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Matteo ... we can continue our discussion here
May 21, 2006
12:31 am
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Anonymous
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Matteo,

Here's the thread I promised to open for us to continue our discussion from the Polyfidelity thread. Are you up to it?

May 22, 2006
3:06 pm
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Mardoll
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Well, I am!

May 22, 2006
3:53 pm
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Great, Mardoll. Let's talk some more. One quick question. On the poly thread, you mentioned the gods that you serve (what that the word?). Do you believe these gods are real, or merely personifications of real gods or entities, or something else?

May 22, 2006
11:02 pm
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Hi Seeker,

I would like to say in the beginning that I am not here to discuss and/or compare…because there is no comparison in the first place. I will explain shortly my believes, but I am not into discussing them. If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them if I will be able.

If you have ever read a book by Erich Fromm, I am not sure what is the title of English translation, it should be: “Art of Love” or “About Art of Love”, it tells very much how I perceive God.

I don’t adhere to any religion, I was born Catholic, in not very religious family, quite early on realized how much Church is about politics. I looked carefully into Islam, peeked into Judaism and very little into few other religions, but in the end abandoned all.

Religion is very much about community, and there is always something you have to give in order to get. For me adhering to the religious community often, at least to some degree, equals rejecting people from other communities, and this is not what I believe and look for. I don’t care pretending that my values are different than they are just to be accepted within that community. Not to mention that there are things being preached to which I would never agree to. My take on it is that we should try to find balance between being good for ourselves and others, and do our best to become the best people we possibly can, no matter if we practice any religion or not.

I should say that I use the word “God” because of lack of a better word, which would not imply gender. I believe God doesn’t have any, but there is no word like this in English, neither in many other languages (if in any). In more simple form than in Fromm’s book, the verses below, and their explanation (not mine) describe about nature of God I believe in.

“Purity of Faith”

Say: he is God*, The One**

God, the Eternal, Absolute***

He begetteth not, nor is He begotten****

And there is none like unto Him*****.”

“* The nature of God is here indicated to us in a few words, such as we can understand. The qualities of God are specially taught to avoid the pitfalls into which men and nations have fallen in various times in trying to understand God. The first thing we have to note is that His nature is so sublime, so far beyond our limited conceptions, that the best way in which we can realize Him is to feel that He is a Personality, “He”, and not a mere abstract conception of philosophy. He is near us: He cares for us; we owe our existence to Him. Secondly He is the One and Only God, the Only One to Whom worship is due; all other things or beings that we can think of are his creatures and in no way are comparable to Him. Thirdly, He is Eternal, without beginning or end, Absolute, not limited by time, place or circumstance, the Reality. Fourthly, we must not think of Him as having a son or a father, for that would be to import animal qualities into our conception of Him. Fifthly, He is not like any other person or thing that we know or can imagine: His qualities and nature are unique.

** This is to negative the idea of Polytheism, a system in which people believe in gods many and lords many. Such a system is opposed to our truest and profoundest conceptions of life. For Unity in Design, Unity in the fundamental facts of existence, proclaim the Unity of the Maker.

*** “Absolute” implies that absolute existence can only be predicated by Him: all other existence is temporal and conditional: “Eternal” implies that He is dependent on no person or things, but all persons or things are dependent on Him, this negativing the idea of gods and goddesses who ate and drank, wrangled and plotted, depended on the gifts of worshippers, etc.

**** This is to negative the Christian idea of the godhead, “the Father”, “the only-begotten Son”, etc.

*****This sums up the whole argument and warns us specially against Anthropomorphism, the tendency to conceive of God after our own pattern, an insidious tendency that creeps in at all times and among all people.”

If you read the above carefully, I think you will have quite good idea why the way you talk about God is offensive to me. Take care.

May 23, 2006
6:40 am
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Seeker - Um, I believe the gods I work with are as real as any fellow human AND that they are personifications of the powers they represent. I see no reason why those should be mutually exclusive concepts.

However, my understanding of what "real" means is probably slightly different than yours.

