Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Theory of Everything Part 4

Over the years I wrote some blogs on my theory of everything (parts 1 to 3 obviously). Its a couple of years since the last one so I thought it might be fun to sift through my current views on this subject.

I'm one of those unfortunates who wants to know everything, right now! Anyway, that's not going to happen any time soon so I have to settle for wild guesses and assumptions based on the ponderings of other crazy people and scientists and philosophers.

If you've kept up with my blogs over the last
few years, you'll see a very pronounced departing from traditional christianity, wrestling with the most foundational issues such as the relevance of the bible, who Jesus really was, the nature of God - you know the sort of thing, nothing major.

One area that I've been quietly looking at for some time now is the link between science and spirituality, especially in the area of quantum physics - a subject that is guaranteed to completely scramble and fry any unsuspecting brain cells you may have left unatended.

The most astonishing thing is that the physics side of this isn't the made up ramblings of some wild eyed, mad scientist. It's established, accepted, everyday quantum physics that people with enormous brains discuss over breakfast.

Here's my take on things so far. I'll try to keep it as simple as possible, which is all I can do anyway. I'll also assume that I haven't completely misunderstood the scientific concepts.

Quantum physics states that everything in our universe, when we take it down to its most fundamental (quantum) level, consists of nothing more than strings of vibrating energy. These strings vibrate at certain frequencies and combine in resonance with others to assemble into higher level particles, which in turn assemble into more complex structures, becoming atoms and so on up the scale - from micro to macro.

So in reality we are nothing more than vibrating energy. That's very simplistic when we consider how many gazillions of atoms we are made of, let alone how many quantum particles and "strings". Just as astounding is that the relative distance between these particles (at the quantum level) is huge, meaning that an atom for example is actually about 99% nothing!

A real picture of a hydrogen atom!
But here's the thing - at the quantum level, physics as we understand it, totally changes. Time and space don't behave the same at all. Particles can exist in multiple places simultaneously, they can affect each other no matter where they are in the universe. Did you know that electrons whizzing around the nucleus of an atom keep changing their orbit? But they don't move to a new orbit, they simply disappear and reappear in the new orbit instantaneously - teleport as it were (*looks perplexed and scratches head)! Its the stuff of Sci Fi, except its for real.

If all that wasn't enough, there is a growing school of thought that the physical universe is actually a construct of our combined consciousness and doesn't exist at all in the way we think it does, and there's some freaky dudes that have a lot of maths to support the idea!

So what does this have to do with God and spirituality? Apparently, at an even deeper level, some theoretical physicists (who have been search for the "unified field theory" - the thing that generates the strings of energy in the first place and is the fundamental cause of everything), are thinking that the unified field is actually universal consciousness - thus producing a cross over into spirituality that has a "scientific" basis.

This may all seem a but far fetched but I'm mulling over these things and watching mind numbing videos about quantum physics, and thinking about the universal nature of God being love and the source and sustainer of everything. We are simply small expressions of God, made of the same stuff and part of each other in the same way. The energy we are made of vibrates in harmony with all other energy, but our level of consciousness allows us to interact in ways that can enhance or destroy that synchronisation with God and the rest of the universe.

We can then put those ideas into "religious" language to produce a set of meaningful psychological, sociological and spiritual tools to provide purpose, health, peace, joy etc to life as we know it. It seems every religion has scattered through its beliefs and doctrines, recognition of these basic "fundamentals", although some religious constructs can be more damaging than helpful.

I'm still chewing over the emotional and "heart" side of the whole thing, but I can see plenty of scope in this to cover just about everything really. 

So, umm, yeah - the Theory of Everything? How the hell should I know?? This sounds pretty good for now!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Gay types of stereo

OK, stupid title, but it got your attention. If I just put "gay stereotypes" you would probably have just clicked on past.

This is kind of an awkward topic, mostly because I don't mean to, or want to, offend anyone in the LGBT community. I'm talking about stereotypes, so it helps to also remember I'm generalising. I am of course, targeting this blog at everyone, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, including categories such as intersex and other cultural groups like Fa'afafine), "straight" and anyone in between.

You may hear someone say "I have a gay friend!". Your brain probably immediately displays a picture of a rather effeminate looking guy, tight pants etc, or maybe a large drag queen, or a slightly awkward looking transsexual woman. Yeah, the stereotypes.

We all have mind images that pop up unbidden for stereotypes in every aspect of life. Its how our mind works. Part of the way we process and store information is by internal association and labeling. Its unconscious and is a very important factor in mental health.

The problem is when our internal labels are created by incorrect or biased data - data that has been slowly determined by our paradigms since the day we are born. This includes family, peers, culture, religion, societal ethics and morals, and a million other influences.

The problem with the whole LGBT issue is complex, far more so than religion and culture realise.

Firstly, there is actually no clear cut "gay or straight" categories. The term LGBT hardly does it justice! In reality, there are sliding scales for gender identity, gender expression, sexual attraction and physical gender. Although there are a few minor variations in how this is presented - it looks like this.

Secondly, everybody has different personality traits - quiet, loud, introspective, extravert, blunt, rude, gentle, cautious, sensitive, you name it! Strangely enough, this applies to LGBT people as well. So you get those who are at different points on the scale (as mentioned above) combined with the usual mix of personalities and you get a small percentage of really "out there", bold, happy, up front and loud gays and lesbians, drag queens, and everything we use to stereotype them with. Why? Because they are the ones who, no matter what their sex/gender orientation is, will always be seen. They are the ones at the Pride parades and Mardi Gras, just being who they are - just the same as anyone else who is passionate and outgoing (especially with "causes" that affect them personally) will be the visible, vocal ones.

