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"Fear of God is the first step to wisdom" - Discuss! - Page 2

post #21 of 62
Originally posted by Super Pickle
Please do not base your opinion on the idea of God as a parent on her writings. Remember that every author has her agenda.
Not basing my opinions on her writings...just making a passing comment to Yammer that her book relates to this. I would hope that in the course of my 500 posts to MDC, it would be pretty clear that I am not one to read and regurgitate the opinions of anyone. Not to mention again that I am only a few pages into the book, a point at which I would hope no thinking person would expect to have grasped an author's hypothesis, parsed the evidence presented, compared it to other writings on the same subject, and formed an opinion about it.

No, I base my opinions on the bible and the teachings of the church I was raised in. And yes, I agree every author has her...or his...agenda, including the varied authors of the books of the bible. And the authors of the books that are not in the bible. And the editors of the bible. And the translators of the bible. I think you get my drift. If not, I'll send a rescue boat to pick you up!
post #22 of 62
Sooooo off topic, but T
Yammer, quote: "Alice Miller writes of the psychological phenomenon by which very young children -- who uncritically adore their parents -- cannot bring themselves to perceive that their parents have done anything bad. They rationalize and excuse their parents, and suppress all negative feelings (which never go away, of course; they surface later on, in various guises)."

Since being introduced to Miilers theories I have really gained a better (I assume) understanding of what is behind the whole "Son's gotta be circ'ed to look like his dad" mentality. My dh absolutely cannot accept that his being circ'ed was a bad choice on the part of his parents, and he wants to circ our own kids, it seems to me, for the sole purpose of convincig himself that it's okay that HE was circ'ed! Crazy, isn't it?
Works that way for spanking too, though thankfully not in my family.
post #23 of 62
Now, I thought Alice Miller was right on and I found her book to be very healing. BUT, I took her critisisms of Christianity to be critisims of human perceptions and distortions. Not of the true God.

The most pure and precious things are those that become the most perverted and and distorted by society.
That doesn't negate the smidgen of truth at their core.

(editing out my error....)
post #24 of 62
Oh mamaduck I thought I was referring to Psalm 111--I didn't actually check to see if it was one of Davids' but just assumed it was. RIght, though, the same concept almost word-for-word is written throughout the Proverbs as well.
post #25 of 62
Oops! Yes -- someone quoted Psalms. My mistake.
Though it is in Proverbs too.
post #26 of 62
Back to "the fear of the Lord" and child-rearing....

I really do believe that a lot of the cruel child-rearing techniques that are done "in the name of God" _do_ come from a place of fear and doubt. Not the righteous kind of reverence and awe that the Bible talks about, but the shaking-in-your-boots fear. I think a lot of parents are so scared that their children will stray from God and end up in big trouble or go to Hell that they resort to insensitivity, authoritarianism, and even cruelty in some cases.
It takes a lot of true faith to commit your children into the hands of the Lord. If you can do that with your whole heart, you can be gentle, patient, and loving with them. But if you can't, you may be tempted to demand perfect discipline and obedience from them, in order to control them and "get them into" heaven. However, obedience to God has to be a *response*, not a starting point, imho. So that is what I hope for my children. ANd believe it or not, I am already starting to see that in my almost-two year old. SO I hope that our relationship can be an object lesson to him and that he will never have to deal with the issues that children from strict, "religious" families deal with.
Sorry for rambling.....
post #27 of 62
I have to go out to a meeting, but Super Pickle that is what I was trying to say! There is the true aspects of God, and then there are those that are ascribed to Him by people in power, and whatever corrupted motivations that they might have.
post #28 of 62
Why can't Jesus be taken at his (alleged) word then, NM? Whenever he was asked how to have eternal life and get into heaven, he told the person(s) that one must follow the commandments (which he didn't know that well but that's cool).

