Wednesday, November 28, 2007

God and comedy

I watched "Circle" the 2000 comedy DVD from Eddie Izzard. Many of his routines touch upon religion and God, but this one really felt like he talked about God a lot, so I wanted to post a few bits from it, but all I could find is this one which talks about whales and then about half way through gets into God and Jebus. It really is a great DVD and his video although it is long (over 8 minutes) is worth watching.

So this got me thinking about my thoughts on and relationship with God. There are many bloggers that I have read that are atheist, there are a few of us who are Jewish and then a few who are a variety of different denominations of Christian. I was raised Jewish and still identify Jewish culturally, which led me to the thought of how many other religions do people identify with culturally? I don't know many people who identify themselves as culturally Christian or Muslim? Anyway, I think I am sort of on the fence of theism. I would not say I am agnostic, I went through that phase when I was younger and I think I have moved on. I would say that I am a theist, but possibly not in the same way that other people identify as theist. I believe that there is a higher power and that there is a unifying force that connects all of us that is created by a higher power. I do not think that God intervenes in my life or the lives of others, I view God as more of a life force.

There is a thought within Kabbalah that says that God was expanding and contracting, because well it was God and God didn't have anything else to do, and as God expanded and contracted, God finally expanded so much that God threw off shards that are now everywhere. We are now trying to gather up these shards in order to repair that which is broken. I am not sure if this is the original thought behind the Hebrew phrase, Tikkun Olam, or Repairing the World, but it fits well in this context. We are doing social action and trying to change and repair the world. We are trying to gather all of the shards together to bring about positive change in the world. The same thought can follow through that when all of the shards have been gathered, the messianic era will be ushered in. So the messiah will not come to us, but will have to be created or brought about. This thought also does not follow that the messiah has to be or even will be a person as much as an age of peace.

That last paragraph veered off topic a bit, but it is part of where I am coming from. I also tend to adapt things from different religions such as the idea of Maya from Hinduism that says that this world is merely an illusion and that the true world requires us to become enlightened to be able to see. This makes sense to me because for a long time, since I was much younger and hadn't really gotten into my interest in religion and philosophy, I have times at which I feel like I am as Shakespeare once put it "Life is a stage. And the men and women are merely actors." I feel like I am on a stage or being watched by others, not in a paranoid way, but like watching a TV show or movie. You enjoy the show, but you are not involved in what is going on in any active manner. This feeling also at times is like this world is not real, for all I know this is heaven or hell, although I do not believe in either. Once you are dead, you do not know the difference, this could be my life, my dream, the dream of someone else or merely a TV show for the amusement of another person. Truly we do not know what reality is, we are so attached to this reality, that for all I know I can walk through a wall, but am not aware that I can and so my own attachment to this reality prevents me from doing this. Yes, I really like The Matrix and I see parallels there too, but anyway. I also have liked for awhile the Yin and Yang of Taoism. The idea that there is a dualism to the world, but this dualism is constantly moving in a circle and so is not static. Also the parts of the dualism are contained within each other, so there is light in darkness and darkness in light, there is male in female and female in male, there is some heat in cold and cold in heat. In my mind this is not a set of circumstances that are set to separate the differences as much as acknowledge the differences and the fact that everything is the same, that there can be no light without dark and no man without woman and that although there appears to be many opposites, these opposites do not exist they are merely two pieces of the same structure.

So why do I bring all or even any of this up? Well one, it is another part of me that I feel at this point I am ready to share. Two and more importantly, this is how I view my life and the world around me. I want to try and find those shards, that shred of decency and god-like life force that exists in all of us. I want to change the world for the better. I want to work with young children so that I can help to influence the next generation and hopefully bring about a better world. Yes, I am idealistic, but as John Lennon sang, "I may be a dreamer, but I am not the only one." Oh yeah I am also a cynic and sarcastic and jaded as well, so that just adds to the fun and complexity that is me.


Tengrain said...

Boxer -

And we would not want you to be any different! Complex = good.



Distributorcap said...

great post boxer --- gerat thoughts

i myself do not believe in god at all -- i believe in the cultural aspects of religion (i too was raised jewish - but in a very reform and non religious home) -- and all the wonderful things they can bring. but organized religion (not all religions, but many) -- has shown me how truly destructive and demoralizing something can be -- after all more people have fought and died in the name of religion (something that is supposed to profess peace and understanding) than anything else.

to me this all black and white --- but what do i know, i am just a cog in the wheel of life

FranIAm said...

Oh Boxer, what an amazing post. As you reveal yourself more and more I find myself so touched by this process of exploration and revelation that you have on the blog.

I thank you.

In the interest of time I read the post and will comment; I'll watch the video later.

Let me touch on a few points... Your paragraph on the Matrix, the Yin/Yang etc deals very directly with how I view my own spirituality, for whatever that is worth.

In my estimation, people of various faith practices frequently want their organized religion to make things good or bad, right or wrong, black or white. They want to externalize their own power and authority as to not take responsibility. They want whatever they make of their god or gods to reward the good guys and do away with the bad.

I think that the real journey is otherwise, how do we live within the tension and polarity, how do we integrate all that exists in us as humans?

There is the rub.

Along the lines of feeling culturally Jewish- I think even in our short online acquaintance you can see how in touch I am with my inner Yid! It is something that I believe is more unique to Judaism.

Yes, there are cultural pieces to Catholicism as well as other faiths, but I think the way this exists in Jewish culture is very different.

Anyway I could go on and on but I have blathered on long enough and I must go somewhere soon.

Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us.

Peace brother!

Whiskeymarie said...

Very nice post.

One of the atheists here, no real gray area with me.

I have no problem with those that believe, whatever they may believe in. In fact, sometimes I wish I did.
But I don't.

For me it seems this simple: Whatever spiritual journey you are on, whatever principles you hold dear, whatever you believe of a higher power, whatever guidelines of behavior you follow in the name of the quest is totally fine and dandy with me.
Just don't use it as an excuse to hurt, demoralize, discriminate against, kill, maim, torture, steal from, ostracize or otherwise justify abhorrent behavior.

For me it's that simple. If people would be more kind and understanding, a lot of the big problems wouldn't be such big problems, in my humble atheist opinion.