Thirdly, let's consider the statistics of the number of people who are LGBT. As I said above, we are all somewhere on the spectrum so it makes getting real stats extremely difficult. Heaps of research has been done on this over the years, and all of it differing depending on demographics, especially the type of questions asked and environment (physical/emotional/spiritual etc) where the research was taken. From all the research done, it seems we could generalise somewhere around 15% of the population are far enough towards the LGBT end of things to fit that category. Bear in mind that some surveys asked much broader questions about same sex experiences in ways that allowed the participants to express feelings and encounters that bypassed their own stereotypes, so they felt free to report experiences they would otherwise have never spoken of. Some of these surveys revealed up to 25% of the population.

We may never know the true figure simply because of the paradigms and biases associated with the whole subject.

With all that taken into consideration, we see that it's a minority of LGBT people who have helped us create the stereotypes. In reality, most LGBT people are quietly going about their business just like everyone else. They aren't effeminate, or drag queens etc. They are often "in the closet" and you would have no idea! They aren't drug addicts, abuse victims, sex addicts or satanists. They don't have an "agenda" to recruit your children or take over government or anything else. Many have  wonderful loving families and the best upbringing you could hope for. Many are pillars of society and church. You just don't know.

You may be in a room with 10 guys - the chances are good that 2 of them are LGBT.

Think about that.

You are in a church meeting of say 200 people - maybe 20 to 40 of them have experienced same sex attraction and enjoyed finding expression for something that is deeply part of them, but have suffered enough guilt, fear and shame to never mention it.

The stereotypes we create end up destroying our efforts to understand and look past the things that disturb our paradigms. We have to realise that stereotypes, no matter what they are associated with, are just that, and they do not, nor cannot represent the truth.

This is something I had to work through myself, despite being gay! I was so influenced by the christian paradigm that I had internalised homophobia, reinforced by working in reperative therapy for years. I still sometimes battle with the stereotypes imprinted in my mind. But that's another story!

There is no such thing as just "gay or straight" - there are only people, with a myriad of subtle to extreme sexual and gender characteristics, who simply want the freedom to live with integrity. Until then, we have to talk about it, loudly, and persistently!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Jims Awesome Cult Watch

On a whim and rush of adrenalin (or the last vestiges of gin coursing through our veins from the night before), myself and a friend decided to check out the grand opening celebrations of Destiny Church's new "City of God" in Auckland.

For my overseas friends - Destiny is a large pentecostal church in New Zealand that has had its fair share of flack for many years. Over the last year or so their numbers have been dropping and then last December, the leader's right hand man did a runner and opened his own church just down the road.

So anyway, the pastor, Brian Tamaki, made himself a bishop a couple of years back (for real) and of course refers to himself as an apostle. Most of the elders are family and he runs a VERY tight ship.

I've only ever read the odd article about them and seen the news reports, and must confess I haven't even read the book that was written about him last year by Peter Lineham, who I know, very slack of me, sorry Peter!

To be fair, they actually do a lot of good work in the community and have great programs for helping the poor and needy, and their motivation certainly seems pure.

So we found comfy seats, which, by the way, were "movie theater" seats - plush thick purple padded things with armrest, just no drink/popcorn holder - and settled in for the show for around 1000 people. And what a show it was!!

Every cliche in the book, the loud pumped up rock/R&B worship music, the pep talks and emotional dynamics (which I know soooo well cos I used to lead worship myself). The stage is a wonder to behold with the country's largest LED screen in place extending 24meters across the back of the stage, floor to ceiling, and very impressive light shows to complete the polished performance.

Then there were the offerings - yep, 3 all up. Tithes AND gifts (which they passed around the seats for, and a special seed faith offering which everyone had to take to the front of the church and put in a couple of big baskets, which were then lifted up in the air and prayed over.

There was a performance (a Maori Kapa Haka) put on by the Destiny school kids (yes, they have their own school) that told us how amazing the school is and how it was only so good because of Brian.

We had Stan Walker singing beautifully, and finally the Bishop (no one calls him pastor, let alone Brian), gave us the sermon. Apparently God specifically told him to not preach what he had planned but instead to give a very blunt message on "Wolves in the fold" which he informed he was "winging it" at the last minute - despite the fact that the big LED screen operator seemed to amazingly anticipate his subject headings and scripture references while he was preaching.

So anyway, the whole point of the sermon seemed to be damage control after the recent split, with very strong and unambiguous references to wolves coming among the sheep to destroy them. There was plenty of out of context and misquoted scripture, lots of mocking and patronising, large servings of emotional manipulation and fear mongering, and most importantly, unquestioning and unswerving allegiance to himself and the elders.

This was preached in no uncertain terms and he said that only he had the most powerful anointing to discern these wolves, and the elders had the next most powerful. Everyone else were just silly happy sheep who couldn't be trusted to discern these things for themselves and had to completely trust the leaders, who would decide who are wolves and who are sheep. No one could be trusted and he even encouraged wives to not trust their husbands and to be prepared to ignore him if he started getting slack about going to church and his allegiance to the Bishop.

This was all the most wonderful display of a narcissist in full flight. Incredible control and manipulation through fear and mistrust, using the indigenous cultural values of the Maori and pacific islanders to threaten the breakdown of their families if they didn't follow his advice.

It was the kind of thing you don't really believe unless you actually hear it. My only hope is that it will not survive the recent split and the people will come to their senses and see the depth of this guys deception. I think that at the heart of even his best social work initiatives is the need to feed his narcissism, to be held and worshiped in his position of complete power, to have the adulation of those he can coerce to give him the love that will never satisfy.

We can only hope that the fallout, when it eventually comes, will be small and those who end up hurt won't fall for the same thing again.

There is also a special ring that men can buy for $600 when they become one of Brian's spiritual sons. They sign a covenant pledging loyalty to him.