a far cry from the Brethren Church my grandfather was raised in. When he moved to the Big City for the jobs, he was too far from the churches of his faith, so he stopped going to church. He is still the most godly Puritan man I can think of, like some Quaker ideal. This is what got me thinking less ‘Good-Without-God’ and more ‘Good-Without-Church.’ Baptist was my Mother’s rebellion.
When you know your way, you can find it in the dark. I view most every text I can get my hands on with the eye of someone explaining how they built a boat. They might have had different skills, experiences and tools than me, so I look at what they wish to achieve, read through the step by step, and then you slip from Theory into Application, where things will always go differently. There are millions of types of boats, with different degrees of sea-worthiness, and it really depends on where you’re going and how much bailing you wish to do on the way.
Brad Warner’s new book (There is No God, and He is Always With You) will have to set up more, as he preps to head his ministry. He has followed a specific set of instructions that he was given, it worked for him, and he’s willing to tell you about it. Will he be biased? Of course, because he adheres to a tradition and has studied to the level of Priest. Ordination is the Certificate of being in the Religious Geek Squad. You have learned the system for this belief structure well enough to explain it to others.
This is why I claim the status of Pharisee. I have no greater joy than when Bill Maher accuses the Christians of hypocrisy, because that is the dogmatic traditions of my Youth, and it allows me to attack my issues with what I see as its flaws in continued practice. Three times a week from the age of 6, I was steeped in various Baptist Protestantism, as preachers would come and go or eventually get busted for being human or feel bad about the bullshit they were expected to spew at people.
In my attempt to be a free thinker, I try to get to it all, and process it with a grain of salt. “I’m from the factory and I know how instructions are put together. You go out on the assembly line with a tape recorder and the foreman sends you to talk to the guy he needs least, the biggest goof-off he’s got, and whatever he tell you – that’s the instructions. The next guy might have told you something completely different, and probably better, but he’s too busy.” – from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Persig.
The King James Version of the Bible was accepted as completed by the Church of England in 1611. In 1620, the Pilgrims fled England, seeking freedom from religious persecution. My family came in 1697 for the same reason. This is my favorite factoid for people who push the “Faith of our Fathers’ bullshit. My Family lived on some of the only land purchased from the Natives. We never owned Slaves and ran the most successful hub of the Underground Railroad. They also didn’t go door to door with the Good News. The idea that there is a separation between myself and World of the English is appealing for the viewpoint it gives me. Baptist, Democrat, Protestant, Free Thinking Privileged Class all, fairly recently in the History of Civilization, spent a lot of time justifying killing Natives and owning Africans.
Dogma is the dirt and slime an ideal picks up as it slides through our world. You can see that there is a disconnect when the most controversial figure in Religion today is the Pope who acts like Christ in public… kinda. A Game of Thrones, as a group tries to stay in power with their owner’s manual on the Unknowable.
I believe in the Humanist idea that there is a piece of everyone that strives to better itself and keep itself safe. It always points North, even in the fog. The Dogma starts when we start to ponder the why of it.
In the end, it matters little where it came from or where it is going. There is Right because it is good for all. You do your best to be a good person, but since it’s the ‘first go-around’ it helps to hear it all and use what works. There is this ‘Now’ and what we do in it. There isn’t even an assurance for either of us that the other one is even real. Perhaps you are now speaking with a Watson the Jeopardy Robot filled with Ernest P. Warrell movies and a few viral ‘spiritual videos,’ working through scenarios in an AI development program. For you, I only exist on a screen. What if everyone is?