Thursday, July 27, 2023

God’s presence within us matters now, more than ever

Pictured here: John Philip Newell and Cami Twilling, Executive Director or Earth and Soul

In many respects, the Fourth Century decision by the Roman Emperor Constantine to embrace Christianity, a monotheistic faith, was an attempt to strengthen and expand the Roman Empire’s control and influence. At the same time, faith leaders of the time’s decision to abet and embrace that effort as means of expanding the church’s influence, has led to an evolution of the faith that a growing number of scholars feel is divorced from the original message of Jesus. This decision led to global antisemitism, slavery embraced by the West, the desecration of the environment, and support for the control of the many by the few.

According to the Celtic spiritual teacher John Philip Newell, who led a retreat in Keene Valley July 14-15, what is needed is a reborn church, one that conveys the message that God is within all of us, all life on earth, and, within all aspects of the cosmos. His message is that each of us is made from the substance of God and that our challenge and opportunity is to hear the inner voice within ourselves and one another.

“Julian of Norwich of the 14th Century puts it so simply when she says, ‘We are not just made by God, we are made of God, we have come forth from the womb of the divine,’ because she sees us coming out of the very essence of the divine,” said Newell. “One of the first historically recorded Celtic teachers, from the Second Century, Irenaeus of Lyon, said, ‘We come out of the substance of God,’ which is to say the human body is sacred, how we handle one another in relationships, how we care for the physical needs for those who are hungry, homeless, seeking sanctuary, refuge; these are sacred matters.”

“It is also to say that the stuff of earth is sacred, and how we handle the earth’s resources,” said Newell. “How we handle them with a view toward equity and justice, and well-being for every nation, every person; these are sacred matters. What does it mean to say that we are made out of God, the substance of God? It is to say that the wisdom of God is deep within us. It is to say that the creativity of God, something of the creativity that’s part of the forever unfolding and expanding universe, is deep within us.”

Newell asked those present to look into the eyes of another, into the eyes of any animal, and you can see the energy deep within. Sit by a brook, hear the rustle of the leaves, smell the perfume of the moss, touch the bark of a tree, taste the water, and you’ll experience God’s presence.

Newell said that facts alone cannot help us address racism, societal inequities, climate change, and combat plagues like COVID as people will dismiss or ignore facts, as so many are doing. Instead, what is needed is an awakening to the sacred in people, plants and fish, air, rocks, and water.

two women

Rev. Susie Allen of the Keene Valley Congregational Church in Keene Valley and the Rev. Naomi Kelly of the Nicolls Memorial Presbyterian Church in Old Forge. Photos provided by the author

“Newell subtitles his most recent book, Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul; Reawakening to what we already know and healing the world,” said the Rev. Susie Allen. “My deepest prayer and hope is that in some way, we can begin to heal a world that is so traumatized, so damaged, that is so violent. Newell’s message brings something that can open us to the divine within each other and all the world around us. What might it be like if we could commit ourselves to going out into the world and opening our eyes to the divine presence within one another?”

Newell’s message is not new; it is one that many Celtic spiritual leaders have sought to raise from the Fourth Century onward. He said it’s embedded within the philosophies and values of many indigenous societies and voiced by scholars within all the world’s major religions, voices that those in power have constantly tried to silence.

Hosting John Phillip Newell has long been a desire of the Keene Valley Congregational Church. A year ago, after KVCC’s Faith and Issues’ latest reading of a John Phillip Newell book, Rev Susie Allen reached out to Cami Twilling, Executive Director of Newell’s organization, Earth and Soul, to determine if, post-pandemic, his annual trip to the US would be renewed and, if so, would they would be willing to lead a retreat in Keene Valley. Allen learned that they were available and that the Rev. Naomi Kelly of the Nicolls Memorial Presbyterian Church in Old Forge had made a similar ask when she was on Iona last August. KVCC’s Allen reached out to Kelly, and a partnership and a planning team were formed, with KVCC as designated host.

