How to start discussion. Contructive critism? When in spiritual matters do we consider critism constructive. A poison out there in many traditions (new and old) that I see is the idea of 'MINE', i.e my Faith, my religion, my race, my... and deeply concerning to me is the confusion of race and religion in the backdrop of identity - National and personal. As an example of this many people identify my temple as Japanese and Asian just because they assume so, and Asians are often dismissive of the 'White' temple when they find out that there are non-Asians in the temple and the head monk is so too. How do we tackle the temples, churches, etc. which promote this? It seems all too ignored for me, wishing to play happy families while division festers.
I'm sure I've explained before that my religious belief is Interfaith and our Church is an Interfaith Church.
Greek is no more a common language in Australia than any other non-English language. I do not currently intend to study linguistics or languages other than my own tongue. I can't see that it serves any great service to either me or our Church though, as you state, it may serve some individuals. Am I then expected to know all languages so I can talk to everyone? That's a bit of a tall ask...
Unlike some churches, we do not exclude the 'isms', they are also belief systems and as such are as welcome as any other belief system. Part of my ministry is to acknowledge that almost all beliefs are valid (suicide cults, to name one belief, are not).
I am not sure where you got the idea that I am an atheist.
I dont think you're an atheist. You didnt read it properly. Neither did I say you should know lots of languages other than english - I just made the point that Greek is not a dead language.
Here are some facts: churches do not 'exclude' people or their ideas. They say [positively] what they DO stand for. [Many individuals exclude themselves from various venues because they feel uncomfortable - e.g.read Becky Goldstein's blog about the Western Wall in Jerusalem] People who are searching/needing help etc will never be purposely excluded/turned away. You say that you tried lots of places, and none of them suited you, but perhaps nowhere would have suited you, at the time. [because of how you were, inside.]
Agnosticism and atheism are 'non-belief'' systems by definition. Those individuals may very well have faith in something eg beauty or human goodness [apart from their atheism] but atheism per se isnt a belief-system, its a denial of someone else's system. Evolution is just information about the physical world [like geology, physics, genetics,] Its a fact - if you dont agree with it, you're nuts! But its not a belief system. You are talking about 'belief'' in both circumstances - as though what you do with academic knowledge [know/believe] is the same as what you do with intuitive 'knowledge' [what you feel , in your heart.]
What I'm saying is - a person's world-view [the way he understands everything around him] is one thing: he may or may not have a faith system in addition to his world-view, but the two are not the same phenomenon.
If an atheist has problems he cant solve/is unhappy with his life, the best [logical] thing to do is to try 'having' faith for a spell [see how it feels] not go to an interfaith church to be comforted. It's the same as going to a weight-loss clinic regularly while eating the same diet: to get sympathy for being overweight, rather than get congratulations for actually losing weight.
I'm sure agnostics and atheists could get enough comfort at the hair-dresser's or the swimming pool or a book club. Why would they need to go to church? [I am waiting for you to explain it to me, but what you do is simply repeat the same phrase "I am interfaith"
As a counsellor I certainly believe that 'all belief-systems are valid' - or more accurately - each person has got to where he is for very good reasons -so how he 'sees' things [now] in his head, is his truth. That applies to everyone - but there must be a better reason than that to bring them to a church. So WHY do they want to go? [Explain please]
An agnostic does not deny the existence of God but holds that we cannot know for certain whether or not God exists as there is no quantifiable proof either way. Some agnostics believe in the existence of God but feel they can not provide a sufficient explanation of what God is. Agnostic essentially means 'without knowledge' and as such identifies that an agnostic person acknowledges that their knowledge of God is somehow lacking.
Atheism, on the other hand, denies the existence of a higher power.
These are belief systems of a sort, but atheism is definitely non-deist and when talking religion, often called a non-belief.
I am not saying these people need a church, simply that they would be welcome. Minority beliefs in Australia, however, often lack representation. By providing a method for them to affiliate with each other may have some merit, however that is less likely under the banner of any single religion than it is under an interfaith banner.
I have added a new discussion to look at interfaith as a religious choice.
You still have not told me what your beliefs ARE - exactly what it IS that you would be offering in your church - which depends on your world-view [what YOU see as constituting a 'human being'] [I didnt ask what an agnostic is, what an atheist is etc I know all that already.]
1. What are your beliefs that you have dedicated yourself to -
2.What are your promises [that they have accepted]
Surely you must accept the principle that unless you can say what YOUR belief is, you are not entitled to invite other folk to join it.
'Interfaith' is a label. What is under the label?
Words obviously escape me as I find myself in the rare situation where I feel I cannot explain myself any better.
I'll try putting it in dot points, if this fails, feel free to ring me and I'll try to answer your questions that way.
Re the acceptance: are you joining people to people [from different religions] people to God, unchurched people to church members or enquirers to yourself?
Re discrimination/injustice is this within religious congregations & leaders, within society [eg unequal distribution of wealth] within cultures [eg oppression of women] between races [eg Jews/Palestinians, white and black americans, Aborigines & white australians]
By acceptance, I mean acceptance of the beliefs of others as valid for them. Discouraging the idea of religious tolerance for religious acceptance is part of this. This thinking goes beyond religion, to race, disabilities, gender differences and so on, but you have to start somewhere.
