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Switch to Forum Live View Beliefnet, Simone, Religion, and the Mind
7 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2007 - 12:43AM #1
Mike369
Posts: 181
As you know by this time Beliefnet has [FONT=Times New Roman]"been acquired by Fox Entertainment Group, which is part of News Corp."[/FONT]

This in not a criticism but an observation of what I believe must happen in matters of religious belief in the world as it is. In short, what I believe is the natural relationship between man on earth and higher consciousness must gradually deteriorate into imagination. We either adopt imaginary Gods or lose the inner feeling of the relationship and disbelieve. The result is a gradual reliance on materialism to try and fill the needs of the heart which feels the loss of its natural connection to the higher good. Of course material;ism cannot do it and society eventually crumbles through lack of united belief that the source of meaning transcends the level at which society lives. No amount of platitudes and imagination can satisfy real needs.

First let me describe how a person can feel this need for the higher good. Simone Weil felt it when she was fourteen years old. Of course her purity is rare but I post it to give a vivid example of this need of the heart.

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[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]"I did not mind having no visible successes, but what did grieve me was the idea of being excluded from that transcendent kingdom to which only the truly great have access and wherein truth abides. I preferred to die rather than live without that truth."[/SIZE][/FONT]

[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]

Her mind and heart were aware and not covered over. She was open to being able to experience what was necessary for her inner life.

[FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]Jacob Needleman further describes our natural need for these truths that appear to us as ideas that lead us into higher thought. The gradual devolution into materialism has included the devolution of the quality of ideas that connect the inner and outer worlds of Man starving the soul.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]From the intro to Jacob Needleman's book "The American Soul"[/SIZE][/FONT]


[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2]Our world, so we see and hear on all sides, is drowning in materialism, commercialism, consumerism. But the problem is not really there. What we ordinarily speak of as materialism is a result, not a cause. The root of materialism is a poverty of ideas about the inner and outer world. Less and less does our contemporary culture have, or even seek, commerce with great ideas, and it is the lack that is weakening the human spirit. This is the essence of materialism. Materialism is a disease of the mind starved for ideas.

Throughout history ideas of a certain kind have been disseminated into the life of humanity in order to help human beings understand and feel the possibility of the deep inner change that would enable them to serve the purpose for which they were created, namely, to act in the world as conscious,individual instruments of God, and the ultimate principle of reality and value. Ideas of this kind are formulated in order to have a specific range of action on the human psych: to touch the heart as well as the intellect; to shock us into questioning our present understanding; to point us to the greatness around us in nature and the universe, and the potential greatness slumbering within ourselves; to open our eyes to the real needs of our neighbor; to confront us with our own profound ignorance and our criminal fears and egoism; to show us that we are not here for ourselves alone, but as necessary particles of divine love.

[/SIZE][/FONT]These are the contours of the ancient wisdom, considered as ideas embodied in religious and philosophical doctrines, works of sacred art,literature and music and, in a very fundamental way, an indication of practical methods by which a man or woman can work, as is said, to become what he or she really is. Without feeling the full range of such ideas, or sensing even a modest, but pure, trace of them, we are bound to turn for meaning.
[/FONT][/SIZE]



A profound insight IMO and typical of Prof. Needleman. "Materialism is a disease of the mind starved for ideas."

It is natural then that Beliefnet should take the route of materialism since in its expansion it cannot provide depth if for no other reason then people have become less attracted to these quality ideas and acclimated to materialism. From Steve Waldman's letter:

http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5126

[SIZE=2]Most important, they want Beliefnet for the right reasons. They already own high-quality spiritually-oriented media companies – which are multifaith and ideologically diverse – and want Beliefnet to help those assets grow. As Dan Fawcett, the president of Fox Digital Media, said in announcing the deal, "Beliefnet has garnered respect for its commitment to quality, editorial strength and unbiased approach to faith and spirituality from a broad range of consumers, religious and political leaders, journalists and advertisers. Fox Entertainment Group’s goal is to leverage these characteristics across a broader media canvas and provide programming, production, advertising sales, technology and marketing expertise that will enhance a terrific product."

[/SIZE]
Notice how the need to believe as Simone felt it and Prof. Needleman describes is becoming secularized into a media expression that can be catered to through advertising and sales. I'm not saying this is bad but rather unavoidable as society itself is starved for ideas and the heart becomes hardened. It is rather a natural result of human nature.

Thinking about this it dawned on me that this is why I am putting so much effort in the centennial for Simone Weil. It is a way of supporting this need for meaning that cannot be served by large corporations but through the sharing of those open to it.. The quality of the religious mind can only be served in an atmosphere that respects the depth of these ancient philosophical/religious questions as to the nature of human being itself.

Beliefnet must follow its star and those like Prof. Needleman and Simone must follow theirs. What makes me sad is the decreasing means by which these types can find each other. I'm fortunate since I have my path and its great men and women and know about such people that have been such a help to me. But what of the next generation of young ones that will find only secular materialism and spiritual imagination leading to escapism? Will they be fortunate to discover the means and the support of others by which to transcend it? Frankly I do not see an option to the death of society that must come from the starvation of the religious mind and heart.

