Sunday, July 20, 2008

in Jesus there is no male or female

An exciting thing is happening today in Boston.

Three women of the R.C. church are going to be ordained priests in a growing underground movement that is tired of the dinosaur ears of the Vatican trying hard not to listen or even imagine that those women thingies are valid as human beings or as the equal possessors of souls, same as the lowest man in God’s Kingdom.

Their ordination will no doubt be valid, if technically illegal by R.C. rules, in whatever means they use, traditional or with an unbroken line of Protestant clergy, some sects of which have never abandoned the R.C. rights of ordination.

Where will these women minister to the flock? In people's homes, the way it was in the beginning of Christianity.

Go Girls. Go! You may be excummunicated by the end of the week with paperwork and ink and pens all signed off by the exclusive all male, or if you prefer all boys club of the Vatican City State. ( do you know that my spell check did not recognize the word “excommunicated” – if my robot computer so vastly smarter than myself does not know the word than it must be an obsolete, archaic word? )

The Christian Church, the People of God, is being reborn. A new rebirth of faith and brotherhood and sisterhood all around this planet is happening and growing. Dogma is not as important as the breath of the Holy Spirit upon us.

The R.C. Church, the General Motors of church institutions, only hears and touches what it wants to hear or touch and that sense is at present an exclusively male sense.

In Jesus there is no male or female.

I read that in a comment on an Internet response to a local woman, one of the three, from Staten Island, NY being ordained today. There is very little in the way of media coverage of this new underground Christian movement. One is reminded of the original primitive underground Christian movement and the martyrs who dared go up against the dinosaur of the Roman Empire, defunct now except in the minds of the boys at the Vatican.

Guess what boys? The other half of the planet and the universe is female.

One follows some of these things on the Internet. The R.C. church does not seem to care who belongs to it anymore. Take no prisoners for Christ was the motto of the late, not so great, founder of the catholic, not christian, church - good ole general Constantine. He never even bothered to convert except on his deathbed and that was I think just a PR type rumor.

When the Roman Catholic church demystifies the golden idols of the office of the Pope and their first big patron Constantine, maybe the business of Jesus will come back into vogue.

There was a Henry VIII type land grab attempt recently at Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish in St.Louis. The R.C. church apparently needs money for its lawyer fees and the euphemistically labeled national “altar boy fund” regarding recently publicized lawsuits.

Closing inner city schools, churches and selling real estate is the primary collateral damage of these long tolerated practices and accompanying litigation.

Apologies are nice but somebody has to pay the bills so why not dump them on the poor.

The priest originally from La Crosse, after a long fiscal battle with the bishop's palace over control of parish property, participated in the ordination of women and the church used this as an excuse to try and seize property under its ancient and Constantine granted rights.

The attempted land grab, the tossing out of the clergy onto the streets and the shunning of the parish, seems something like that of a junkie’s need to feed the altar boy fund. Management has its fiscal priorities. This is not Jesus !

This real estate deal was done by none other than the Archbishop of St. Louis who in the middle of the 2004 elections publicly announced that Presidential candidate John Kerry, a war hero, could not receive communion under his jurisdiction.

Kerry had not sought communion there, but the publicity, power hungry, archbishop sized the opportunity to disrupt a democratic process to announce his medieval point of view.

The Archbishop has since been rewarded for his catholic though not christian acts by a promotion to the Vatican high court, the Scalia of God. If they give him his red hat, I predict he will be a future pope.

God save us all!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Loose Change

The Pope is in Australia talking to young people about Moral Relativism and I am encouraged if he is asking these impressionable minds to study Sartre, Hume, Spinoza and Nietzsche and not to accept his Cliff Notes version of the subject matter. There is the old line about how if you can frame the perimeters of the argument then you can probably win the argument.

I doubt that Jesus ever studied Sartre, Hume, Spinoza or Nietzsche or ever had the need to.

