Merry Christmas! Bethlehem Visit & Live Nativity!

A Bethlehem Visit… Live Nativity… A Spiritual Experience! Thank you Ponte Vedra Presbyterian Church! Merry Christmas Everybody!   (Facebook Post with 30 pics, Andy Reistetter, 12-9-17)

Traditional Three-Day Hindu Marriage Ceremony…

Day 1 Morning: PITHI: Mandap Muhurat, Pithi and Ganpati Puja

Mandap Muhurat is the ceremony symbolizing the beginning of the wedding, three days prior to the wedding day. In the Vedic traditions of Hinduism, every auspicious ceremony (Muhurat) – wedding, birth, housewarming, begins with the remembrance and respect of Lord Ganesh. Lord Ganesh embodies the one who removes all obstacles. The parents of the bride seek the blessings of Mother Earth and ask permission to commence with the digging of the soil to erect the mandap (platform erected for the wedding rites covered with a canopy). This puja is performed by a priest in front of a sacred fire. 

Pithi (haldi) is a paste made of chick pea flour, turmeric, rose water and other ingredients; the golden concoction is applied to the face, arms and legs of the bride and groom to cleanse and purify them before the wedding ceremony. It is initiated with mango leaves by maternal aunts, (mother’s brothers’s wives) and then by bride’s brother’s friends. 

Ganpati Puja (Ganepaat) : The bride and her parents will sit together; earthen pots ceremony (Mahya matla vidhi) is performed by the bride’s father’s Sisters, who afterwards will tie a knot in a scarf between the bride’s parents.

Day 1 Evening: MEHNDI: Mingling, Mehndi and Dinner

The bride has henna applied using intricate patterns and detail. It is believed that the deeper the colour on the bride’s hands, the stronger the love between husband and wife. There is also a custom that the bride has her groom’s initials incorporated in the design which he then must find on the wedding night. The event is an important celebration as it marks the start of the wedding festivities.

Day 2 Morning: GRAH SHANTI: Receiving Mosalu and Grah Shanti Puja 
Lunch served at 11:30 AM until 2:00 PM

Mosalu, literally translated, means “maternal side.” Although this ceremony is known as the time when the bride’s maternal relatives are welcomed & present her with an abundance of gifts- clothes, jewelry, etc., the bonds and familial relationships which underly this ceremony create an environment of unconditional love, sacrifice, and pure happiness. The bride’s paternal side of the family goes to the entrance of the hall, to officially receive the maternal side of the family. 

Grah Shanti ceremony springs from the belief that the stars and constellations exert tremendous influence on the lives of human beings. Any disturbance in the stars can cause harm or clashes in the marital relationship and the lives of the couple. The purpose of the puja is to bring peace among the stars.

Day 2 Evening: SANGEET: An evening of Ceremony, Spirits, Dinner, traditional Garba music and Dancing

Sangeet is a celebration and bright colors are appropriate.

Day 3 Morning: WEDDING: Baraat, Milni and Wedding Ceremony 

Baraat (Jaan) = Grooms Party Parade: Groom and his entire groom’s party (Jaan) travel towards the starting arch and tries to impress bridal party with their dance moves. This is led by a drummer (dholi). 

A few feet away from the arch the bride’s mother and aunties approach the groom to formally receive him. The groom is going to play hard to get until they hands him an envelope. 

The groom will eventually be escorted by the bride’s mother, followed closely by a few of the groom’s cousin sisters, mom and brother. There will be a Baajat (step up stool) set up for the groom. Before he steps up, (Var Bedu ritual) the bride’s younger cousin sister will carry two water pots on her head which represents good omen. Once she walks close enough, the groom’s mother will give her a token of an envelope. 

The groom will be asked to remove his shoes and step on the Baajat. Bride’s mother applies chandlo (red kumkum dot) and chokha (rice) on Groom’s forehead, and performs Aarti (light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter.) 

Varmala Ceremony: Groom’s brother puts his right thumb over the right shoulder of the groom from behind then the pundit starts to chant prayers to invoke Lord Ganesh and various deities for their blessings. While chanting he wraps the raw thread four times around the right big toe of the groom then to the thumb of the brother. Each thread represents a different virtue of human life. The pundit then will take the varmala (garland) and later garland the bride and groom together for Kanyadaan ceremony. Kanyadaan, meaning “giving away the bride” in Sanskrit, is a symbolic marriage ritual for the Bride’s parents and the couple. 

Milni is when the bride’s Father and uncles greet all the close male family members on the groom’s side by saying Namaste, shaking hands and exchanging hugs. Close family members of the groom’s will be handed a small red or cream hand towel to place on their right shoulder. It shows that they were formally greeted by the bride’s family. They will all go towards the seating area for the wedding. 

