Showing posts with label Forrest Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Forrest Church. Show all posts

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Atheism on God


Atheists just don't care about God. 

If someone wants to believe in God that is their problem not mine.  It boils down to responsibility for actions.  Blü seems to be right that do what you are told to do is the default human condition.  It doesn't matter much who or what tells you what to do. When you do it it is their fault not yours if it turns out badly.  Even the vuvuzelas favorite dodge when they are caught with their dresses up is that "It was God's will."  In other words it is not my fault.

That is why theists want God to exist.  

Atheists, once they become adult realize that it is their fault.  Life is finite and what they do with it is their responsibility.

"Live a life worth dying for." Forrest Church

Or the thought attributed to Cherokee traditions:

"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced,  Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."

There is no one to blame if you don't live your life, and if the world doesn't cry the failure is yours.  It is not necessarily a comfortable way to live, but at least you live.  As El Cid says on another thread if you believe in God you are dead when you are born, a puppet while you are alive, and thrown away when you die.  Maybe the dumpster will be comfortable or maybe not.  You will never find out.    

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Religious, Spiritual, and Atheist.

I think Forrest Church's mantra is appropriate here. 
Religion is the human response to being alive and having to die.

 I had a chance to talk with him about that.  He had no problems with atheists in his church. 

His question to me was something like have you come to grips with the the fact that you are going to die, and what effect has that had on your life up to now, and in the future.  I said something like sure I will die and quoted Jeffers "Surely they must know that cultures decay and life's end is death."  The Purse-Seine (1937.) He waited silently for the "and"

Every moment is a gift that must be used intelligently to enrich the lives of those around me in ever widening circles.   His response was: Is God involved? I said no and he said you have just defined your atheist religion. I didn't like the term religion as that implied dogmatic to me, and asked if I could use spirituality instead of religion. He replied.  They are the same thing.

Christian Atheists

YEC:  I would think almost all of the Atheist living in a free society are to one degree or another.
 It is hard to be a Christian if not a theist.  The entire dogma of Christianity is centered around groveling at the feet of God whether it is Jesus, the Trinity, or "Thy God" of Jesus.  Atheists do not grovel at anything or anybody. Nice try at the Great Commission, but abject failure. 
YEC: For a Godless society there is no moral rule.  Natural evolutionism is the rule.  Survival of the fittest.  There is no absolute law in which a standard can be erected.
In a Godless society moral rules are derived from evolutionary necessity and its corollary tribal living necessities expanded to larger societies as required.  While there is no absolute law governing morality, humanistic empathy is a firm foundation.
YEC: You are born, live and die and "puff"'s all over.
Yep.  In the words of Forrest Church one had best live a life worth dying for.  It is all anybody has. Theist or atheist. 
YEC: In a free society the Atheist follow the moral teachings of Jesus and I might add, the bible.  They know the morals work.  They are tried and proven.   If Jesus never appeared, if the bible never existed....if our laws didn't reflect those morals, where would we be?  
Your remarks about Jesus are pretty close to the mark.  The rest of the Bible morality is either obsolete or dysfunctional in a modern society.

YEC: You said, "They're Out There, I Just Haven't Found Any Yet"...the truth is, you are one of them.
Sorry.  There are many atheist Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other theistic religions, that enjoy the traditions, rituals and tribal gatherings associated with the faith, but without the faith in God.  Atheists without a religion are not among them.  In general we (I include myself among them) have developed our own meaning and purpose for being alive and having to die.  But in the words of johnbigboote on the old boards it is a One Person Religion.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Live a Life Worth Dying For.

Good Bible quotes for Atheists
Ecclesiastes 9 -
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost.
Good old Ecclesiastes: Probably the first atheist. How he got into the Bible is still one of the great mysteries of life.   

I would, as an atheist, modify 9:5 ... they have no reward but the memory of them in those they have affected. 

Forrest Church is remembered and probably will be long remembered for, among many other things, "Live a life worth dying for."  Even special animals can live on if only as an abstract in fiction:  Balto the sled dog IRL and Lassie representing all working/companion dogs. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

the unfulfilled dream : the unfulfilled dream

Note the linked article is necessary background.

