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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


What's God Got to Do with It?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

3P-001 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

May Sunset

What's In The Temple?

In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still, but ready to spring.
It begs me to open the door so it can walk about.
The poets speak in obscure terms pointing madly at the unsayable.
The sages say nothing, but walk ahead patting their thigh calling for us to follow.
The monk sits pen in hand poised to explain the cloud of unknowing.
The seeker seeks, just around the corner from the truth.
If she stands still it will catch up with her.
Pause with us here a while.
Put your ear to the wall of your heart.
Listen for the whisper of knowing there.
Love will touch you if you are very still.

If I say the word God, people run away.
They've been frightened--sat on 'till the spirit cried "uncle."
Now they play hide and seek with somebody they can't name.
They know he's out there looking for them, and they want to be found,
But there is all this stuff in the way.

I can't talk about God and make any sense,
And I can't not talk about God and make any sense.
So we talk about the weather, and we are talking about God.

I miss the old temples where you could hang out with God.
Still, we have pet pounds where you can feel love draped in warm fur,
And sense the whole tragedy of life and death.
You see there the consequences of carelessness,
And you feel there the yapping urgency of life that wants to be lived.
The only things lacking are the frankincense and myrrh.

We don't build many temples anymore.
Maybe we learned that the sacred can't be contained.
Or maybe it can't be sustained inside a building.
Buildings crumble.
It's the spirit that lives on.

If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart,
What would you worship there?
What would you bring to sacrifice?
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?

Go there now.

~ Tom Barrett ~
From Keeping in Touch

That was "What's In the Temple" by Tom Barrett from his collection, Keeping in Touch. Five days a week, Joe Riley of Seattle sends out a poem, a photo and linked music to thousands of people around the world through the yahoogroup Panhala. Panhala means "source of deep water" in Sanskrit. His criterion for selection is loosely defined as "that which makes life a little richer." You can send a blank email to if you'd like to receive them.

You're listening to the Sunday edition of Third Paradigm, a weekly show that brings politics into bed with religion. I'm your host, Tereza Coraggio. Today's featured rant will be "What's Religion Got to Do with It?" We'll examine the concept of God in a way sure to provoke Christians, Jews, and atheists alike, as an equal opportunity offender. But first we'll give you the Real Good News: events of kindness, solidarity and wisdom in this week's global news:

The Real Good News

Our first selection is a video clip from CNN on paying it backwards at a coffeeshop in Loveland, Colorado. This was sent to me by Karma Tube, a weekly video email from, home of the gift economy.

[News – Customers Pay It Forward at Starbucks]

Drum Beat, which is put out by the Communications Initiative Network, writes that June 2008 launched Radio Farah Al Nas ("Joy of the People") a community radio station in Amman, Jordan, that is designed to be fully grounded in community needs and realities, with young people at the helm. For this reason, Internews trained and supported young people ages 10 to 24 to operate the radio station. The young journalists are learning the technical and journalistic skills needed to fulfill their commitment to "promoting change for their communities and country through transparent reporting and unbiased news coverage." Managed by the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), Radio Farah Al Nas broadcasts news and covers political, development, and social issues that directly affect Jordanians - in particular, youth and women. (Contact: Haitham Atoom

This is the weekend of the Fort Benning protest, where thousands gather in Georgia to confront the School of the Americas, renamed WHISC, but called the School of Assassins by those whose family and community members have been tortured or killed by its graduates. How is this a sign of hope? To do what YES! Magazine calls a YES! take, despite the fact that SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois being threatened with excommunication from the Vatican, their theme this year is "Yes, We Can!" They report guarded optimism that this may be the year that the US stops funding torture in all forms — Guantanamo, extradition to secret prisons, the School of the Americas, or military aid to ruthless foreign governments.

In the US on another front, New American Dream is starting the tradition of Buy Nothing Day on November 28th. The Friday after Thanksgiving, typically called Black Friday for the "in the black" of retail sales, is the biggest shopping day of the year. Last year, we in the US spent nearly 28 billion on this weekend alone. Saying that "spending won't rescue our economy," they list alternatives for a day of boycotting consumerism.

Boycotting consumerism at a radical level are three young British men. They're walking across England without money, singing for their supper, camping out and relying on the kindness of strangers to survive. Calling themselves "singing adventurers", they have taken three major trips in the past three years, sleeping wherever they can and foraging for food. They sing three-part folk songs, ancient and modern, wherever they are welcomed. They "busk in heaving towns, chant in crumbling chapels, and get feet tapping in many a-pub across the land." This is a video from Karma Tube about their adventure:

[awalkaroundbritain – A Walk Around Britian]

Religious Rant

You're listening to Third Paradigm and it's time for the Religious Rant. This week's topic is "What's God Got to Do with It?" I'll begin with a paraphrase from the 18th century Anglican theologian, J.A.T. Robinson: "God is, by definition, the ultimate reality. To ask whether reality exists is pointless. The interesting question is what is reality like?" This question is put another way by John Dominic Crossan, who is the Howard Zinn of Bible history. He's created the Jesus Seminars, where a hundred international Bible scholars vote by color on whether the research, in their studied opinion, shows particular Bible passages to be authentic. The way that he phrases the same question is this, "What is the character of your God?" Not the name, not the denomination, but the character of your God.