When I took Christian Tradition courses in Christian college, it was understood that a canon of knowledge was the Christianity we know (and some love) today. To 'ask Jesus into (one's) heart' is part of the rhetoric of Christian tradition, not Biblical instruction. So are the majority of sermons from which people are 'taught' Christianity. Sorry, don't mean to offend, but Jesus did not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword. And his language is often full of violence and death (throwing 'branches' into the fire, spitting out those who are 'lukewarm', etc., etc.) The image of Jesus as the embodiment of unconditional love just isn't there in Jesus' teachings. In fact, he lays out the conditions quite emphatically for how one goes to heaven and it ain't by 'accepting' him as a 'personal Savior' (more Christian tradition jargon.

Not trying to stir the pot...just want Jesus to get fair treatment here. That's the least we can provide for such a cultural icon.
post #29 of 62
Yes, I know Jesus said that he is 'the way', etc. but that is not in response to the question of how to attain heavenly residence. Yes, one can assume God is in heaven. I guess if one knows what 'but by me' means (i.e. what does going through Jesus entail - it isn't 'accepting Him into your heart' as he does not tell us to do that), you can get to God by him, and thereby land oneself among the mansions and streets of gold in the 'prepared place'.

Just one example of what Jesus advised upon being asked how to attain eternal life:

Matt. 19:16-18 "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."

'Love thy neighbor as thyself' is not part of the Commandments given to Moses. I know, Jesus talked about 'new' commandments, but when he references both old and new and leaves out some old and one new, it's not clear whether he knows the Commandments in their entirety as given to Moses (twice).

I don't need any examples of 'unconditional love' from Jesus. I do believe I'm in the Spat Out commnity as I probably crossed from hot to lukewarm at a point in my spiritual progress and I'm okay with that. I didn't make the cut in the conditions Jesus laid out, but again, that's cool.

Thanks for the dialogue, NM! I'm outta steam for now...but appreciate the rally.
post #30 of 62
"For God so loved the earth that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17

While this may be not a popular quote with many it has a large role in Christianity.
post #31 of 62
'Love thy neighbor as thyself' is not part of the Commandments given to Moses. I know, Jesus talked about 'new' commandments, but when he references both old and new and leaves out some old and one new, it's not clear whether he knows the Commandments in their entirety as given to Moses (twice).

He says that all of the "law and commandments hang on these two." To love they neighbor as theyself and to love the lord with all your heart soul and strenth.

In saying "hangs on these 2" he is saying that the commandments are encompassed by these. You cannot break a commandment without also breaking one of these because they are the larger catagories of moral behavior. And the reason for the commandments in the first place.
post #32 of 62
Yeah, Mamaduck, I heard that in many a sermon, too. It's a beautiful circle. Or circular argument. I guess the same stuff is being used, which I suppose, is good for the consistency of things.

I could have included what you wrote but I chose not to just cuz there is always more to be said according to what is being spoken from the pulpit. Like I said, I think the same rhetoric is being circulated among all seminarians and thus, ends up in the pulpits. Which is a bit tired and old, but like I said, consistency does have its merits!

post #33 of 62
Back to the Psalmist's fear ...

My understanding of the word yir'ah, which is the "fear" in the verse, is that it actually means "awe," as some posters pointed out.

DH once asked our Rebbe z'l what that fear/awe meant, as it is a recurring theme, and got a beautiful example for it.

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?

Picture opening your eyes and suddenly finding yourself standing on an outcropping on the edge of the Grand Canyon, your toes reaching to the edge of the rock ...

In thinking about that visual ... you open your eyes and yes, there's an initial fear. But it's a delicious, almost thrilling fear, not of something horrible, but of something so much bigger than ourselves. And it instantly gives way to absolute awe.

And to go off-topic a little ...

... by luvinlivin
... 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' is not part of the Commandments given to Moses ...
Excuse me. In Hebrew it's ve'ahavta le'reyekha kamokha. It is part of the commandments given to Moses. Or maybe I'm just missing something in your point ...

