Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Although, for the moment, as this post rather portended, Mark has gone from our midst, he has left a legacy of questions which remain relevant to anyone with an interest in Christianity; I wonder whether in all humility we should not try to address some of them?
Quote:At present, I am inclined to think that religion is entirely a man-made creation and that at death nothing 'happens' to my consciousness/awareness as it is a product of brain activity, and therefore something of an illusion anyway. I feel that religion should be celebrated and cherished as a human creation, and that there is in truth no 'God' external to my own awareness other than All Being - All Consciousness (The Transcendent Father) which is, of course, utterly inconceivable, but a fact of Reality nevertheless.
In expressing this view, Mark is far from alone. I am never sure there is much in the way of utility in addressing this question in this way. Faith is just that - one believes that what the Church teaches is true. If one does not, then it seems improbable that an intellectual discussion will really put that right.
One has to read, to go to Church, and to practice the Christian way of living; one has to open oneself to Him first; He comes to us voluntarily, He does not force Himself upon us. But perhaps one of you has a much better approach than my rather inadequate one?
Quote: On the subject of prayer, I believe that if God "listened" to prayer in the way that most people think, then He would surely not be God. I believe in a God that is pure Spirit - a Universal Consciousness looking out through my eyes and yours, and those of every sentient being. That Consciousness is One and Three at the same time. God seems to me to be "behind" the whole of life because It IS Life (Consciousness) Itself in all its Being and becoming. Praying to It in the way that people do is based on the mistaken supposition of "separateness", whereas in truth, God is All in All. There is nothing mystical about this.
This, again, is a perfectly representative view of what many in this society believe. Of course, the notion that there is a universal consciousness is, itself, an act of faith that is unprovable. But what is it we are doing when we offer prayers to Our Lord?
We know that He knows our needs better than we do; and He knows them before we do. But in praying we open ourselves to Him, we communicate with Our Heavenly Father, laying our hopes and fears at His feet. It is not 'magic', it is a time of quietness when we are with Him. One reason why public prayer is so important is that we come together as parts of the Body of Christ to express our unity in Him.
Sometimes, it seems to me, that we come at the Faith through our wants and needs, and expect it to meet them, and feel disappointed when it does not. Perhaps we need to realise where we have to change to accommodate ourselves to His demands on us, and to adjust our wants and needs to the teachings of His Church. If we recognise we are sinners, how then can we not know that we need to change if we are to be one with Him?
These are, of course, not answers to Mark's questions, but rather reflections prompted by them; it would be good to hear from others on these, or similar themes.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)