Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith review

Its been a while since I have gotten to post much of anything due to my severe drug reaction to Cipro antibiotic (google Cipro Toxicity for more info).  However I have not quit thinking of things in the realm of religion or theology or human nature or life in general, just not able to mentally and physically put them into words much.

But I am vowing to start that process again and do so here by my review of a new dvd series from Living The Questions (LTQ) - Painting The Stars dvd series.  It is produced by www.livingthequestions.com llc.  I was sent a copy of this to review and give an honest assessment of it so I will attempt to do so concisely and clearly.

First of all if you are fundamental in your religious beliefs and not receptive to different thoughts about religion, God, spirituality, mysticism and other like things then this is probably not the dvd series for you.  If you are a bit traditional but like to consider other views of things then you might like it. If you are moderate to liberal in your theology (and certain world views) then you would probably like most of it.

I will break this into categories for easy processing:

Production. This dvd series is well made, blending nice imagery with beautiful language, appropriate mood setting background music/sounds, interesting dialogue form various commentators who express views in a general sense.  There are 7 sessions on the dvd and each lasts approximately 20 something minutes in length, several ending with poetry.  The audio and video quality is top notch.

Substance:  What the series has in beautiful imagery and language and production it lacks in substance.  Substance meaning evidence or supporting documentation to back up much of what any of the authors are saying. Not that this is a bad thing or that the intent of the dvd series was to make a case for anything requiring evidence. After all it is called "living the questions" and the particular theme is how science, religion and an evolving faith could work.  It is more exploratory in nature, bringing up ideas that are nontraditional and expanding our view/experience/understandings of God and our world and the unseen world. An interconnectedness if you will. The format is a good one if you or your group would like to listen to these folks talk about ideas and have an open and frank discussion.  Many more traditional Christians will not be receptive however.

Politics: Admittedly most of the authors are academic and liberal. John Shelby Sponge for instance. I do love his little comments about how we seem to "have a fetish with the blood of Jesus. We protestants bath in it and Catholics drink it" etc. And though I agree with much of the premises that are espoused, I do not necessarily agree with the politics of biological evolution, race, economic disparity, environmental crises, etc.  One commentator suggested that the religious right was in kahoots with corporations to rape the planet of resources because Jesus was coming back soon so they were getting what they could before that happens. As it doesn't matter because we won't be around long enough to care what happens to the planet. I have never heard that philosophy espoused by anyone on the religious right that the 2nd coming was a reason for supporting corporate raping of the planet, nor do I believe the vast majority of conservative christians support any exploitation of the planet. Much of the dvd series, and I noted in Ch. 4 Evolutionaries, seemed to be pretty much against a conservative church or mindset.

Relevance:  I think the dvd series is relevant to our times. It addresses such issues as safe places in the church where people can be honest about things (Ch. 6), Evolutionary Christianity in Ch. 5 where it is suggested that the term Christian be redefined due to so much baggage associated with it. Thought provoking statements like John Shelby Sponge "There wasn't a fall you needed to be rescued from. We need to get out of the rescue-redeemer-savior mentality."  I know, every Baptist just cringed when reading that.  Jan Phillips in Ch. 7 went into Evolutionary Spirituality - that ii is "self-sourced, need not ever require a belief in an external god", which to me was a little more disconnect from God and more mysticism. Statements such as "A commitment of Unity" and "An evolved sense of Spirituality".  Suggesting we are god and the trees are god and the honey bee is god connectedness. Although I think we are connected in some ways, I do believe there is an external God and that I am not it, and neither is my desk or the contents of my lunch.

So overall I believe this dvd series is very good, although you may not agree with much of it. But if you are not afraid to explore, to ask questions, to see different points of view and contemplate things, then you will probably enjoy it immensely. If you already know everything about God and the big plan of salvation and gateway theology then you will hate it.  ~npp

*disclosure of material: I received this dvd free from the author and or publisher through the speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions CFR Part 255.