Ponkhana (welcoming of the groom): this ceremony is performed by the bride’s mother & involves the use of four mini ponkhana sticks, representing the couple must work together and signifies the couple’s promise to move together as a unit in life. Offerings are given to the deities of four directions; Sunrise, Sunset, Earth and Vegetations to receive their blessings. 

Wedding programs will be available to guests at this point to help guide the family through the rest of the ceremony.

Day 3 Evening: RECEPTION: Cocktails, Dinner and Dancing


Vedism is the oldest stratum of religious activity in India for which there exist written materials. It was one of the major traditions that shaped Hinduism. Knowledge of Vedic religion is derived from surviving texts and also from certain rites that continue to be observed within the framework of modern Hinduism. It takes its name from the collections of sacred texts known as the Vedas.

Though it is impossible to say when Vedism eventually gave way to classical Hinduism, a decrease in literary activity among the Vedic schools from the 5th century bce onward can be observed, and about that time a more Hindu character began to appear.

To each Veda is attached a body of prose writings of later date called Brahmanas (c. 800–600 bce), which explain the ceremonial applications of the texts and the origin and importance of the sacrificial rites for which the Vedas were composed.

When Vedic religion gradually evolved into Hinduism between the 6th and 2nd centuries bce, the texts, taken collectively, became the most sacred literature of Hinduism. They are known as Shruti (“What Is Heard”), the divinely revealed section of Hindu literature—in contrast to the later strata of religious literature known as Smriti (“What Is Remembered”), traditional texts attributed to human authors. But in modern Hinduism the Shruti, with the exception of the Upanishads and a few hymns of the Rigveda, is now little known, while some of the Smriti texts remain extremely influential.


Bahá’ís’ World Religion Day, January 15th, 2017

The Ringstone symbol represents humanity's connection to God

The Ringstone symbol represents humanity’s connection to God. Picture Credit: Wikipedia

World Religion Day is an observance initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, celebrated worldwide on the third Sunday in January each year. Though initiated in the United States, World Religion Day has come to be celebrated internationally.

Its purpose is to promote the idea that the spiritual principles underlying the world’s religions are harmonious, and to suggest that religions play a role in unifying humanity. In April 2002, the Universal House of Justice published a letter “To the World’s Religious Leaders”, in which it was stated that:

Interfaith discourse, if it is to contribute meaningfully to healing the ills that afflict a desperate humanity, must now address honestly … the implications of the over-arching truth … that God is one and that, beyond all diversity of cultural expression and human interpretation, religion is likewise one.

Calligraphy of the Greatest Name

Calligraphy of the Greatest Name.

The Bahá’í Faith is a monotheistic religion which emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind. Three core principles establish a basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, that there is only one God who is the source of all creation; the unity of religion, that all major religions have the same spiritual source and come from the same God; and the unity of humanity, that all humans have been created equal, coupled with the unity in diversity, that diversity of race and culture are seen as worthy of appreciation and acceptance. According to the Bahá’í Faith’s teachings, the human purpose is to learn to know and to love God through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to humanity.

The Bahá’í Faith was founded by Bahá’u’lláh in 19th-century Persia. Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned and exiled from Persia to the Ottoman Empire because of his association with the Babi movement. He was still officially under house arrest at the time of his death, more than forty years later. Under the leadership of his son, `Abdu’l-Bahá, the religion gained a footing in Europe and America, but it still suffers intense persecution where it originated, in present-day Iran. After the death of `Abdu’l-Bahá, the leadership of the Bahá’í community entered a new phase, evolving from a single individual to an administrative order with both elected bodies and appointed individuals. It is estimated that there are more than 5 million Bahá’ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories.

According to Bahá’í doctrine, religious history is seen to have unfolded through a series of divine messengers, each of which established a religion that was suited to the needs of the time and to the capacity of the people. Baha’i scripture specifically mentions Abrahamic figures such as Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad; other Bahá’í literature mentions figures from Dharmic religions like Krishna, Buddha, and others. For Bahá’ís, the most recent messengers are the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. In Bahá’í belief, each consecutive messenger prophesied of messengers to follow, and Bahá’u’lláh’s life and teachings fulfilled the end-time promises of previous scriptures. Humanity is understood to be in a process of collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale.

Three core principles establish a basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. From these postulates stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers, whose purpose is to transform the character of humankind and to develop, within those who respond, moral and spiritual qualities. Religion is thus seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age.

The Bahá’í writings describe a single, personal, inaccessible, omniscient, omnipresent, imperishable, and almighty God who is the creator of all things in the universe. The existence of God and the universe is thought to be eternal, without a beginning or end. Though inaccessible directly, God is nevertheless seen as conscious of creation, with a will and purpose that is expressed through messengers termed Manifestations of God.

