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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

The Illogicacy of Christian Homophobia

December 19, 2013 4 comments

Used with permission from WikiCommons

Ah, it’s that time again. That magical time of the year when conservatives can unite around a cause in order to circle the wagons against a phantom onslaught against conservative values and perhaps Christianity. No, it’s not the annual war on Christmas, but this has to do with the supposed war on Christianity. Recently Phil Robertson, of the Duck Dynasty Show gave an interview to GQ magazine, in which he went on an anti-gay tangent. (Click Here to Read it)

After receiving a negative backlash from the public, and advertisers, A&E has suspended Phil Robertson indefinitely. Now the airwaves and social media pages are filled with people from the anti-gay and pro-gay camps weighing in.

I think it is odd that the same people who called for a boycott of Macy’s when they hired Ellen Degeneres, are now up in arms about Phil Robertson being suspended for anti-gay remarks. So when Macy’s hires a gay person as a spokesperson, the anti-gay crowd feels the need to exercise their God given right to free speech and expression by boycotting. However, when advertisers threaten to pull advertising from Duck Dynasty (essentially an advertising boycott), then the same anti-gay crowd cries out that Robertson’s free speech being violated? Yes, Phil Robertson had a right to say whatever he wants under the constitutional right to freedom of speech. He’s not going to go to jail over it (that’s what freedom of speech means: you can say what you want, but it does not preclude social or economic forces reacting). And yes, A&E and advertisers also have the right to pull advertisements, suspend him, etc. And yes I know the pro-gay crowd has done boycotts in the past. Freedom of speech goes both ways.

What disheartens me the most, is that much of the anti-gay crowd is made up of Christians. Christians who say that they love everyone, and don’t judge, yet for the LGBT segment of society, they openly judge and seek to have prejudicial and bigoted laws enacted and/or enforced. Many Christians cite to the Old Testament to provide validation that homosexuality is a sin. However, if you are going to throw around Old Testament laws to justify inequality, then you better also be following the other 613 Old Testament laws (Mitzvot), yes there are more than just 10 commandments… (Click Here for the Complete List) So if you eat pork, shellfish, meat and cheese together, touch a woman who’s on her period, have a tattoo, etc. you are going to hell as well. You can’t pick and choose, either you take them all, or you take none, to say otherwise is illogical.

I am also flabbergasted that I have friends who are clinging onto the “traditional marriage” and “slippery slope”  (we will start marrying animals, our sisters, etc.) arguments to justify inequality when it comes to LGBT marriage and relationships, when they themselves are in or have had interracial relationships. The Bible was used to justify slavery, and the Bible (specifically stories about God punishing the Jews when they intermixed), and the traditional marriage and slippery slope arguments were also used to uphold laws against interracial marriage and relationships.

For Christians, I think the choice is clear, either all of the 613 Mitzvot are still in place, or Jesus brought about a new order where the only important laws were to love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself, or he didn’t. (Matthew 22:34-40).

Love is the true message of Christianity, not bigotry or hatred. During his ministry Jesus taught to, blessed, and healed people of all races and religious and social backgrounds. He did not discriminate, and so long as Christianity continues to discriminate and promote bigotry, people who identify as Christians, and church attendance as a whole, will continue to decline.

However, I think that if Christians will begin acting Christ-like, by showing love and compassion to all people, in an honest fashion (don’t just say “we don’t judge” while in the very act of judging), then Christianity can not only fulfill its true mission, its true purpose, but it can actually start growing again.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this piece, please subscribe to this blog, and share it with others.

Also, please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click the Book Cover to view on Amazon.com)

Introducing My New Book: “The Path”

September 15, 2013 8 comments

Thank you all for your early support! In less than 24 hours “The Path” is already number 36 on Amazon.com’s Comparative Religion List! I am truly grateful!

 

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit absent on here lately. Well, I have been finishing up my book, which has been an almost 10 year long project. It has really been a labor of love, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would ever actually finish it, but I finally have, and it has now been published by Stone Guild Publishing!

ThePath_Cover_Mockup_1024I appreciate all of the kind words and support that everyone has given me over the years, and I am very excited to finally be able to present this book.

From the Back Cover:

Jason E. Marshall is a practicing attorney in Oklahoma, where he lives with his wife and children. Jason holds a B.A. in Political Science, with an emphasis in International Relations and Cultural Studies, as well as a Juris Doctorate. Jason became interested in the study of comparative religion during his undergraduate studies, after undergoing a truly transformational experience during an introductory comparative religion course. After his initial transformational experience, Jason undertook a personal journey to learn more about the various religions of the world in order to gain a better understanding of the ties that unite humanity, as well as his own true nature, and ultimately God. What began as personal notes from his studies and journeys became the genesis of this book.