This week a famous publication, The New Yorker, had a “satiric” cartoon in the minstrel style of the original mission statement of the magazine founding in the 1920’s. Ultra liberal types seem to be accommodating themselves to the fact that the next President of the United States is not going to pure bred, burb bred, or drug brain dead like themselves. Oh the insecurity of the ruling classes! Oh the cost of psycho-therapy these days!

I make reference to the fact that there was an American flag burning in the oval office fireplace of this “satiric” spoof illustration. Spoof illustration for The New Yorker would have had Christopher Hitchens being water boarded and seeing a vision of Mother Theresa (God rest her great soul!).

I got put in my place by someone and was told that the burning flag thing was a cartoon and therefore not a valid talking point. Whatever.

After almost two decades of non-stop radio hate-mongering and right wing fascist propaganda sputtering out of the burned out, thieving, lying, pension fund looting conservative movement, I think that maybe the boring monolithic Byzantine politically correct brain dead democrat club is about to return with a vengeance, to descend onto this country in the same horrific manner as the recent conservative non-thought movement, and like a plague on logic in the near future.

It is good to be the elite in the USA, to only have to deal with your politically correct neighbors in the local country club and only occasionally wonder who all the other people on the TV screen or outside your gated community or concierge-doorman serviced high-rise are all about. Then the percocet takes effect and all is well with your world.

The global economy and the global mindset is not going away. The idea of you living in peace and harmony in your global village (gated community) and communicating by telegraph with the rest of the world, to and from your mines and mine overseers, from out there somewhere, and people earning a quarter an hour or even better a quarter per day - That model, that monster is about to bite America in the ass. Is biting us in the ass right now.

Was the collapse of Christianity part of that half century old Ivy League model of perfection with the corporate spreadsheet model of the global village?

When our secular world invaded the other parts of the planet with fast food and disco - Was there a back up plan or an exit strategy for the impromptu corporatist non-moral system exported along with the cappuccino?

When we set out on the crusades were they to conquer Islam or to bypass the greedy christian middlemen of Byzantium? What did we get from the crusades? Diapers and Gothic cathedrals? Perhaps the real Holy Grail in Jerusalem was an old Greek mathematics book to make cathedrals possible.

In any case, the global conversion is on. Do the world’s montheistic religions merge (yuck!)? Do they learn the tolerance they all claim to have at the base of their philosophies? Does a little bit of Buddha get thrown into the formula? I don’t know.

This primitive Cultural Christian can see great things in our future as a planet and as the people of God. I know that the Sermon of the Mount will be reiterated in the centuries to come both here and beyond here and travel with the human race to the stars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

True Values of a Human Being

What price do you put on a human being? To be fair, I do not know how this question is approached in other religions? No doubt the value and recognition of a human being has evolved over time.

Christians claim to put a high price on the value and dignity of every human being.

In Jesus’ time, there was slavery as an established and grossly inefficient way of doing work. How efficient? You worked your slaves to death. No pension or retirement plans back then. There was a huge and non ending supply of fresh meat for the meat grinder of the military/mercantile empire of Rome.

Of course with an entity like the Roman Empire, everybody in terms of race and or religion or even personal beliefs was grist for the mill of a giant non-stop 24/7 beast from hell.

Our elites over the centuries have unearthed beautiful statues and rediscovered the magnificence and simplicity of the Roman city plan. Rome has been reinvented a thousand different ways in literature, art, architecture, law, religion since the great rebirth or renaissance in the West.

Our view of Rome in the past is I think much more kind than that ancient civilization deserves to be viewed.

I am big on timelines in looking at history. Of course, Rome continued in the east in Constantine’s Xanadu city of Contantinople until 1453 when the latest enemy at the gates got over the gates and that city became the jewel of somebody else’s empire.

Since the reformation, I see personal freedoms and rights slowly evolving in western Europe to the point where civil institutions have stood for the rights of man and not religions.

Religion in the west has always stood for the afterlife. If you can’t get it here, you’re likely to get there. How convenient.

Jumping forward on the timeline to the present, I hear someone on the television talking about outsourcing and how an accountant earning $50k per year can be replaced by ten accountants in New Delhi who earn $5k per year. Efficient yes. Fair?