- Amy
post #34 of 62
the problem with the word fear is that is never explained as beautifully as amyrpk did!
That would have been really nice to be told when I was growing up and going to a catholic school.
Why doesnt the word get changed from these scriptures into awe? Yes It would take a LOT of work and burocracy but it would cause such a positive stir in the world!
Changing the word fear (which as a child it only means fear IMO) for awe. I bet that would be liberating, and children growing up in the catholic faith would simply understand awe and wont have to grow up to realize that fear (as simple as children understand it) is the opposite of love.
post #35 of 62
I don’t know if anyone will be going back to this thread, since the discussion took place last night and I’m checking in this morning, but I wanted to respond to a few things.

Yammer, I do believe the best translation is “Awe” rather than “Fear” – it isn’t a mind game we are trying to play when we “so conveniently” change “Fear” to “Awe”. However, it cannot be denied that there is a good deal of violence in the Bible – and throughout the history of the Christian Faith.

Much of the abuse of the human psyche, misuse of the power of religion (and name of God), and the violence that seems to be so strongly represented in human relationships can be traced back to human weaknesses, and they are all too often interpreted (in the Bible as well as in the churches and church traditions) as Godly. Those human weaknesses, which actually degrade humanity, are, to me, exactly why we have a need for God.

Problems arise, however, when we think of God as something that can be easily defined – something earthly, because then we start forming God in our own image, and we cannot understand God outside of our own fears and personal power struggles. I think that has been the struggle of believers from the beginning of our faiths – in all faiths. I think all faiths are flawed – because humans are flawed.

The amazing thing about it all is that there is STILL - throughout the failings – an awesome amount of spiritual, human truth underlying all the screw-ups. And STILL God waits, patiently, behind all our mistakes for us to grow and learn in knowledge of the truth about how we can better understand the true power of God. And the faiths have more positives to offer than negatives.

I had an interesting talk with David (my 4 yr old son) the other day. He asked me what the Holy Spirit was. I asked him what he thought it was, and we began by trying to define each word. Holy = Good/ very good & Spirit = Ghost/ air / inspiration (ok – that one was my word – my son is brilliant but not that literate yet). And David said to me, “So the Holy Spirit is something that helps me to be really good!”

Simply said - God works in our soul to help us be very good and that gift came from Jesus -God in a human understandable form. Regardless of how one looks at some of the things Jesus said that were of a violent nature, he never killed or hurt anyone (but he did talk to people straight on) – he was a healer and asked forgiveness for those who sinned against him – which is unique to Christianity – the idea to love your enemies.

“His language is often full of violence and death” – because that is the language of the people he was talking to, but were his actions? He got pissed off and threw a tantrum in the temple – but I admire him for that! Don’t we all, every once in a while, feel justified in getting angry? Is he not permitted? Does that make him violent?

FEAR has been an honest psychological reaction for so many humans throughout time, therefore, fear is acceptable part of our relationship to God – because it is honest. Not necessarily right, or good – but honest. Fearing God is maybe A start in a relationship with God – but not the ONLY. But if you think of it – if God is pure goodness – and we feel fear when we face that – then what does that say of us? That we see the evil in us and are afraid? That we can’t begin to really understand God until we are willing to see our own smallness in comparison?

For the record, I want to say that those who interpret the actions of God in such a way as to try to instill fear, or in such a way as to try to control or dominate people, those people are betraying God. God wants us to be free, joyous, loving, caring, creative people – and you cannot create such people through pain, fear, anger, manipulation . . . etc.

OK, sorry it is so long.
post #36 of 62
Really facinating discussion.

'Seems to me a lot of harm has been done because some paternalistic *men* in the 1600's were given the awesome (sorry for the pun) responsibility to *translate* the Bible into "modern" English.

*They* were the ones (commisoned by King James, ha!) who have translated yir'ah into "fear" instead of the more appropriate "Awe".

They are also the ones who gave us the infamous "train up a child" when the Hebrew was "hannuk" or more correctly (and in other places in the Bible translated "dedicate".

*They* are also the ones who gave us the "hard work" for the man's consequence of the fall and to the woman "pain" when it was the same (escaped in my peabrain) Hebrew word

This is why, folks, we need to *think* for *ourselves* and *study* *ourselves* instead of giving our brains and spirits up to potentially self serving and abusive leaders.

