The real utopia

THE word utopia was coined in 1516 by Thomas More as a pun meaning both a good place and no place. How apt.

Now we have the Internet, a virtual society, the first real no place, where impossible dreams of perfection abound.

But the personal therapy cults, obsession with consumerism and religious cults promising utopia are all symptoms of an age of confusion. The cyberworld seems crammed with paranoid gurus suffering delusions that they are God, claiming special powers of clairvoyance and advancing absurd theories about the universe.

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, noted two things odd about the human race.
“First they are haunted by the idea of a sort of behavior they ought to practice, what you might call fair play or decency or morality, or the Law of Nature,” Lewis wrote.
“Second, that they do not practise this.”

Lewis said the Law of Human Nature must be something above and beyond the actual facts of human behavior.
According to Lewis, moral choices always alter the core of our souls.
Slowly, we turn into either heavenly or hellish creatures.
“To be one kind of creature is joy and peace and knowledge and power,” he wrote.
“To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence and eternal loneliness.
“Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”
So why do we keep dreaming up impossible schemes of perfection when this world, with all its messiness, is as good as it’s going to get?
We cannot control this world, and we are not really in charge of many things about our lives that we like to think we are.
But we each have the capacity to respond to life as we choose. That’s the real utopia. We can learn from the wonderful messiness of life, and make active choices. How things really are and always will be on this planet is neither all evil nor all good . Life is imperfect and we have to deal with that with our eyes open.
The great spiritual teachers, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha, did not talk of false utopias.
Instead, they encouraged their followers to pour their lives out for others; to engage this world and transform it.
In the end, they all said, spiritual choices mean a life is either lost or given to the world.

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23 thoughts on “The real utopia

  1. Reblogged this on pintowski's Blog and commented:
    BEING BEING, aligns itself with this write up as an intro to the numerous experiences it will reveal in the course to promote the Human life and envision a better world..

    BEING BEING, says a big thank you to Brian Peterson Faith Works Blog, for this addendum.

    Feel free to.read and make comments friends..

    BEING BEING.

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  2. ….and once again Lewis exposes himself as a ….(am I allowed to say ‘dickhead’?):-

    ““First they are haunted by the idea of a sort of behavior they ought to practice, what you might call fair play or decency or morality, or the Law of Nature,” Lewis wrote.

    NOBODY with a skerrick of comprehension would suggest ” what you might call fair play or decency or morality,” has anything to do with, or would ever even by recognised, as factors in any observable among any ‘Laws of Nature’.

    Such concepts are entirely and completely human constructs for human purposes.
    And the same applies to this sort of idiocy:- “How things really are and always will be on this planet is neither all evil nor all good. There are no such qualities extant in ‘Nature’.

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    • Nature is full of selfishness and unselfishness – good and evil if you will. To kill to protect and feed your tribe, your mate, your child, yourself. AND to suffer, perhaps die, for the sake of your child, your mate, your tribe.

      All the time learning lessons. Despite the upgrade in our ‘educational’ (life) places, we progress only one ‘grade’ at a time. Similar lessons have to be learned as from earliest times. Utopia is not a school, not life.

      For our curriculum in life, trust in the Lord!

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      • A minor correction, Dreamweaver:-
        “Nature is full of (WHAT WE CALL) selfishness and unselfishness – good and evil”.

        ‘Nature’ is no more concerned with such human concepts than evolutionary processes are concerned with efficiency or productivity or the bottom-line (end-results).

        The dog might eat you because he was hungry, but wouldn’t do so because of your politics or religion.

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      • Sorry Dabs that I haven’t expressed myself well. I think therefore we’re talking at cross purposes, but I do appreciate much you say.
        🙂

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      • Actually I rather think we’re on pretty-much the same wavelength, Dreamweaver, and simply have a fairly insignificant difference of opinion as the make of the transmitter.

        For example:- “All the time learning lessons. Despite the upgrade in our ‘educational’ (life) places, we progress only one ‘grade’ at a time. Similar lessons have to be learned as from earliest times.”

        I’d even agree that “Utopia is not a school, not life.”

        My only point of departure would be that ‘Utopia’ ~ as defined above ~ “both a good place and no place.” ~ is a perfect description of heaven, in all it’s connotations and residencies.

        ……. though I can’t for the life of me see the punny side of it.
        Perhaps we’re meant to see “…More as a pun”?

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      • Dabs, I’m struggling a bit, forgive my slow comprehension, please!

        I don’t quite know where you’re differentiating nature and humanity. If there is only a difference of 2% between our genes and a chimps, are we not all part of nature? Chimps have a more aggressive streak than many other animals. But do they understand this, do they know when they are being kind or unkind? Do they have a sense of morality?

        Something, (perhaps someone or some-them,) has given us human animals the ability to know this, through the process of frontal brain evolution. Was it not then that humankind was ‘created’?