Ultimately, I have only two beliefs that never falter - I believe in the Divinity of the Universe, and I know I exist. The funny thing is that logically, philosophically, as a solipsistic pantheist, technically I can't prove I'm not God! (Logic is a funny creature, isn't it?)

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have come up with all this crazy stuff, and I'm pretty sure I'm not actually alone in the Universe. If I'm not alone, than I and whatever all else exists add up to God, so I'm off the hook. 😉

That gets complicated really quickly when I try to explain it, even though it's a very, very simple concept.

Matteo - What is the difference between describing your beliefs and discussing them? Are you anticipating an arguement over them?

Because when I, at least, express a desire to "compare" religions, it is only in the sense that different belief sets (including various atheist philosophies) provide interesting juxtaposition to eachother. I am quite secure in my beliefs, and am as content to explain them as I am happy to explore someone else's. But that doesn't mean I expect anybody else to share my specific perceptions even after I have explained them.

--Ember--

May 23, 2006
9:32 am
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Matteo and Mardoll,

Very interesting. I need some time to think about your posts before I reply. It might not be for a few days, unfortunately, but I'll get back to them. I hope you're both doing well in the meanwhile.

May 23, 2006
10:11 am
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Mardoll,

I wanted to explain shortly to Seeker, and whoever else cares to read, why my stomach is turning when I hear statements like: "God is thinking", "God would like you to", "God is happy", "God is suffering", "we are God's children", "Son Of God", the whole idea of more than one God, about gods having their own agendas, statues, etc., etc., etc., as an argument for not talking about God on Support Threads, and restrain from various expressions of personal beliefs.

As I said, I don't follow any religion; those are my personal beliefs and contrary to what you are implying I am very secure in them. I arrived to them both before and after looking into various religions. There is no religion which would convince me about its whole message: the way they present divinity, their doctrine, and their rites and taboos. I have no religion to compare to. And if you read my post above, nothing compares to God I believe in. I’m not sure how would I be able to contribute to whatever discussion would take place, and I am not sure how would that benefit me.

May 23, 2006
6:07 pm
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Mardoll
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Matteo - "contrary to what you are implying I am very secure in them"

I suppose I should appologize at the implication. In any case it wasn't intended.

I understand why we're supposed to keep comparative religions out of the Support threads, though I can also see why it's so hard. My understanding of my own life and experiences is directly affected by my spiritual beliefs and religious practices. Not everyone is as thoroughly influenced, I suppose, but for those who are, it's extremely difficult to explain what's going on in our heads and hearts and leave our beliefs out of it. The picture is simply incomplete, and in ways that make it very very hard to get help.

Your beliefs don't seem that strange to me at all, actually. Nor do I think similarity is required for comparison. Not at all, in fact - I think contrast is far more interesting in most cases.

"This is to negative the idea of Polytheism, a system in which people believe in gods many and lords many. Such a system is opposed to our truest and profoundest conceptions of life. For Unity in Design, Unity in the fundamental facts of existence, proclaim the Unity of the Maker."

That depends tremendously on the context of the polytheism, actually. The Unity you describe is also intrinsic in Pantheism, for example, and Pantheism is often an underlying belief that goes with Polytheism.

What it tends to come down to is the definitions of "god" being used, and the definitions of "worship".

*shrugs* Not that I expect you to agree, or really, from your descriptions so far, even care, but there you go.

"And if you read my post above, nothing compares to God I believe in."

Nothing not God compares to God within the context you describe, no. However, I wasn't proposing to compare different things within a single context, but to compare the perceptions of context themselves, you see? Or did that not make sense... Oy, sometimes I can't explain my own thoughts very well...

"I’m not sure how would I be able to contribute to whatever discussion would take place"

Well, you've contributed so far with a description of your beliefs that I can compare with my own beliefs, and see where they are similar, and in what ways they are quite different. To me that's great start. In any case, though, you're not obliged to stay where you are unhappy. If you don't wish to continue the conversation then don't.

"and I am not sure how would that benefit me."

*shrugs* I find things like this to be learning experiences, and I like helping other people, so I see an intrinsic benefit to such a conversation. As I said, if you don't, you're not obliged to participate.