As long as UU does not define a belief statement it will remain a social club that meets on Sunday.

UU's seem to fear any statement containing God as offensive to us atheists, but Forrest Church's Cathedral even had windows for atheists. In that Cathedral atheists could worship meaningfully with their theist friends. The humanist God of Jesus (Matt 22:37-40) who loves all Herm neighbors is perfectly acceptable to most atheists. They won't believe, but as a unifying principle with their theist friends God can work as an avatar if not a deity.

As a side benefit you will probably attract a lot of Christians who are fed up with Paul's trinity and have refocused their theology on the Synoptics and Matt 22:37-40 in particular.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Little Vuvuzela in the Fancy Dress

This phrase grew out of a comment by one of my favorite ministers who would talk about standing out on the church steps in a fuchsia dress shilling for the tinhorn in the fancy balcony. I thought the fuchsia dress was a little too specific, so changed it to fancy dress, losing the shilling in the process. One of the beliefnet members kindly pointed out that a tinhorn was obsolete so I updated it to a modern metaphor.
I have to admit that the Bb one note blare of a vuvuzela is a much better metaphor for a sermon than a tinhorn. You can actually play music(?) on a tinhorn.


That little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the over decorated balcony

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

UU Elevator Speech

Dashboard - DISQUS

UU is a personal religion which brings the wisdom of all religions to each member.

I was a RE teacher, and found that rewarding and challenging as the kids were bringing their friends' religion to class for discussion. My own response was what can we learn, rather than what is wrong with that religion. You are correct that we all must contribute but one of the things that has turned me off from most UU congregations is that the Pagans are in their group in the parking lot, the UUChristians are in the Fireside Room, the atheists are protesting any mention of God in the main service, and (this happened to me) atheists are banned from the God discussion group. This should be a religion concerned with spirituality, meaning and purpose in the lives of those in the congregation. If not, bye.

The important word is "brings." What you take is up to you. Personally I have found much wisdom in most religions. None are "The Truth" and usually the God is an idiot at the very best and dysfunctionally misogynist at worst, which is why I am an atheist. But religions have been serving people for thousands of years. I find it useful to find out why. If only to find out what does not work for me.

I think agreed upon wisdom is the problem not the solution for most UU congregations. Ideally a UU church should somehow find a way to present wisdom from many traditions for people to incorporate (or not) in their personal faith.

As an example every UU should know what they think about the Et Expecto section of the Mass. Do you or don't you expect resurrection after you die? If you do do you buy into the Iudicare section or do you buy Forrest Church's Universalism? If you answer is what is that? IMO your church failed you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spiritual Exercises

Spiritual Exercises | A Sermon by Forrest Church:

"3. Pray for someone you hate. Hatred stokes the mind’s satanic mills, but it is never good for the soul. For this reason, you should choose your enemies carefully. Odds are you’ll become like them. Lifting the burden of hatred from your soul, however, is surprisingly simple. Close your eyes. Imagine your enemy’s face in your mind. And then (in the best 'Love your enemy' spirit) magnanimously pray, 'May so and so find peace within his or her soul.' Such a move is both 'spiritually correct' and self-serving. You are doing yourself the favor. And it always works: you simply can’t hate a person and pray for him at one and the same time."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tough Times and Atheism

Separating truth from superstition - Beliefnet:

"As for the tough times, even smart, tough, atheists run into them. It is called living long enough to enjoy them. Not while you are in them but later. As Forrest Church says in Love in Death, 'We cannot protect love from death. But by giving away our hearts, we can protect our lives from the death of love.' I find that thought useful as much for living as for dealing with death. To love is to risk hurt. It is always worth it."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Spirituality - Beliefnet

I work in the most beautiful place in the world [Yosemite]. I feel a connection whenever I'm there, which is daily. It's a feeling that I am where I belong. I'm home.

If you quoted that to a random sample of English speaking people, and asked them to describe the feeling in a single word, the word would be spiritual in most cases regardless of religious preference or lack thereof.

Trying to eliminate 'Spiritual' from their speech and damning its use as a purely religious word is a stupid and losing battle by atheist fundamentalists. Even for religious people spiritual will frequently be used in a secular context. Words acquire meaning by usage not by what Humpty-Dumpty wants them to mean."