Rather than the normal dry recitation of facts that highlight the differences among the world religions, in The Path, Jason explores the seven major religions of the world in order to highlight the ties that should unite, rather divide, humanity. Jason also shows how the teachings and insights from the various world religions can be applied to anyone’s journey of personal and spiritual development, regardless of one’s particular path or spiritual background.

In order to kick this book off, I am going to have a contest where I will give away two (2) free signed copies via random drawing on September 30, 2013. This is how it will work. Every “Like” on the blog will get one (1) entry, and every “share” will get three (3) entries.

There will also be a Facebook page contest with similar rules (Yes you can enter both contests). Please visit the Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/ThePathBook

To purchase the book please visit Amazon.com: or simply click the book cover below!

Your Amazing Worth

March 25, 2013 2 comments

This is my twenty-fifth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason loves a good fire!

My son Jason loves a good fire!

Y= Your Amazing Worth: I’ve mentioned in several previous posts that most suffering is caused by ignorance and attachment. I also believe that suffering is caused when we don’t realize our own amazing worth. Now as a point of clarification, when I refer to “suffering”, I’m not necessarily only talking about mental anguish, I’m also referring to general unhappiness, the nagging feeling of being unsatisfied, or anything that gets in your way of being truly happy.

When we don’t realize our self-worth, we naturally search for happiness from external sources. Seeking happiness from external sources is guaranteed to constantly fail and lead to disappointment, because no one will ever be the perfect friend or the perfect partner, no job will always be perfect, possessions will eventually break or go out of style, etc. Therefore, when your happiness or feelings of well-being are tied to external sources you are setting yourself up for a vicious cycle of disappointment.

This is why the Buddha, in his Four Noble Truths, taught that suffering is caused by attachment (craving), and that in order to end suffering (dukkha), one must end attachments to material possessions and the external world in general. This is also why Jesus taught to reject materialism (Matthew 6:19), and that one cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), you must choose to love God (and your true-self), or money (materialism), you cannot do both.

Every human being is an amazing creature, our bodies are made up of stardust, and we are animated by the divine spark of life from the Creator. The divine spark of life is what unites us with the Creator, and the rest of creation. We are each more precious than any gem, precious metal, or possession in the world. When we realize this fact, the draw of materialism begins to fall away, and the stresses and bumps in the road of life don’t appear to be so drastic.

Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being.” – Rumi

In order to be truly happy, we must learn our true value, and live life to the fullest, live in the now, so that we can fully utilize all that is the mystery, the wonderful experience, of life. Read more…

Reintegrating With Our True-Self

October 1, 2012 5 comments

This is my eighteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/2852672177/

R= Reintegrating With Our True-Self: In Psychology reintegration involves the unification of the various subparts of the psyche into a balanced and harmonious state. According to most psychological models, the human psyche is composed of various conscious and unconscious subparts, all of which fight for control of our conscious awareness. If these various subparts are not explored and reintegrated into a balanced state, various forms of psychosis may result.

The Swiss psychologist Dr. Carl Jung (1875-1961), who founded the field of analytical psychology, believed that reintegration, which he referred to as “Individuation“, was an absolutely necessary process for every human being. According to Dr. Jung, we are each born with a sense of wholeness, or completeness; however, as we grow out of childhood, our sense of wholeness is lost, due to various repressed memories, life events, societal expectations, etc. Therefore, for Jung, the process of Individuation (reintegration), involved exploring, correcting, and unifying the various subparts of the psyche, so that we can regain our sense of wholeness, which is our true-self.