So far as discrimination goes, I will oppose it everywhere. Though I think globally, I will however limit myself to acting locally and in places where I may make some difference. I don't for a moment think I can influence what is happening in the Gaza Strip, but if I feel I can make a difference in Australia, I will do my best to bring about change, even if it is only starting what may one day become a generational change.
By assisting even a few people to see things a little differently, this may bring about a change in the longer term. I may not live to see it, I doubt I will get recognition for the influence I hope to bring about, I expect I won't even live to see it take hold, but I will still attempt to plant the seeds that may one day bring about acceptance in many areas including the belief systems of humanity.
I think of any small change I might be able to make as possible of creating a larger effect with time. In chaos theory this would be called the butterfly effect, or in other circles maybe the domino effect. By bringing even a few people closer to acceptance, they then have the potential to do the same to a few more people, and so on, eventually creating great change. It may seem 'pie in the sky', but by acting locally a generational change may be possible. It certainly doesn't appear that it can cause any further damage to the world.
If we all loved our neighbour as we love ourselves - a common lesson amongst modern religions - acceptance would be the norm.
I see. You are talking about acceptance of other people's iDEAS/beliefs. Not acceptance of THEM. [The people] There is quite a big difference between those 2 concepts.
After you finished saying what YOU think would be a good thing, you go back to a 3200yr-old exhortation. One which cannot be improved upon - and which the U.N. has just caught up to. So the savage way that people act has nothing to do with ignorance of what's required, has it? What makes you think you will be any more successful in bringing it about, than previous workers?
[The reason why folk behave badly is not because they lack education, or an interfaith church, but because its the way they are made. Hence the need to study the substrate, first & foremost]
What worries me is that your knowledge of what constitutes a 'human being' is somewhat limited by your education to date. I worry that you are woefully unprepared for the job you are hoping to take on. Without some training in psychology & sociology, your appreciation of the 'nature of man' is going to be extremely narrow. I dont see how you can consider yourself fit to intervene in people's lives, from such a position. The 2year undergraduate degree would be the minimum basic training, I would have thought. I know you are very confident and feel called to do it, but that is where you start from - surely?
Do you have a mentor, or someone in the field senior to yourself, who has interviewed you and shares your conviction that this is what God wants you to do? If you DID have some sponsorship maybe you could get to a seminary, or there may be something by correspondence? But otherwise i think you are jumping the gun. You would need more than I.T & organisational skills [which you seem very good at.] to found a church. Perhaps you could offer those enormous skills to another institution that is already up and running.
I'm certain you would be already qualified to help run an interfaith Centre, but you dont have the right to run an interfaith church just yet. Meaning well just isnt enough.
Look at the figures for activity in the forum since you took over as moderator. Before = about 1400per month, now [i.e 2012] =10. Do you think this drop is significant? What does it tell you?
i feel really mean saying these things to you, but we need to know the truth here - not pretend its something different. Forgive me for being so blunt. It has taken me 2 weeks to get you to actually disclose what you mean by interfaith ministry - until you did that, I could not be sure what I was giving my support TO! But you finally came up with the goods! It was worth the wait. I think you are very good seminar material, but you're not there yet. Stick with it!
Ginny, does it really matter if I am, or our Church is successful?
What matters to me is that I try. That I walk my talk, and upon Gods path no matter how I interpret God. That I live love and walk in grace so that I may walk in the kingdom of heaven (to use someone elses term).
You seem to be constantly trying to misinterpret me. Is there some reason for this?
Let me assure you that I have been studying the tapestry of life for quite some time and at a depth that is greater than you are likely to perceive. I am also not so concerned with how other people see me, I would like it to be in a good light and will generally work towards that end, but so long as I perceive myself as walking a good and noble path and of trying to bring man closer to peace, I too will be at peace. And yes, this is something I can confer with elders/mentors about.
So far as Study Circle is concerned, yes, the number of posts has dropped. There are no more posts about Viagra, weight loss, dating or Russian brides; there is an ebb and flow to how the group runs, right now it is ebbing. It is a natural cycle, one that can be seen in many places, even the seasons. This time last year there were over 1300 on topic posts. There have been more posts in the five years I have been involved, than in the 10 before it, with no spam, no proselytism and no evangelism from anyone.
That's a bit like complaining about traffic in London if you've never left Australia isn't it? If you want an informed idea, join the group and ask the members. Some have been there longer than I.
I do not need to defend myself, I only choose to in the hope I can provide others with an understanding, sometimes the questioner, but sometimes the silent readers. Those that choose not to understand are welcome to do so, those that choose to believe differently are welcome to do so, when negativity arises there is little benefit for me or for others and I will not continue to empower such negativity beyond what is necessary for me to identify it or when it may have benefit to the silent majority of an online forum.