I am looking at the financial institutions in the west, in the USA in particular today, and am wondering why the value of human beings was not in any recent financial equations. I wonder why somebody at Freddie Mac or is it Fannie Mae got $14 million in salary one year. Freddy and of course Fannie have to do with packaging of home mortgages into securities that are traded globally. I have to wonder what these high earners did to deserve such large salaries. I have to wonder if anybody saw any spikes in their spreadsheets as the cost of a home in America doubled and tripled and quadrupled over a handful of years.

Wall Street, these days, seems merely to be a casino shooting craps and charging fees, fees, fees, on the few lucky ones that have pension funds left to be looted by the privileged financial classes.

If one recognizes human beings as people, if one knows the price of the loaf of bread in America or the rest of the world - One has to wonder where the common sense was when paperwork coming into these institutions stated that the people applying for these questionable mortgages could afford them.

It would appear that the disintegrating quality of securities sold overseas shows evidence of the original paperwork being forged or falsified. I used to work in the mortage business when everything was above board. I know the difference between a bona fide mortgage package and a scank loan package put together by commissioned salespeople motivated not by morality but by bonuses.

The big MBA types, motivated by bonuses, managing the wealth and legacy of the United States saw no problems in the whole burgeoning mess until the present collapse of confidence in our government and financial institutions at present.

Somewhere in this whole bloody local and global mess, besides the lack of morality, is the lack of people, common people, the value of people other than as a commodity, in the financial equations invented at Harvard, Brown, and Wharton in the 1960’s when the concept of a global village and a global economy became the undisputed goal of all future business and diplomatic efforts of the United States.

We may be on the verge of greatness and a great global empire. But at what cost? What is the price of a soul? My soul? Your soul? What is the price of our collective souls as well?

What are the true values of a human being in terms of the sacred and or the secular? Locally? Globally?

It may be a secular world but where in the education system of so many college graduates, who have run this nation into the ground, where is the value of a human being or the dignity and respect for his or her soul? Whose bottom line is more important – God’s or Caesar’s ?

Where is Jesus? He is in the streets with the people. They are the very valuable People of God.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Garden Party for Christ

I feel certain when the vested academics and theologians get together over tea in a regional convention, they use four and five syllable words to describe the latest titter tatter in the news.

The latest recycled tourist thing unearthed in Jordan is a stone tablet with ink on it, faded ink, which presumably science cannot read every word missing in a 2100 year old historic relic. Of course, there is a story that there was a different variation of the Messiah theme before Jesus and yes, now, Christianity should just shrivel up and die. The other shoe has fallen so to speak (again).

Which brings me back to the polyglot language of the academics and vested types whose careers, pensions and present standing in the titter tatter club of floating conventions. Excluding the general population is a general theme in Christianity since Constantine.

A major portion of the general christian population of the roman empire were women. In fact the primitive christian church was an institution nurtured by women and the hearth as the apostles and disciples and converts began to travel all those well built avenues of communication also known as roman roads.

I have seen the title “primitive” and Christian put together on the name of churches. Many of these protestant sects are aiming for simplicity, something that the reformation started but never quite finished as the schism institutionalized itself into yet another bureaucratic entity.

So beside the title of cultural or secular Christian, I drive past the label of primitive and settle on another layer of description, and arrive at pre-title-ist Christian.

The way I see it, Jesus and the Apostles started the church, the people of God, along those information superhighways, roman roads, before Constantine and his personal glory agenda hijacked the whole show or in reality part of the show.

The title-ist church, the Constantine catholic church, latin and greek divisions, happened when the General handled over the title of deed to basilicas to the males of the then primitive, pre-title-ist church. Women were completely wiped out of the equation or more accurately the equation got rewritten by the golden rule. The golden rule? “He who has the gold (and or army)makes the rules”.

And if you have any understanding of real estate or legal terms, you understand that celibacy has to due with clear title on a property and nothing to due with chastity etc.