“I am so thrilled that people came from far and wide to listen to this teacher and were engaged with his message and each other,” said the Rev. Susie Allen. “I hope that, as a result, we will find ways to keep disseminating the message that he was bringing to us and that we now know we have a community and can build on that community. I hope we can do that with John Phillip Newell and Cami Twilling.”

Nearly one hundred people attended, some coming from as far away as Illinois and Georgia. Newell and Twilling provided moments of deep silence for reflection, techniques for listening from the heart, and many opportunities for interaction. Participants broke bread together and were provided time to walk in the woods, sit by streams, or gather with new friends over coffee and tea. They also saw a documentary on how the arts can be used to effectively convey the Celtic message and the story of its growing presence over the centuries.

“Part of me wonders why I have not been here before,” said Newell. “It is such a beautiful land, and we have received such a depth of welcome. I feel very blessed to have been here. And we appreciate and welcome people saying, let’s see if we can continue this more regularly. It’s also an exciting time of convergence that includes recent scientific insights on the interrelatedness of all things, which is this ancient spiritual wisdom. I think this convergence will enable us to be better equipped to meet the challenge of this moment.”

“I love how the people who came are so engaged,” said Cami Twilling. “Even though we were here for such a short time, people went deep with us. I heard from so many people that this is what I knew already within me, and now it’s been set free. People have deep wisdom; it’s not something coming from outside of us but from deep within; it is inherent to our being.”

“I love the way people ask questions, lean into one another with their hands on their hearts in that practice of sacred listening, and do the same outside when listening to the earth, a tree, or a stone. We desperately need this if we are going to survive if we are going to care for the earth. We are living in a world where everyone wants to be heard. We need to sit with one another and listen, truly listen; whether it is someone we agree with or don’t agree with, we need to listen. It’s not about getting the other to agree to think or see the way we do; it’s about really hearing one another and moving out from that place.”

“I’m exhausted and exhilarated,” said Rev. Naomi Kelly of Old Forge. “I am so inspired and filled with ideas for bringing this form of Celtic spirituality to more people, to life, to embody it, and to work for it.”


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Naj Wikoff is an artist who founded Creative Healing Connections, the Lake Placid Institute, and co-founded the Adirondack Film Society-Lake Placid Film Forum.A two-time Fulbright Senior Scholar, Wikoff has served as president of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, director of arts and healing at the C. Everett Koop Institute, Dartmouth Medical School, and director of Arts and Productions for the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Wikoff also covers Adirondack community culture events for the Lake Placid News.

57 Responses

  1. Bill Keller says:

    Man’s longest running scam, religion. The cause of much destruction, bigotry and hate across the globe.

    • AdirondackAl says:

      Wow. You really missed the point. “What might it be like if we could commit ourselves to going out into the world and opening our eyes to the divine presence within one another?” First seek to understand, then be understood.

    • Zach Denton says:

      You’ve been misguided my friend. The true Gospel is full of Love. I encouraged you to read the true word, His holy book, and I pray you can experience the Grace of God the same way I have. God bless.

      • nathan says:

        dont forget the great crusades, spanish inquesition, the whole slaughter and conversion to christianity of all black, brown and yellow people of the world, Salem witch burnings and British vs Ireland. great religion!
        Either christian or convert or slaughter!!

  2. Marion Weaver says:

    I was surprised to see an article promoting Celtic spirituality.
    Is this publication going to give equal space to other religious and anti-religious groups? Hmmm. That could provide many, many articles.

