Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guidestones - Elbert Georgia


Ran into this on the History entertainment channel on another one of those end of the world, Illuminati, New World Order conspiracy info-mercials for fear.

Had the show on as background noise as I cruised the net.

Apparently some eccentric had these twenty foot high stones erected in 1980 in rural Georgia pushing a green agenda for the future – either in a straight flow time line thing or as a historic guidepost for future generations to discover after a new dark age or collapse of civilisation thing. Whatever.

They, the stones, have been vandalized in recent times by some apparent fundamentalists who have labeled this secular future Rosetta Stone like object as satanic. Mostly graffiti is in spray can paint with inverted pentagrams in circles or “Jesus will prevail” and of course “Obama iz a Muslim!” BS etc.. Whatever again.

Georgia Guidestones
A message consisting of a set of ten guidelines or principles is engraved on the Georgia Guidestones in eight different languages, one language on each face of the four large upright stones. Moving clockwise around the structure from due north, these languages are: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.

1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.

3. Unite humanity with a living new language.

4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.

5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

8. Balance personal rights with social duties.

9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.

10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Word Worship, Kevin Shrum, Rob Bell

I just read an article against Rob Bell by a Pastor Kevin Shrum regarding Bell's upcoming book - Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. I have a few things to say and comment on.

I think Shrum unfairly mislabels Pastor Bell as a Universalist and then tries to morph him into this supposed Universalist monster as the basis for his argument to shun him and his ideas. This, as well as to cut off all dialogue and understanding, to build a wall against his sharing with us all the message of Jesus and God's love towards creation.

Worship of a book can be idolatry. Indeed from a distance my perception of Islam is that it worships the words of the Koran. It is to me an idol. I have met few Muslims and have never gotten into a discussion with them about their religion. So in a way if I assume their worship of the words of Mohammed alledged to be the words of God/Allah is idolatry, that is a really big assumption on my part?

I read parts of the Koran and couldn't make heads or tails of it. After I gave the book away, I found out that it was supposed to be read out loud. I also have recently read that the King James Version of the bible was also written with the intent that it be read aloud. That modern translations of the bible block richness of language as well as meaning and connotations of verbal and oral history. If the literature that is the bible is now meant only to be read and not spoken, it is a great cultural loss to us all I fear.

Indeed the Reformation was formed out of the magic creativity of the human mind but more importantly out of machinery, the printing press. The signifigance of that invention and blood spilled in those days about over who understood the words of the bible better than your own translation or perception of such, the energy of anger, of that blood spilling and fire burning enthusiam still exists in the fundamamentalist quarters of Christiandom to this day IMHO.

In my youth and before the ultimate failure of Vatican II, my personal life was peppered with the left over resentment and hatred of that printing press revolution and the wars over words, that centuries old religion power struggle. Yes, words can kill and generations later the collateral damage of mere words, or the worship of such, can still be felt in some quarters.

In my search for spirituality and tainted by the Roman paganism of my youth and that name brand of Christianity, I have found many things and many words and many thoughts that suggest to me that the Jewish holy man Jesus is believable in some of his alledged teachings. I say alledged because scholars over at the Jesus Seminar have among other groups analysed the imperfections of the man made document called the NT – New Testament. Science, linguistics, historic research can shed new light on what I think some think is a perfect object worthy of worship – an idol so to speak - aka the bible.

Anyway, I ran into this article condemning a fellow Christian Rob Bell to some sort of shunned place though in fact I think some wish him a place in hell. My dear fellow Christians, hell is upon this earth and the fundamentalist business of saving souls by cracking men over their heads for not conforming to an imperfect book is like so medieval and archaic. The truth will make you free. Seek and you shall find etc.

I only just became aware of this Rob Bell fellow through the blogosphere and his unique approach to reaching out to humanity beyond his immediate circle at Mars Hill. I found Rob's You Tube on Resurrection and I loved the energy. For the first time in years I could connect with the concepts of the NT and that guy Jesus, and fully imagine that anything he said or did was, or could be, relevant in this modern age.