If you understand the flow of society through the standard cookie cutter roman city, the basilica is the quasi all purpose building, open on many sides, where the general business of the city was conducted.

On one day, the magistrate sits and hears petitions and conducts trials. On another day, the produce market comes indoors out of the rain or the snow. On Sunday, the church service is conducted. On most other days, the building is an army recruitment and induction center.

Sounds cynical of me. There are however a few grains of truth in what I say. To say that Christianity has been totally sidetracked for 1700 years is a bit bizarre even for this mad hatter.

I look at the Lambeth Garden Party, see quite another perception, and consider how lawyers and chartered accountants and priests are all gathered in titter tatter as to who, male or honorary male, hold the deeds of title to some real estate plums around the globe.

Are we about to witness a bona fide restoration of the rights and dignity of women after 1700 years of shamful neglect in the Christian church?

Is this groundbreaking or is it just another tired Vatican II PR type ploy?

The Pope is praying for an all boys team to lead the Anglican church.

Is all this Jesus? I don't really know.

Then again, I am primitive or is it pre-title-ist. And I do not like or know too many words with more than two or three syllables. Please forgive my humble ignorance of these multi-syllable church matters.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

General Faith

I find great energy in the Acts of the Apostles. This account written to “Theophilus” (a lover of God) is the root of my reassuring my faith in the beliefs of Jesus and his message.

It is difficult sometimes to have faith in what others say they have seen or witnessed. It is difficult to believe when so many before have accepted faith blindly and not questioned it. There are many twists and turns in the road of life. So too, a road to faith, has it ups and downs as well as twists and unexpected turns.

For a renewal of faith, for a renewal of energy, in the belief that Jesus is the unique messenger sent by God to bind all nations and all times in some common belief system, I turn always to Acts. If you struggle that hard for something as in those pages, maybe there is something worth struggling for.

What first century Christians believed in is perhaps much different than what third or fourth century Christians believed in. Much different than what I in my heart might believe in. My beliefs are not that important. They are many times shifting with the trends and winds of man. I look to Paul and his cronies and I see a very human church with many everyday problems in an everyday world - foundation stones of a new and future global faith.

Paul and Peter and the other apostles could get that old chi-ro mojo going via the Holy Spirit and work a few real miracles amidst both believers and non-believers alike. It has always been a group effort thing. Grace flows more freely when all present are asking for the same thing or acting in concert with one another and in the name of the Almighty.

The biggest problem, in those early years, was probably crossing the “t”s and dotting the “i”s. This in terms of remembering what the Master said and what he meant and throwing in a little basic Psalms and Isaiah to plot the story and the vision and be able to live with the current mission statement of the new cult.

It was viewed as a cult. Paul and his avenging horsemen going up to Damascus was about wiping out a nest of these new believers and heretics of the old faith.

I mentioned this energy thing and Acts to a friend in his house some ten odd years ago. He was also a recycled R.C. who had found a place in the comfort of the local congregation. He mentioned how christianity keeps splitting up into cults and sects. I had to think about that a bit. Of course when does a splinter group become a cult and how many does it takes to become a sect etc.?

Out of those thoughts came the thought that faith in another’s faith is perhaps extraordinary faith. I look at Paul to try and see the global gentile view of any matter at hand.

What we see today as a break down of old time culture is perhaps the way that people in the emerging global culture embrace materialism without question. There is no old fashioned sense of a balance of things. You probably should give up something when you embrace something else. If you do not do this then perhaps you have no concept of the value of things real or spiritual. Few, I think have dedicated time or energy to these concepts.

The electronic comfort bubble of cell phones, virtual reality and 24/7 sensory overload or addiction make many blind to the outside the door decline in the quality of life. The selfish lifestyle within that doorway can be had at the push of a button and the use of plastic. A person’s home, once his castle, can be a prison as well without one necessarily being aware of it

The breakdown in religious observance and or religion and God as the center of the culture is something I see in flux as a new global pagan god of materialism emerges. This new selfish thing makes people not wanting to seek the comfort of the concept of God or even to explore spirituality within. This new selfish thing ignores the soul of self and does not recognize the existence of or dignity of the soul within one’s neighbor.

