Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

God is not religion

First of all I want to tell Susan a long delayed Happy Birthday! no connexion with the rest of the post… Sorry Susan, I’ve fallen under hard times…

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Communism has its advantages: I grew up in a communist regime where they taught us “Religion was the opium (miam! miam!) of the people” and God did not exist. Officially, I was God &Religion free for most of my life… Privately, my grandmother taught me (gently) the main prayers, Our Father Who Art In Heaven and the one with the gardian angel who was supposed to take care of me personally… I don’t know if it was it (or Him? or Her? the sexe of the angels isn’t that certain…) but I was pretty lucky in my life, until now…

But when you get over 40 and then over 50 you start thinking at things you never thought before: like your own death, the death of others (your parents for one) and you start wondering about God, religions, after life, the meaning of life… And then you got kind of confused…

I suppose God and religions are the search of man (I mean, of course, men and women) for a meaning, a meaning greater than ourselves, greater than the lame: you get born (?), you live, you die, which seems to be the short way to put it…

Transilvania, the central romanian region were I was born and raised, is a mixture of cultures, peoples and religions: we had there Greek-Ortodox (most of the Romanians), Catholics (some Romanians, most of the Hungarians), Protestants (Germans and Hungarians, respectively Lutherans and Calvinists, some Romanians), Judaism (jews, a lot less than before the 2nd WW)… Sure, there were historical frictions among these peoples and religions. But, essentially, it was and is a quite tolerant and cosmopolite region. So, I get samples of all of those religions (I’m baptised Ortodox but part of my mothers family are “United”, that is Roman-Catholics) And neither of those religons satisfied my mind and soul entirely… Greek-Ortodox, in it’s mild forms, is not a bad religion to have: it’s generally much more tolerant than any of the others, more inclined to accept the human fraily and practically, quite mild… No Inquisition, no witch hunt (ok, there was a recent case of exorcism which turned to tragedy but that really was unusual), no severe punishement for sins… But still, a highly organised religion… Exactly the thing which makes me, like Kevin, like Miki, skeptical about religion (and by way of consequance, about God, their God). Once an organisation, once a higly organised hierachical structure, the search for truth (spiritual truth) ends and DOGMA takes all the place. If there is still a search for God (or Truth or watever name you want to give it) there is a marginal, periferical, rebel search and usually the organisations are taking care of those rebels quite efficiently and swiftly…

The only religion which kind of satisfied both my mind and my soul until now is a lax, not very organised form of zen bouddhism (I fear there are ortodox, fanatical forms of zen bouddhism too… ) Only a God whom is in everything (in us too) can be ubicuitous and “catholic” (universal)… Only a God whom is not interferring directly and consciently in the human life is, IMHO, believable. Life is suffering. No contest to that, I think… Finally, life IS suffering. We cannot “defeat” Death but by accepting it as a part of life. I won’t go further than that, for the moment. But I know one thing: the God I could conceive is neither interested nor capable of changing for better or for worst my insignifiant life (or yours) unless we call God “the secret geometry of chance” (to use Stings words). And if he is benevolent he (or she? it’s sexe wasn’t well determined either) is benevolent to everybody without exception: benevolent to murderers and rapists, to mass murderers and child molesters, to old fools like me and to very strict Hasidic Jews… To Osama Bin Laden and Mother Theresa equally… For there is one question the organised religions, the big ones, have never answered quite satisfactory: if God is omnipotent why does he allow Evil to exists?

I will illustrate this “heretic” post with one of my paintings called “The Ghost of Madness”…

The Ghost of Madness

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March 15, 2008 - Posted by | Art, books, culture, death, drawing, education, family, God in our life, health, life, literature, love, painting, personal, religion | , , , ,

13 Comments »

  1. Greetings. Your second paragraph outlines a very real truth. As we age, certain things should become obvious; namely our own mortality. It becomes ever clearer that our time here on earth is a very temporary one and will one day come to an end.

    Your title for this post is very accurate as well. God is not religion. He is an eternal being with no beginning and no ending. He created all that is and desires to have a relationship with each of us. Our sin separates us from God but Jesus paid for our sin so that through faith in him, we could have everlasing life. True life that this fallen world can never offer; nor can it take away.

