On Friday the 13th, I decided to do something positive and inspirational to mark the day. I went to the theater on Broadway, which was the only theater in Portland playing the spiritual documentary, I AM. This was surprising, because usually Fox Tower or Livingroom Theaters (both in downtown Portland) play those kinds of movies. The documentary has gotten some attention because it was made by a successful director, Tom Shadyac, best known for the Ace Ventura and Bruce / Evan Almighty movies. As he put it, he's the guy who made Jim Carrey talk out of his ass. Um...that's not something I'd brag about, but al-righty, then.
The film follows many other spiritually-directed documentaries that have come out with greater frequency in the past half-decade. The ultimate take-home message of this film is: "Capitalism is a mental illness." I agree with that! The film is an interesting trajectory for the director, who admitted to getting caught up in the glitter of Hollywood by showing off his career success with fancy cars and beautiful mega-mansions in prime locations. He said that when he moved into his dream home, a realization hit him that he was no more happier than he was a moment before. He felt no major change within him. He supposedly really believed that living in a mega-mansion was the ultimate to human existence, so this empty feeling kind of hit him hard. A major health crisis put him into the biggest soul searching in his life. When he recovered, he changed his whole life. To the point where he moved out of his mega-mansion and into a double-wide mobile home in Santa Cruz. No way!! Did he really have to give up his beautiful mansion?
The documentary shows how humanity's selfishness and our economy's obsession with competition at every level is wreacking havoc on our planet. He has several examples of cooperative behaviour, particularly in the animal kingdom. Its all fascinating stuff. Various spirtually-minded folks were interviewed, such as Desmon Tutu, where a friend of mine was actually attending a rally in Tacoma WA where Tutu was giving a speech in person. Wished I could've ben there, too.
When the documentary finished, I felt a huge dose of inspiration. Shadyac said that instead of asking "What's wrong with the world?", we should ask, "What's right with the world?" And he hopes one day that people will be able to answer that question with "I am!" So, there you go.
I highly recommend everyone to see this film. I would love to see it with a handful of atheists, just to hear what they have to think of the ideas presented in the film. I know that atheists have such a hard time opening their minds to possibilities, which I find sad. What has cynicism given to our world? Nothing good, I can tell you that.
On Monday evening, the news reported that scientist Stephen Hawking (the dude in a wheelchair who speaks through a robot and wrote a bestseller in the 1980s called A Brief History of Time) had called heaven a myth and a fairy tale that only people who were "afraid of the dark" believed in. I wasn't surprised by his comment, as atheists tend to be smug assholes so enamoured of their own intellect. I'm a spiritually-minded person who is not afraid of the dark. I actually love the dark (not that I'm morbid or goth or anything). But based on conversations I've heard many atheists engage in, the greatest fear of an atheist is being duped by an unproven spiritual idea. Its better to reject all religious / spiritual ideas than to fall for one and be duped in some kind of cosmic prank. Whatever.
This news item about Hawking did get a few laughs on the late-night radio program Coast to Coast AM. The host, guest, and callers all believe that the joke is on Hawking, who is too closed minded to look objectively at all the data out there. The absolutist mentality of an atheist is so bizarre, which puts them in the same league as fundamentalists of every religion. Its that diehard devotion to the doctrine, with no possibility that another idea might be true. Atheists, like fundamentalist religionists have "the absolute truth" that their dogmas are correct, without fail. Sucks to be Hawking.
My best friend's brother posted his comments about Hawking on his Facebook wall, no doubt believing the same as Hawking regarding religion. I posted a comment along the lines of: "Hawking needs a Near Death Experience. He'll change his tune if he experienced that." The hardcore atheist got annoyed and said that I was wrong. He has had a habit previously of posting his atheistic comments on my Facebook wall when I'm posting article links and status updates geared towards my "tribe" (members of the Community of Christ, along with my Mormon friends). Anyhow, I refuted his "you are more wrong than you know!" statement with, "I believe my own experience than anything an atheist scientist might say." I didn't think anything of the comment, but the reply was a shocking: "You are too frustratingly annoying to deal with any further, Nick." When I went to respond, I was locked out. A quick check showed that he had de-friended me. Just like that. In the past, a topic about de-friended had come up and I was impressed that he had the same "policy" as me: he did not de-friend based on a difference of opinion. The fact that he violated his own principle shows just how hardcore his atheistic views are. That he can post his anti-spiritual comments on my Facebook wall but not tolerate any debate about his atheism on his wall is just hypocritical.
His de-friending proved what I have come to believe about atheists. Namely, the smug arrogance about their intellect and intolerance of any spiritual idea. He, like many of them, view any spiritually-minded person as inferior and backwards. Its offensive that an atheist would try to make enemies of a liberal-minded spiritualist who's views were influenced by an atheist government teacher when I was a senior in high school. We agree on much regarding politics and the dangers of fundamentalist religions. Yet, its not enough for these atheists. If you don't drop your "silly views" of anything that is not scientifically proven or considered rational or something a person of reason would believe, then you cannot be among them or associate with them. You know what this is, though? Egotism at its core.
I read a lot of spiritual and psychology books. If I know anything at all, I know this: the whole point of life on earth is to move from an existence of selfish, individualistic self-preservation and isolation towards selfless, cooperative, mutual security unity. Religion can be boiled down to this essence: the history of humanity is a history of separation from God and the path towards unity and reconciliation. Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden? That's a metaphor for our separation from the world of spirit.
The human ego is obsessed with who's right and taking score. I'm not interested in any of that. I simply think its sad that any person would discount the most amazing coincidences and moments of synchronicity of their lives in favour of a materialistic worldview that trafficks in cynicism and promotes selfishness as a virtue. "He with the most toys when he dies wins!" Wrong! "He with the most toys when he dies is still dead!"
I realize that a lot of people don't take me at my word that I am, first and foremost a spiritual person. This has been my underlying principle for more than a decade now. For me, it does not matter what religion you belong to or if you are an atheist / agnostic / humanist. I can find unity in all beings. What I don't like is the closed-mindedness and standard knee-jerk response that some fundamentalist atheists have to any idea that cannot be proven by science. Everyone has had inexplicable coincidences. Instead of dismissing it as "just a coincidence", why not ponder what it might mean for one's life? I've looked at all of my major coincidental experiences through the atheist filter and it doesn't wash. If the world truly was as random as atheists claim, I should not have had the kinds of coincidental / synchronistic / spiritual experiences that I've had in the past twenty years.
Another experiment worth trying is the Universal Law of Attraction. Develop a vision for something you want in your life. Make a vision board, meditate on the image, feel it as though you already have it and see what happens. If you get intuitive hunches to call someone or go somewhere and something happens, ask yourself if this would happen in a strictly materialist universe. There is too much mystery in life to be an absolutist about anything. I have gone on a limb and am willing to admit that perhaps God might not be what we think God is. I have even entertained the thought that there is no spiritual element to our physical world. But then it comes back to my personal experience. This is why I love the movie Contact so much. The atheist scientist played by Jodie Foster has an experience that she cannot prove nor deny, even though she's accused of being complicit in a hoax. The key to authentic spirituality is the personal experience. We cannot base our beliefs on events that may or may not have occurred two thousand years ago. But we have our experiences for certain reasons and that is no accident. I feel sorry for those who prefer to separate themselves from others in favour of their egoes and love of their own intelligence. That is the saddest life of all.