Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm Losing (And Finding) My Religion - Again

When I was a young boy my mom sent me off to Sunday School. I remember that church attendance in my parent's home was mostly limited to special occasions; Christmas, Easter, and funerals. That is not to say that my parents weren't spiritual or even religious in their own way, but it was a bit out of the ordinary to be sent off to Sunday School with my little sister that bright Sunday morning.

I don't recall exactly what the Sunday School teacher said one day, but I do remember thinking to myself that it was totally unscientific, even impossible. Science was my world, and even though I was only nine years old, I realized that there was a gulf between modern science and literalistic religious dogma - so I quit going to Sunday School.

At the beginning of the Jesus People Movement I returned to that church and was swept up in the excitement and comfort of finding a deeper meaning to life, especially during a time when the whole nation and my personal life was in turmoil.

To fully embrace my new found faith I was faced with a choice... Accept a literal reading of the six day Creation Story in the Bible and the popular evangelical thought that the earth was only about six thousand (6,000) years old, or believe that the earth was about four-and-a-half billion (4,500,000,000) years old as I had been taught in the public school system.

My dilemma was that if the first few verses of the Bible were not correct how was I to believe the sixty-six books that followed? So, knowing God to be a higher authority than the Los Angeles Unified School District, I chose the suspension of all scientific thought. I believed that the geologists and astrophysicists were wrong, that they simply had too many zeros in their calculations.

I spent the next forty years as a student of the Bible until 2009 when my dad passed away. My dad's passing triggered within me what I called a mid-faith crisis. I questioned everything, but mostly I questioned the gulf between modern science (which I loved but had abandoned forty years earlier) and ultra conservative fundamentalist Christianity.

I read everything I could find on the Young Earth vs. Old Earth debate, and as most debates go there are good arguments on both sides. With my personal leanings heading towards an Old Earth point of view, I began seeking out how to reconcile my Christian faith and current scientific understanding of the universe.

In my search for reconciliation I came across the book Thank God for Evolution by Rev. Michael Dowd. Michael Dowd makes the statement that "Facts are God's native tongue" and that "The discovery of facts through science is one very powerful way to encounter God directly." Rev. Dowd's book has revolutionized my faith and revitalized my love of science.

I have come to believe that Scriptures proclaiming a six day creation story, given at a time when scientific knowledge was limited to a flat earth perspective, were an acceptable explanation for the origin of the universe for that time. With our current scientific understanding of the cosmos, the six day creation story serves us best as a mythic account intended for a time when scientific knowledge was limited. How could the ancients have known about super novas, black holes, or plate tectonics? How else could they explain the creation of the earth but in the terms we find in the Genesis account?

My rejection of a literal interpretation of the six day creation story is not a rejection of the inspiration of the Bible, but rather a new understanding of the creation story as inspired for a particular time. It is a beautiful metaphor for a Creator who lovingly provided for His creation all of the essential life giving elements of a complex and interdependent world.

With the return of my love for science I feel like I have been born again. I feel as if I have been cured, if you will, of schizophrenia. The marriage of faith and science in such a way as to be intellectually honest and at the same time true to my Christian faith has liberated me from a sense of denial. I am no longer in denial of scientific facts or in denial of my personal experiential spirituality. I am free from having to be an apologist for fundamentalist beliefs and free from having to explaining away scientific observations about the universe as lies of the Devil.

I know that God is real, and I know that the earth was created 4.5 billion years ago. These two are not mutually exclusive nor does one invalidate the other. There is a richness in my faith now that is derived from acknowledging the complex majesty and deep time age of the universe that was lacking in my past due to a narrow literal reading of the first chapter of Genesis.

"It is this mythical, or rather this symbolic, content of the religious traditions which is likely to come into conflict with science. This occurs whenever this religious stock of ideas contains dogmatically fixed statements on subjects which belong in the domain of science. Thus, it is of vital importance for the preservation of true religion that such conflicts be avoided when they arise from subjects which, in fact, are not really essential for the pursuance of the religious aims." ~Albert Einstein

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Has The Peace Sign Become Just A Fashion Accessory?

The peace sign is trendy again, and it is being merchandised just the same way hippie fashions were in the '60s and '70s. It is everywhere these days, on hats, t-shirts, handbags, shoes - you name it, the peace sign is on it!

Will the over saturation of the peace sign by the fashion industry dilute the message?

Will the peace sign lose its meaning and become nothing more than a fashion accessory?