  3. Bob Meyer says:

    Other than the fact that this event was located in the Adirondacks, I am not sure of its appropriateness in the Adirondack Almanack. Humm?
    Unlike the totally negative comment above, many of us know that religion, like most everything else ( think science, industry, politics, whatever) can do used for good, evil, and everything in between. On its surface at least it looks like this gathering was comprised of, mostly, if not all privileged and entitled white people. That in itself is a message.
    The message I read is obviously a good one and has historical roots in the spirituality of indigenous peoples and folks like Baruch Spinoza, the 17th century, Dutch Jew who espoused pantheism, and was killed for his beliefs.
    If this kind of article is going to reoccur in the Almanack the I’d like to see other pieces by agnostics, atheists, local indigenous people and people of other non Abrahamic religions (Christians, Jews, Moslems).
    Tikkun Olam, repair of the world.

  4. nathan says:

    I agree we should look as all life is sacred because we are intertwined in biology, environment and need a healthy world to survive. Native Americans probably was the closest to considering all life as sacred and to not be disregarded or slaughtered for no reason. Take only what is needed to live.
    Religion was fear of what goes bump in the night, trying to explain the mysteries of things we simply could not understand, such as the sun shining, from gods racing chariots across the sky to a giant wood fire. Then religion was used to control the masses, the greatest wars in history, the leading cause of conquering all other cultures and lands. Justify slavery throughout history from Egyptians to Africa. From slogans of “if god is on our side, who is on theirs?” England and Ireland still fight today. Dfferent factions of religion still war, Arabs, Africa, ectara. Time to move on from the stone age and accept “GOD IS DEAD”, enter a new era of just accepting people as people, nature as important.

  5. Joe Kozlina says:

    This can’t be serious, a discussion on religion and god? Not here please!

  6. Zachary Denton says:

    I’m amazed at the mere bigotry in the comments. The hypocrisy of the ones who taint others religion as bigotry, as they exemplify exactly what they are claiming as bigotry. I am not calling you a bigot, but would encourage an honest look. I personally do not see the Gospel preached anywhere within this article myself, which I believe is true Christianity. But we can debate that over coffee, not an online forum. I would encourage all to truthfully look at the person-work of Jesus Christ. Religion is comprised of traditions of man. But faith in Christ, by Grace from God, is true Christianity. One can be Faithful without following a dedicated “religion” tradition. And those who claim Christianity fostered various sins of the past such as slavery are looking at the sins of man, not of God. Slavery is a result of man’s brokenness, and highlights the need for God. God is right and good. But anything man touches is stained. Our faith is Christ is where our hope should lay.

  7. ADKresident says:

    What an encouraging article! I’m sure it was an inspiring event by all who attended!

    I am not really surprised by the disrespectful backlash of comments- just mentioning the word Christian or GOD can be a trigger within some people’s hearts that causes them to lash out in anger, offenses and/or cursing. And really, was there anything mentioned in the article remotely deserving of such responses? Certainly did reveal some inner prejudices towards Christians! I guarantee you, if this were an article/event that was about Native American spirituality, Islam, Buddhism, etc, the chances of any negative comments would be either zero or would have been restrained out of a polite respect for another’s beliefs. But not with Christianity, nope. It’s all free reign to spit out whatever bigotry you want and with total self-justification…Even when the content in this piece was positive and encouraging a love/honor for other people, as well as the earth. Still doesn’t matter- the biased vitriol overshadowed common neighborly respect and tolerance.

    If one chooses not to believe or share in a love for our Creator, so be it! One is free not to! But no way should an article like this be censored, nor should Christian voices! Does historical “institutionalized Christianity” have a dark side? Absolutely! And so does every other religion on the earth, including atheism and humanism! But there is also much good historically, as told in this event, that is totally disregarded or purposely overlooked because of the existing bitter hatred and preconceived mindsets that exists towards Christianity.

    With all that being said- nothing or no one will change the character of who God truly is- LOVE. And Christ alone is our only perfect example and reflection of Him. I have yet to meet any other human being, dead or alive, or any other ‘god’ deserving to be followed and revered like Jesus Christ, whom I unashamedly and humbly call “my Lord!”

    Thanks, AA for posting this article and not being ashamed to even mention “GOD” in the headline! I commend you for that, and I love reading GOOD stuff like this!