I certainly agree with his assessment of Yosemite, if not his fundamentalism about it. However, it is a place where you can hardly ever turn around without encountering a spiritual moment. It is my nomination for Forrest Church's Cathedral of the World. There is something there for everybody.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Secret of Life: Death

Quality of Life - Beliefnet

"The Greatest Secret in life is the sure, certainty of causes us to strive to leave our mark upon the Earth." If one is convinced that striving to improve one's life, the lives of their family and the lives of humans in general is futile, for any reason, one might attempt to 'opt out' of 'This Life' in preference for some promised 'better life,' somewhere other than the Earth. (I include in that group of 'alternatives' Heaven, Nirvana, 'Enlightenment' (of several different flavors, etc.)
exploringinside "

As Forrest Church would point out the secret of leaving our mark is the quality of our love. Not just for those closest to us, but for all we choose to include as "our society." Back when I was a UU that was supposed to mean "All people" but that was dispiriting as one cannot leave ones mark on "All People." It is much too easy to turn away from leaving ones mark to less worthy activities like group hugs without love of AIDS walks or kicking in a few excess bucks to UUSC and be done with it.

When Forrest ended a sermon it was always "Amen. I love you!" Who did he really love? I can't speak for him and cannot ask, and frankly I thought it was a little hokey until I read "Love and Death." But when I interpreted it (my interpretation not Forrest's) as I love those who will pay attention, be affected by my thinking, and pass forward the message and "Amen. I love you!" not from Forrest but from themselves it makes "the mark" make sense. We affect those we love, whether they are those nearest and dearest to us or those we may not even think of who love us and are affected by what we do and say if and only if we love them.
Amen. I love you!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shortchanging the Living

Available evidence shows that after we die there is no way to do anything at all for those who remain alive. All that they have is whatever legacy is built for them by the deceased. The material legacy is of questionable value. As Lazarus Long says
Don't handicap your children by making their lives too easy.

The emotional and intellectual legacy is far more important, and the beauty is that building it simply means paying attention to those who will enjoy it.

I wonder about those who spend their lives chasing a place in Heaven. What do those that remain get besides a nice party to send them off to Heaven. When the living think about the deceased, what to they think about? Do they simply wonder if the bet on Pascal's wager has paid off? I guess if they have been conditioned properly and are investing heavily at the Pascal Casino themselves this is OK. But what a waste.

When I think of my deceased parents, and those close to them and to me that are no longer living, I never wonder about what they are doing now, I am too busy reviewing all the important lessons they taught me and the rest of my world in their rich lives that were dedidicated to making that world the best they could make it. Certainly lives worth dying for in Forrest's words.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eternal Reflections

Email in response to an ex Christian's questions about death.

"The issue of mortality is a very difficult one for former Christians since Pie in the Sky after you die is really all Christians have to sell these days so they sell the Hell out of it. If you ask a Christian 'Why' when they blather about eternal bliss kissing God's ass in heaven, you will get some interesting reactions, but almost all of them boil down to Why Not?

I would suggest that you ask yourself that question? Why do you want eternal life? Why would you want some sort of existence after you die? Particularly since available evidence says you can do nothing for those that remain after you. The most likely scenario is you spend the first millennium sucking your thumb and gazing at your navel and trying to figure out something different to do for the next millennium. That is a pretty good definition of Hell as far as I am concerned. The alternative of kissing God's ass is just as bad.

One resource and a thought. The resource is Love and Death by Forrest Church. Forrest is living on time borrowed from the medical profession in spite of their assurances that they had no time to lend. He was not lying in a sermon he gave in which he said he had six months to live. That was a very generous estimate given his metastasized esophageal cancer. Love and Death grew out of that diagnosis. It turned out that the medico's were mistaken, but that wasn't Forrest's fault although his incredible will to live probably influenced the outcome.

The thought is that there is no atheist dogma that says that an afterlife is not possible. The only dogma that applies is that Pascal's wager is a losing bet because if there is an afterlife it is certain that a non-existent God has no influence at all on it. Kiss Herm ass all you want to while you are alive and whatever happens after you die will happen just the same as if you kissed some other God's ass or your own for that matter.