Will the original message be lost on this generation, much the same way the cross has become more of a fashion statement and less of a proclamation of one's faith?

I have to admit that seeing the peace sign everywhere provides me hope that another generation has taken up the cause and that the message of peace and nuclear disarmament remains relevant.

"...Seek peace and pursue it!"
Psalm 34:14

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Photo: Peace sign I spotted on the side of a barn on the road to Nojoqui Falls Park near Solvang, CA.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hippie-English Dictionary

Just for fun I thought that I would post the Online Hippie-English Dictionary by Gamma Ray and Satellite. These guys were like a christian version of Cheech and Chong. I don't know where they are right now, their web site Gamma Ray and Satellite disappeared a few years ago, but I am sure they are up to some sort of cosmic christian fun.

Here is what Gamma Ray and Satellite had to say about themselves:

Gamma Ray and Satellite, The World's Most Lovable Hippies

Turn On to Jesus, Tune Out all the noise,
Drop Out of your sinful life, Experience his joy!

We are refugees from the 1960s. Hair, clothing, music styles, and language have passed us by in the last several decades, but our message never goes out of style. It's true for all generations, man. Surf with us a while, and dig our cool music, comedy, and philosophy of life and eternity.

Note: While many hippie words are derived from drug use, their inclusion here does not constitute endorsement of illegal drugs. Please note that Gamma Ray and Satellite are now drug-free and do not condone recreational drug use. Dig?

So here is Gamma Ray and Satellite's Online Hippie-English Dictionary...

acid (n) LSD, a narcotic drug popular among hippies. see psychedelic, bad trip.
Afro (n) haircut popular among African-Americans during 1960's and '70's.
Aquarian (adj.) we're not sure exactly what this means, but it has something to do with the "Age of Aquarius" and the musical Hair.
bad scene (n) a bad situation. see scene.
bad trip (n) originally described a bad experience using drugs, characterized by frightening hallucinations. Can be used to describe any bad experience.
bag (n) one's main interest or purpose in life.
black light (n) a decorative light, dark blue in color to the human eye, which makes objects or artwork in flourescent colors appear to glow.
blow your mind (v) to have an enlightening or illuminating experience.
bread (n) money.
bummer (n) bad experience.
bust (v) to arrest someone, (n) an arrest.
cat (n) a person. derived from beatnik language of the 1950's.
chick (n) a girl or woman.
commune (n) an community of people who share possessions, living accommodations, and work (or lack thereof). Usually encompasses a farm and other fashionable industries.
crash (v) to sleep, rest, or do nothing.
crash pad (n) a place where one sleeps, rests, or does nothing.
dig (v) like, enjoy, be interested in.
drag (n) an unfavorable situation or state of affairs.
dude (n) person, usually male.
establishment, the (n) traditional business and government institutions, believed to stand in the way of human progress. see "system, the."
far out (adj) very interesting, good. Also an exclamation.
free love (n) love without expectations or commitment.
fuzz (n) police.
get it on (n) successfully interact with others.
groove (v) enjoy, achieve proficiency at. see "groovy."
groovy (adj) good, interesting, enjoyable.
hang out (v) to be some place, usually doing nothing, with no purpose.
hang-up (n) inhibition, usually due to morals, beliefs, or culture.
happening (adj) exciting, new, good.
heavy (adj) thought-provoking.
hippie (n) [still searching for a definition here]. hip (adj) knowledgeable of, or consistent with, the latest trends and ideas.
Iron Butterfly (n) a rock band which had one popular song, "Inna Gadda Da Vida."
lava lamp (n) a cylindrical glass container filled a semi-solid viscous material which breaks apart and forms globules while floating in a clear fluid.
like (?) word used to fill up space in an utterance when the speaker is unable to think of a suitable adjective to describe something. Use of this word has also been adopted by adjective-challenged subcultures of more recent generations.
love beads (n) colorful beads worn around the neck to symbolize love.
man (interjection) used as an exclamation to draw attention to one's utterance. related phrase: "hey, man."
mood ring (n) a ring worn on the finger which contains a large stone, the color of which is supposed to indicate the wearer's emotional mood. Mood rings were a fad in the mid-1970's.
oh wow (interjection) exclamation uttered in response to new, thought-provoking, or exciting information.
out of sight (adj) excellent, outstanding. Often used as an exclamation.
pad (n) living accommodation--house or apartment.
peace (n) absence of war. To see a peace sign, click here.
psychedelic (adj) of or related to a mental state characterized by a profound sense of intensified sensory perception, sometimes accompanied by severe perceptual distortion, hallucinations, or extreme feelings of euphoria or despair. see acid.
rap (v,n) to talk, conversation. More recently used to name a category of music where words are spoken, rather than sung.
San Francisco (n) worldwide center of hippie activity and general weirdness.
scene (n) place, situation, or circumstances.
sock it to me (phrase) let me have it.
spaced out (adj) dazed, not alert.
split (v) to leave, depart.
square (adj) old-fashioned, not aware of new thinking and customs. (n) one who is square.
system, the (n) the system of laws, governance, and justice. see "establishment, the".
tie dye (v) a method of coloring clothing where the article of clothing is tied in knots, then dying it to produce an abstract pattern. (n) an article of clothing dyed in this manner.
trip (n) an unusual experience. (v) to have an unusual experience.
turn on (v) to become enlightened to new ways of thinking or experiencing reality.
uptight (adj) concerned about maintaining set ways of thinking and doing things.
Was that a cool trip? Can you say flashback?