  8. Bob Meyer says:

    For those who mention God or Christ or the Bible as the “the word of God” and the truth, please remember that this is YOUR belief and though it is “truth ” for you it is not for others whose faith or lack thereof is as valid a “truth” as yours or anyone else.
    Remembering and respecting this goes a long way toward universal love and respect for all living things and the earth itself as emphasized in this original post.

    • ADKresident says:

      Yes, Bob, it is my belief as well as many others. Just as your unbelief is your choice of ‘truth’. We are in this community together and whether you agree w/people of faith or not, does not take away our right to be able to express it freely, however we choose to- even using ‘the word of God’ or the Bible.

      No one is forcing you to read, reply or even agree. Nothing said deterred from the original post and nothing said was offensive in response to the negative comments.

      Eat what you like and spit out the bones. If we are to live peacefully as neighbors, don’t we all need do that to some degree? After all, you don’t know how many of us already do this since “no comment” speaks volumes !

      • Bob Meyer says:

        It’s presumptuous of you to say I’m an unbeliever. Nowhere do I say that. In fact I am a leader in my faith community. Though I am not sure this subject is pertinent to Adirondack issues I don’t disagree with Mr. Wykoff. I guess it’s just the tone of “my way/ belief/ religion is the truth” statements that seems dismissive of others with different beliefs.

        • ADKresident says:

          Maybe the line, “On its surface at least it looks like this gathering was comprised of, mostly, if not all privileged and entitled white people”, gave me the impression that you were not a person of faith, as that seems contradictory to most faiths, and a presumptuously judgmental statement in itself.

          But, yes Bob, you are right- I was wrong to presume you were an unbeliever.

    • JohnL says:

      I’ll remember that some things (like God and Religion) are MY beliefs, and not yours, if you remember that other things, like Climate Change, er Global Warming, or whatever you’re calling it these days is YOUR belief, and not mine. Agreed???

  9. Joe Kozlina says:


  10. Bill Quinlivan says:

    The Almanack is now a pulpit? Like religion needs help finding new inroads with which to give people a means of putting the current salvation of nature into the hands of some god as opposed to taking personal, community and national effort and support behind respectfully saving the planet we all live on, including all the innocent species that will survive or perish depending on what we do. Wake up, the planet is your church and nature is you and your only god.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      Sounds like Baruch Spinoza who was killed for his pantheistic beliefs in the 1600s.
      Have we made any progress in our thinking and emotions? 🙄

    • ADKresident says:

      Yet, it is a pulpit for… climate change, global warming activists, LGBTQ, God, and whatever else one chooses to bullhorn or bow their knee to, including the one in the mirror, which is your choice. Its all been voiced here. And as community members, we should all be able to handle it like mature adults, who are capable of tolerating diverse POVs/beliefs. Right? If not, why? Why would you even want to cherry pick and/or censor voices on a community board, where all are welcomed to participate ?

  11. Harv Sibley says:

    Not being versed in Celtic Spirituality, i found this description:

    Celtic spirituality is a contemporary term that encompasses practices, beliefs, attitudes, and values that are loosely based on themes and remnants of Ancient Celtic traditions that survive in fairy tales and Celtic mythology.

    Faith and spirituality, when used for the better good, is not a bad thing. That being said, I tend to raise an eyebrow at most of these speakers and wonder what the their true goal is.

  12. Naj Wikoff says:

    Science, politics, capitalism, religion, social media all impact how we do or do not address climate change, how we treat nature, how we treat each other. The Adirondacks represent a region where we humans and nature are bound by laws that seek, however imperfectly, for both humans and nature to thrive.

    As a consequence, I believe the Almanac represents an important and proper vehicle for us to consider how any one of these aspects, in this case faith, impacts our ability to collectively thrive and enjoy living in this region blessed with nature’s bounty, and to do so that will protect nature.