May 23, 2006
9:49 pm
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Mardoll,

{Seeker - Um, I believe the gods I work with are as real as any fellow human AND that they are personifications of the powers they represent. I see no reason why those should be mutually exclusive concepts.}

I was wondering if you believed your particular gods that you worship exist in the same sense I believe mine does. Let's suppose you worship a goddess named "Y". I wondered if you believe that Y literally exists, independently of any of us, or if Y exists as a human metaphor of whatever gods you believe might really exist. Does this make sense?

From what you describe about being "real", I think I can answer this question now. Thank you.

For myself, I believe there's literally a God who created all of us and everything in the universe, and that he looks like us, with a human body, two eyes, arms, legs, etc. I also believe he's enlisted angels and us to help him in his work.

What do you believe your gods expect from us? What do they want us to do, if anything?

Seeker

May 23, 2006
10:05 pm
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Matteo,

You say that God cares for us and is near us, and is eternal and created us all and is dependent on no person.

We agree on the glory and majesty of God. However, I think you view God as being incomprehensible, not knowable, and perpetually a stranger to us. You don't seem to like my attributing anything human to him, like happiness, suffering, desires for us, etc.

IMO, these are attributes of a God who is like us and cares about us. You say God is close to us and near. How can he be near and not be pained by wrong choices we make, and happy for wise choices we make?

Do you want to believe that God is unknowable and inherently different from us, and that we cannot really relate to him?

If we're not God's children, then it seems we are his robots, or machines. This just doesn't seem right to me.

Seeker

May 23, 2006
11:26 pm
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Seeker,

You really believe that God LOOKS like us??? Wow... I mean, you think he is of human form??

I never really thought of God like that. My friend in AA always laughs and talks about how she was taught that God was just some "big white dude with a long beard and a staff, riding on the clouds and pointing his will at people". She now rejects this idea completely, and so do I...

So tell me, if God is human, what race is He??? What gender?? The Bible ways we were created "in his image", right? Well there is a whole lot of diversity of physical characteristics in human beings...so which ones of us really are "in his image", and how do you explain the ones that are not...

(Reminds me of Hitler's "master race"...)

Also, why do you attribute God with the capacity of emotion? Is it because since we as humans have and experience emotion, then so must God??? Where do emotions come from...our souls...our brains... Science has proven that emotions are derived from chemicals and hormones in our brains and body... Therefor our emotions are seperate from our "soul", IMO. Could it be a posibility that "In his image" means the part of us that is our own divinity...our soul??? The rest of it is simply the differences that make us human and Him God???

Mardoll...

On the topic of God's emotion...You were talking with someone about "God's Love for us."

Love is an emotion. So there for, if God does not emote..how can her love???

I loved the way you described it... That through our very existence, we are "loved". I take this to mean that, because we are here, then therefore, we must have a "purpose"... And what is it to have purpose...to be worthy..to be "wanted"...to be "loved"...

NOw........that is easy for me to think...being the privlidged American that I am, i have a life, I have freedom, my needs are met. I can think of God, and think, "Yeah sure...I have a purpose...we all do, everything does..."

But I ask, would I still feel that same way if I was one of the millions of starving people with AIDS in Africa, with a life expectancy of not living past the age of 35, if I am lucky???...

What would be my great "PURPOSE" then....to die hungry and sick in the dirt???

I am starting to understand Tez, and his questions and aggitation at the belief of the "omnipotent" "omniscent" God.

OHHHHH....doubt runs deep in my heart! I wish I could live in blissfull ignorance, never questioning my unshakable beliefs, content to follow blindyly....

But then I would just be one more sheep in the pasture of life.

I guess it is better this way after all.

Erica

May 23, 2006
11:32 pm
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This is exactly what I was afraid of. Why cannot I keep my mouth shut? Seeker, you can believe whatever you want to. Please read what I wrote in my post for as long until you would be able to understand it. Maybe if you will ponder long enough over it and put the meaning of all those sentences together, you will not ask questions you've just asked.