Yammer, I read Alice Miller's book (for their own good) but it was a good 10-15 years ago. I don't remember the religious connotations as much as I remember the bio of Hitler. Yammer, during the same timeframe I read a really good related book called "Spare the Child" (helped me think for myself instead of consuming the predigested bile spoon fed by leaders) Comments??

About Jesus, Jesus spoke in parables. When he talked of pruning and tossing into the fire he was poetic. I am pruning myself (or in karate terms "seek perfection of character") I'm not literally tossing dead branches into the fire it is poetry.

And, again, I am suspicious of mistranslations when I read questionable passages of the Bible.

To think of people hurting children using the Bible to justify their misdeeds.....I don't want to be around when they are before G-d justifying themselves (and, trust me, G-d doesn't need to cast into fire and brimstone....just to have the eyes opened and to know that *He* knows would punish sufficiently.

Debra Baker
post #37 of 62
Thread Starter 
Very interesting conversation here. I really, really like amyrpk's definition of 'fear' - beautiful analogy, Amy. Reminds me of driving down hwy 1 along the CA coast - there are huge stretches where you are perched right on the edge of the continent. I remember feeling like an ant, looking out over the big vast ocean. And feeling fear. Not of falling off or anything, just of being an ant, I guess, of being small. Of being something teeny swallowed up in all that blue water. Fitting that nature provides us with these examples.

It's good for me to hear that so many of you interpret this 'fear' as awe or reverence. Still, it troubles me that there are plenty of folks out there reading this literally. And believing fear has a place in their faith. This is definitely a good reminder that the Bible has been translated too many times to be taken literally, even if one is of a mind to take it literally to begin with.
post #38 of 62
Abimommy, the verse from John (3:16) could be in fact, THE most popular in the Christian movement! Not sure why you think it might not be popular. When we have a professional wrestler mimicking that verse (Steve Austin), I think that's a great sign that it's become part of the mainstream culture.

Off topic: where did that rainbow-haired guy who wore the John 3:16 shirt at most national televised sporting events go anyway? He must be missed.

Anyway, yes, John talked much of love (I John 4:7&8 is an oft-quoted couple of verses) but I was speaking of what Jesus' recommendations were to those who asked him how to access heaven/eternal life.

Yes, many apostles talk of love. So does much of the OT. All varities (agape, philos, eros, etc.) That is not disputed by me.
post #39 of 62
If they don't want to be misunderstood in these ways(reference other threads here) then maybe it's time for the denominations using old translations that use "fear", etc to start using more accurate, more scholarly translations.

Yir'ah, I've felt that feeling! I know it well. I don't externalize it to a transcendent deity, rather I feel the Connection, but that's a whole other discussion.

If churches want to be understood then perhaps they need to consider communicating more clearly what they want understood.

The English language has the largest number of words of any language on this planet. Nuance of meaning is easy, there being so many words to choose from.

That church...if "awe" "Wow" "yir'ah" was what they wanted to communicate, then they failed miserably. They choose "fear", so a Fear reaction is what their sign will provoke.

That's kind of sad when you think about it.

post #40 of 62
...then you have no true understanding of God
nm, i think it may be more appropriate to say i have no true understanding of your god. i was mainly thinking of the god of the ot, and how insecure and cruel he is often described (i.e., the first commandment, i am the lord thy god. thou shall have no false gods before me. this strikes me as very egocentric and insecure. if he is the supreme being, then why can't accept whatever guise people choose to worship in? or the story of abraham and issac). and while i understand that he sent jc to show his love, it still seems a rather cruel and dysfunctional approach. just my opinion...

my personal experience of the divine is that of unconditional love. i've had a few very powerfull experiences of feeling the divine within the core of my being. it is indeed awesome.

sorry to have offended. as i mentioned earlier, i was hesitant to post my thoughts as i knew it would evoke a strong response.
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