    John Philip Newell believes that each one of is sacred, is valued, and should be treated with respect, and listened to with respect. At the same time, he believes that equally true of all aspects of nature – a belief shared by most Indigenous peoples. Just listen to the Abenaki “words that must be spoken before all others” and you will hear it articulated.

    Newell, like many Celtic scholars, feels that for centuries the Christian faith did not honor that core principal, which has led to incredible human abuse and abuse of the environment. He feels it’s critical for us to shift how we treat each other, treat the earth, and start working together to find a shared loving way forward. His call was echoed by Pope Francis in his call for immediate action to protect the environment; that a healthy environment is the right of all people.

    Newell didn’t ask anyone to join his or any other faith. Rather, he invited the people attending his sessions, to stop and consider how we are treating each other, how we are treating nature, to consider how are collective behavior is resulting in violent changes to the environment, and hear the need for change.

    • ADKresident says:

      That is so true. Contemporary Christianity, on a whole, has disregarded both loving, caring for and stewarding the earth alongside our neighbors and hopefully more will return to these simple truths that some of our ancient predecessors & Celtics taught and practiced. Loving all of Creation and others as much as God does is a wonderful pursuit. I would like to research out and possibly read his book.

  13. Todd Eastman says:

    Do whatever you need to do to help embrace uncertainty and be kind to others…

    … there are many paths. 😎

  14. David Gibson says:

    Thank you, Naj Wikoff, for being there and for witnessing and writing so well about those who gathered in Keene Valley recently. Your article reminds me of what Thomas Merton, the globally known trappist monk, wrote in his journal about his mystical moment on a busy street corner in Louisville, KY, that “I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers…There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. There are no strangers! The gate of heaven is everywhere.”

  15. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Joe Kozlina says: “This can’t be serious, a discussion on religion and god? Not here please!”

    Lighten up Joe. An open mind is like an open window……it allows fresh air in!

  16. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ADKresident says: “We are in this community together and whether you agree w/people of faith or not, does not take away our right to be able to express it freely, however we choose to- even using ‘the word of God’ or the Bible. No one is forcing you to read, reply or even agree….”

    Tis true, though I would extend this and say that we should do what is best for the sake of mankind, no matter what it takes; even if that involves taking away the avenues which ‘freely-express’ hate and bigotry and lies which are a poison and which have been proven to be capable of causing harm.

    • ADKresident says:

      Can’t have it both ways, Charlie. One man’s opinion can be falsely interpreted as being hatred from another man and vice versa.

      A perfect example is how you just replied to Mr. Wikoff regarding your view of all evangelicals and what you presumedly believe all to believe/think. I am no evangelical, but IF I were, I’d consider your own words to be ‘freely expressed’ hatred, tainted with a whole lot of preconceived judgments. However, I am also emotionally mature enough to see through it as ‘your opinion’ only and would not censor your right to speak your mind. You even have a right to choose to dislike/hate your evangelical neighbor.

  17. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Joe Kozlina says: “Again. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, NOT HERE!”

    Suppression is what people get under dictatorships! We’re not there yet but there increasingly seems to be a nudging towards that in this country as we all know by now…..the banning of books, taking away, or making it difficult, for citizens rights to vote, etc., etc….. Dictators like people with mindsets such as yours Joe! You’d survive a holocaust for sure!

  18. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Naj Wikoff says: “…the Christian faith did not honor that core principal, which has led to incredible human abuse and abuse of the environment. He feels it’s critical for us to shift how we treat each other, treat the earth, and start working together to find a shared loving way forward….

    Tell that to the Evangelicals who support white supremacy, taking Mexican children away from their mommies and daddies at the border, the assault of police officers……

  19. Charlie Stehlin says:

    David Gibson says: “we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers…”

    And to think that there are those who think they’re better than others because of wealth, or whatever their small reasons are! If everyone, alive or dead, had such thinking as above…..there’d be no wars whatsoever!