Yes God is incomprehensible, but you and I are not incomprehensible to Him. We are His creations, like everything you can think of. That's the relation.

"How can he be near and not be pained by wrong choices we make, and happy for wise choices we make?" because God is Absolute and Eternal, that's why. Whatever happens, whatever you or anyone else will do or not do, will not affect His Being in any way. Everything depends on Him; He does not depend on anything.

“Do you want to believe that God is unknowable and inherently different from us, and that we cannot really relate to him?” Yes you can relate. You can worship Him and wonder every second of your life about the beauty, harmony and wonders of the Worlds He created; one of those Worlds is your own. I not only want to but I do. Otherwise I can make wooden statue which will look like you and worship it. No difference.

We are God's creations, not children, not robots, either. People created robots. Are robots our children? Same with God and people.

If it does not seem right to you, it is your problem, not mine. You wanted to know why the way you talk about God offends me and I told you. Why cannot you just appreciate it? I am not here to defend my beliefs or convince you about anything. Why can't you respect my beliefs the way I respect yours without questioning them? If I can keep my mouth shut about how I believe, why can’t you, or anybody else unless in non-sectarian manner?

Just look in the Stars, and think about how little we know about them and the Universe or Universes which we part of it. Are they really comprehensible? Does it mean that they don’t exist? Look at the Stars again, and tell me if that guy next door you call God could really create the Universe?

May 24, 2006
3:59 pm
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Matteo,

I've read your original post three or more times and I still feel a bit confused about why the way I talk offends you. There's no need to insinuate that I'm not trying to understand.

We all have our different perspectives of God. I don't wish to get into any debates, and neither do you. I got a bit caught up in trying to argue my view over yours, and I'm sorry. I don't want to ask you any more questions becuase I don't want to get upbraided for asking them. So I'll just think about this for a while before saying anything else.

In the meantime, I'll watch what I say to you about God, but I hope you will be patient if I continue to talk about God at times to others. Sound fair?

May 24, 2006
7:14 pm
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Seeker,

It is where are three and especially four and five little stars in my post.

Seeker, there is no place on Support Threads where you would be able to talk to others and not to me. Everyone can read, whatever is posted, including me.

There are guidelines on Support Threads saying that no religion should be considered better than another, and I think it is the best idea to keep it that way and stick to the rules, instead of preaching. I don’t get upset, because I know often it is almost like a figure of speech when people make religious comments; so even if I don’t like it, and l like I said, my stomach turns, I don’t call people on not sticking to the guidelines.
Lib. Brew is the place where you can freely talk about whatever gods you believe in and no one will stop you. I think it is fair that way.

There is a difference between asking questions about one’s beliefs in opposition to questioning their value, and passing judgment, which you did as you admitted. I don’t mind answering your questions if I know the answer, but as I said, I am not here to defend my beliefs. I could be very judgmental up to the point of making fun of your belief system; if I am not, it is because I value them as your personal beliefs which are near to your heart, and I respect that. All what I am asking is please don’t push them down my throat, just like I am not pushing mine down yours. I think that’s fair to everybody.

May 25, 2006
11:55 pm
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Matteo,

I don't normally talk about religion on Support. If I did so on the polyamory thread on Support, it's because the conversation between Mardoll and me was leading into religion, so I felt it was okay to do so.

Would you do me a favor? The next time I offend you in how I talk about God, will you please bring up the specific post right then and there? That would help me much more than a blanket statement that I often offend you in takling of God, and then leave me to read some statements and guess how I'm offending you.

If I start prefacing all my comments about God with "IMO", would that help?

Seeker

May 26, 2006
12:15 am
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This thread is confusing to me. There seems to be a conflict, but I am not sure what it is? Would someone please point it out to me? What I am seeing does not make sense.

Thank you,
omw

May 26, 2006
12:29 am
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Neither am I. I thought that I expressed myself quite clearly.

May 27, 2006
2:15 am
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omw,

What you've seen is two friends in the thick of working out a difference in viewpoints. It's been resolved on another thread.

May 27, 2006
7:09 am
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I'm as confused as ever.