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Gadget - July 16, 1945

Sixty-six years ago today in the Jornada del Muerto Desert basin of New Mexico the first atomic bomb, code named "The Gadget", was detonated marking the beginning of the Atomic Age. In a flash of blinding light the genie had been let out of the bottle! Just weeks later atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. More bombs were being readied to be used if Japan didn't immediately capitulate. The afternoon of August 15, 1945 Japan announced its surrender.

It is a measure of arrogance to assert that a nuclear weapons-free world is impossible when 95% of the nations of the world are already nuclear-free. I think that the vast majority of people on the face of this earth will endorse the proposition that nuclear weapons have no place among us. There is no security in nuclear weapons. It is a fool’s game.”
~General Lee Butler, head of US Strategic Nuclear Forces 1991-1994

"...for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."
~Jesus the Christ (Matthew 26:52)

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Fourth of July in Santa Barbara

On the Fourth of July I took the family to Santa Barbara to watch the fireworks show on the beach. We had a front row seat with an unobstructed view from our hotel balcony... we hadn't been that close to a fireworks show in years. The Fourth also happens to be my beautiful Bride's birthday, so it is always a party on a national scale. I felt so bad for my wife, I had planned on taking her out for an expensive dinner on her birthday at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay, but I came down with food poisoning and she had to eat microwave macaroni and cheese in the hotel room.

The whole vacation wasn't a total loss, I did recover enough to have some fun the next two days and take in some of the sights that are unique to Santa Barbara. We rode bikes along the waterfront, went to the zoo and fed the giraffes, and we explored the marine center on the wharf where we were able to pet stingrays and starfish.

While we were down by the waterfront we came across One Feather and his "original hippie van"... this guy was a total trip-and-a-half!

Check out this story about One Feather:

A Hippie and His Van: They’re a Piece of Work, Man

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Great American Novel

I know I posted this before, this time I added a video of Larry Norman...

by Larry Norman

I was born and raised an orphan
in a land that once was free
in a land that poured its love out on the moon
and I grew up in the shadows
of your silos filled with grain
but you never helped to fill my empty spoon

And when I was ten you murdered law
with courtroom politics
and you learned to make a lie sound just like truth
but I know you better now
and I don't fall for all your tricks
and you've lost the one advantage of my youth

You kill a black man at midnight
just for talking to your daughter
then you make his wife your mistress
and you leave her without water
and the sheet you wear upon your face
is the sheet your children sleep on
at every meal you say a prayer
you don't believe but still you keep on

And your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the Russians to the moon
and I say you starved your children to do it

You are far across the ocean
in a war that is not your own
and while you're winning theirs
you're gonna lose the one at home
do you really think the only way
to bring about the peace
is to sacrifice your children
and kill all your enemies

The politicians all make speeches
while the news men all take notes
and they exaggerate the issues
as they shove them down our throats
is it really up to them whether
this country sinks or floats
well I wonder who would lead us
if none of us would vote

Well my phone is tapped
and my lips are chapped
from whispering through the fence
you know every move I make
or is that just coincidence
will you try to make my way of life
a little less like jail
if I promise to make tapes and slides
and send them through the mail

And your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the Russians to the moon
and I say you starved your children to do it

You say all men are equal all men are brothers
then why are the rich more equal than others
don't ask me for the answers I've only got one
that a man leaves his darkness
when he follows the Son

Peace, Love, and Light!
Kevin (Cloud)