  20. Joe Kozlina says:

    I tried. lets all go at it then!!!!!!! I will step aside, thank you.

  21. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Bill Keller says: “Man’s longest running scam, religion. The cause of much destruction, bigotry and hate across the globe.”

    Not all religionists are, or have been, of this mindset Bill. If you look at the sermons they wrote 200 years ago you just gotta know they were a whole new breed back in the day; and though we most certainly are devolving as a moral species, just think if there was no religion at all! If you’re of the mind look up “The Crown of Thorns” by E.H. (Edwin Hubbell) Chapin 1860, as per one mere example of the great minds that came with many of our former preachers. They were, at the very least, intellectuals back in the day.

  22. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ADKresident says: “A perfect example is how you just replied to Mr. Wikoff regarding your view of all evangelicals and what you presumably believe all to believe/think.”

    I did not say “all Evangelicals” ADK, but in thinking on it, I would say a sizable chunk for sure! Millions upon millions of them I would guarantee. That’s a lot of hate and bigotry. And what I said was the truth by the way! You do read the news dontcha?

  23. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ADKresident says: “Can’t have it both ways, Charlie. One man’s opinion can be falsely interpreted as being hatred from another man and vice versa.”

    Yes, there are falsehoods, but there are proven lies also ADK. Take per mere example the recent defamation lawsuit against Fox. For years they lied to their gullible audience, and then they were cornered, couldn’t get away from the truth, settled for quite a large chunk of change, nearly $800 million, because of their lies. Many of us knew for decades that they were lying all along, but you know….some people you just can’t get through to.

    • ADKresident says:

      Oh, Charlie, get real- falsehoods go both ways and on all sides and in every arena, as well as some truth. And before you assume wrongly, I am no FOX news fan.

      But at some point we have to stop the partisanship, pointing of the finger, looking for wrong to justify our own bitterness and “be” a kind, loving neighbor, regardless of politics or we will just continue to create division while blaming ‘the other guy’. NO ONE wants to hear anyone’s constant complaining and it certainly is not good for one’s health. Have we not grown to realize by now that even Nature and animals react negatively to this kind of environment?

      Seems to me that is exactly what this event was all about, restoring a lot that was lost in building a healthy community/earth; sharing a lot of good nuggets to help build bridges, not burn them.

      Personally, I have had enough of the downright nastiness / bitter judgments towards any people ‘group’. We have to, at some point, drop all the ‘Labels’ and see a person for who they are as an individual human being, not categorized collectively, and not what they are not, according to whatever our broken, sick culture is dictating to us that we all must conform to- or else. Enough already.

  24. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Naj Wikoff says: “it’s critical for us to shift how we treat each other, treat the earth, and start working together to find a shared loving way forward.”

    Again….tell that to those God-fearing Evangelicals who think they know what’s best for all. To think if there was no ‘separation of church and state’ which seems to be a thing they’re working on, a self-righteous God in all of our lives. I just cannot help but be reminded of the hypocrisy and the dangers this experiment ‘America’ is facing when my eyes or ears come across such statements as above.

  25. Paul says:

    Well, if morality is on the decline as some are claiming (and that is debatable since we just happen to (even with some conflicts around the world) to be living in one of these most peaceful, if not the most peaceful, time in the history of the planet. If we don’t have means to teach people about how to be kind, and moral, and generous, etc. we will move in the wrong direction back to where things really were far more terrible than they are today. You are not just born that way, it’s the opposite, we are all evolved to be weary of anything that might be different and perceived as a threat – these are survival mechanisms, that can be bad in a modern society.

    I personally learned about generosity for example from religious people I grew up with – an aunt who was a “sister of the sick poor”, who dedicated her whole life to taking care of poor people living in squalor. And others. Thank god for people like Dr. King, Desmond Tutu, and others.

  26. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “we just happen to (even with some conflicts around the world) to be living in one of the most peaceful, if not the most peaceful, time in the history of the planet.”