May 31, 2006
5:11 am
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Should I direct the religious questions to another thread then?

I'm afraid I've fallen too far behind...

May 31, 2006
5:21 am
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Seeker you asked in the other thread: "I generally talk about doing what's right rather than what God wants me to do. Same difference, but it comes across more gently."

The funny thing is I don't think that helps much. But so far you haven't stepped on *my* toes much, because you're usually careful enough to specify that it's your own personal beliefs, rather than acting like your beliefs are universal. As far as I'm concerned, that's enough for me. I don't mind you exploring the inherint conflicts between my beliefs and yours, in the sense that you can't take pieces of mine, swap them into place with yours, and expect there to be no logical errors. I'm not just coming to different conclusions, I'm percieving different premises. I'm sure we're each quite sane, rational, and intelligent with regards to how we handle what our beliefs and perceptions imply, but we're starting from very different beliefs and perceptions, so the results will simply not match. As far as I'm concerned, as long as we're not unduely hurting eachother or others, we're both doing just fine.

"Can you give an example of you communicating with your gods? How do you know what they want, or what they tell you?"

Free replied: "I would think in the same manner you consider yourself to be "comunicating" with God..."

Honestly, without knowing more about how you do it, I can't really compare it. I will say a few things, though.

First of all, I don't think the gods I work with are omnicient or omnibenevolent, so I have to rely on my own "better judgement" and I am obliged to my own consequences as a result. I cannot simply accept even my own perception of what the gods want, much less anyone else's, as what I should be doing. For one thing, They don't always agree with eachother. For another, they have Their own wants and needs that don't necessarily have anything to do with me, or what I should be doing. Ultimately, the gods are more like human authority figures than They are like what you'd think of as God.

But then above all that I believe that ultimately everything is a part of the divine whole. However, that whole is not personified, and has no desires beyond a purpose of existence, as far as I understand, so there's no distinction between guidance and the simple nature of cause and effect. I'm either doing things right and getting desireable results, or I'm not and I'm getting crappy results. Why complicate the issue?

Free - "I mean, supposedly, if he was really God, he would know I was thinking it, so I might as well just be honest outloud, Right???"

I'm bemused that you refer to God as "he". Most of the lesbians I know are feministic enough to call God "she" even if they are not following a distinct Goddess-worship model.

I kinda agree with you, but at the same time, behaviors we conciously uphold train our thoughts and result in behaviors we do not subconciously uphold. It's a good idea for us to consider the implications and consequences of anything we train ourselves into doing. "Respect" is one of those areas where it matters tremendously not just what you do it, and why, but also how.

"Why does it have to be ONE way!! Why can't we all just be right!"

I'll tell you my best guess: My sense of it is that most people don't really have the self-assurance to know that their way is right unless they can get confirmation. This is especially true if their active sense of right comes from outside themselves. They don't really have a deep, intrinsic understanding of why it's right, so they can't really extrapolate the nuances without going back to the source. That can makes dealing with anything unusual much harder, because they aren't trusting their own judgement.

Asserting that their way is right prompts agreement. It's anywhere from mildly disconcerting to outright painful to have somebody tell you that your way is NOT right. Many people, regardless of their intellectual capacity, can't make the *emotional* distinction between "Your way is not right for me" and "Your way is not right".

On the up-side, it's a feature of empathy to care enough what other people think is right that you want the answer to correlate. In a very strict society, often the only kinds of people who really have the ability for an internal sense of right that deviates from what is dictated by the cultural norm are highly antisocial. They can afford to deviate from the norm because they don't care.

On an instinctive level, though "All purebread burmese cats are brown" doesn't mean the same thing as "all brown cats are purebread burmese", most folks equate a willingness to depart drastically from their understanding of the norm with a certain lack of empathy. After all, if you cared about other people, you wouldn't be inclined to deviate, right?

"I was just wondering how the gods communicate with Mardoll, is all. I was wondering if it's any different from how God communicates with me."

