Roundtable: God in Our Everyday Lives

Monday, April 21, 2014

an astronaut in a cathedral (mobilestreetlife/flickr)

Our family meeting continues with a roundtable of thinkers from all types of religious backgrounds on how God connects with our everyday lives. With: Krista Tippett, host of On BeingLisa Anderson, director of women’s multifaith education at Auburn Theological SeminaryMark Epstein, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of The Trauma of Everyday Life (Penguin Press, 2013); and Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, monk, lecturer and the first-ever Hindu chaplain for Columbia University, New York University, and Union Theological Seminary, and the author of Urban Monk: Exploring Karma, Consciousness, and the Divine (Conscious Living, LLC, 2013).


Lisa Anderson, Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, Mark Epstein and Krista Tippett

Comments [27]

mike from long island

i have a few questions. why did God choose to show himself, and all his supposed power, the son of God, and all that other stuff, at the point in our history when we were the most vulnerable and frightened? no sign of anything from him as we became more aware of our physical surroundings. no fear of thunder, wind, lightning and all the things god is supposedly responsible for.

why is an earthquake that kills thousand of people not gods fault, but one baby survives in the rubble, and its a miracle??

god is like the boss from hell. everything good is because of him, everything bad is out fault. our supposed " free will" .

how can believers tell you with absolute certainty the " truth", but ask them one sensible question and they say " thats one of gods mysteries".

christianity is like a mafia protection racket. they come to your store and tell you that for money, they can protect you from fires, vandalism, etc . if you dont pay, they are the ones doing the damage. god says believe in me, and i'll save you from hell, and PS , if you dont, i'm the one putting you there. are you kidding??

i also liken it to the way pedophiles operate. pedophiles seek out the vulnerable, and build up a relationship where the victim feels soothed, then wham!! christianity is the same thing, its designed to make you feel bad about yourself. first you hear how it will make all your troubles go away. no friends? jesus is your friend. oh, you have friends? jesus will heal your marriage. happily married? oh, jesus will solve your financial problems. got a good job,no worries? then PS- you are going to hell. original sin?? a minute old baby is already condemded? how low can you sink to suck someone in ???

as we got smarter, the message changes. less superstition, more psycological pressure. now they have the nerve to bend their creation nonsence into " creative design" ? what a joke.

heaven is the greatest place every . use your wildest imagination, and you can only scratch the surface of how awesome it is. hell? use your wildest imagination, and you can only scratch the surface of how awful it is. when someone tell you one thing is super awesome, the alternative super terrible, you know its BS.

the devil?? the best way to get people to worship you is to create a common enemy. its right out of the playbook. every dictator, maniac, and lowlife has done it, all thru history.

its all about control. control peoples fears, and you control them. control equals money and power. its always about money.

finally, whet makes us so self important that we have to believe we move on after death? we need to believe it so bad we make up the biggest nonsense story in human history, to the point we are willing to kill???

it makes me very sad.

Apr. 21 2014 07:09 PM
Francis from Pa

What a relief to hear the antidote to Brian's mediocrity: Lopate today-- "Deniers, Believers, and the Enemies of Science." He slams some atheists, too, by the way.

Apr. 21 2014 01:34 PM
Eileen from Brooklyn

My life-changing mystical experience (sort of like a dream/vision) looked much like Barbara Ehrenreich's who spoke on your show today, about how she saw the world, and life, coming alive with flame, in a happy way...only my vision was not such a happy one, and interestingly enough an NPR science story both interpreted the vision for me and changed my life:
One night in 1984, I sat up in bed suddenly. I thought I was seeing fire all around me. I thought the entire city, or entire world was burning. Just a dream, but one that seemed still real on waking. I ran to the window to see if the streets outside were on fire, but indeed all was quiet. The next day, my boss had NPR on at my workplace. Don't know which NPR show, but it hosted a scientist introducing the idea of Global Warming to the public. Remember, this was 1984, and then, they called it the Greenhouse Effect.
Immediately I connected the NPR science story with my dream/vision. The scientist on the radio said that the world was going to get warmer, clean water would be a shortage, crops would fail, weather patterns would go crazy, and disease would spread uncontrollably, BUT we could all turn it around if we stop burning fossil fuels now.
Well, I read all the Greenhouse Effect articles I could find, I changed my lifestyle patterns in favor of the planet, but the dreams continued, on a monthly basis, and started to include frogs jumping around my lawn in search of water.
Here's how I got the dreams to stop: At the time, I was married to a theologian/activist. When I asked him after two years of having the dream, "How can I get rid of these dreams", his reply was, "The best way to get rid of a horrible dream at night is to turn it into an action by day".
That day we started a grass environmental organization in our NJ town. It is a town that was in the midst of EPA Superfund sites and garbage and hazardous waste incinerators that continually violated their (low) set emission standards. The organization had a life of a few years and was successful in community education, with some help from Lois Gibbs and Andrew Wilner (Arthur Kill Baykeeper) and defeating a hazardous waste incinerator set to go up in the community.
After those years, I moved to Brooklyn, got involved in a career in the arts, and have not been deeply involved since, but I continue to keep my carbon foot print as tiny as possible, even if it seems crazy to others, because I believe God mandates us to do this, and though I will never prosthelytize for Christianity as a religion, I constantly evangelize for the environment. I occasionally still have the dreams, although now, 30 years later, anyone having a similar dream, on waking, may rush to look out the window to make sure everything is still alright, but they will see a truly warmer earth this time around.