    I hear this nonsense now and again and I wonder….who’s fooling who? Which planet we talking about Paul? When you consider all of the unrest, the instability the world over, the violence, the hate…and then add to that all of those nukes just itching to fly off. ‘Most peaceful time!’ Sure, it’s good to put out hope and think positive, but geez! If this is the most peaceful period in our history I take it back that desire in me to go back to another era in time if I could but snap my fingers and transport this being to those days when Thoreau was alive and well, and observing ‘The battle of the ants.’

  27. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Again ADKresident…I assume nothing, including you being a Fox fan, I am just speaking what I deem truth, and yes I very much agree with the partisanship thing. If you’re imposing that I am complaining you have me wrong I am just me raising an awareness is all.

    “Personally, I have had enough of the downright nastiness / bitter judgments towards any people ‘group’ ”

    I’m all for non-nastiness and bitterness ADK towards anybody, but there is a difference between such and speaking truth, which is more important than all things else, especially in these times; and I’m all for seeing a person for who they really are, not the false image he or she ejects via lip service to gullible, unenlightened admirers! There’s nothing individual about deception, enmity, and all of those good things which some see as “an innocent party which got a little out of hand!”

    Yes! Enough already!

  28. Bob Meyer says:

    I found this quote by Einstein who references that same Baruch Spinoza, that I mentioned above. I thought it might be interesting to share on this subject. It does relate to what we hopefully all experience in the Adirondacks.
    I know some people of faith will disagree with this, and I don’t necessarily agree with all of it.
    When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was:
    – Do you believe in God?
    And he always answered:
    – I believe in the God of Spinoza.

    Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.

    (Spinoza) : God would say:

    Stop praying.
    What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I’ve made for you.

    Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That’s where I live and there I express my love for you.

    Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don’t blame me for everything they made you believe.

    Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can’t read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son’s eyes… ➤ you will find me in no book!
    Stop asking me “will you tell me how to do my job?” Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or bothered. I am pure love.

    Stop asking for forgiveness, there’s nothing to forgive. If I made you… I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies… free will. How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I’m the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that?

    Respect your peers and don’t do what you don’t want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that alertness is your guide.

    My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now and it is all you need.

    I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record.
    You are absolutely free to create in your life. Heaven or hell.

    ➤ I can’t tell you if there’s anything after this life but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is not. As if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.

    So, if there’s nothing after, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won’t ask if you behaved right or wrong, I’ll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?…

    Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don’t want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you. I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.

    Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am?

    I’m bored being praised. I’m tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That’s the way to praise me.

    Stop complicating things and repeating as a parakeet what you’ve been taught about me.

    What do you need more miracles for? So many explanations?

    The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.

    Baruch Spinoza

    • Joe Kozlina says:

      I originally was not in favor of a discussion on religion in this forum. I decided to step aside and let the fireworks begin. I was wrong after reading Spinoza. Thank you Bob for the post and clarification on Baruch Spinoza.

    • ADKresident says:

      I, as a person of faith have no qualms with anyone who is on their own journey seeking God. He is more than capable of revealing Himself however He chooses to do so.

      Bob, Thank you. I do like much of what you shared, with some disagreement as well. To me, this points out that some of the world’s greatest inventors, scientists, thinkers etc such as Einstein or Tesla came to realize that there was “a higher intelligence” far greater than the human mind, as they learned that what they had discovered did not originate exclusively from their own thinking, but actually saw the mathematical equations/formulas, etc from a dream and/or in meditative state which went beyond their own conscious thinking, then wrote down what they had seen played out before them, like a movie. They had tapped into a realm unseen, the quantum realm, confirming that which has already written in ancient texts and some books in the Bible. These ancient writers, who did not have the scientific knowledge we do today, yet had something we do not have: spiritual knowledge, which functions outside the law of physics. We clam to be so “progressive” today, yet we still cannot explain the technology used to build the pyramids, even with all of our technological advancements. We have poo-pooed in our puffed-up intellects anything spiritual because physical Science could not back it because they decided to limit everything to the senses and physics. Until now. With the discovery of quantum theory and mechanics, there is a reviving of that which was lost.