As I mentioned before, God communicates with me in the usual way - cause and effect. The nature of the Universe is what it is, and behaves the way it behaves. It requires no enforcement. Gravity works. Challenging it's authority is useless. Learning it's rules is very useful. I'm fond of Science for exploring the implications of Gods rules in this sense, though it's an admittedly limited tool, in that it only asks "How". As such it has no bias of favor in it's effort to explore the functions of nature. "Why" is not an issue in this sense. The answer is "Because that's the way it is." This is one of the reasons I don't generally try to connect directly with God as I understand it.

As for the gods, well, there are many ways for Them to communicate. I remember a lot of my dreams, though most of them are just psychological sorting, of course. I meditate, and practice journey trance. I also practice several forms of divination, the most useful of which is just to pay attention. Ultimately all divination is essentially glorified pattern recognition. Then, also, there is posessory work - inviting the gods to speak through their priests and priestesses. This has the advantage of clear speach and the disadvantage of a third-party filter.

Because none of these is untainted by human judgement, confirmation is very important. If there's no apparent harm in a suggestion, I don't tend to worry about it much - any more than I would worry about it if it were my own idea - but if it seems drastic, or if I don't understand, I wait for more information to reach me via sources that were not already in the loop.

Free - You were talking with someone about "God's Love for us." Love is an emotion. So there for, if God does not emote..how can her love???

Heh, the short answer is that I believe Love is *experienced* as an emotion, but that's not all it is. The long answer is a little harder to explain, but makes a lot of sense if you experience it. I guess that's what's called a "Mystery"? Things that make no sense when you verbalize them until after you experience them firsthand?

May 31, 2006
5:22 am
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Sorry for the triple-post. I'm trying to catch up. This is the last one!

Free - "I take this to mean that, because we are here, then therefore, we must have a "purpose"... And what is it to have purpose...to be worthy..to be "wanted"...to be "loved"..."

Yes and no. Existence IS the purpose.

Gah, I'll have to explain this to the best of my ability. I hope it makes sense...

Here's what I wrote up last January in an attempt to explain my understanding:

----------------
All things together make the Whole which is the Universe.
The Universe is Divine.

All things are a part of the Divine.
All things are Sacred.

There are two things of Value: to DO, and to BE.
Things that DO are called Useful.
Things that ARE are called Beautiful.

The Purpose of the Universe is to BE.
The Universe is Beautiful.

All things serve the purpose of the Whole.
All things are Beautiful.

The Value given in return for Beauty is Love.
All things are Loved.

Worship is an expression of Love for Divinity.
Sex is an expression of Love.
Sex is a form of Worship.
----------------

June 1, 2006
9:24 am
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Mardoll,

Thank you for your replies. I'm going to get back with you on the weekend on this. But till then, I wish to comment on this:

{Sex is a form of Worship.}

There are an awful lot of spiritual guys out there, then. I know many who worship sex to the point they are dying for it. (Hope you don't mind the attempted humor.) :o)

Seeker

June 1, 2006
4:09 pm
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September 24, 2010
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Seeker - "There are an awful lot of spiritual guys out there, then. I know many who worship sex to the point they are dying for it. (Hope you don't mind the attempted humor.) :o)"

Heh, no, I don't mind the humor, but I do want to point out that there's a difference between Sex as an expression of love being a form of worship and Sex as an expression of hormones being a god.

Sex isn't always a form of worship - even for me. But it can be, and I believe that it's best potential is as such, and this was written when I was trying to suss out why I wanted so badly to have a lover who shared my faith and philosophies.

After I found him, we compared notes on how we view sexuality vs. how we feel our culture views sexuality. Neither of us consider ourselves to be very sexualized individuals. So why, if sex doesn't seem to make a very big impact in the secular aspects of our lives, is it so important to our spiritual lives? Most of the folks we know who have sexuality as an important part of their spiritual lives are highly sexualized individuals on a secular basis as well.

We figured out pretty easily that neither of us was interested in sex outside of love - not necessarily "true love" in the romantic sense, between two human lovers, but there had to be SOME loving basis for the actions for sex to be fulfilling at all.

Then I finally managed to articulate what "Love" actually means to me, and from there realized what sex therefore means to me, and everything just fell into place.

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