        Even humans can have a distorted sense of morality. An offender will often be proud of his behaviour. A murderer will boast of the number he’s killed. The most avaricious person will be proud of his greed.

        I think, though, that what separates us more from other mammals is not so much the knowledge of good and evil, but the ability to sense a spiritual dimension, the ability to know God if you like, even though we are far from full knowledge. Such knowledge is still developing from the crudest of caveman beliefs to where we are today, with still a long way to go.

        We can believe in the power of good, of love. We can’t know much ABOUT God, but we can know a presence.

        This is where faith comes in.

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      • Hi Dreamweaver
        Among my files I’ve just discovered a longwinded response to an earlier comment of yours which wasn’t posted for whatever reason, (seem to remember that the intention was to transcribe a relevant passage from Ardrey). Essentially it refers to this more recent post to do with “the process of frontal brain evolution”.

        There’s probably no doubt that’s where “humankind was ‘created’
        But there are a few questions as to what triggered that “process”, but the bottom line(s) are
        (a) that in evolutionary terms it happened overnight, and
        (b) unlike most such cases in evolutionary ‘specialisation’ in the interests of survival ~ which are generally lineal ~ our brain appears to have evolved geometrically…but of course always in the interests of survival. In that mode it appears be almost a throwback to the way things happened in the Cambrian Epoch half a BILLION years earlier.

        As a generalisation that means that while each species developed it’s own tools for survival: (some got speed, some strength, some claws and teeth, some wings or fins, better camouflage or more efficient adaptability, some more flexible metabolisms or more complicated physiologies, etc. etc. etc, ~ and usually a combinations of all those things and many more.),
        …..homosapiens has evolved just ONE basic survival-tool: the human brain. That might account for the relatively short time it took; it can equally convincingly account, according to the KISS principle, for homosaps being the LEAST evolved of all species, since our brain allows us to be a free-wheeling ‘jack of all trades and master of none’.

        The highly-developed specialist attributes of every other species confines it to a very narrow range of environmental parameters. What the human brain DOES provide, uniquely in all the known universe, is an adaptibility that allows survival in ANY environment, and an imagination that results in language (hence a record of the past and the ability to extrapolate into the future.)

        All that means that we can re-invent ourselves time after time (deliberately and with aforethought) and make whatever adjustments are needed for any particular ~ and changing ~ circumstance. Among which ‘adjustments’, I’m convinced, are the attributes we often ascribe to ‘some power outside of ourselves’.
        Just as we create ‘kindness and unkindness, morality’, etc. so do we also create ourselves and our gods, which inexorably lead to ‘civilisation’ (all of which leads to yet further ‘adjustments’ invented as need demands ~ or is perceived as demanding ~ evolution
        admits very few hard and fast rules: it’s trial and error all the way, ALWAYS ending in extinction, notwithstanding our ‘adjustment’ of ‘eternal life in heaven’.

        Ardrey has quite a lot to say about all this sort of thing, including describing our invention of ‘civilisation’ as a simple and obvious evolutionary survival technique to try and control our MOST primordial survival instinct: Violence. He points out that the growth of ‘civilsation’ is exactly matched by our ability to kill ourslves. (Would ANYBODY believe the UN was created by god?? 😆 !)

        He also talks about the incompatible ~ and unsynchronised ~ relationship between our most basic governing instincts and the restraining brain which makes the utmost sense…..and much more.
        Don’t have time now, but am happy to explore the subject further if you like. Or perhaps you can tack down a copy of the book yourself. (African Genesis ~ first of a trilogy). He was a professional author ~ and one with a passion for the topic ~ and can do a much better job of it than I can.

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    • Okay Dabs,

      I’ll donate, especially as God has just told me that no animal has ever offended or resisted or rejected or disobeyed God the way every human being has. Any animal is a more faithful servant of God than the best human! 😯

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      • glad to see your comment there, Mon,

        I recall that when some months back I ventured the opinion that animals are already ‘blessed’ by God, or some such comment, I got criticized for the idea.
        I think I quoted at the time something I read in Jung that the animals of the world do just everything that the God has destined for them. much more honest and consistent than we humans can ever be.

        Heaven knows, my two Pusses are like little angels. (that’s a proud ‘daddy’ speaking there!) Names by the way, are Tamino and Tiffany, bearing pet (house names) of Bruno and Jessie. The former being a Seal Point Tonkinese, and the other a rather overweight black Domestic Short Hair.

        Rian.

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      • ah, I love you Mon! Even if I don’t understand your need to find excuses for being a good person. 😉

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    • Dabbles, you have such a good heart. My sister is in the process of welcoming two little rescued rabbits into the fold. If it were upto her she would have a zoo in that little unit lol. We just got a couple of chooks. I grew up with chooks and was never particularly fond of them. Just saw them as eating machines, but now, I have come to appreciate their funny little personalities. I was actually physically repelled once I realised that I was watching the chooks and eating lunch, which was errr, chicken lol I thought, oh no, I’m going to become a vegetarian!