Bahá’í teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend, or to create a complete and accurate image of, by themselves. Therefore, human understanding of God is achieved through his revelations via his Manifestations. In the Bahá’í religion, God is often referred to by titles and attributes (for example, the All-Powerful, or the All-Loving), and there is a substantial emphasis on monotheism; such doctrines as the Trinity are seen as compromising, if not contradicting, the Bahá’í view that God is single and has no equal. The Bahá’í teachings state that the attributes which are applied to God are used to translate Godliness into human terms and also to help individuals concentrate on their own attributes in worshipping God to develop their potentialities on their spiritual path. According to the Bahá’í teachings the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to others.

The following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of the Bahá’í teachings. They are derived from transcripts of speeches given by `Abdu’l-Bahá during his tour of Europe and North America in 1912. The list is not authoritative and a variety of such lists circulate.

•         Unity of God

•         Unity of religion

•         Unity of humanity

•         Unity in diversity

•         Equality between men and women

•         Elimination of all forms of prejudice

•         World peace and a New world order

•         Harmony of religion and science

•         Independent investigation of truth

•         Principle of Ever-Advancing Civilization

•         Universal compulsory education

•         Universal auxiliary language

•         Obedience to government and non-involvement in partisan politics unless submission to law amounts to a denial of Faith.

•         Elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty

•         Spiritual solutions to economic problems

With specific regard to the pursuit of world peace, Bahá’u’lláh prescribed a world-embracing collective security arrangement as necessary for the establishment of a lasting peace.

All Credit for Text and Pictures to Wikipedia.

Inspired to be Free; Living Life within a Splendid Spiritual Self…

What do I mean by a “Splendid Spiritual Self”?

1It’s a spiritual place or space one can go to with the full realization, awareness, and commitment that only their True Self, their God Within Them, their Trusting Ego and their Eternal Child Within reside there and within their self. The False Self and survival traits they created to survive their childhood that was impacted by alcoholism or other dysfunctional behavior and their Silly Ego have been gradually silenced and excluded from their Spiritual Being. They realize that they are not God in any manner or intent but that God does reside within them and they are committed to do God’s Will, as they understand God, with “The Rest of their Life” A healthy Eternal Child Within keeps hope and the sense of wonder alive, well and thriving in every moment of their life. TROML Baby are they!

2How does this impact one’s life? Tactically, developing a “Splendid Spiritual Self” means that the person is released from ongoing, continuous diversions of mind, emotions and body, including any addictive behaviors. In one’s overall life journey, it means that the person lives in peace, joy and freedom and is able to fulfill their primary purposes in life, whatever they may be.


I am an interactive, solution-focused life coach with a treatment approach providing support and practical feedback to help you address your current life challenges or long-standing issues. I have extensive experience working with individuals concerned with anxiety, depression and grief.

3We will work in a collaborative fashion as I draw from my extensive education, training, and practical experience to design an individualized, collaborative treatment plan for you. TROML is a dynamic self-realization process that removes faulty thoughts and feelings that create mental, emotional, physical and spiritual pain. TROML takes you into a deep exploration of yourself that allows you to discover and know your True Self. We will rediscover, reaffirm and set free your Eternal Child Within.

You will come to know TROML as an integrative approach to heal your mind, body, & spirit. You will find a safe and caring environment that is down to earth and practical. I believe change is possible and that we will quickly be able to get to the heart of your matter.

4In my practice, I value a holistic approach addressing body, mind and spirit. Our sessions will call you to personal responsibility and commitment to make changes that will enrich your life. No matter the past, healing is possible, the present precious and the future is yours to create. Learn to change your thinking, manage your emotions, act from your values and live a life that reflects your best self.

I believe all of us have a longing for wellness and a natural impulse to heal. I will engage you to be positive and to find, identify and implement your solutions. I believe that when we together listen to you in a new way that the answers to your problems will become obvious. Viable answers to your problems already exist within you.

6I have been in private practice since being certified as a life coach in 2011. I am the creator of TROML and have actively and consistently utilized it and perfected its easy-to-use and effective design since 2000.  I wish you to be well, at peace, with joy and freedom, with or without the benefit of TROML and my services. If you like, you can schedule our first appointment on my website.

Have a TROML Day today!

Your Personal Revivalist,

Anonymous Andy

_Hand w PR Business Card


Happy Father’s Day!