    I’m running long here, but I notice that you come from Romania. Have you ever heard of Dimitru Duduman? He brought bibles in during the communist years, and today the ministry addresses the needs of orphans. He’s passed into eternity now, but his grandson has a blog. It’s http://www.mikeboldea.blogspot.com

    Sorry for being longwinded. This post caught my attention as you seem to be one who really thinks about things.

    Comment by timbob | March 16, 2008

  2. Great post, Danu, great humour, miam, miam!
    So much truth and so much depth (from my point of view)
    So interesting too what you say about the Greek Orthodox, sounds like a religion for me if I desperately need one one day… It reminds me that I was in Greece for Eastern, many years ago, in a beautiful village by the sea, and I heard during the whole morning the monks singing in their monastery in the mountain above the beach… it was simply wonderful how their grave voices were filling the air!

    And I love the painting, and its title! I anyway always love your “mad” paintings and sketches.

    I started to really think about death and all the existentialistic stuff when I was about 22 years old. I have been always very extreme in my acts, thoughts and feelings, I have no brakes, so I searched everywhere for answers, in all the religions too, but I didn´t get any satisfying answer, the problem being, as you say, to satisfy heart, brain and soul (and body!).
    I fell in a very deep, very long depression… Perhaps it was good that I got it so young, the youth energy helping me to get out of it, and without too big damages. But it was hart… still is sometimes… I have learned to live without the answers, but the questions are not gone…

    Comment by Miki | March 16, 2008

  3. Oh, I forgot to say: sorry that you are going through hard times again, Danu, really sorry. You deserve a great life…

    Comment by Miki | March 16, 2008

  4. Thanks, timbob! No problem with the lenth…and no, I did not hear about Dumitru Duduman (but I’m in Canada since 1998). I’l; check the blog.

    Comment by iondanu | March 16, 2008

  5. You are right, Miki (and thanks a lot for your encouragements)! It’s probably better to have the religious crysis when you are young… you bounce back more easily from depression (either that or you make one of the capital sins…)

    Greece is really a very interesting country – I would love to live awhile there. But the Ortodox religion (officially, mine) is not that different from Catholicism… The dogme is almost the same. The practice is, maybe, a bit more tolerant with human frailty but there are still (especially now, after the communist era when religion tend to bounce back with a vengence) lots of intolerant, stupid and hypocrit in it… A lot of people trying to get power and richness and other unholly things through it… like in every big organisation…

    What do you think about bouddhism?

    Comment by iondanu | March 16, 2008

  6. A great post Danu, thoiught-provoking and well-put.
    As I approach my half-century, I can certainly concur with becoming more acquainted with my mortality. I think the best way to describe it is: It used to be a stranger to me, but now, albeit occasionally, I can feel his cold breath on the back of my neck. I can see how this can make people reach out for “something”. For myself, I just try to find some joy in everyday. This often coincides with eating large amounts of chocolate.

    Regarding Buddism, I don’t know enough about it really, but from what I’ve seen, its what I would term a “reasonable” religion.

    Comment by kevmoore | March 16, 2008

  7. I like your painting. Art holds more interest for me than people’s beliefs in god. If the existence of god were a demonstrable fact, people wouldn’t argue about it so much.

    Comment by someknowledge | March 17, 2008

  8. Some say bouddhism, which doesn’t specificaly aknowledge a “God” (only Bouddha who was enlightened – I think that is what boudhha means…- but no more; nothing really supernatural about him) is NOT a religion… One of their principle is the old Carpe Diem (Live the moment, the day, ie the Present – eat your chocolate, for instance; I wish… ) , the acceptance of EVERYTHING without quarell – life AND DEATH, day and Night etc., the general asertion that Life is Suffering and the way to get out of this endless cercle of births and rebirths is to be, eventually, enlightned. Which is like a sudden revelation of the truth, the truth as it is…Revelation which is accesible to everybody and can occur in quite mundane moments… One characteristic which makes attractive the zen bouddhism to me is their acceptance (some of them… they have their own fanatics, unfortunatelly…) of humor in life…

