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Stuart Manins's profile picture
Posts: 139

11 March 2017, 4:02 PM

Some Reflections after Listening to Jocelyn Armstrong’s Presentation at St Luke’s on 5th March, 2017, about the Religious Diversity Centre, Otago University.

 The various faiths present in the world today have arisen at different times as people were moved to respond to their innate awareness that there is a dimension in the universe beyond the purely material. It might therefore be thought that we should all look beyond our traditional practices and beliefs to simply acknowledge and activate that innate spirituality. The different faiths would thus be coalesced into one undifferentiated whole. (I think this is what Teillard de Chardin had in mind in his idea of the Omega Point.) Such a movement, if practiced widely, could do much to counter the negativity of materialism. Indeed, we might feel that in the absence of such a development, human civilisation may well self-destruct.

William James said much the same in these words, c. 1901:

“The fountain head of all religion lies in the mystical experiences of the individual. All our theology, all our ecclesiasticism, are only secondary growths that are superimposed. These experiences belong in the region deeper and more vital and practical than that which our intellect inhabits. They convince us there is a sphere of life larger and more powerful than our usual consciousness. They help us to live, they melt our hearts, and communicate significance and value to everything.”

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Stuart Manins's profile picture
Posts: 139

11 March 2017, 4:07 PM

Comment on Leo's Spirituality Reflections

 What you write is insightful and important. It makes me consider other areas of experience where people are moved to respond beyond their awareness of the purely material.

 I think that music, dance, and some aspects of visual art could all claim to belong here. Maybe literature in the forms of poetry, drama, and the creative parts of story might also be included.

 I have been watching on TV recently some outstandingly good creative dance performances, with and without music, and, as you know, continually listen to the best music available.

 Aren’t the different faiths in Leo’s view doing in their own way what the arts are achieving in theirs? If this is so, then could we not consider all means to counter the negativity of materialism as supportive in achieving one unified goal?

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Stuart Manins's profile picture
Posts: 139

11 March 2017, 4:13 PM

De Chardin wrote of the spirituality of matter. And that gets to the essence of materialism as a philosophy. 

For decades Marx struggled to write of the effects of an unequal distribution of material wealth. During his life, decades in abject poverty in London, three of his six children died of starvation. Given that, his theory of dialetical materialism - which became the Communist manifesto - is understandable. He wasn't interested so much in a philosophy of poverty but rather the poverty of philosophy. I think he wrote a book of that title.

Elsewhere I've argued that Marx was a prophet of God, even though all his prophecies were discredited because they didn't come true. That puts him in the line of much of what the biblical prophets foretold and told-forth.
What I am getting at is that materialism isn't all bad, and we need to rethink how the distribution of material wealth can benefit all humanity. 
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David Bell's profile picture
Posts: 1040

11 March 2017, 9:22 PM

Thanks for posting this dialogue, Stuart. One of the most exciting developments in science today is in the world of consciousness studies. Leo takes a particular interest in it. Two videos I did recently approach it on a tangent, one on de Chardin and the 'Thing" which swoops down on us, the other on Lawrence Edward's Pulse of Life across all that lives on planet earth. Recently, you and I reviewed a book by Matt Ridley, The Evolution Of Everything.  A bit like the curate's egg, good in parts, but with one basic flaw. Ridley's take on evolution in everything  turned out to be based more on a love of capitalism and a free market approach, which hallowed chance, and embraced the banishment of 'mind' and purpose. I suspect Leo had this in mind as something to be countered.

 

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