_0 640 Andy w Dad Grandparents DayHappy Father’s Day! Hard to believe my Dad has been gone for over 23 years now… I vividly recall our last time playing golf together and him draining a 25-foot putt for birdie on the last hole… caddied for him in high school when he won the club championship… truly a hero and an inspiration to me for all he overcame in life while being a loving father, husband, veteran, city policeman & fireman and a guy you would have like to be paired up with on the first tee of any golf course! He’s playing the Big Course up in Heaven today for sure today! I miss & love you Dad!

CLICK here for TROML Video Four—My Father is a Hero; My Mom & Dad Inspired Me in Life…

_7 640 Dad reading newspaperTo this day, my Dad is a hero and an inspiration to me. He stopped drinking and never had another drink for the last 25 years of his life. I accept alcoholism as a disease, it was not something he wanted to have. My father’s disease takes nothing away from his service to country, community and family. He was a great father to me. His darkest days were during my formative years. Looking back, I was confused a lot when I was growing up. Denial buried a lot of my emotions and memories for a long time. After learning and applying the Twelve Steps my life experience and my own feelings and behavior made a lot more sense to me. I am not perfect and neither was my Dad. I know for a fact that he was more loving and compassionate to me than his father was to him. What more can you ask of a person to give more than he received? I am proud to be my father’s son. We were fortunate to share life together, as fathers, for nearly ten years before his death in 1993.

Ramadan Mubarak (“May God give you a Blessed Month”) رمضان مبارك to all Muslims!

Ramadan Mubarak (“May God give you a blessed month”) on June 6thm 2016 or in Arabic this would be رمضان مبارك

The time for Ramadan is set by the lunar cycle and so is different each year.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

1Chapter 2, Revelation 185, of the Quran states: “The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.”

4Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths.

5 A hadith is one of various reports describing the words, actions, or habits of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Hadith are second only to the Quran in developing Islamic jurisprudence (divine law) and regarded as important tools for understanding the Quran and commentaries (tafsir) written on it. The time for Ramadan is set by the lunar cycle and so is different each year. A common purely lunar calendar is the Islamic (or Hijri Qamari) calendar. A feature of the Islamic calendar is that a year is always 12 months, so the months are not linked with the seasons and drift each solar year by 11 to 12 days. It comes back to the position it had in relation to the solar year approximately every 33 Islamic years.

6The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is fardh (obligatory) for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding. Fasting the month of Ramadan was made obligatory in the second year after the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina (623 CE, CE stands for Common Era).

2While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting. Food and drink is served daily, before dawn and after sunset. Spiritual rewards (thawab) for fasting are also believed to be multiplied within the month of Ramadan. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran.

8It is believed that the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan which has been referred to as the “best of times”. The first revelation was sent down on Laylat al-Qadr (The night of Power) which is one of the five odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. According to hadith, all Holy Scriptures were sent down during Ramadan. The tablets of Ibrahim, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel and the Quran were sent down on 1st, 6th, 12th, 13th and 24th Ramadan respectively.

The end of Ramadan is ‘Eid al-Fitr which is the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast. A greeting for this special holy day is Id Mubarak (“May God make it a blessed feast.”)


Muhammed Ali, A Great Muslim, A Great Citizen of the World!

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Muhammad Ali may go down in history as the first real “citizen of the world.” The champion person had a great perspective on life!

CLICK here for the CBS This Morning feature with Laila Ali’s thoughts on her Father’s Death.

“My dad was not only the best fighter ever, but also such a great man, and there will never be anyone else like him,” Ali said. “And I think that anywhere you go in the world, people not only recognize him but also love him because of the man that he is. Because he stood up for his beliefs. He fought for those that couldn’t speak up for themselves, and he’ll truly be missed by all of us.” Confidence comes from preparation, doing the hard work. I do understand the circle of life. Thanks for all the love, we appreciate it.”—Laila Ali

By Ron Kampeas from The Times of Israel:

Big Brother, Little Brother... Photo Credit:

Big Brother, Little Brother… Photo Credit:

Among the speakers Ali selected for his funeral was Billy Crystal, who in the 1970s performed a one-man comedic sketch framed as a boxing match, “15 Rounds,” that celebrated Ali’s triumph over racism. Crystal, speaking at the service, said he got “lost in him,” like he never had playing any other character. Ali, after one performance, gave him the ultimate compliment: “Little brother, you made my life better than it was,” Crystal recalled.


Crystal, who said Ali called him his “little brother,” also spoke at length about how Ali helped him raise funds for an Israeli-Palestinian theater project that is ongoing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and how Ali quit a sports club after Crystal told him they didn’t accept Jewish members.

