Saturday, June 09, 2007

No soup for you!

Mr. Possum's parents came to stay with us for eight days, so if I'm not quick to respond... you know where I am. Entertaining. ;o)

Today, though, I sent the possums, Mr. Possums, and the grandpossums, to Murray Farms to pick some fruits and veggies. They've been gone for two hours, so I expect they found said fruits and veggies. In the mean time, I'm using last weeks spoils to make potato-leek-shallot soup for P#3 (The Soup Nazi). This is the child who will turn his nose up at Cambell's because, well, it's cheap and beneath him (or something). He has a worldly palate' and I see nothing wrong with that...except for the fact that I have to make soup when it's 100 degrees outside. *sigh* When he's thirty, he better remember this.

Granddad and I had a bit of a squabble two nights ago. Granddad is, for all intents and purposes, a self-labeled mystic. He doesn't believe in organized religion. He doesn't believe in labelling God. He doesn't believe in heaven or hell. But, he calls himself a "Christian" and proclaims that there is "something out there". We started talking about Jesus; he arguing for the existence of, me arguing that any existence is historically questionable and most likely inaccurate. It went downhill from there... he actually threw the "well, if there's nothing bigger than ourselves, then life is pointless" argument at me and I was shocked. I rapidly told him that I couldn't disagree more and was surprised that he would say that. He said, "I guess we're just on different pages, then." Um. Yeah. I guess. Anyway... now the air is a bit tense. I just don't understand his position and he's not able to clarify what he means by "mystics". Anyone have a clue?


Zeolite said...

This sounds very much like the arguments I have with my father!

Fiery Ewok said...

"Mystic" sounds to me like the label he has given for the fact that he wants there to be something out there; he feels that it is out there and therefore it must be out there.

Have you ever written anything about why life is more precious when this is all there is?

Sometimes when you give a person something written down, they can ponder it in private without the intensity of a one-on-one conversation- which can feel like a confrontation.

Just a thought.

Good luck! That is a conversation I have yet to have with my Dad. I am not looking forwarde to it.

Annie Mahoney said...

The way I understand it, mystics are looking for some sort of direct relationship or union with god/the divine. This may be why they sometimes reject organized religion; they don't see the need for intermediaries.

There is a strong tradition of mysticism in most major religions. So you get Christian mysticism, Jewish mysticism, Hindu mysticism, and so on.

Trust and Truth said...

I always think of mystics as being new age and earthy types, hippies or wiccans, that sort of thing. I think a large number of my Christian family would be offended to be referred to as mystics, so I think it's kind off odd that he would call himself one. I was always under the impression that mystics sought power/magic/god within themselves rather than an outside source.

On the other hand, mystics always reminds me of The Dark Crystal. So if he is a Mystic, you must be a Skeksis. Heal the crystal and all will be well!

Zendruid said...

Mystic...I think I know, or "gno", where he's coming from.

I call myself Christian as well, though I had shunned the bible at the age of six. I like to think that I grokked its poisons quite clearly, and made a wise decision.

Only recently did I encounter old Coptic scripture that was rediscovered in 1945, and found that it fits quite well with my idea of Christian belief, which I can now confidently label as Gnostic.

A basic Gnostic precept is that every soul has a natal link to the great spirit...which, as Brahman, is above all categorization or description, and the "mystic" generally understands that no name can do it justice.

To call oneself a Christian in this situation is to recognize the Christos as the living human face of the great spirit. It follows that other creatures would have their own Christoi, depending of course upon the complexity of their central nervous systems, etc. Call it instinct, call it predisposition, call it "the living book of life" that the Christos writes uniquely to every living psyche.

Jesus the Nazarene? Excluding the obvious myths in his legend, there's no reason why he did not exist and teach of the Christos as Socrates essentially did in his time...was Zoroaster caught up in the same transcendent mythos? How many others genuinely carried, for lack of a better term, the Christos? I get positive vibes from Buddha and Rene Descartes and Jiddu Krishnamurti, as well as Mencius and our own Thomas Jefferson.

