Thursday, April 19, 2007

One Day Blog Silence - April 30th

One Day Blog Silence

Join me and many others in a one day blog silence on the 30th of April, in honour of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy and all other victims around the world, at all times and in all places. This day is for them. Let us remember them and contemplate the ways we need to change ourselves so that we might all live in a better world tomorrow.

For those who wish to cast the first stone of blame in relation to this recent event, I can only say: "...first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye."

Let us promote love instead of blame.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Absence Of Charity

I was pointed towards a blog post on charity (or the lack thereof) today, and I wanted to add some words of my own to this topic.

It's too true that charity seems to have gone out the window, as it were, nowadays, which is terrible, especially considering it was one of the most pivotal teachings of Christ (through his words and his actions). I'm not merely referring to how much money we are willing to donate either, nor just our concern for the sick and the poor (in terms of material wealth); in many ways, there is a lack of charity in all our actions, with a greed of mind and spirit as well as the greed of the physical (food, money, etc.) that we are more than familiar with.

The thought of people thinking the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is in the Bible is shocking, yet it doesn't surprise me. In Ireland we have (on average, last time I checked) around 95% Catholics, yet we'd probably be lucky if we had 5% who even knew the basic tenets of their faith. This lack of basic religious education is something that really irritates me (a survey was done here where a lot of people couldn't name the three persons of the Holy Trinity, which I find very astounding), and it's no wonder that basic Christian values are being lost when we replace a Christian (or even a basic moralistic) creed with the creed of greed and materialistic success.

Perhaps it's a disillusionment with Christianity in general, where there is a diminishment in belief in the afterlife, leading to a kind of panic-stricken world seeking to get as much as they can in the few short decades they have in this life. The idea of building your treasure in heaven has been replaced by a literal building of treasure on earth (or a figurative building of treasure in hell), and we are the jealous dragons guarding our hoard (how suitable that we would be this fiery beast, breathing the very flames that lick and lash at our neighbours in a self-created worldly hell). But how is it that the aforementioned "creed of greed" has come to be seen as something that was intended as the creed of Christianity, as the teachings of Christ? How can the self-sacrificing figure of Jesus, who welcomed the hated and the feared (lepers, women, tax collectors, etc.), not to mention his aspostles, who opened the path to Gentiles as well as Jews, be abused in this manner as some sort of excuse for our poor thoughts and deeds?

Many people may be richer in wealth, but they are not only poorer in time (as the common phrase goes), but are much poorer in spirit. I encourage everyone to regain a sense of basic Charity, whether you are Christian (of any denomination) or not. Let us be inspired by self-sacrifice and an unwavering love of our fellow man (and woman), to not only be kinder with our pocket (for there are many who donate blindly), but kinder with our thoughts, words, and actions.

May you be a participant in the Unwavering Love of God, in the Spirit of Ceaseless Charity.

Holy Sparks

"In all that is in the world dwell Holy Sparks, no thing is empty of them. In the actions of men also, indeed, even in the sins that they do, dwell Holy Sparks of the Glory of God."

- Baal Shem Tov

Sunday, April 15, 2007

God & Self-Restriction

We all know the common logical argument made by the theological question: “Can God create a stone he cannot lift?” The paradoxical nature of this has led many people to believe that God is not omnipotent, while it has led some theologians to defend the omnipotence of God, not by arguing the logic of that paradox, but merely by looking at what omnipotence really means (and redefining it if necessary).

I’m not really concerned with whether or not God is omnipotent, but what I do find interesting is the idea of God’s self-restriction or self-limitation. One of the main arguments against the paradox cited above is that God could do anything at one stage, but can’t do everything anymore. This is the argument proposed by William of Ockham, where he suggests that there are “two powers” of God (potentia absoluta – the absolute power of God; and potentia ordinata – the ordained power of God). The first is the “primal” conditions of God, before anything every happened – it is God’s potential, which includes the ability to do anything (and everything), whereas the second is how it is now: God with self-imposed limitations.