Two rabbis spoke at the Memorial Service for Muhammad Ali:

Muhammad Ali was the "heart" of Louisville, Said Rabbi Joe Rapport. Photo Credit

Muhammad Ali was the “heart” of Louisville, Said Rabbi Joe Rapport. Photo Credit

Rabbi Joe Rapport, the rabbi of Congregation Adath Israel Brit Shalom in Louisville spoke of life being a journey with birth being the beginning and death a destination. “Victory is in making the journey. Victory lives not in some high place along the way but in having made the journey, stage by stage, a sacred pilgrimage to life everlasting.”

Watching the Memorial Service on TV inspired me to think that while we made occupy different bodies we can share and be the same spirit… Rabbi Rapport went on to tell a story of Ali and his daughter Laila and how he recognized “that’s me in her,” a beautiful thing and a joy of every parent to know they passed along goodness in their children.

“We all have the same God, we just see him differently.”—Rabbi Joe Rapport

Ali had not one but two rabbis speak at his memorial service.

Rabbi Michael Lerner’s words as captured by Ron Kampeas from The Times of Israel:

TROML is a spiritual process and can incorporate any religious views or none at all.“We know what it’s like to be demeaned,” Lerner said of American Jews, which he said he was speaking for. “We know what it’s like to have a few people who act against the highest visions of our tradition, to then be identified as the value of the entire tradition. And one of the reasons that we at Tikkun magazine, a magazine for liberal and progressive Jews, but also an interfaith magazine, have called on the United States to stand up against the part of the Israeli government that is oppressing Palestinians, is that we as Jews understand that our commitment is to recognize that God has created everyone in God’s image and that everyone is equally precious, and that means the Palestinian people as well as all other people on the planet.”

Billy Crystal, his close friend sports journalist Howard Cosell was Jewish, two rabbis… Ali a Muslim… a Jewish editor calling for precious Palestinian people to be recognized and treated equally… doesn’t the world tell us that Muslims hate Jews who hate Palestinians and everyone hates Americans?

Say it isn’t so Anonymous Andy… it isn’t so!

4And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love,” Lin-Manuel Miranda said in his moving acceptance sonnet two days later at the Tony Awards ceremony extinguishing the hatred exercised that morning in Orlando…

Love trumps hate… they can’t coexist, not in the world or in our hearts.

The majority of human beings in the world know this and are simply being love with their lives.

Why isn’t a tiny minority in power the world over not making peace and love happen?

Why can’t each one of us make it happen in our own lives, all the time with everyone we meet?

Attallah Shabazz, the eldest daughter of Malcolm X, shared these words of wisdom as captured by David Zirin of

A unifying topic was faith and ecumenical faith, respect for faith, all faiths, even if belonging to one specific religion or none, the root of such being the gift of faith itself. So in his own words, he wrote:

5“We all have the same God, we just serve him differently. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names but they all contain water. So do religions have different names and yet they all contain truth. Truth expressed in different ways and forms and times. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe all people are part of one family. For if you love God, you can’t love only some of his children.“—Muhammad Ali

Other speakers at Muhammad Ali’s Memorial Service included Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali’s widow; Rasheda Ali-Walsh, Ali’s daughter; President Bill Clinton and Rev. Kevin Cosby, pastor at St. Stephen Church in Louisville and president of Simmons College of Kentucky.

Let’s end with more words of faith and wisdom from Muhammad Ali, A Great Muslim, A Great Citizen of the World! Let’s all try to be Ali in our own lives! TROML Baby!

“As-salamu alaykum,” peace be upon you Muhammad Ali…

6“He (another boxer) s not the active top man recognized by the people of Africa, Asia, London, America, Black, White, Red, Yellow, Blue, Catholic, Jew, Moslem, Christian, Baptist, Methodist, he is not recognized by those people, I am the man, all over the land, if you do not believe it, just interfere with my plan.“—Muhammad Ali

“Everything I do now, I do to please Allah,” he once said. “I conquered the world, and it didn’t bring me happiness. The only true satisfaction comes from honoring and worshiping God. … Being a true Muslim is the most important thing in the world to me. It means more to me than being black or being American.” —Muhammad Ali

More highlights from the Muhammad Ali memorial service by Melissa Gray, CNN

“As-salamu alaykum,” peace be upon you Muhammad Ali…


What is it like to be an Agnostic?

Are Atheists properly represented in this artwork?

Are Agnostics properly represented in this artwork?

An agnostic is a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

All Spiritual Orientations Warmly Welcomed to TROML!

If you are an Agnostic, would you write about Agnosticism and what it means and feels like to be an Agnostic? I am looking for open-minded, honest and reasonable people, like myself, to share their religious and spiritual experience, strengths and hope. I will post them on Personal Revivalist in the hope that we can unite as human beings and stop the senseless killing of human beings in this world.

I have read Carl Sagan’s book—The Demon-Haunted World—Science as a Candle in the Dark. I wonder if his views represent all atheists around the world.