We define our Gods by their names, not their characters. Likewise, we define our religions by their names and not by their content. We also define them by the shapes of their buildings — church, mosque, temple, synogogue. We define them by their prohibitions — what you can't wear, eat or do. We define them by their rituals and customs. But all of these are forms: they're just outer, superficial differences. None of these describe the real content of the religion. They don't ask the hard question of God: "You there, God, do you love all your children equally? Don't try to squirm out of it, it's a simple yes or no, don't give me that slippery Biblical ambivalence."

The Bible is, indeed, ambivalent on God's view of equality, in both the Jewish Bible - the Torah or Old Testament - and the New Testament, or the story of Jesus. The Old Testament trouble starts with God's preference for Abel's gift over Cain's. No explanation is ever given — is God a carnivore who likes meat better than vegetables? Abel is a shepherd while Cain is a farmer. We have only the omniscient Word for it that Cain did, in fact, kill his brother on the basis of this sibling rivalry for God's affection. Maybe when Cain says he's not his brother's keeper, he's merely telling the truth. But if he did kill Abel, who set that ball in motion? Why did God favor Abel? Do we believe in a God who engenders fratricide, by pitting one child against another?

The story of Jesus, and Christianity as we know it, is based on the belief that God loves him better than the rest of humanity put together. Jesus, in Roman Catholic theology, is God's only begotten Son, which makes the rest of us — what, chopped liver? If we're all God's children, how does that work? "Child" is a permanently diminutive state, a small dependent. "Son," however, can convey an equal in all things except who came first. If Jesus is the only one who's begotten, are we humans God's creatures... or God's bastard children — sinful on the side of our Mother Earth but with a divine spark. In both the creation story and the story of redemption, God is personified as having favorites among His (sic) children.

For the atheists out there, the question still applies minus the personification of God. When humans pulled themselves out of the evolutionary muck by their own genetic bootstraps, did we land on the other side of the divide as equals? Or were some of us more or less like our monkey uncles? In Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawkin, he describes Darwin as concluding the latter. When he has his first encounter with natives in Tierra del Fuego, he writes, "I could not believe how wide was the difference between a savage and civilized man: it is greater than between a domesticated and wild animal." Of their language he says, "[It] does not deserve to be called articulate: Capt Cook says it is like a man clearing his throat; to which may be added another very hoarse man trying to shout & a third encouraging a horse with that peculiar noise which is made in one side of the mouth... I believe if the world was searched, no lower grade of man could be found." Hawkin then goes on to describe the richness of the Fuegan vocabulary and the intelligence of their adaptations to their ecosystem, as discovered by people other than Darwin [pp. 91 — 92]

[Paul Hawken – Blessed Unrest and WiserEarth]

As the enlightened atheist drives his Prius with the little Darwin walking fish on it, this belief in the dogma of superiority is what he's giving the high-five to. Survival of the fittest says that the winners are better than the losers, and that's why they won. What they did in order to win is of no consequence. The hundreds of indigenous languages that have disappeared, along with most of the people who once spoke them, disappeared because they were inferior to English or the other languages of conquest. Competition not only makes the world go round, but competition has actually made the world.

Therefore, the first paradigm — creationism — is based on a divine hierarchy of who God likes best. The innocence of Abel exists by contrast to the guilt of Cain. The innocence of Jesus, likewise, serves to underscore the inherently guilty state of humanity. The second paradigm — evolution — is also based on a hierarchy of who was favored by Nature. We're each born worthy or unworthy, civilized or savages, based on the merits of our ancestors. However, the society we live in is obviously based on inequality. But neither religion nor science gives an alternative. In fact, both Judeo-Christian scriptures and Western science are in complete agreement that our reality is inherently hierarchical. The difference between them is semantic — one calls the reality God and the other calls it Nature.

Is there a third paradigm that leaves open the possibility that in reality, which some call by the word God and others call human nature, all people are of equal value? In a one-word answer, yes! The rest of the words on "how" will be filled in on next Sunday's show.

Third Paradigm also produces a Thursday edition that focuses on economics and how to take back community sovereignty. The first broadcast is on Thanksgiving Day at 10 o'clock. My feature will be an Open Letter to President-elect Obama: Everything I Know About Governing I Learned From Raising Kids. Tune in, and in the meantime, we'll close with Bruce Cockburn's Wondering Where the Lions Are.

[Bruce Cockburn – Wondering Where the Lions Are]

Thank you for listening.