Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Bit of Religious History According to Charmaine

In the last post, I was going to talk a little bit about religious history and similarities between major religions today, but it just didn't seem to flow well with the other things that I was saying.  But, then Shelly B. asked me a question about it, so I thought I would just do another post with my opinions and beliefs regarding that subject.  And while this may turn out to be just a conversation with myself - and Shelly too hopefully - I would really love to hear what everyone else thinks also.

I know a little about pagan traditions, but I never took a class on it or anything - what I know is just from studying other things - like knowledge through osmosis I guess.  But, I truly believe that all major religions today are derived from one ancient religion. The religion that was taught to Adam and Eve. Then through oral and written tradition, the stories and values were passed down from generation to generation. Men like Muhammad and Buddha could have been inspired and I bet they were. But mostly, they took those oral and written traditions and used what they needed to to lead and guide their people - even adding to it.  And after Christ came to earth and taught (what I believe to be) the truth in it's entirety, the whole process started over again and so we have the many different denominations of Christianity. Even paganism had to take it beliefs and practices from somewhere. It just seems logical that they, again like so many others, took some of those oral and written traditions and used the ones to suit their purposes and began a new practice.

Now the rest of this is my personal belief and the religion I adhere to and follow. In 1820, God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to a young man who sought to know which religion to join. When he sought out a quite place, in a grove of trees to pray, he was told by those two Heavenly Beings that none of the religions on Earth at that time held the fullness of truth and that he should join none of them. At that time, the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that same religion taught to and by Adam Eve, began.

Now, as Christ and His religion are INFINITE and ETERNAL, no one person here on earth, being FINITE AND TEMPORAL, can know all truth or understand the fullness of Christ's gospel, but God gives us what we can handle and what we need to be the very best we can. He has given us ancient scripture and prophets to help us and even prophets today to help us on our way. But these are all human people, being imperfect. So, that's why personal revelation and study is so important. We need to know for ourselves what is right and wrong and what we need to do to live the best life for us. It's personal and unique for each individual. Sure there are some things that will be the same across the board - like not killing people and being nice - but there are also individual commandments and guidelines, as there are also universal and individual blessings.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Faith, Religion, and Ayn Rand

"Now choose to perish or to learn that the anti-mind is the anti-life. ...  Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. ...  His mind is given to him, it's content is not.  To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action."
- Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, p.926, 50th Anniversary Edition, Signet Books

A comment from the last post asked me about my new political views and what of their influence on my religious views.  It's an interesting thing.  While my shift in political views and my new found interest in Ayn Rand and her philosophy has changed the way I think about about everything, including my faith and religious beliefs, it hasn't actually changed them.

I've always enjoyed questioning things - especially authority!  It's not that I won't "do what's right" or make good decisions, I just hate being told to.  Just ask my parents.  I was a fun child to raise.  As I've grown up and become more of an adult I found this translated into a love for the more philosophical and more abstract parts of faith and religion.  I say more philosophical and abstract because most faith is just that.  When I finally settled on a course of study in college, it was religious studies with most of my focus in Jewish studies.  I loved finding the similarities between different religions.  I enjoy - no, love - no, thrive - to question faith, not to prove it wrong, but to prove it right.  There is so much of this world, universe and existence that we don't understand and probably can't comprehend.  That's where faith and hope step in.  It excites and even more than that, it thrills me to think that there is more out there.  That life continues after my body dies.  That whatever the part of who I am that continues to exist after my body has grown old and died, the soul, spirit, or intelligence, will continue to learn and grow.  Forever.  I truly believe that I will be able to still explore faith, fact, and beliefs into eternity.  That is how I "act" - I question and in turn learn and grow.  I think the same is true of the "next life."  That if we don't think, we won't survive.

That's what the quote of the top of the page means to me.  That "blind" faith is equivalent to the act of choosing not to think and therefor, not to live.  Mind you this is my own personal belief and standard that I choose to hold only myself to.  For others, "blind" faith during this life is a good and satisfactory existence.  I don't judge - we are each individuals.

And as for how Ayn Rand's philosophies have affected me.  Well, I have found more common ground than not.  And I've been proven right.  Again. 

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Nation of Law Breakers

"The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals.  Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them.  One declares so may things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.  Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens?"
- Dr. Ferris, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, p.404, 50th Anniversary Edition, Signet Books

I never intended this blog to become political.  It was just a place for me to complain.  I'm not an unhappy or unsatisfied person by nature, but every once in awhile one just needs to vent.  And so this was going to be my place to do it.  And you can tell by the sparseness of the posts, that I feel pretty good about my life and my environment.  But then I read a book.  A book that changed the way I thought about everything.  Well, perhaps not.....  yeah, actually EVERYTHING.  (That sounds like this book changed me into an unhappy or unsatisfied person.  It didn't, I am just more aware now.) 