I understand that Jefferson tried to distill the valuable truths from the bible, discarding the BS...and finishing with a very small book. He tried his best, given the available scripture. I have the notion he would have been very pleased, as I am, with the Nag Hammadi library. As a good example, the Apocryphon of John pretty much blows that "silly little god" of Abraham out of the water. In Christ's own words.

A mystic is one who accepts the existence of a sublime link, either to other creatures via the "aura" and like concepts, or to the greater ubiquitous essence. I treat my experiences in this realm as elaborate dreams that...usually...leave a positive psychic residue.

That's my blathering two cents, anyway. Here's hoping it makes some sense.

fubarmonkey said...

I think it just comes down to wishful thinking. Your father in law has probably come to the conclusion that organized religion and fanaticism is dangerous, but he hasn't quite grasped the idea of death and nonexistence. So while he may discard the dogma and the dubious power of the church, he still wants there to be a god for the sake of his (and presumably everyone he cares about) consciousness.

I don't think anything is particularly wrong with that. I would love not to die someday and I think most people, with the exception of fatalists, would agree, no matter how militant they are with their atheism and skepticism.

melyssa. said...

Could be a guilt thing. Perhaps he feels a little bad not being 'completely Christian' but he also doesn't want to give himself the stigma of 'atheist'.

Maybe he's caught in the middle of everything.

Or maybe it's possible that you can be any hybrid of religion you want to be.

Does believing in karma mean you're not an atheist?


Zeolite said...

Fubarmonkey - I agree, and well stated

Paul said...

[silentsanta, NZ]

ZenDruid: I like how you submit your beliefs in a non-confrontational style. Unfortunately you made all too much sense; your beliefs, while diametrically opposed to those of 'mainstream' Christianity appear to be founded in, and crippled by, exactly the same shortcoming. More specifically, the attitude "Oh hey here is some fairly arbitrary text that really resonates with me and makes me feel warm and fuzzy."
It takes a curious sort of doublethink to evaluate competing worldviews on universal truths in this manner, while still demanding evidence for far more menial claims, such as the claim that the contents of your wallet and bank account actually belong to me.

p-momma: You've probably noticed that, like the ID-freaks, mystics almost habitually avoid defining what it is they actually believe. Because they don't generally make claims any more specific than 'there's something out there', there's not a lot that you can do. However that's not the end of the world, because agreeing-to-disagree with a mystic doesn't usually have the same negative consequences as it would with a christian; He's unlikely to pack your kids off to bible camp when you're not looking, or do anything else subversive the way that some christians feel they're entitled to.

Chakolate said...

Be gentle with him. He's come as far as rejecting the hypocrisy of organized religion, and he may never be able to accept that there's nothing after death. He's closer to death than you are (although he's probably got a few decades in him still) and it's a bit scarier from there. I know, I'm 55.

You might ask him how he thinks he'll be in this afterlife. Since all our memories, thoughts, emotions, learning, everything, is all encoded in our wetware which will rot along with the rest of our bodies, what will he be? And what will he experience it with? His senses will be in the grave along with the wetware.

Kevin said...

He's closer to death than you are
I wouldn't lay money on that if I were you. You guys do realize that P-momma is seriously ill, do you not? I think that's partly why people are mystified (for lack of a better term) when it emerges that she is an atheist.

Jacob said...

I hate the "we're pointless without god" argument. It implies that we're not actually intelligent human beings who are capable of assigning our own meaning. This, I think, is one the many follies of religion; it vastly underestimates the power of people to make their own decisions and make them confidently.

Sean the Blogonaut said...


Depends on hwt you mean by Karma.


I don't know that he has thought too much about it. Probably reticent to throw off the last shackles of his early conditioning.

Shar said...

It's hard to say what he means by "mystics." Much like pagan, it's a term that is used by a lot of people to mean a lot of different things. It has been used by sects of organized religions and by pagans to usually mean something akin to a personal journey to spirituality and the divine, from my understanding, which is, admittedly, rather limited.