1On Page 259 Sagan wrote: Occasionally, in retrospect, someone stands out. In my book, the English-born American revolutionary Thomas Paine is one such. He was far ahead of his time. He courageously opposed monarchy, aristocracy, racism, slavery, superstition and sexism when all of these constituted conventional wisdom. He was unswerving in his criticism of conventional religion. He wrote in The Age of Wisdom: “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God. It… has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.” 2At the same time the book exhibited the deepest reverence for a Creator of the Universe whose existence Paine argued was apparent at a glance at the natural world. But condemning much of the Bible while embracing God seemed an impossible position to most of his contemporaries. Christian theologians concluded he was mad, drunk, or corrupt. The Jewish scholar David Levi forbade his co-religionists from even touching, much less reading, the book. Paine was made to suffer so much for his views (include being thrown into prison after the French Revolution for being too consistent in his opposition to tyranny), that he became an embittered old man.

I don’t want to become an embittered old man so while I am waiting for your guest contribution, here is more about Agnosticism from the Wikipedia website:

4Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether God, the divine, or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable.

According to the philosopher William L. Rowe, “agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist.” Agnosticism is a doctrine or set of tenets rather than a religion as such.

Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist, coined the word “agnostic” in 1869. Earlier thinkers, however, had written works that promoted agnostic points of view, such as Sanjaya Belatthaputta, a 5th-century BCE Indian philosopher who expressed agnosticism about any afterlife; and Protagoras, a 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher who expressed agnosticism about “the gods”. The Nasadiya Sukta in the Rigveda is agnostic about the origin of the universe.

Two quotes about Agnosticism:

5Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?” ― Carl Sagan

The Bible has noble poetry in it… and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies.― Mark Twain

What is it like to be an Atheist?

Are Atheists properly represented in this artwork?

Are Atheists properly represented in this artwork?

Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” This from the American Atheists website.

I wonder if that is true for other atheists around the world?

All Spiritual Orientations Warmly Welcomed to TROML!

If you are an Atheist, would you write about Atheism and what it means to be an Atheist? I am looking for open-minded, honest and reasonable people, like myself, to share their religious and spiritual experience, strengths and hope. I will post them on Personal Revivalist in the hope that we can unite as human beings and stop the senseless killing of human beings in this world.

In the meantime, while I am waiting for your guest contribution, here is more from  the American Atheists website.

9 logoWhat Is Atheism?

No one asks this question enough.

The reason no one asks this question a lot is because most people have preconceived ideas and notions about what an Atheist is and is not. Where these preconceived ideas come from varies, but they tend to evolve from theistic influences or other sources.

10 no godAtheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Some dictionaries even go so far as to define Atheism as “wickedness,” “sinfulness,” and other derogatory adjectives. Clearly, theistic influence taints dictionaries. People cannot trust these dictionaries to define atheism. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono) theistic influence. Without the (mono) theistic influence, the definition would at least read “there are no gods.”

11 thinkWhy should atheists allow theists to define who atheists are? Do other minorities allow the majority to define their character, views, and opinions? No, they do not. So why does everyone expect atheists to lie down and accept the definition placed upon them by the world’s theists? Atheists will define themselves.

Atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion. While there are some religions that are atheistic (certain sects of Buddhism, for example), that does not mean that atheism is a religion. Two commonly used retorts to the nonsense that atheism is a religion are: 1) If atheism is a religion then bald is a hair color, and 2) If atheism is a religion then health is a disease. A new one introduced in 2012 by Bill Maher is, “If atheism is a religion, then abstinence is a sexual position.”

12 scienceThe only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.

Two quotes from Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an American atheist activist and founder of American Atheists:

“Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea.”

“An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that deed must be done instead of prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.”

Stepping from the Bridge of Reason to the Shore of Faith…

1 father sonI am no different than my father, we were both addicted to sugar at times in our lives. His came in the form of alcohol. Mine came in the form of food and pure sugar itself. Finding his strength in God, Dad stopped drinking for the last 25 years of his life. I remember his free spirit which would occasionally break out in wordy expression singing an Al-le-lu-ia unexpectedly. I am not an alcoholic. I am a compulsive overeater and a sugar addict. I have been in recovery for nearly four years and abstinent for the last three years though there are still times that I abuse sugar and compulsively eat. Sugar slips for me are a mistake. I see them today as a Godsend to remind me that I have much work to do addressing my shortcoming and character defects. I now know deep in my heart and soul that I am not a mistake of any kind. However, my long term fate is yet to be determined. I hope to live a long life, at least to the age of 90, with the good health. God willing I am entirely ready, willing and humbling pray for that opportunity!