Enter Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  Although it changed the way I thought, I must tell you it did not change my opinions, desires, or values - only the way I thought about them.

Now before I get into my opinions and beliefs, let me tell you that I don't know everything, and I'm not a good debater, at all.  I'm no challenge, so if you are looking to debate something I've said, I'm really sorry, but you won't get much of a debate.  Unfortunately, my mind just doesn't work like that.  I really wish it did though.  And if you really want a debate, I'll try and indulge you, but just know that most likely, I will be going to my hubbie as a resource.  Cause he's a genius.  No question about it, and he always seems to know just the right way to put the thing that I am trying so hard to orate.  And one more thing.  My BIGGEST pet peeve is the person who believes in something and has no idea what it is.  Like the person who I spoke to while I was in college who claimed to be a Christian because she believed in Jesus, but knew nothing about Him.  Mind you I was a religion major and knew more about most people's life long religions than they themselves did.  I almost could not discuss religion with people because I would get so frustrated at people's ignorance in their own faith.  But I digress.  The same principle applies to politics.  There is nothing more irritating and infuriating to me than the person who voted for Obama because "America needs a change."  Or the person who voted for McCain just because they didn't want Obama or Democrats in the White House.  Shoot me now.  Wait, what I meant to say was, shoot them now.  Those are the kinds of people who go to celebrities and those women on The View for political advice and direction.  (Not that there's anything wrong with celebrities or those women on The View.)  And who deserve to be misled my the media.  Whichever way that is.  I'm off topic again though.  So, I may not address all issues within a particular topic - like this one today - but that's because I won't take a stand on something I don't understand or know anything about, and I hope that you will give me the same courtesy.  If not, know that I will make fun of you - a lot.  And the word moron may be used - a lot.  On the flip side, I totally respect and even admire those who have different opinions as I do (as wrong as they may be) as long as they can back them up.  Because you see, opinions are just that.  Opinions, and I can admit that everything is relative.

So, we come back to a nation of law breakers.  I have thought for a long time that drugs should be legalized.  (And have recently added prostitution.)  Bottom line: people are going to do drugs whether they are illegal or not.  If drugs were legal we could be making billions of dollars in taxes, instead of spending trillions - that's right TRILLIONS, for the war on drugs.  Thousands of lives could be saved every year from the law enforcers to the innocents caught in between.  Even in healthcare.  How many people do you think lie about illegal drug use when giving their medical histories?  The money saved and made could go to better health care and programs for addicts and their families or victims of addicts.  This is one of those things that is just like "Duh..." for me.  I mean I don't see how this doesn't make sense.  Have we learned nothing from prohibition?

And did you know that more people are killed by alcohol and tobacco each year than cocaine, heroine, and marijuana combined?  The the tune of more than a half a million people.  That's right.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse around 520,000 people are killed each year from tobacco, alcohol, and sidestream smoke from tobacco.  Whereas cocaine kills about 2,200, heroine about 2,000, and marijuana 0 - that's ZERO.  There has never been a recorded death due to marijuana in all of US history.   Aspirin kills around 2,000 people every year, but marijuana?  None.  Perhaps we should add Aspirin to our list of illegal narcotics.

And prostitution is kind of the same thing.  The government could be taxing these people if they were legitimate.  Professional and legitimate prostitutes could also be getting healthcare and other benefits - like regular STD tests or whatever.

I want you to know that I don't condone or participate in any of these practices.  I only think that everyone should be able to choose that for themselves - not have it forced upon them.  Government's primary purpose should be to protect it's people.  That includes their right to choose.

There.  I've said my peace.  Amen.

But I'm not done.  Look for a whole series of political opinion posts inspired by quotes from Atlas Shrugged.  And even a light book review of Atlas Shrugged.   And feel free to ask me any questions.  Not that you all want to know anything about me, or any of my opinions, honestly, they aren't worth a whole lot and they probably aren't very original, but I just want it out there that I welcome questions and comments.  At the risk of sounding like my least favorite political female you should know that I really do want this to be conversation.

PS - Here are some of my resources.  Although I recognize that there are resources out there that could refute or backup any of my resources.  That's just the way research, trials and surveys work.