      Animals, like children, really enrich your life.

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      • Yeah, Kathleen; and (ideally) it cuts both ways. I never could get used to the idea that creatures as (supposedly) grossly different as humans and other animals could ever have found their way into the same lifeboat. (Earth)

        Incidentally (co-incidentally??) I know a poor little petshop-bought rabbit that’s spent its whole life in solitary-confinement in a small cage that’s sometimes moved around the backyard, but always mostly exposed to the weather ~ hot AND cold. (and often surrounded by local cats trying to figure out a way to get into the cage.)
        I’ve made a few enquiries to try finding it a new home, but none of the offers have been much of an improvement over its current conditions.
        Perhaps your sister…….. ? 🙂
        (I’d be happy to organise transport,pay any vet’s bills, send along a 20-kilo bag of carrots, etc.)

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      • Thanks Dabbles, but I don’t think they would have room for a third, because when not roaming the small yard, the hutch would only really fit the two they’ve already ordered.

        Have you tried Gumtree?

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      • Dabbles, are you saying humans are grossly different from other animals, or particular other animals?

        Chimpanzees are more genetically similar to humans than they are to other primates like orangutans or gorillas. There is less than 2% difference in our DNA. This similarity has led some scientists to speculate that the violent behaviors of humans and chimpanzees may originate with this common ancestor.

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      • No. (Tried Gumtree)…and wouldn’t.
        Thanks for the thought, but it’s not a huge problem ~ finding the time and opportunity is!
        It just seemed like one of those uncanny coincidences that sometimes pop up on my travels through Time and Space….which I just can’t resist trying on!
        Thanks anyway.
        But do keep in mind that I’m always looking for good homes for assorted beasties. (Mainly dogs of course.)
        So if anything likely pops up on YOUR travels……….

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  3. You misundestand me, Stewth:
    My ‘grossly different’ comment referred to the religious dogma that ~ in the interests of self-justifying superiority ~ insists there’s an uncrossable chasm between homosapiens and all other living things because we contain the ‘spirit of god’ and ‘soul’ and nothing else does. Despite that, in Genesis ~ the source of the claim ~ it’s nowhere denied that all living things are so endowed, even if it’s not specifically stated. Note that ONLY Adam is specified as having received the ‘spirit of god’; Eve apparently missed out too, along with all the other birds (fowls of the air), etc.

    My unwavering assertion has always been that every living thing shares (by definition) the same fundamentals –> Life. (Not that any of the ‘experts’, though repeatedly asked, has ever chosen (actually:- DARED) to define ‘Life’ ~ particularly as to it’s biblical connotations ~ no matter how often they chuck the word around.)

    ….and that in sharing the essentials ALL living organisms have equal validity and are due equal consideration in any circumstances, regardless of HOW ‘Life’ came into being…or how it’s evolved since. (Which, again, demands suitable/acceptable definition for the word/concept.)

    Incidentally, are you aware of the intriguing minor variations ‘twixt human, chimpanzee and bonobo DNA?
    http://news.sciencemag.org/plants-animals/2012/06/bonobos-join-chimps-closest-human-relatives

    In any case, I’m yet to be convinced that the mechanics (eg.DNA/physiology/anatomy) tells the whole story. Such things are the record of the past: the future lies before us.

    I think you’d enjoy one if my favourite books –> African Genesis (Robert Ardrey). Its ideas are a bit dated , and though sometimes disputed have never been disproved. And it’s not a textbook: more an entertaining mental foray into things which indisputably exist, written by an anthropologist who made his living as a playwright. I dip into it in the way believers dip into their holy books: for reassurance that I’m not just an afterthought dropped into the Universal pond…..that I had an existence and was part of Reality before humans and chimps, or even the earth, were ever a glint in Time’s eye.
    If your library can’t get you a copy I can lend you mine.

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    • It seems we’re in agreement, Dabbles. Thanks for the reminder about the bonobos, it was good to read the link.

      I’ll see if I can get a copy of that book. Borrowing from you might be a bit awkward, seeing I live in Ballarrat.

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      • That’s ok ~ I’ve shared it via the mail before. (it’s an evangelistic Spirit ~ the one with horns and a pitchfork ~ that drives me!).
        ‘Twas a best-seller in the early ’60s, so there might well be a copy around/on the library’s data-bank.
        Op-shops are another useful source. (I found several copies of ‘The Story of O’ (very daring in its day, and banned for years!) in a couple of christian-owned Op-shops!….So you never know 😉 )

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      • Hi Strewth.
        I’m far too paranoid to get within rifleshot of Facebook. Will work out something else: p’rhaps Bryan can pass on my email address?
        In any case, have you asked your local library to try to get you a copy?

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