In his case, it is probably an adaptation of Christian beliefs. He has likely taken what he likes and believes to be true and made his own set of beliefs, which I am sure you have already gathered.

The most difficult part is that it isn't something you can just look up, as he isn't likely practicing a traditional form of Christian mysticism.

If he won't explain his self-made beliefs, all you can do is keep track of the things he says about it and try to piece it together yourself. =/ Good luck, as religious tension is never a fun addition to the household.

Zendruid said...

Paul, thank you for your honest assessment. I'd like to add a few quick points:

That particular scripture simply validates my own Weltanschauung. I don't use it as a crutch, but I think you'd agree that the text I mentioned is a good counter-thrust to the Bible's from the same era and the same people, after all.

My homemade philosophy is ultimately my own compass. I can indeed call myself an atheist, as I believe that godhead, doctrine based on dead scripture, churches and preachers are all distractions, or worse, impediments to an individual's personal growth.

Yet, subjectively, I am continually reminded that there is indeed Something Out There. Nobody has ever provided solid empirical proof, and I doubt if anybody ever will. I certainly can't. But it sure keeps the poets busy. ;)

I speculate that this 'mystical' sense that some of us exercise, is an integral member of the broader group of human instincts. As with any category of behavior, it encompasses a whole range of expression (to use sexuality as an example, we can find our own personal level to be anywhere between celibate and love-machine).

It should be used as a conduit for human understanding, not some sort of magical power trip.

Origins? We'll never know the actual factual reality of it. Afterlife? We need to die first, to find out anything...or nothing.

Life goes on, may we all make the best of it.

lynn's daughter said...

It's pretty uncomfortable and scary for people to imagine a universe in which nothing is being directed or plan. If that is the case, then that would mean that suffering of children and innocents is meaningless and to no good end. It would alsom place us in a position of resonsibility to ease suffering when we see it, which is overwheming for most.

lynn's daughter said...

I would like to apologize for the insane typos in the previous post! A monkey was leaping around on my keyboard, and distracting me...

mom2boys said...

Have you ever written anything about why life is more precious when this is all there is?

hey I have -- and I just posted it on my brand new blog. I think you can link from my name????? I think everyone should write something like this at one time or another.

Deoridhe said...

Many mystics like myself have felt a lifelong connection with something external and non-corporeal. I have it on good authority that my mysticism predates my memory; I was exhibiting a desire for and connection with the divine, then immanent within the churches she took me too (she was agnostic at the time, as she continues to be now). Mystics usually also have experiences - visions, for example - which bolster their beliefs.

I have no idea if his feelings and experiences are similar, but from comparing notes with other mystics, those seem to be the high points.

LCR said...

I have to agree with a prior comment that, given his age, he is likely to be set in his ways and it could be very difficult for him to re-think his world view at this stage of the game. Its got him through life just fine to this point.

However, I would be curious as to his response to this particular question. IF the topic ever comes up again and he makes that "life must be pointless" comment, point to his grandchildren and ask if THEY would be pointless to him, with our without a god. If he suddenly learned tomorrow, without a doubt, that there was no god, would he turn his back on his grandchildren because life was pointless?

Personally, children give my life a purpose, a "point", in a way some god could NEVER do...

Margaret said...

It's pretty uncomfortable and scary for people to imagine a universe in which nothing is being directed or plan. If that is the case, then that would mean that suffering of children and innocents is meaningless and to no good end.

No, that's not what's scary. The truly terrifying thought would be to look around at all the suffering in the world and think that there is some powerful thing out there planning and causing each and every bit of that suffering. To think that we are the helpless playthings of some cruel, demented being like the god of the Old Testament would be terrifying.

Margaret said...

I just don't understand his position and he's not able to clarify what he means by "mystics". Anyone have a clue?

He might mean the same thing as the usual "spiritual, but not religious" attitude of wishful thinking that there's "something out there." See Doggerel #9: Spiritual.