Friday, September 4, 2015

KNGDV: Symbol of a process. Vet old texts for understanding, not certainty. A challenge to systems.

KNGDV or KNGDU.  This odd combination represents a way of vetting religious systems.  Take an early word form, here the k-n-g-d-v rough phonetic from Genesis 2-18, as one of many from a literal translation the paleo Hebrew.  The shapes used there are not our letters at all, so narrative-builders enter fill-ins and interpretations. Follow the translations down the rabbit hole of meaning. Does KNGDV somehow mean help-meet or is she to be a guide, in front of him.

A.  Since so many old texts did survive, ask why.

What human need is at work in the preserving, copying, puzzling, making up narratives, and ascribing inspiration to be taken on others' faith.

Religious meaning. What is this? When in doubt, sound certain rather than question, say some.

1.  Seeking meaning.

Look for a cogent, respectful discussion of how absolute interpretations do a disservice to faith by faking security.  Do systems fill in to make a narrative that suits the institution, and fibs that the individual's fears and anxieties can be relieved by dogma absorption and supremacism, and denying others rights of decision-making on their own moral ground.  This is the way.

No, it may well not be. The other view: Does more security arise from questioning tradition, interpretations and mores in culture? There may well not be more security, but the state of not knowing at least is normalized, freeing the person from the drive to force others to follow one cultural-religious ideology.

2. Found.

This non-traditional religious-oriented group describes itself as progressive, but that is difficult to define, see there are aspects  of anyone's religious life that are firmly within the traditional circle, retaining designations of the institution, for example, regardless of other movings outside it.
  • John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Newark NJ (retired 2001), lays out an inclusive and accessible approach to theology, for anyone.  An interest is in the parts of texts misused to foster prejudice and violence. the facts that can shed light on all this human ongoing insecurity.  Live with it, positively, and as a bridge and helping hand to others regardless, perhaps.
4.  Premises of Bishop Spong, if I understand them reasonably accurately:  Please correct if wrong.

All humans seek security, but concretized faith positions cannot provide it, and should not distort old texts in order to try.  There is a basic flaw in ideological systems, in that they aim to convince people that they can find identity and security in this life, a very human drive, by adopting a system. And that deprives everyone of the full panoply of human relationship and inquiry needed to help each other, and live broadly moral lives.  Is that so?

5.  Current spur in the news for this issue. See
  •  A county clerk's spiritual life was shaped by a conversion experience with the result that she, in her own conscience, will not allow others to live their lives according to the secular law.  Her ideological system says that allowing same gender marriage is morally wrong, that the Deity requires her and others like her not only to live their own lives accordingly but also to aggressively enforce the institution's interpretation (from the Deity) against anyone outside the group.  Her own conscience, newly awakened, says to deny others their own path. Her security is in her membership ad her adamance based on her sincerely held religious belief. 
5.1  What overall might be the John Spong Response to the Kentucky clerk's conscience dilemma, and our own path:  
  • Source:  a monthly email Q&A accessible through Questions and Answers email about 9/2/2015,  Mailing address:, 4810 Pt. Fosdick Dr. NW, #80Gig Harbor, WA 98335
5.2.  As beings conscious of our selves, danger, the future, and death, humans seek security, to reduce anxiety. Humans seek meaning. Religion is part of the anxiety-reducing and meaning system. People also turn to other substances, addictions, and other sources of even temporary comforts.

5.3. The human condition itself remains chronically insecure and , and no ideological system can bring security without distorting, suppressing, reducing the thought process to controlled level of ongoing dependence. 
5.3.  In order for religion to work effectively  as a security avenue, it must be "ultimately true with no doubts allowed."  Steps are taken to ensure that. For example, enter the (suddenly) infallible Pope (1870, declaration, but made retroactive) (I would add that censorship of other ideas so the belief community is insulated, also serves to remove doubts).
5.4.  That requirement of ultimate truth for the chose system also fosters the drive to compel others to comply.  (It follows that, rather than encouraging inquiry and interacting, the system seeks to add to its own membership, even if other paths emerge through text or events).  Rather than needing to be "born again", goes the idea, we need to "grow up."
5.5.  What is it, then, to identify as a member of a religious group (if that is what is desired) if there is no dogma.  As to Christians (Bishop Spong is one), he says:
"To live with integrity in a radically insecure world is, I believe, the meaning of the Christian life."   John Shelby Spong, see site
So, he continues, truth is not possessed, but is a goal for walking toward. Forcing conversions repels more than attracts, a sign of decline.  Spong, above. "Whether a new stage of religious maturity is being born to take its place is not quite as clear. That, however, is where the future of Christianity lies."

6.  KNGDV finds a kindred spirit in Bishop Spong.  There is pleasure in looking things up, finding Aha moments, but those will never change others' minds -- ever.  That is not the goal. Rather, KNGDV here is dedicated to the walk forward, the larger understanding of why we distort as we do.

B.  Broader secular epiphany.

 James Joyce and Epiphany. How awareness unfolds.  See Considerations, and with warmth extended to the Kentucky clerk, a fellow
  • Consider the risks of vetting. Rather than add to the security offered by fixed systems, this vetting instead suggests that anxiety about meaning is to be lived with, as a normal, there are no absolute answers.  Texts that religious systems include-omit-interpret may well not match, even nearly, the old roots.
To balance the risks of vetting, ask about the risks of dogma adoption.  Do the certain institutions instead serve the survival needs of the institution, or the individual to attain some sense of security in this life. Does it matter, so long as enough other individuals seek understanding and perspective on their own. So, down the rabbit hole. Membership, adamance, dogma: do those bring security or merely delay.

7.  Start:  Take any verse, portion of any scriptural text, and vet. Prepare for surprises, and resistance by firm system believers to the possibility of taint, cultural self-serving, in the interpretations. 
  • Kentucky clerk, I think you would find the process of vetting your belief about same-gender deity approval or not to be safe, if you have like-minded friends interested in arguments counter-arguments. Certainty: No one verse will establish that.  
  • Skip labels like progressive. Think Progress. A constructive way of looking at tradition, and moving forward with and from it, using thinking, texts and ideology as a vetting opportunity.
And perhaps look up approachable Bishop Spong.  His ideas may be a war alternate place to consider our common walk, if your system allows. Conscience may be religious culture, the result of persuasion, not deity attention. Perhaps. How to know. Uncertainty.

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