Some people think that there is a possibility, slim, that a natural result of death is that the spirit is released to continuing doing whatever one has been doing in life with the other spirits that have been released from their bodies. The only difference this should make in one's life is that it is even more important to live in a way that you would be happy to live with forever. If there is no end to the spirit at death, then the spirit had better be well trained in enjoying whatever it does.

Thanks for your questions, At my age I need to think about them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Forrest Church discusses the odds.

STANFORD Magazine: Forrest Church Book Excerpt:
Believe me, there's nothing like a kick toward the flag to get the old blood pumping and the crowd off their bums cheering. Besides, without even trying, you've already won the only race that really matters. Unconsciously, yet omnipresent, you ran the gauntlet of stars and genomes to assume your full, nothing less than miraculous, place in the creation. Being alive to love and hurt, to fail and recover, to prove your grit and show compassion, that is life's true secret.

Leave it to Stanford to pick out the unusual in Forrest's new book. And leave it to Forrest to turn Silky Sullivan's loss in the Kentucky Derby into an inspiring sermon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Forrest Church -Link to personal website.

Forrest Church, Theologian and Author:

"Available now from Beacon Press:

Forrest Church's highly praised new book,
Love and Death

'The story of the Rev. Forrest Church of the All Soul's Church in Manhattan is a profile in courage. Not just for his lifelong work helping those less fortunate, but for his perseverance in the face of a fatal illness.'"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Forrest's Last Sermon Again

His Death Postponed, a Minister Repeats His Farewell Sermon - "The Rev. Forrest Church gazed out from his pulpit on Sunday and, in a steady voice, delivered what may or may not be his last sermon — for the fifth time."

And may he deliver it many times over. For 30 years my only minister, through the good years, through the tough years of change 20 years ago, when eventually I left New York and my life there with $150 excess baggage mostly my speakers, to start over. He ministered happily by phone, on my occasional return trips to NYC and on line sermons. He was my first Google alert and it has been fun finding comments on his journey from all over, with the occasional Forrest speaking in his Church that Google finds as well.

He early taught me to live my life so that it will be worth dying for, and I have been trying unsuccessfully to emulate his example. His Cathedral with many windows has been my spiritual home since he helped me find it. It has made me a much more tolerant and intelligent atheist, as some of the many windows used by my religious friends have some wondrous light to enjoy.

So once again, many thanks and a virtual hug to my mentor, friend and minister. And thanks to the Times for the hug photo. So typical and all of us will slip right into that dark suit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Love-and-Death - Forrest Church Sermon on Mortality

Love-and-Death.pdf (application/pdf Object) somewhere they and we share at least one common ancestor who, with twenty-twenty hindsight, would do the same for us if she were here. In fact, she is here. Those who have come before us must now use our hands to touch, our eyes to see. We carry them in our hearts and bones, we and our blood brothers and sisters, survivors of the miracle, of the ongoing miracle, never ceasing to amaze, pouring itself into new vessels, recreating itself, over and over again.

To Bob on the death of his father.


In times like this my thoughts turn to two sources for the bittersweet comfort of being alive after the death of a loved one.

The first is Bob DeCormier's Legacy Which I hope you are familiar with. I will share a recording when you return if you wish.

The other is Forrest Church's stock sermon on Being Alive and Having to Die. made more poignant at this time with the final recurrence of his cancer.

My thoughts are with you and although Unitarians don't pray very well I am working on a prayer theory that might work even for us. I will try it out for you.

With love and hugs,

Love-and-Death.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Love-and-Death.pdf (application/pdf Object)After enjoying a year of fine health, this past Thursday I learned that my cancer had recurred, having spread to my lungs and liver. There is no way to sugarcoat this news. I shall undergo a regimen of chemotherapy, more for palliative than curative reasons, but must face the certainty that my cancer is terminal and the great likelihood that my future will be measured in months not years.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Forrest Church on being alive and having to die.

In a Richard French Live Profile in Courage Forrest discusses the recent recurrence of the cancer which is almost certainly terminal within the year. A wonderful discussion well worth the too few minutes to watch. "If you want to learn how to live, you should watch someone who is awake and aware die."