If you don't like our Church, that's fine. We are not seeking converts nor proselyting, it is not our way. I am sure if you are correct, our Church will not work and that is also fine, as I said, I have done my best, walked the path laid out before me and worked towards a noble cause. If our true purpose is simply to break a little ground for those that come after us, then maybe we will be successful at that and the world will one day be a better place.
why on earth didnt you describe yourself like that in the first place? [live love & walk in grace] then I would have known what you're on about 2 weeks ago.
You are right in everything you say [except the monthly statistics, [=yours] which you have displayed for all to see] What matters is the path you are actually treading, and how you are doing it. YES. I AGREE.
But it DOES matter how you go about this church thing. You have called it "interfaith church of Australia". Not interfaith church of Brisbane, or even, of your particular suburb. You have taken it upon yourself to represent the whole of Australia. There are already umpteen interfaith organisations in Victoria, but none of them purport to represent the entire continent. When people contact ica - from interstate or abroad, they think they are connecting with a national organisation So - in a way it is fraudulent - pretending to be something you are not.
New things usually start small and grow. But you have started with a huge framework of title & organisation without any substance = the other way round. Or is it that you are purely an on-line entity? - in which case all your membership is 'virtual'. [In that case,O.K! it is 'buyer beware' - no-one knows who they are talking to or what they are getting in an on-line organisation [same applies to a dating agency/ warehouse selling shoes, etc] The 'on-line' website is usually the last facet of a 'church' to be created - to publicise what already exists 'in the flesh'. But ica doesnt actually exist yet, in the flesh. So what you are doing is the opposite way round. Going from 'on-line, virtual' to 'bodies on seats' in a building.
I am not trying to be a lead balloon, or purposely misrepresent you - I am struggling to get a grasp of what you are doing. [and your descriptions haven't helped much.] With any on-line organisation, anyone can make their own image, to suit their ego or fantasy, or day-dream - put forward what they would like to be, rather than what they are. I think there is a little bit of this going on with your 'church'. Anyone logging in -from Canada say -would think that they are contacting a big national organisation. [because of the NAME] - - -e.g In the same league as Interfaith Centre Melbourne ; Australian Intercultural Society[Interfaith Dialogue] ; Faith Communities Council Victoria ; Religions for Peace Australia ; Australian Multicultural Foundation.
You say "If you are correct our church will not work" that is NOT what I said. I said "if you want to be a centre - i.e.educate people against discrimination and connect folk from various different backgrounds - then you are well qualified." BUT "If you want to minister, you need to learn a bit more." That's what I said - [based on your present understanding of ministry.] Dont you want to do a first-class job? Aren't you just as deserving of support/fellowship/training as anyone else? Why should others get these benefits, but you have to do without? Give yourself a break!!
As I have said Ginny, we currently have a Clergy member in NSW seeding our Church there. I have not mentioned that we also have interest in WA, mainly because nothing is yet concrete, and many queries about moving forward elsewhere. We also have members in other states and even over in the US, but as there is currently no Interfaith Church in Australia other than ours, I do not feel it is misrepresented.
Our website does not represent us as anything more than we are, a foundling church. You only need to go to our 'about us' page to see we began only last year, and our 'goals' page clearly shows where we are at, even using the term 'small congregation'.
It's the 21st century, a world of mass communication and where any and everybody that wishes to grow has a website. I am certainly not going to apologise for having one that I feel represents us quite well.
I have already discussed my ministry with you, there is little benefit in doing it again. If you don't like the idea, that's fine, feel free to decry me from the highest mountain if you feel it's necessary. I have no way or wish to stop you from doing so and I have been honest an open with you as I will with anyone who inquires.
What a shame. I thought we had arrived in a lucid place, where we understood one another. Now we are back at square one. Is the 'Clergy member' in NSW as well-trained as you are?
The Salvation Army is a national organisation [its also interfaith - but that is incidental] S.A are everywhere. So are the roads system, MacDonalds and Woolworths. You are NOT - at this point in time. You may very well be in years to come, but you aren't NOW.
By your reckoning, If I had some family in Perth [which i have] and some friends in Brisbane [which I have] some ex-work colleagues in Adelaide and other friends in Douglas [which I have] i would be entitled to say I had a National Association of Retired Medics [that sounds on a par with REPAT] And I could pretend to have a library,[= building as well as books]emergency accommodation, a university or training centre and various other resources [all in my imagination]
By the way, I think you mean 'founding' not 'foundling' [The latter means "of dubious parentage" or orphaned] And people who question you are "querists" not 'querents'.
Why -out of the 2 points I raised - [inappropriate name & further training options] did you pick on the one about the NAME? In every instance that I know of, when God asks someone to do a job, that person usually defers saying they do not know enough, are not public speakers etc etc - all sorts of excuses to say why they CAN'T or SHOULDN'T. You are the opposite way round - you insist that you are good enough, and do not need/want to have further training. Many folk would find this a bit fishy, in a 'dedicated' person?
Anyway - I'll leave you with it. it is your 'baby' [or is it your obsession, or your 'delusion'?] I'll leave you to look up the word 'delusion'
1.in the dictionary - [particularly the fixed nature/lack of response to reasoning]
2 on google
3 in DSM4
4.the word 'delusion' as it is used in psychiatry. [in this case it would be a delusion of grandeur]