While the science of psychology is a relatively new field, the various religions and spiritual traditions have long dealt with the process of reintegration. Most of the world religions, especially the Abrahamic religions, have a creation story that involves a peaceful beginning at the dawn of creation; however, each of these stories also involves a story regarding the fall of man. In the Abrahamic religions, there is the story of Adam and Eve, who originally dwelt in the Garden of Eden; however, after eating the forbidden fruit of knowledge, they were cast out of the garden by God. The creation myths closely mirror Dr. Jung’s theory, where we are each born with a sense of wholeness, which is basically a psychological garden of Eden; however, as we grow and develop we are cast out of the proverbial garden, and separation occurs. Read more…

Grace in Everyday Life


This is my seventh post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason II, (c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2011

G= Grace in Everyday Life: Grace is a term that I often heard in Sunday School and church services growing up. I would hear people discuss the grace of Jesus, or the grace of God, or how by the grace of Jesus/God we could be saved from our sins. However, I never really understood the concept of grace, until I began undertaking my own spiritual path outside of mainstream Christianity. During my journey, I have come to understand grace as the mysterious power and energy that lies just beyond the veil of our consciousness, which gives energy, order, and direction to the material and spiritual worlds (which is basically the concept of the Tao, in Taoism). I believe grace is the loving energy of the creator, no matter what name you call him/her/it by, and it surrounds each of us at all times. Grace flows like a river through our lives, and shows itself through the beauty of nature, as well as in our intuitions, insights, and the countless miracles that surround each of us in our daily lives, including the miracle of life itself. Most importantly, grace provides us with a pathway between the material and spiritual worlds.

A key to living in the now, is balancing our life with, and tuning into, the grace that surrounds us at all times. Grace is the calm serenity of meditation, the warm fuzzies experienced when we help someone in need, the spine tingling energy of intuitions and insights, and the energy that interconnects each of us. Read more…

Compassionate Character Development


This is my third post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

C= Compassion: Compassion is best defined as empathetic action, where one takes steps to understand the cause of another’s suffering, and then undertake action to ease the suffering, and hopefully prevent whatever problem or issue caused the suffering from occurring again in the future. Every religion, from Jesus’ Beatitudes and teachings on charity, to Islam’s Zakāt pillar of faith, to Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, teaches that developing a compassionate character is essential for anyone wishing to live a happy and fulfilled life. The reason that every religion promotes compassion, is because it is an essential ingredient for not only your own happiness, but the happiness of others.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

Compassion naturally develops internal and external happiness, because compassion allows you to reflect your positive values and wisdom out into the world at large in order to make the world a better place. On an internal level, compassionately helping others naturally makes us feel good and raises our level of awareness. On an external level, compassion should be used to help alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings, which naturally makes those around us and the world at large happier. Also, as those around you become happier through your compassionate acts, they will naturally reflect your acts of kindness back to you, in the same way that ripples in a pond eventually return to their source.

Read more…

Discovering Wisdom Through Practice


Guthrie SR Atrium – Photo by Matthew D. Anthony (c) 2012

We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we must come at last to regard the world.” – Marcel Proust

During this past weekend I had the supreme pleasure of enjoying a four day Scottish Rite Reunion in Guthrie, Oklahoma. For those that aren’t familiar with the Scottish Rite, it is a Masonic organization that confers the 4th through the 33rd degrees of the Masonic system. The degrees of the Scottish Rite basically provide a collegiate level course on comparative religion, philosophical and moral thought, ethics, and most importantly (for me at least) inner development.

I am supremely fortunate to be a member of the Guthrie Valley, which not only boasts one of the world’s most beautiful buildings (in my opinion, and in the opinion of many who have been fortunate to visit it), but it is composed of members who truly care about not only their own spiritual path, but facilitating the spiritual paths of others. During the Reunions there are group meditation and education courses, as well as ample opportunities to spend one-on-one time with individual seekers, teachers, and facilitators from almost every spiritual tradition ranging from mainstream Christianity, Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Islam-Sufism, Neo-Paganism, etc., so it is truly a spiritual melting pot that provides a smorgasbord for the spiritual seeker. It also provides people from all spiritual backgrounds, and levels of interest or development with a platform to advance and learn from one another, which unfortunately is a very rare opportunity.

The above quote by Marcel Proust has been stuck in my head for the last month or so, and during this last weekend it really hit home; because, one of the central teachings of the Rite is that its members should actively go out in the world and practice what they have learned in order to take up the struggle against tyranny, oppression, ignorance, and human suffering of all kinds.

Too often people are merely content with “receiving” wisdom, which is  passive, and merely becomes an intellectual exercise, or people are constantly searching for just the right place of worship, teacher, or practice, so they easily fall into a rut, which prevents any real progress. While I firmly believe that every spiritual tradition provides the keys (knowledge) to living a happy and fulfilled life in this realm, and in the next, we must make an effort to discover true wisdom, which can only be had by journeying down the path towards it. The journey towards wisdom not only requires learning (knowledge), but it requires real effort, and actually putting your knowledge into practice. Read more…

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