Matt Brundage

Archive for the 'religion' category

Saturday, 9 July 2005

What People Really Want

We want true happiness through self-actualization — the perception that one has reached his fullest potential as a person. Wealth and pleasure (artha and kama, respectively) are nice but ultimately fleeting. Huston Smith’s comments of Buddhism more eloquently tout this view. I know it’s simple and clichéd, but wealth and pleasure cannot bring lasting happiness. Temporary happiness cannot be what people want, for there is always a letdown, a hunger if you will, after the initial “peak”.

Hinduism agrees that the “drive for success is insatiable.” To do one’s duty (dharma) could be considered a form of self-actualization if one acknowledges that one’s duty may be to live to one’s fullest potential. Living to one’s fullest potential does not necessarily imply garnering vast amounts of wealth, power, and respect. Is liberation (moksha) the Hindu equivalent of Heaven? If so, Brahma/God will eliminate our wants and desires upon liberation/entrance to Heaven. Sensible people want liberation/Heaven because such an experience is the absence of want. Could it really be that what people really want is to not want anything?

I really haven’t touched on what I really want out of life. Right now, I’m in the “security” stage. I don’t want to have to worry about finances, career paths, health, my fiancé, my place in the Reign of God… To me, that is happiness — not having to worry or spend time trying to fix what can’t be fixed.

Sunday, 26 June 2005

An aversion to sex

Some celebrants have a hard time acknowledging the sex of certain deities and beings. For instance, some priests at my church modify parts of the Eucharistic prayer. Some change “…through Him, with Him, in Him. In the unity of the Holy Spirit…” to “…through Christ, with Christ, in Christ. In the unity of the Holy Spirit…” It’s a subtle change, but people notice. I even heard one priest modify part of the Baptismal vows: Instead of the usual “Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?”, he said “Do you reject Satan, master of sin and ruler of darkness?” The next thing you, they’ll start saying “In the name of the Parent, the Offspring, and the Holy Spirit.” :-)

Saturday, 18 June 2005

Grace, works, and the experiential

One should make a clear distinction between grace-based and works-based salvation: “If you stress the numinous, you stress that our salvation or liberation (our being holy) must flow from God the Other… If, on the other hand, you stress the mystical and the non-dual, you tend to stress how we attain salvation or liberation through our own efforts at meditation, not by the intervention of the Other.” It’s an age-old argument, really — one of the reasons for the current rifts between Christian denominations. Protestants tend to stress God’s grace as the impetus of our salvation (“…by grace are we saved…”; Ephesians 2:8-9). Catholics tend to stress grace (“…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…”; Romans 5:8) and works (“…unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, there can be no life within you.”; John 6:53). I find Protestant and Catholic services equally experiential, but in different ways. The typical Catholic experience is: “…the soaring columns of a great European cathedral, the dim religious light, the high flying solemn choral music, the sanctity of slow procession…” The Protestant experience is more spirit-filled. There’s more emphasis on praise and doing what comes naturally. The experience is the emotional connection one has with Christ.

Sunday, 12 June 2005

Mid-month Miscellany

I recently started a six-credit-hour class called The Religious Quest, and as such, have had even less time to blog or update my site. :-( When I get a free evening, I’ll put up some new content, including a picture of an elephant!

Friday, 28 January 2005

Matthew 3

For some strange reason, I keep coming back to Matthew 3, where Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist. It was such a pivotal moment for Jesus; it signified that He had “arrived” and that He was ready to fulfill the will of God. Additionally, it marks the fulfillment of John’s prophesy in his own presence. It must have made him infinitely happy to see the fruition of his service unfold before his eyes.

Monday, 3 January 2005

The enigmatic David Bazan

This is why I believe David Bazan is pure genius: [download mp3]

Saturday, 13 November 2004

Pedro the Lion concert

Pedro the Lion I went to see Pedro the Lion last night at the Black Cat. Talk about lack of pretension. Lead Lion David Bazan was out with the roadies setting up equipment for the band that opened for him. He seemed so unassuming and normal; it was scary. Bazan is now a married man with a child, thinning hair, a noticeable belly, and a quasi-truck-driver/logger appearance. But his sad, morose, sincere lead vocals had many in the crowd dropping their jaws. His songwriting frequently hit so close to home, that I came away learning things about myself. He told me things about myself that I was unaware of.

I started the night about five or six rows back, and by the end of the set, I was front and center and could not have been closer. Bazan looked over the audience — he sort of squinted and occasionally twitched his left eye as if he were using it to concentrate on a chord or a lyric. The band was competent but Bazan misplayed a couple of chords here and there, and there was infrequent improvisation. No frills, no gimmicks, no look-at-me guitar solos or dancing around. I guess Pedro the Lion can be considered a Christian Elliott Smith, but with an edge.

After the show (after I tried unsuccessfully to procure the set-list), I talked with Bazan’s sister, Rochelle, who was selling Pedro the Lion merchandise in the back. She told me Bazan uses a lot of fiction (parables, if you will) to get messages across in songs. I asked her about David’s like or dislike of the word Christian; she told me he struggles with the word, and its implications. Some media outlets have tried to give the word a negative connotation. The media promotes the small percentage of Christians who are controversial or hypocritical, or focuses on the sin(s) of a particular Christian, as if the failings of one person discredit a belief. What was I talking about? Oh yes, the enigmatic band/persona Pedro the Lion. An acquired taste, but I strongly recommend it. [ more concert reviews ]