When you can reduce people to numbers, they can be dismissed as statistics and factored out of any equation, political and or economic. Hitler, Stalin and Mao amassed many statistics to their credit in their evil little inhuman lives. And then there is Wall Street...

Which brings me to an observation. What we in the west as Christians have been told -what christianity is about - for 1700 years – is what the civil authority says it is - since General Constantine started his own designer religion to facilitate his ambitions of blood and conquest.

I think that the needs of Constantine the Great are a bit different than what our spiritual needs are today. Some church councils endorsed some obsolete and archaic concepts in the past as pillars of faith. Perhaps some new honest and human councils can start plotting 21st century spiritual priorities for a new global faith of all nations.

The words of the peasant and prophet and a true son of God in the form of Jesus are greatly ignored or misunderstood these modern days. Why is that my dear brothers and sisters?

There is a basic historic model. That the spiritual needs of the population should be addressed after General Moses or General Constantine or General Mohammed have set up the civil state. I believe that the sacred and the secular should be separate as much as possible in society.

The civil discourse and the commerce of nations is important but “what does it profit a man or woman if he or she gain the whole world and suffer the loss of their immortal soul?”.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Balancing Historic Equations

The equation does not balance. Or it does not always balance for me.

The consensus on the writing of the four gospels goes something like this. Mark is written around 70 A.D.. Matthew and Luke, being somewhat embellished copies of the “Q” standard set by Mark, get published around 80 A.D.. John gets published around 90 A.D..

Wow! The Christians got their stuff all together before the Jews did in 90 C.E. (A.D.). at the “Council of Jamnia”. How convenient!

Q? an abbreviation of the German word quelle meaning source. There was some German scholar in the nineteenth century who went through the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) line per line and concluded that there must have been a lost source document for similar quotes and a similar story line in each of these three gospels.

Of course you can reinterpret it as the smallest and the oldest document of Mark got tacked onto at later dates. I do not find anything wrong with that. That each of these synoptic (similar point of view documents) were regional base documents. Oral tradition among Hellenistic Jews and now Christians in Alexandria in Egypt and Pagan converts in Asia Minor (Turkey) had different oral traditions and got them put down on parchment at some point in time.

More is better or is less better?

I am not disputing validity of text. I am questioning timelines. I question academic theory as a basis for history. Is history in a pundit’s realm? Is history fact? Or is history merely an opinion?

Mine is not an original idea that Mark is the foundation of Matthew and Luke. It is just that if you read other historic documents such as Josephus Flavious’ histories, different things get said of the events of that era. In modern desktop publishing, words like “cut and paste” mirror manual techniques going back thousands of years. You got a parchment and you are an historian, you cut the scroll and glue in a new paragraph or two. You do not change the story or the message as much as your regional version overlaps, sometimes duplicates or addresses a singular subject only once without further backup documents.

You have to glean through the gospels to get a sense of the story of Jesus and his message that is sometimes clouded in poor, blurred, many times edited, copy.

I think that the first two gospels have one angel at the empty tomb of Jesus. Luke and John must be more accurate with two angels each protecting the empty tomb of the risen Christ.

The gospels are human documents. They are not necessarily false. I can see why over the years the R.C. church has avoided putting them at the forefront of their sacred tradition and ritual based religion. I can also see why after the Protestant Reformation, how with so little to work with, the northern countries of Europe lost the richness of religious tradition and started to ban stained glass and music for a time – but only for a time.

Stained glass and music work in the house of God much better than undefined echoes heard or shadows spread bluntly through an empty warehouse of a building. They work better to touch something spiritual, in the way of adding atmosphere and encouragement, to a place for prayer or meditation.

I do not know when the sacred scriptures of Christianity were written. I do not know how many people have handled the product throughout the early centuries of Christianity.