    If you read the stories about their zen masters, humour takes a place never – and I MEAN NEVER – found in another religion! Do you see much humor in the other religions? Well, joyfull, crazy, apparently stupid zen monk HAVE (and cultivate as a quality) humour (humor?)…You know what I mean: laughing things and such…

    Comment by iondanu | March 17, 2008

  9. Concerning Carpe diem, if I’m not mistaken, Lucrece’s saying, it is almost certain that he, just like a bunch of other philosophers from Greece and Rome, were influenced exactly by some oriental thinkers…

    Comment by iondanu | March 17, 2008

  10. I have posted this before but it is relevant to this conversation. I love this painting and hope that what I am adding adds to this unique conversation. This is what I believe and this is what makes us human; the ability to think for ourselves.

    Introduction

    I have come into a knowingness that I want to share with you.

    Just knowing+

    I have heard the sound of suffering, imagined the chaotic interplay of simple minds, and
    experienced the freedom only the Lord can grant me. Illuminated by acceptance of what is
    and the awareness of “just knowing” I trust in Divinity and pray to my God for the totalitarian
    institutions that enslave humanity. Man was born in the likeness of God and by involuntary
    breath therein lies our own truths, each of us must see it first then accept. Man’s denial of
    this “Sacred” breath is his misfortune, dooming not only himself, but polluting the very air
    others breathe in his immediate surroundings.

    The “quest” to save humanity is The Holy Grail immortalized by Merlin’s stories of Camelot
    and its Knights of The Round Table. Every Knight that sought the Holy Grail at one point was in immediate presence of it and in plain view. However holy this quest was in {Intent} it was
    {Belief}, or more precisely {Faith}, much lacking within their physical and spiritual selves, that
    prevented them from seeing it. The Holy Grail metaphor is mans ‘shackled existence’.

    The Elegance and Beauty of Divine Inspiration, exceedingly of the most Noblest design,
    nurtured and cared for by the Highest authority is constantly put to the {test} by men of intent
    and affliction, brought on by their tragic existence, choices made, their own free will, all
    consummated to produce the equivalent of just another creature roaming this heaven on
    earth and doomed to suffering and pain.

    I plead my case to anyone to see this reality and to seek personal redemption through acts of
    faith reaching towards the heavens gloriously in harmony with mans eternal co-existence with
    Nature.

    Oh, I have seen the Holy Grail and the Beauty of Nature, and then as if by instinctive action
    turned my gaze {inward} to find peace and truth. This {simplicity}, this act, is my Divine source of all of my personal creative power and I act only as observer, and use the written word to express it’s magnificence. My words a most humble attempt, but a noble one at that because I will it to be so and thus do my best.

    For I believe in sight and sound and touch and write about what I have seen, touched and
    heard, without questioning the origin of my trusted thoughts. Inspired by a simple walk in
    nature I have consumed fully and rested peacefully afterward, awakened by the music of the vast forest around me. And it is there I wrote down my {own} truth.

    Just knowing. It works for me.

    Kindest and lovingly,
    Michael

    Comment by Michael | March 17, 2008

  11. You know, Michael, all religions – all spiritual quests – have some points in common: for instance, the Holly Grail and its finding could be the exact eauivalent of the quest for enlightment and his finding the SATORI…

    Comment by iondanu | March 17, 2008

  12. THank you for the birthday greeting DAnu! “The ghost of madness” is magnificent. I mean if this is your madness, I want in. You know I’m a meditator and have had the experience of God within me and others and that is my “religion” and the path I walk. It is a well documented path! and I will try to find the time to share my ideas before we get off this subject. I don’t know what you are suffering about, but I’m sorry for that, and I consistently see such a powerful spiritual connection in you.

    Comment by Susan | March 17, 2008

  13. you are good for nothing
    orthodox is the best and nothing to compare withit.
    be live me or not the one and only one religion in the world is orthodox.
    other religions are organizations not religions hence they contain group of people.
    belive on orthodox monophcizm to live for ever in the paradize place heaven.

    Comment by LEMLEMBERHE | March 13, 2009


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