To many people unfamiliar with theology, this might be a shocking suggestion – a limited God (even if it is a self-inflicted limitation). However, I feel the following quotation from Thomas Aquinas offers a good explanation of this idea when he discusses whether or not it is possible for an omnipotent God to sin:

“It is commonly said that God is almighty Yet it seems difficult to understand the reason for this, on account of the doubt about what is meant when it is said that “God can do ‘everything’”…. If it is said that God is omnipotent because he can do everything possible to his power, the understanding of omnipotence is circular, doing nothing more than saying that God is omnipotent because he can do everything that he can do…. To sin is to fall short of a perfect action. Hence to be able to sin is to be able to be deficient in relation to an action, which cannot be reconciled with omnipotence. It is because God is omnipotent that he cannot sin.”

Now, let’s come back to the idea of divine self-limitation. Is this possible? Does it make logical as well as theological sense? If we explore the Kabbalah, we come across the notion of “tzimtzum” (restriction), which is where God (who is everywhere) restricts himself so that the universe can be created. This might not make sense at first, but let’s explore it further. God is, by his vary nature, spiritual (as opposed to physical), and lies, in truth, beyond the Three Negative Veils of Existence (i.e. the “unmanifest” nature of God – an eternal, boundless Light). In order for God to become physical, he must restrict himself, because this is a world of form, and form requires boundaries for it to take shape (Binah, the first Sephirah of Form is seen as a restricting force in the Path of the Lightning Flash down the Tree from Kether and Chokmah [Force], and just as Binah is the Superior Mother, so is Malkuth [the physical] the Inferior Mother, being the ultimate birthing place of Form – us, our world, our universe). Because the physical is much denser (i.e. more closely packed together), it is, by its very nature, a restricting element.

Then, of course, if we consider God to be Light, the creation of Darkness can only logical occur by an absence of light, so in order to remove light, God must remove (and thereby restrict) himself. This “darkness” could be seen as the gross nature of the physical, yet, and I must stress this, the physical is but a mirror of the spiritual that, through its density, has been closed in upon itself, so that the spiritual element has become, in essence, “trapped”, yet it still remains. I cannot theologically or spiritually advocate the idea that God removes himself from creation so much so that he simply ceases to exist in creation or in the lives of humanity (afterall, we all have a divine spark within us that betrays this conclusion about God).

We can also think of the stories of God revealing himself to the world through incarnations in people such as Christ (and others, though he is especially of note here). In order to make himself known to humanity (which is none other than himself in a restricted form, opening up the possibility of sin through humanity’s imperfect nature), he had to restrict himself into the form of a human, which includes the “imperfection” of death. This ties in nicely with the depiction of Judas being the Gnostic apostle who set the spirit of Jesus free (thereby removing the restriction) through handing him over for the crucifixion, which, as we all note, was not stopped by God, who, “surely” (if he were omnipotent), could do something about it. Or could he? If God was Christ at that time, was he also God as “God”? If he restricted himself to the form of a human, would he have had to have been freed from that form in order to be a “god” again? And, indeed, is this all just a matter of perception?

Feel free to tell me ;)

"The Face Of The Sky And Earth" By Jeremy Puma

Bro. Jeremy Puma over at Fantasic Planet recently released a new book entitled "The Face Of The Sky And Earth", collecting together many of his insightful blog posts on the verses of the Gospel of Thomas. If you get a chance, check it out:

For more info, check:

Friday, April 13, 2007

God On Tour, Comic Strip #13

Inspired by a comment by m1thr0s over at Abrahadabra Forums, here's the latest "God On Tour" strip. My apologies for my absence - I'm still quite busy, so expect updates to be sporadic at best.

Click image for a larger version:

Feel free to make suggestions - God is on tour - do you want to see him in your town? Which divinely inspired books do you want him to sign? What movies do you think he'd like to see now that he's down here (the cinema in heaven isn't that good, to be honest)? Have a guess where God keeps his gold tooth at night-time. What does he do for "kicks"?