      We are all on a quest for truth, are we not? It is embedded within our DNA. The problem is when we think we know because Science has dictated that we limit ourselves to what our 5 senses / physical limitations dictate to us, yet even Einstein, Mr.Law of Physics, himself, went beyond the physical and tapped into the quantum before he died, blowing the mind and contemporary science out of the water into limitless possibilites!

      If we are going to find truth and the reality of a Divine Source, we have to first acknowledge that just we don’t know it all, but are willing to seek it out. Because in the quantum realm, it is your desire that actually opens up that realm to you and what you seek, then finds you, and for me, that included God! (Best thing that ever happened to me 🙂

      To quote Christ , “Whoever seeks, finds; whoever asks, receives, whoever knocks, the door will be opened.”…. This is quantum physics in the simplest of explanations and how He said one could find God. And if one truly is wanting to ” know” or discover God, the only thing hindering is either a lack of desire or a closed heart that thinks he/she knows it all aka pride.

      • ADKresident says:

        *Correction – Oops, before I get called out…
        Einstein, Mr. Law of Relativity (Newton, Law of Physics)

      • Bob Meyer says:

        ADK Resident:
        Thank you for this very thoughtful response. As someone of the Jewish faith, I come from a slightly different perspective than my Christian or Muslim brothers and sisters we, indeed are all part of the family of man; all faiths, no faith… It doesn’t matter. What matters is how we treat each other and how we treat this sphere in the cosmos we call Earth.
        I find the difference between many of us is some believe they have all the answers as ordained by their holy books. Others, like myself, are comfortable with the questions; with not having all the answers and reveling in the quest for knowledge and their personal truth, and maybe some universal, truths, like Einstein, Tesla, Baruch, Spinoza in the like.
        One truth that most everyone on this forum shares is the love and reverence for the Adirondacks. That is something for which we all can be truly grateful.

        • ADKresident says:

          You’re welcome~
          Then as Jewish man, you ‘d appreciate this lost text that I found that never made it in the Pentateuch. (It’s said to be the missing 11th Commandment that broke off the bottom of the stone table)
          Goes like this:
          “Thou shall love the ADKS with all your heart, it’s inhabitants, creatures (black flies optional), fish, foliage, trees, streams, ponds and rivers of water, while considering it to be a piece of heaven on earth all your days.” jk.

          I think we can all do our best to follow that one! 🙂

  29. Todd Eastman says:

    What about the Church of the Jeezum Crow? 😳

  30. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ADKresident says: “if one truly is wanting to ” know” or discover God, the only thing hindering is either a lack of desire or a closed heart”

    I have never professed to a religion, and I most certainly will never claim that “I know!” but I do keep an open mind and after some slight, subtle pondering over my years, even here and there taking peeps at the bible, whose words I have always thought to be gibberish, I never came around to accepting God as some higher power, though itheshe may very well be, but not the way we all assume itheshe to be. I have seen the hypocrisy which comes with those who profess to be Christians; have seen actions from them which are the total opposite of supremely good which is what the image of Jesus is supposed to be all about, or so it is said.

    In short I have come to this! If there is a God, or some deity which is to lead us into some sense of duty or right, towards a moral philosophy, ethics…call it what you will, then truly I feel that the answers lie within each and everyone one of us, not in a tv set, not in money. There’s something to be said for “looking within,” which so few of us, seemingly, are incapable of doing.

  31. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ” What matters is how we treat each other and how we treat this sphere in the cosmos we call Earth.”

    It cannot get any simpler than this! If we were but not such a complicated species!

  32. David London says:

    Baruch Spinoza in the 17th century is very similar to Julian in many ways. It would be nice if their heirs knew about each other.

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