Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."



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Alan

Fascinating post.

I'd say the lesson here is that we should not be affraid to believe in the existence of that which we cannot prove, so long as we comprehend the limits of our own beliefs and use such spirituality as a means to enrich our lives rather than as a means to separate us from others.

And that belief doesn't have to be religious. It could just a belief in a set of ethics or a moral structure--anything that brings greater meaning and purpose to our lives and the material things surrounding us.

Pastor_Jeff

"If we are to have a snowball's chance in hell of staving off theocracy..."

Amba - Do you really believe this is a danger? I think there is a general agreement that Americans are becoming less religious while remaining just as spiritual.

Maybe I should ask what you mean by theocracy?

realpc

I don't agree that scientific materialism is dead. Secularists may be acknowledgiing the need for spiritual faith but, as in the above post, they are not rejecting their naturalist/rationalist philosophy.
In order to whole-heartedly believe you are part of something greater, you need to believe there are levels beyond the physical. On the physical level, we are separate and isolated.
Feeling connected to human society is not at all the same as feeling that you are a node on an immense network of multidimensional intelligence.
There are things I don't like about this particular civilization, and I am not always thrilled to be part of it. But I can always feel perfectly at home in the intelligent creative universe. It is always there inside me and inside everyone else, and we are all inside of it. Our minds are constantly connected, even though our conscious egos are separate.
There is always infinite meaning behind everything that happens, and each of our lives has purpose and direction. But without complete faith in this infinitely creative network, it can be hard to find your way, hard to surrender and go along with its mysterious currents.

amba

Pastor Jeff -- by theocracy I mean what the hard-core evangelicals are aiming for -- what they were trying to achieve at the Air Force Academy, for instance -- an officially Christian nation.

Pastor_Jeff

Amba - Thanks for the clarification.

There is an unfortunately loud part of evangelicalism that feels America has been stolen by the secularists and Christianity pushed to the edges of the culture. Their cry is "Regain America for Christ." I don't think there's much popular support for turning America into Jesustan, though.

Your comment made it sound like we'll have to work hard to avoid that outcome. Do you really think we're headed in that direction?

amba

Here's what I think: evangelicals of that stripe are aggressively saving souls, especially in the lonely exurbs where the church is becoming the central social institution (in itself not a bad thing), and are also very good at motivating people to vote. Their constituency, if you count a a penumbra of equally devout but more old-fashioned believers, might be in the neighborhood of 40 percent of the population. Less than 50 percent of the country votes at all. If the more diverse and less absolutely certain sectors of the population vote at much lower rates than these evangelicals . . . ? We could see a sort of takeover, simply because they are better-organized and more motivated.

Pastor_Jeff

Amba - Thanks again for helpful explanations of your thinking.

I agree with your assessment generally, except that I don't think evangelicals are aggresively saving souls. Rates of church attendance and people self-identifying as evangelical have been flat for decades.

A lot of what's going on is attendance shifting to mega-churches as small churches die off (I've had experience on both ends). And a church of 10,000 has more impact than 100 churches of 100. I think evangelicals are louder and more visible, but not necessarily more effective.

Take abortion as an issue, for example (BTW - your two essays have been excellent). Most evangelicals may vote Republican, but ask any pastor how often they talk about abortion (rarely) or how many of their members are active in pro-life in any way (5-10% would be huge).

Many evangelical leaders bemoan the movement's self-centeredness. Sadly, for many evangelicals, faith is more about meeting their needs than changing themselves or the world. I don't think evangelicals will take over America any time soon.

I've enjoyed the discussion. Thanks for engaging, expecially in the middle of everything else.

amba

One thing I'm quite sure of: you know a lot more about it than I do. I'm at the mercy of media sensationalism -- particularly some of the big recent stories about megachurches and workplace proselytizing.

I have a close friend who's as born-again as it gets. I see how beautifully that worldview works for some people, the good it can do, and I am happy to coexist with it. But by definition, that worldview believes it is the only true and right one. I don't mind being told I'm headed for hell if I don't accept Jesus as God AND all the intellectual baggage that comes with. But I wouldn't want that worldview legislating over me.

realpc

amba,
I think there will always be born-agains, or something like that, and they will always be claiming to know the one truth. Feeling you know the whole truth is the only way to have complete faith, and faith is the most powerful force in the universe. Being a born-again, and getting a ride on the powerful Christ morphic field, depends on self-righteousness, unfortunately.

I am not a born-again or anything like that. I am a believer without a church, because like you I can't buy irrational dogma. But I think I understand why people become fundamentalists -- there is tremendous power in belonging to something like that.

I don't think Jesus is God, but I have a theory about why so many people believe it. I think Jesus, and many other mystics like him (who we have mostly never heard of because their stories were not recorded in writing), perfected his faith in Yahweh. Because of that, he was able to unite with the Father in Heaven -- or, in more scientific terms, he tuned in to the God Field. That's what he was trying to teach his followers, how to let go of all worldly attachments (including family, by the way!) and become One with the infinite.

I think a lot of other mystics have taught the same thing. The born-agains of today are right, in a sense. Yes they can be obnoxious, but perfect faith might be the only way to attain salvation. I have become skeptical about the New Age spirituality I used to like so much. I think it's too easy, and does not recognize how strenuous and demanding salvation probably is.

amba

Real,

I agree with just about every word of that, including the part about New Age spirituality being too easy, too shallow, merely fanciful and, as they say, "ego-syntonic."

My Pentecostal friend has transmitted the felt experience of Jesus's love to me, and I'm convinced that it was real, because it was not something I would have been able to imagine, and it was not like anything I've ever felt from (as opposed to through) any mere human being.

The problem is that the "pipeline" through which she transmits that love is partly made up of beliefs that I cannot accept even for the sake of such amazing love, because I would simply be pretending or lying if I tried to believe in the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, the End Times, or that I'm going to hell if I don't believe it all.

I don't accept that those beliefs are the only "pipeline." However, you're right, faith is; and for some people, accepting such an authorized, officially one-and-only, and therefore utterly trustworthy set of concepts is what enables faith. There is the paradox.

amba

And, by the way, I also understand it in terms of morphic fields!

Pastor_Jeff

Real,

Being a born-again, and getting a ride on the powerful Christ morphic field, depends on self-righteousness, unfortunately.

While there are many self-righteous Christians, self-righteousness is the exact opposite of Christian faith. Evangelicals have strong beliefs and convictions. But the core of that belief is grace: "God has been good to me and I don't deserve it. I was lost, but God rescued me in Christ and gave me his love. And you can experience that, too."

I know it doesn't always come across this way, but Christians are acutely aware that we are not righteous in ourselves - far from it.

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