Apr. 21 2014 11:57 AM
Tony from Canarsie

Speaking of Cardinal Dolan, why hasn't the MSM, particularly the NYC press, called him out for being the Catholic church's bag man by offering "retirement" money to pedophile priests? This has been well documented, and largely ignored by the MSM.

Apr. 21 2014 11:37 AM
Nick from UWS

"Is it possible that nobody here is aware of this?" I it possible that what you just read is not true?

Apr. 21 2014 11:35 AM
Nick from UWS

"Change, conversion, transformation.....those are big words." That's exactly at whom religion is directed; people with minds child-like to consider those "big words".

Apr. 21 2014 11:32 AM
John A

Bought an Alan Watts book on Easter Sunday. This is a very free country indeed. Enjoy it.

Apr. 21 2014 11:30 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

the corollary, the more believers in a country = anti-intellectualism, inequality, retardation of society, etc., etc...... pathetic

Apr. 21 2014 11:28 AM

can we discuss God vs GodS (plural)?

Apr. 21 2014 11:28 AM
Marianne Erikson from Rockville Center, NY

In reference to the topic on "mystical" experiences; I was 16 years old, during a school break (I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina -break as in-between classes- and decided to lie down under a tree in the playground and look up at it's canopy. I had this rush of vitality, intense life, coming on to me, this beautiful, incredible feeling of being alive, but alive with an intense, ecstatic joy that I had never felt before. I have since called these experiences, "ecstasies of life" (no, nothing sexual; just an indescribable feeling of joy of life). The colors of the leaves, and the sky, and the shape of the branches, everything was intense and most beautiful. It didn't really bring any association of a God, but maybe as some of your guests today have referred to; there are certain experiences that are more primeval, and that plunge us into experiences such as intense rituals such as dancing, singing, loosing ourselves into experiences that are not necessary to explain. I then became a dancer (ballet, jazz, modern) and that ecstatic feeling of joy, I have felt when dancing. I don't dance formally anymore, but when I still do, I still feel this inexplicable connecting to the vitality of life: pure ecstatic joy.

Apr. 21 2014 11:28 AM

Opium of the masses.....

Apr. 21 2014 11:25 AM
Tony from Canarsie

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

--- Albert Einstein in a letter to Eric B. Gutkind, 1954 (Original in German)

Apr. 21 2014 11:24 AM
Ed from Larchmont

To say that we believe in God but don't know him is not correct: we know him, as it says in Scripture, and it's a spousal relationship, both as a community and individual.

Apr. 21 2014 11:24 AM
Jim C from Northern NJ

It's all psychological .. religion provides emotional and often material support for those who need it, but this could just as well be provided by secular groups and people. On the other hand, religion(s) have been a way of mental and physical control by the powerful for centuries -- and still are. (Could an agnostic or atheist ever be elected POTUS?)

My "religion" is almost completely described by Rudyard Kipling's poem IF -- which I was forced to memorize in HS at age 15 and has changed and shaped my life ever since. Too bad all the flavors of competing religions can't just settle on that one small guidance for life.

Apr. 21 2014 11:24 AM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

God Only Knows

My town [West Milford] voted to allow holiday religious displays on public property, all comers allowed — the no establishment of religion thing.

The town put up the standard pagan “Holiday tree” in front of the municipal building with no religious ceremony. A resident pushed to have it officially called a “Christmas tree”, but the town council declined.

A rabbi agreed. Instead of ecumenically christening it a Hanukkah bush, he asserted that it was a Christian symbol and put up a menorah, which he said was not a religious symbol but a universal symbol of freedom and light.

Then the Christians put up a nativity scene. The infidels trumped that with a 2 x 9 foot billboard with the three wise men, the nativity scene and Star of Bethlehem (6 pointed version) saying “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season Celebrate REASON!” The billboard was promptly desecrated in the dead of night, either by an ill wind or sacreligionists unknown.

You never see agnostic billboards. Vigorously asserting that it can’t be asserted comes off wimpy: It May or May not be a Myth!

God Only Knows sounds better.