2The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous speaks to the need for a spiritual awakening, a spiritual experience and a spiritual commitment and solution through abstinence and working the Twelve Steps. Stepping from the Bridge of Reason to the Shore of Faith is how they put it in Chapter 4 (see excerpts below).

For me, as a compulsive overeater and sugar addict, there was and is only one bridge to take to the faithful landing needed to experience a life of peace, joy and freedom—what I refer to as the Ultimate Love. That bridge was abstinence from sugar, binge foods and compulsive eating behaviors and working the Twelve Steps as suggested by Overeaters Anonymous. For me, abstinence and working the steps were intertwined and abstinence did not come until, as promised it came in, finishing Step 9—Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. My abstinence is of the perfectly imperfect variety, so is my working the Steps and so am I.

3I tried to cross many bridges to freedom in my life, some with short term success, some were at best, looking back, dismal failures on my part. I could easily look upstream and see the big beautiful bridge of self-illusionment, diets, exercise, mind games and limited spiritual growth. That bridge always seemed to collapse when I successfully lost the weight I intended to lose. I didn’t realize God was telling me to go deeper, be more thorough and be more honest with myself, Him and others. Perfection, control and a judgmental way of thinking, being and living is not the way to the Shore of Faith and beyond to a meaningful life based in peace, joy and freedom.

4I can easily look the other way downstream to the tidal marshes and outright swamps that I tried to pass through in life when I thought I was growing but in reality I was going in circles downward into the endless pit of depression, self-pity and not knowing myself or God at all. Food and sugar led me there and I stupidly followed thinking I deserved it or simply denied the truth of my addiction to myself.

5For me, as a compulsive overeater and sugar addict, there was and is only one bridge to take to the faithful landing needed to experience a life of peace, joy and freedom—what I refer to as the Ultimate Love. That bridge was abstinence from sugar, binge foods and compulsive eating behaviors and working the Twelve Steps as suggested by Overeaters Anonymous.

As I left the Island of Isolation in my life I could apply logic and reason as they outlined in the Big Book to come to an understanding of the reality of faith in my life. How to step from the Bridge of Reason to the Shore of Faith (see Chapter 4 excerpts below) is clearly and reasonably demonstrated. As an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACA) and a trained engineer at one time in my life I like programs and feel comfortable having a program lead me to a programmatic solution. But in reality that solution is not a program at all. It is a completely free way of looking at life anew each day I wake up and open my eyes. Yes, there are patterns in our lives but we also connected the dots that in a universal perspective were never connected. But we can unconnect what we connected for all the right reasons way back when—such as surviving periods in our lives that just needed to be survived.

6Leaving the Island of Isolation and stepping from the Bridge of Reason to the Shore of Faith am I… like I use to sing in grade school No Man is an Island… come join me…

Have a TROML Day today!

Your Personal Revivalist,

Anonymous Andy



Excerpts from Chapter 4, We Agnostics, of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Pages 44-57).

8You may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer… To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible… To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face… But it isn’t so difficult. About half of our original fellowship were of exactly that type (atheist or agnostic)… After a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life—or else… Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted. If a mere code of morals or  better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago… Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly. Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves...

9We have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral. And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God. Here the difficulty arises with agnostics… For we have re-opened a subject which our man thought he had neatly evaded or entirely ignored. We know how he feels. We have shared his honest doubt and prejudice. Some of us have been violently anti-religious… With that rejection we imagined we had abandoned the God idea entirely. We were bothered with the thought that faith and dependence upon a Power beyond ourselves was somewhat weak, even cowardly. We looked upon this world of warring individuals, warring theological systems, and inexplicable calamity, with deep skepticism

11We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God… Much to our relief we did not need to consider another’s conception of God… As soon as we admitted the possible existence… we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps (The Twelve Steps)…  We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men (and women).

13When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God… Do not let any prejudice (contempt prior to investigation) you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you… but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used our own conception, however limited it was.

14We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?” As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built. (From Appendix II, Page 567: The terms “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening”… shows that “the personality change” sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism” has manifested itself among us in many different forms.)

We often found ourselves handicapped by obstinacy, sensitiveness, and unreasoning prejudice. Faced with alcoholic destruction, we soon became open minded on spiritual matters… In this respect alcohol was a great persuader. It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness.

16The reader may still ask why he should believe in a Power greater than himself… The twentieth century readily accepts theories of all kinds, provided they are firmly grounded in fact. We have numerous theories, for example, about electricity. Why this acceptance? Simply because it is impossible to explain what we see, feel, direct, and use, without a reasonable assumption as a starting point.

