one of the ideas that really disturbs me about religion. This notion that other human beings and lives on earth are simply sprites, opportunities for moral lessons and expression.
That is a disturbing notion, but I don’t think it’s actually implied in the quote from Peter Simon. He doesn’t say why this teaching method, or teaching at all, is done. I took it to mean this kind of teaching is necessary the way a parent teaching and guiding a child is necessary for the child to grow to its full potential. Of course, now that I look at it in light of your comment, Peter Simon doesn’t say that, either. We both projected our preconceived notions in there. I’m really hoping that by posting this on Medium, Peter Simon will stumble across it and make contact. I would love to have a lengthy discussion with him, after all these years. If I hear from him, I’ll ask him to clarify. He may not know, either, but I’ll bet he has an opinion.
Does it change how I understand cancer if I think the person was given cancer in order to show me how precious life is?
I don’t think he’s saying that, either. I don’t see any implication at all that he’s implying God gives anybody cancer to teach someone else a lesson. I think he’s saying that The Instructor gives people what they believe is true, so everyone has an opportunity to test the absurdity of the belief. A better example, in my understanding, would be if two people got cancer by the usual biological method, and one believed in healing miracles, and the other did not. The Instructor might well then allow the first to experience their miracle and be healed, while the other would not get a miracle because they don’t believe it’s possible. But it still wouldn’t be God treating them differently. It would be God making real what each of them believed. Their choices of belief are different. The Instructor is behaving exactly the same way in both circumstances.
If God allows Job’s family to be killed, because he wants to prove something to Lucifer, then what is good about God?
I’ve always had a problem with that story,too. If Peter Simon is right, maybe Job was just a messed up dude who believed in a God who would behave that way. So that’s how God manifested. I think that’s maybe the most important lesson in this whole essay. If it’s true that we each choose the way Divinity manifests to us, people who believe in a God that would condone child or spousal abuse, or putting 9 year olds in a cage and setting them on fire, or who would predestine the majority of people to be condemned to eternity in Hell (straight-up Calvinism there)seriously need to rethink that stuff, because they’re calling it into being. Taking responsibility for our beliefs, and their effects on our lives and on the world, is a critical task, I think. If we get what we ask for, then blaming God when bad things happen is counterproductive.