Copyright © 2014 Joseph Mirsky

Apr. 21 2014 11:20 AM

Can we discuss the "Koren helmet" or as its known in the media as "The God Helmet" after its inventor Stanley Koren? Religious experience could very well just be the way some brain fires their neurons.

Apr. 21 2014 11:19 AM
John A

Seconding Kristas early point...
that 'faith has to be unquestioning, that's why it's faith'
THAT meme was a construct of the moral majority in the early 80's,
And HAS to be regarded as false.
I think it was probably just a way for PACs to win votes.
People who were Questioning believers (they do exist) have learned to reject that falseness.
Going to religious leaders with an open questioning mind has been my pleasure, and they often live up to the challenge.

Apr. 21 2014 11:19 AM
Nick from UWS

"Ooh, I'm the opposite of the scientist." Meaning you do not examine what you think, try to look at it objectively, or even consider the fact that what you think might not be reality.

Apr. 21 2014 11:17 AM
Nick from UWS

Religion is an activity participated in by people who can't tell the difference between what they think and reality; the difference between what is inside their head and what is outside of their head. As a matter of fact, it never occurs to most of these people that there might be a difference between what they think and what is.

Apr. 21 2014 11:11 AM
oscar from ny

Well god is the god of the living so I found out long time ago that he made me into this character call the imam I'm supposed to have 3 powers ..I can't lie , I come to help, and I have common sense..I went thru some portal when I was a baby but I remember...its great sometimes because everywhere I go ppl feel my power and they follow me..I am part of Armageddon and just preparing once again for the coming of our Jesus..

Apr. 21 2014 11:10 AM

I've had lots of experiences "beyond human categories", some becoming truly mystical, but I'd only associate them with "God" for speaking with others, as that's the word people usually use for experiences "beyond categories".

To me they are really a more from a radical and free kind of "learning", opening my "senses" to "to awarenesses and connections that emerge". It often comes about as I explore "the in-betweens" of both my own perception and the margins and spaces in-between the natural systems that our living world is made of...

I guess you'd call it a more "spiritual" than usual approach to careful "observation" of real world relationships... a greater fulfillment of "science" as a way to connect with life rather. than a practice of finding rules for life.

Apr. 21 2014 11:08 AM
Nick from UWS

Religion has been directly responsible for unspeakable evil in this world, and continues to be. "Faith" is nothing more than swallowing the Kool Aid of a particular "religious" organization and accepting to have your life controlled by their tenets, which was the original purpose of religion in the first place; to control the population by putting the fear of a "God" in them. No thanks.

Apr. 21 2014 11:05 AM
Heidi from Forest Hills

There is an important book that speaks of these experiences: The Silent Pulse by George Leonard. Moments or states of grace and their connection to the rhythm of the world. States or moments like these leave a lasting - for a while - effect, in my experience...yet how do we situate ourselves for "repeat performances" of such events?

Apr. 21 2014 11:03 AM
Barbara from New Jersey

Thank you for hosting this discussion, however I urge you not to conflate God with religion. God is the name we give to the source of life and love. Religion is, at best, humankind's feeble attempt to explain and relate to God and find meaning. Regretfully, religion has more often than not been used as a weapon of power and control.

Apr. 21 2014 11:01 AM
Anne from NYC

The caller Gloria from Colombia brought up what I think is a big problem for 50% of monotheistic religions' followers: The scriptures for these religions are assumed to have been written by men, so god became a man, so male followers used this as reason to oppress the female followers. Many of the world's problems were born as a consequence.

Apr. 21 2014 10:41 AM
Francis from Pa

Brian--You would do a service to listeners by referring to "your god" or "their gods" rather than to "god."

Apr. 21 2014 10:39 AM
Matilda Virgilio from Valley Stream, NY

Even though raised Catholic my spiritual journey took me past dogma & organized formats....The voice I hear when I pray are the voices of those in my past who loved me & who I loved who are long past to the other side. Through the loves of my life the truth of hope & redemption is reborn. Spring/Easter/Passover the Passion of Jesus these all symbolize the lessons & examples I learn from & try to adapt to my life;s journey. When troubles come, as they always do the true test of my faith is put into the fire...somehow each time, like melting glass I yield & let go of who I was & who I am asked to be. Forgiveness does not come easy & the opportunities to practice kindness to those that have wronged us is a lifelong lesson in patience, tolerance & understanding. Being 65 I have endured many injustices not believe people can wrap their small brains & minds around the energy that we call God. Having humility to know ones place in the universe while keeping pride in being part of it...while being stuart to the truth is the challenge. Personal goal through my faith is to leave the corner I am placed a better & with more love than if I were not there. "In the end only kindness matters".......(Jewel said it best) because God is one of us, just a stranger on a bus...trying to find the way home.

Apr. 21 2014 10:19 AM

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