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2007 - 11:57AM #2
sorrowful_mysteries
Posts: 468
I'm mostly indifferent to the Fox buyout... Nobody noticed that BeliefNet was a pretty merchantile business before? Honestly, because they kept doing joint ventures, I thought BeliefNet was owned by ABC, which is owned by Disney. (or was it NBC? CBS? Whatever)

I would be surprised if anything substantial changed around here. BeliefNet wasn't so pure to begin with.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2007 - 10:21PM #3
Mike369
Posts: 181

'Higher consciousness' has never been demonstrated as an objective phenomenon. It's not even clear what the expression means nor how its advocates say it occurs nor what test will tell you whether you've achieved it or not.



How can higher consciousness be proven to beings lacking even the basic sustained consciousness of self awareness? This is clearly impossible. Higher consciousness can only be proven to those that have made the necessary efforts to experience it.

Yet there are those that "feel" its presence and are drawn to acquire a conscious contact with higher consciousness. The best you can say is that you have not experienced it. But this does not deny the reality at the essence of the experience of another.

The notion that belief in supernatural beings is essential for a moral life is baseless. It's the same tired nonsense that seeks to portray atheists as amoral sociopaths. I'm tired of it. The most materialistic swine I know are conservative Christians, and they are legion.



But this is not the idea. As usual, Simone Weil had it right when she said:

Religion in so far as it is a source of consolation is a hindrance to true faith: in this sense, atheism is a purification. I have to be atheistic with the part of myself which is not made for God. Among those men in whom the supernatural part has not been awakened, the atheists are right and the believers wrong.



Many people you call Christian conservatives are so by habit. The supernatural parts have not been awakened. So what you say is quite true.

The relationship between man and higher consciousness is a conscious relationship rather than a moral one.

An atheist is not an amoral sociopath. Who better than Simone to understand this when she was an atheist.

In order to obey God, one must receive his commands.
How did it happen that I received them in adolescence, while I was professing atheism?
To believe that the desire for good is always fulfilled--that is faith, and whoever has it is not an atheist.
- Simone Weil, First and last notebooks (last notebook 1942)
(Oxford University Press 1970) p 137


The trouble is that we put labels on concepts that must remain free of them. This tendency has hurt many fine people.

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2007 - 3:52PM #4
nicoletate
Posts: 3,398
'Higher consciousness' has never been demonstrated as an objective phenomenon.  It's not even clear what the expression means nor how its advocates say it occurs nor what test will tell you whether you've achieved it or not.

The notion that belief in supernatural beings is essential for a moral life is baseless.  It's the same tired nonsense that seeks to portray atheists as amoral sociopaths.  I'm tired of it.  The most materialistic swine I know are conservative Christians, and they are legion.[/QUOTE] BLU.
__________________________________________
So, if a higher power does exist, do you think God will throw in the pit of hell, for just not believing, eventhough you lived an upright moral life and have a good loving heart? Personally I don't think so, but i'm not considered as a, "true Christain because of my differences of belief in God.

Just like not all believers in the supernatural are alike, not all atheist are alike, there's swine in both parties. Since i've been a member of the beliefnet i've only come across a very few atheists that seem like amoral sociopaths that just don't seem to want a higher power to exist. There is a difference in simply wanting more understanding and evidence, then bashing the existence of a consciousness that may be the reason for existence.

And you are quite right about most Christians, sometimes i'm a little confused as to what Jesus they were listening to.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 11, 2007 - 4:02AM #5
exploringinside
Posts: 1,294
[QUOTE=Mike369;126451]  As you know by this time Beliefnet has [FONT=Times New Roman]"been acquired by Fox Entertainment Group, which is part of News Corp."[/FONT]

This in not a criticism but an observation of what I believe must happen in matters of religious belief in the world as it is. In short, what I believe is the natural relationship between man on earth and higher consciousness must gradually deteriorate into imagination. We either adopt imaginary Gods or lose the inner feeling of the relationship and disbelieve.
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2]It is natural then that Beliefnet should take the route of materialism since in its expansion it cannot provide depth if for no other reason then people have become less attracted to these quality ideas and acclimated to materialism.
[/QUOTE]

I was wondering what the responses might be to this very long and a little rambling initial post. Please excuse me if I must break this down to managable bites (the whole elephant will not fit on my fork.) It probably takes one to also read the included paragraph from a later portion of your article to make an initial connection with the idea that the purchase of Beliefnet will lead to the adoption of imaginary Gods.

Anesis starts the Thread concerning Who Believes in God by presenting some statistical evidence indicating such belief continues to be prevalent. Is it your contention that such beliefs are primarily for imaginary Gods. Is there a standard you can offer so the rest of us can know when someone's beliefs in God are for the real or imaginary God?