Everyone nowadays (1939), believes in scores of assumption for which there is good evidence, but no visual proof. And does not science demonstrate that visual proof is the weakest proof? It is being constantly revealed, as mankind studies the material world, that outward appearances are not inward reality at all. The prosaic steel girder is a mass of electrons whirling around each other at incredible speed. These tiny bodies are governed by precise laws, and these laws hold true throughout the material world. Science tells us so. We have no reason to doubt it.

17We read wordy books and indulge in windy arguments, thinking we believe this universe needs no God to explain it. Were our contentions true, it would follow that life originated out of nothing, means nothing, and proceeds nowhere. Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God’s ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasn’t it?

We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion… those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions. People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about… many spiritually-minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves... We talked of tolerance, while we were intolerant ourselves… We never gave the spiritual side of life a fair hearing… They (approaches and conceives of the Power which is greater) are questions for each individual to settle for himself.

18Every one of them has gained access to, and believes in, a Power greater than himself. This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible…there has been a revolutionary change in the way of living and thinking… they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them… This happened soon after they wholeheartedly met a few simple requirements… Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory. They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.

20This world of ours has made more material progress in the last century than in all the millenniums which went before. Almost everyone knows the reason…. The spirit of modern scientific inquiry, research and invention was almost unknown (in ancient times)… men’s minds were fettered by superstition, tradition, and all sorts of fixed ideas… Are not some of us just as biased and unreasonable about the realm of the spirit as were the ancients about the realm of the material? …but in most fields our generation has witnessed complete liberation of our thinking… Is not our age characterized by the ease by which we discard old ideas for new, by the complete readiness with which we throw away the theory or gadget which does not work for something new which does?

22We had to ask ourselves why we shouldn’t apply to our human problems this same readiness to change our point of view… Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did. We agnostics and atheists were sticking to the idea that self-sufficiency would solve our problems… others showed us “God-sufficiency” worked for them… Logic is great stuff. We liked it. We still like it. It is not by chance we were given the power to reason, to examine the evidence of our senses, and to draw conclusions…. We had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice going to be?

Arrived at this point, we were squarely confronted with the question of faith. We couldn’t duck the issue. Some of us had already walked far over the Bridge of Reason toward the desired shore of faith. The outlines and promise of the New Land had brought luster to tired eyes and fresh courage to flagging spirits. Friendly hands had stretched out in welcome. We were grateful that Reason had brought us so far. But somehow, we couldn’t quite step ashore. Perhaps we had been leaning too heavily on Reason that last mile and we did not like to lose our support.

21That was natural, but let us think a little more closely… Yes we had been faithful, abjectly faithful to the God of Reason. So, in one way or another, we discovered that faith had been involved all the time! We found, too, that we had been worshippers. Had we not variously worshipped people, sentiment, things, money, and ourselves? And then, with a better motive, had we not worshipfully beheld the sunset, the sea, or a flower? Who of us had not loved something or somebody? How much did these feelings, these loves, these worships, have to do with pure reason? Little of nothing, we saw at last… Did not these feelings, after all, determine the course of our existence? It was impossible to say we had no capacity for faith, love, or worship. In one form or another we had been living by faith and little else.

23Imagine life without faith! Were nothing left but pure reason, it wouldn’t be life… Hence we saw that reason isn’t everything… we had been seeing… a spiritual liberation from this world, people who rose above their problems… we had seen spiritual release… Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God… For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.

We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up... Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us.

If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently within yourself, then, if you wish, you can join us on the Broad Highway. With this attitude you cannot fail. The consciousness of your belief is sure to come to you.

In this book you will read the experience of a man who thought he was an atheist (Our Southern Friend, Page 208)… Our friend was a minister’s son… he became rebellious at what he thought an overdose of religious education…. Post-war disillusionment, ever more serious alcoholism, impending mental and physical collapse, brought him to the point of self-destruction…

25He was approached by an alcoholic who had known a spiritual experience…

“If there is a God, he certainly hasn’t done anything for me!”

“Is it possible that all the religious people I have known are wrong?”

“Who are you to say there is no God?”

This man recounts that he tumbled out of bed to his knees. In a few seconds he was overwhelmed by a conviction of the Presence of God… The barriers he had built through the years were swept away. He stood in the Presence of Infinite Power and Love. He had stepped from the Bridge of Reason to the Shore of Faith. For the first time, he lived in conscious companionship with his Creator.

His alcoholic problem was taken away. That very night, years ago, it disappeared. Save for a few brief moments of temptation the thought of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him. Seemingly he could not drink even if he would. God had restored his sanity.

26What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker—then he knew.

Even so has God restored us all to our right minds. To this man, the revelation was sudden. Some of us grow into it more slowly. But HE has come to all who have honestly sought Him.


When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us!

Have a TROML Day today!

Your Personal Revivalist,

Anonymous Andy

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