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Food for Thought: October 31, 2018

Food for Thought: October 31, 2018

Our mid-week services are designed for open discussion among a group of people with diverse philosophies and beliefs. These are the notes from those meetings, and reflect the desire to explore thought within and outside the Christian tradition. They do not represent official doctrine, but a willingness to explore our shared humanity. As such, they are somewhat incomplete without the experience of actual discussions. We post them here for the sake of those who would like to have them but cannot always make it out to a mid-week service.

Higher Thoughts, Higher Ways

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my tcays, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Coming at this (unknowing) from the side of science…

‘ ‘l am not interested in this phenomenon or that phenomenon,” Einstein had said earlier in his life. t ‘l want to know God’s thoughts — the rest are mere details.

Do you think that perhaps this longing in Einstein fueled his genius in some way?

Not representing Einstein as a Christian—he was more of a ‘Deist’:

“Try and penetrate With our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.  Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is religion.

Is a keen “awareness” of something beyond what we can comprehend a higher way of thinking?

Newton and truth:       I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Again, is it a “higher way to think” to have in mind that the “great ocean of truth” lies undiscovered before us?

It seems to work well for scientific inquiry. It appears to me to even “unlock” the mind for discovery. Why not, then, for faith? For things that are, in some ways, far more difficult to discover?

Question: IF this is indeed a higher way of thinking, what, in contrast, is a lower way of thinking?

If I haven’t worn thin our tolerance for Bertrand Russell: The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

Higher Consciousness: When you hear the term, what does it make you think?

In the verse at the top, with Isaiah speaking in god’s voice, what is being said?

“1 am a whole lot smarter than you, and you better keep that in mind”?

  • Or is this an invitation? A truth that can spark desire?

My way of thinking can change. There are higher planes of thought!

My point: Higher consciousness is a Bible concept too. Not just Buddhist or something like that.

Can you imagine planes of thought (higher consciousnesses) that are as far above where you are now as the heavens are above the earth?

Counterpoint: Newton also said that if he had ‘ ‘seen further than other men”, it was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants.

How does this apply to philosophy/religion? What place does tradition take as we forge ahead? How is “standing on the shoulders of giants” different than insisting “old time religion” be set in stone? (Who are we to question the fathers?)

  • What kind of ties should we have to what has been passed down?
  • Can you think of ways tradition has turned truth into a lie? (like Jesus said) O Can you think of ways tradition has carried truth forward?

LOWER THOUGHTS: Changing gears. First, think about the times your ‘lowest’ thoughts actually made it out of your mouth.

What emotions/feelings were active at the time? (I am guessing anger or fear)

What kind of thought patterns are being fueled by anger and fear in our lives today?

What else can you think of in our culture that are ‘lower thoughts’?

The Great Ocean of Truth:

If you were to wander in to the ocean and become a part of it, would you ever hold it captive in your hand like a possession? Or would it consume you?

Mystery Is Endless Knowability (Richard Rohr)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How do we live the contradictions? Live them—not just endure them or relieve ourselves from the tension by quickly resolving them. The times where we meet or reckon with our contradictions are often turning points, opportunities to enter into the deeper mystery of God or, alternatively, to evade the mystery of God. I’m deliberately using the word mystery to point to depth, an open future, immense freedom, a kind of beauty and truth that can’t be fully spoken or defined.

Many mystics speak of the God-experience as simultaneously falling into an abyss and being grounded. This sounds like a contradiction, but in fact, when you allow yourself to fall into the abyss—into hiddenness, limitlessness, unknowability, a void without boundaries—you discover it’s somehow a rich, supportive, embracing spaciousness where you don’t have to ask (or answer) the questions of whether you’re right or wrong. You’re being held and so you do not need to try to ”hold” yourself together. Please reflect on that.

This might be the ultimate paradox of the God-experience: “falling into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). When you can lend yourself to it and not fight it or explain it, falling into the abyss is ironically an experience of ground, of the rock, of the foundation. This is totally counterintuitive. Your dualistic, logical mind can’t get you there. It can only be known experientially. That’s why the mystics use magnificent metaphors—none of them adequate or perfect—for this experience. “It’s like. . . . It’s like . . . they love to say.

Mystery is not something you can’t know. Mystery is endless knotcability. Living inside such endless knowability is finally a comfort, a foundation of ultilnate support, security, ullrestricted love, and eternal care. For all of us, it takes much of our life to get there; it is what we surely mean by “growing” in faith. I can’t prove this to you. Each soul must learn on its own, hopefully aided by observing other faith-filled people.



Regular Services:  Sundays at 10:15

We are seeking and learning, and right now the first 15 minutes of service are reserved for quiet contemplation.  The sermon will start at approximately 10:30.

Be still and know that I am God.

Honorable Mentions: Confident Enough, October 28, 2018

Honorable Mentions: Confident Enough, October 28, 2018

What are Honorable Mentions?  They are the quotes, book references, videos, etc that may have been brought up during Sunday’s sermon and are posted here in case one would like to ponder them further.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Books:  The Divine Dance:  The Trinity and Your Transformation, by Richard Rohr: (woodsEnd does not profit from your purchase).

Articles:  “Goodbye God:  A Final Letter to the God I Used to Believe In”:  Here is a link to the letter that Pastor Bryan read excerpts from today for those who are interested in reading the whole piece.

Quotes:  There were several quotes from Bertrand Russell, today:  “To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.”

“And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence.”

Videos:  Here is a link to the profound video featuring Brennan Manning.

Tuesday Night Services

Tuesday Night Services

Our midweek service is designed as a discussion of ideas, with more room to move than a typical Sunday morning. We are seeking open-minded and thoughtful pursuit of spirituality as a group of mostly Christians who are not afraid to interact with people of other spiritual persuasions and/or philosophies. Snack food at 6:30 p.m. and discussion at 7 p.m. Come join the fun!

Advent and Hope

Advent and Hope

Each year at this time we have the opportunity to build hope, to spread hope, to share hope.

I was surprised to see this week, as I prepared a message for this past Sunday, that the cries of earnest expectation and hope, which were provided as Scripture selections in the Revised Common Lectionary (, came from a place of desolation, despair.

I have contact with people for whom the holidays are anything but hopeful. There is profound sadness in many lives that is stirred up at holiday time. You may be one of them. Almost certainly you know and love somebody for whom this is the case.

So, it was encouraging to see that these cries for God to “come down and make the mountains shake” did not come from the same place that some of the more shallow expressions of “triumph” in today’s evangelical climate seem to originate. They rather come from a place of shared humanity in despair and desolation. Tears are the seeds of joy.

So, when I am stuck in my own despair over this particular holiday season, and I happen to run in to a woman who buried her son 10 Christmases ago (I did the service), and she says that this is the first holiday season since in which she has found any hope, I not only realize that there are people suffering far more than I am (though my pain is seen by God too), but that hope really does spring eternal. Life just keeps pushing up through death.

People who sat in darkness have seen a great light. Happy Advent. Feel it, share it. If you can’t do that, I hope you receive it from someone.