The last owners of Beliefnet sold it to make a profit, salvage their investment, realized their business model would not support the needs of an expanded usage, they got tired, they wanted a change or any other imaginable reason or combination of reasons. There is an illusion that somehow spiritually based media is free or cheap but these internet chat rooms that maintain many discussions for imediate viewing and input are expensive propositions. Waving the red flag of Materialism above the people who created, own and run Beliefnet at any time is likely an inaccurate characterization.

[QUOTE=Mike369;126451]
We either adopt imaginary Gods or lose the inner feeling of the relationship and disbelieve. The result is a gradual reliance on materialism to try and fill the needs of the heart which feels the loss of its natural connection to the higher good. Of course materialism cannot do it and society eventually crumbles through lack of united belief that the source of meaning transcends the level at which society lives. No amount of platitudes and imagination can satisfy real needs.
[/QUOTE]

Ah yes; whenever I feel myself spiritually deprived, I go shopping. Surrounding myself with material things, relieves the hunger for security, love and companionship. I've got all the pupose and meaning I'll ever need because I'm a consumer. Oh we know deep down that money can't buy happiness, but we'll keep trying to buy it just the same. And society eventually crumbles. [At this point, the background violins crescendo.]

The real need is survival and all the monks and gurus who live on mountains, feeding the starving with spiritual platitudes, will not extend anyone's life even one minute. The politicising of excessive concern for material wealth ignores and obscures the real value of material wealth. In a very real sense, it is the cause and continuation of Beliefnet as a forum for ideas.

[QUOTE=Mike369;126451] As Dan Fawcett, the president of Fox Digital Media, said in announcing the deal, "Beliefnet has garnered respect for its commitment to quality, editorial strength and unbiased approach to faith and spirituality from a broad range of consumers, religious and political leaders, journalists and advertisers. Fox Entertainment Group’s goal is to leverage these characteristics across a broader media canvas and provide programming, production, advertising sales, technology and marketing expertise that will enhance a terrific product."
Notice how the need to believe as Simone felt it and Prof. Needleman describes is becoming secularized into a media expression that can be catered to through advertising and sales. I'm not saying this is bad but rather unavoidable as society itself is starved for ideas and the heart becomes hardened. It is rather a natural result of human nature.[/QUOTE]

For the thousands that choose to share and learn new ideas through the venue of Beliefnet, I doubt that more than a few know who Dan Fawcett is and if they do know, are in any way concerned. If the banner ad for Pemco Insurance or the side ad for World Vision disturb your fears of rampant materialism, there are other forums where the advertising is less conspicuous. I cannot see through your eyes when you write and exchange on Beliefnet and yet charaterize society as "starving for ideas." Do you think some of us might actually derive pleasure exchanging here? Oh, that's right; it just couldn't be any fun because my heart is hardening.

[QUOTE=Mike369;126451]
But what of the next generation of young ones that will find only secular materialism and spiritual imagination leading to escapism? Will they be fortunate to discover the means and the support of others by which to transcend it? Frankly I do not see an option to the death of society that must come from the starvation of the religious mind and heart.[/SIZE][/FONT]   [/QUOTE]

This could be a very depressing conclusion if it were founded on even the slightest bit of reason and fact. Countries, states, cities, towns, groups, tribes and families still exist and will continue to do so as long as they meet the needs of their members. There is a richness available in interactions that cannot be obtained by the hermit living in a cave. The religious mind that was founded and maintained by superstitions and fears is being assaulted by the growth of real knowledge. The human spirit that once depended on the illusion that it was being fed by supernatural powers is discovering its own power and mystery. We are learning; it just takes time.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 02, 2008 - 2:31PM #6
Omarkhayyam
Posts: 4,224
"The human spirit that once depended on the illusion that it was being fed by supernatural powers is discovering its own power and mystery. We are learning; it just takes time."

Indeed, progress over time is undeniable when viewed over centuries. It is appallingly blind to allege that we are morally no better than the Romans.

Our attitude toward slavery and crimes against humanity are just 2 examples that come quickly to mind.
This is OZ? I want back to KS.

What was it? Click your heels together 3 times and say - what??
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2007 - 5:38PM #7
Blü
Posts: 24,683
.
Mike

the natural relationship between man on earth and higher consciousness must gradually deteriorate into imagination. We either adopt imaginary Gods or lose the inner feeling of the relationship and disbelieve. The result is a gradual reliance on materialism to try and fill the needs of the heart which feels the loss of its natural connection to the higher good.

'Higher consciousness' has never been demonstrated as an objective phenomenon.  It's not even clear what the expression means nor how its advocates say it occurs nor what test will tell you whether you've achieved it or not.

The notion that belief in supernatural beings is essential for a moral life is baseless.  It's the same tired nonsense that seeks to portray atheists as amoral sociopaths.  I'm tired of it.  The most materialistic swine I know are conservative Christians, and they are legion.
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