Jesus’ message does come through to me through all the paperwork. That message speaks of love, and caring and refined social interface. It speaks of justice and the possibilities of man as God’s creation to be able to reach for the stars.

Jesus' message also reflects the responsibility of the human race to manage well the gifts and resources given in abundance from above and as part of God’s ultimate plan, whatever that may be.


Monday, June 23, 2008

The Other Shoe

I make this observation. I remember in my youth of some thirty to forty odd years ago when you could not get any Jewish people to even mention the name of Jesus. This, in public, the newspaper, media etc. Now it would seem that Jesus is accepted as an historic figure in the Holy Land. It is good for tourism, so many can budge a little on traditional thinking.

I mention the other shoe. I refer to the other shoe dropping in historic, academic and religious realms. Without quoting specifics, I have felt that I have observed the fact that Christian scholars are always looking over their shoulders at archeology and the mother lode of written documents, the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in 1947.

Now there is little or nothing about christianity in the Dead Sea Scrolls but there is by deference a healthy fear or respect to a whole new body of historic footnotes to be gleaned from these documents.

And it took time to archive, preserve, catalogue and finally publish text beyond the very tight knit world of academics and religious scholars regarding the D.S.S.. Only highlights and new theories and new carbon dating systems have earmarked tidbits of journalistic items filtering into the general knowledge of the population over decades.

Behind the Jewish scrolls and less noticed and less publicized over the years are the early christian writings also known as the Gnostic Gospels, unearthed in 1945. These writings are a mixture of many things and little except one or two documents comes close to anything like what we might call gospels from a Greek Testament frame of reference.

In either case, both separate and distinct sets of documents got lost because some sincere scholars and believers cared. These treasures got lost and buried because they threatened religious or political agendas of centuries past. Luckily we have them today as part of the human race’s heritage.

Over the decades when I have been attending church services, I have observed that the christian minister is more often than not doing a homily based on Hebrew Testament passages. It is perhaps coincidence but maybe a lot of christian ministers want to hedge their bets in case some new archeological discovery and texts come to light that would despoil the old party line of old time christian religion.

That, or nobody wants to dissect Jesus or his message, his raising a sword for justice etc. Political correctness has seemingly reburied Jesus long ago and in his own so called church.

I do not know or care about the preaching. I care about the doing. I care about any congregation and what it does in the community. Does it have daycare, a K-8 school, does it give food to the hungry, visit the elderly and shut-ins?

To me, the social agenda of any church, synagogue or mosque is to be judged on how it treats its own, is a part of the greater community and functions in a way that Jesus would recognize or appreciate.

So, I always eagerly await news in the papers about new archeology and insights to the cultural christian bounty that is ever growing. I draw my own conclusions.

I do not have to look over my shoulder to see if another shoe in history or theolgy is about to drop and rock the boat and spoil any professional meal ticket christian bubble.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A House of Prayer

From a journal – May 2003

...Rushing to my express bus on Fifth Avenue I glanced up the steps into an unused entrance to Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, a structure I have mentioned before in this journal – (a place where I have gone to pray and mediate and admire the unique massive stone altar piece and stained glass)...

I saw a Muslim engaged in his 4th (?) prayer of the day. He was shoeless – white socks on gray stone – I had seen something like this before, at this same spot, on a cold dark winter night at 5:30 P.M. last winter or one winter ago – one loses track of time here in New York –

...glanced before, at that time, and did not pay much attention to that scene – (did not wish to stare or to intrude on prayer which can be both a public or a private thing). (I was also in a hurry to catch my bus). Later I tried to recollect the scene, reconstruct the scene – but the memory did not fit. Was not reminded of it again until today.

I thought that there were stone saint icons on the side of that locked wooden door area. Today, in less darkness, I noticed the angle of the pray-er’s focus. That focus was not in the direction of the stone statues but on stone support columns – round pillars rising up to typical gothic angle – an arabic angle? – a muslim angle? Which came first, the gothic or the...-

Does not matter. I am reminded of this pray-er and Isaiah’s words. “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” Those words more than ever are needed today in this world.

God be praised!...