These rants in the fundamentalist blogosphere about Rob Bell are spilling over to people like me. I want to buy his book now. Free publicity like that some people have to pay for.

I did some research and came to the conclusion that Bell has a brilliant gift to take the rawness of Christianity and commmunicate it to others. His style is modern which is why I think some are jealous of him. He is no rock star but his style is definitely M-TV.

As far as I know Pastor Rob Bell is still a literalist fundamentalist Christian. While some of it works for me in some of his video ministry, it is still just at some level a hook to bring people into his mega-temple. Business is business. Consumers have to be made to want to consume. Etc. Competition is tough these days.

While most atheists are purported to be anti-God, they are in fact in my opinion just anti-religion and based on past and bad experiences of such. The Christian faith is fighting for market share in a dwindling or dying market. I think Pastor Bell is reaching out to some lost sheep. Pastor Shrum seems to be cutting off his own nose to try and smite Rob Bell's success. Pastor Shrum is, to paraphase the famous Ronald Reagan adage, breaking the eleventh commandment of Christian fundamentalism and speaking ill of a fellow fundamamentalist. Naughty. Naughty. He should know better.

Getting back to Pastor Bell:
Don’t you realize that the beach of universalism on which you’re stepping has been tried before and that, just as before, a tidal-wave of biblical truth and historical/theological consensus will sweep you away? You will become a footnote in the history of the church as just another well-intentioned ‘theologian’ who tried to spit into God’s powerful whirlwind of truth. Rob, I’ve never met you, but please, get off the beach before your stellar career is swept away.”
I have read of many so-called heretical beliefs in the past of Christianity. They have been killed off, murdered off literally, and swept into the dust of history. But seemingly they, the logic of these questioning beliefs, from reading the bible, they keep resurrecting themselves. Shrum starts his critique of Rob Bell accusing him of Universalism, which I don't honestly completely understand, as if that is enough to throw the first rock so to speak at a dissenter, a “heretic”, amidst their own fundamentalist ranks.

I have watched the hypocrisy of religion parasiting itself onto our government in my lifetime with its limited world views and cash grabs for “charity”. I have also seen the decline of morality in this nation and in particular the government at a rate to equal the march backward in time toward a Christian theocracy which I think is what fundamentalists want.

Looking at the fundamentalism of the Iranians and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I fear a rule by people who worship words in books and claim to be the same as God almighty which is blasphemy in my point of view.

Did “family values” make honest men of Wall Street bankers? I don't think so. Quite the opposite I think. There is something wrong with any fundamentalism . It lacks heart and soul too. It is do as I say and not as I do little sheeple.

Well anyway the thing in this article against Rob Bell that inspired me to write this is below:
But, Rob, I have more questions. If universalism is true, I’m going for the best of what both worlds have to offer – eat, drink, and be merry in this life for tomorrow I will die, and when I do die I get heaven no matter what happened this side of eternity. And what’s my reward? I get away with it! Fantastic! Again, please don’t tell me that I should still follow Jesus in this life because it will make my life better. Are you kidding! I’m a ‘stinkin’ sinner’ who is already uninterested in and struggling with changing my ways, so if I don’t have to and I can still get heaven and if thumbing my self-important finger in God’s face has no eternal consequences, this is awesome and I for one am all about it...
I am reminded of Jesus' parable about the workers in the vineyard and the same wages paid to those who toil all day or for just one hour. When confronted by dissatisfaction from the day long workers, the owner of the vineyard invokes the golden rule of buisness – he who has the gold makes the rules.

Where do these self-hating, word worshipping fundamentalists get off telling people what God can dole out in terms of salvation? Who are they to say that they are the only 100% kosher Christians on the block?

“God rules the world!” Not you. God saves whomever he wants to. No matter what your so-called rule book says.

Bell in an interview denies being so-called Emergent. What I have learned from e-mails and internet articles about the Emergent church movement, is that it is in theory trying to get above the heavy gravity of the poorly translated inspired word of God. That if a congregation is to remain a vital part of any community in this secular godless global world, it needs to reach beyond those poorly man translated words to the heart of matter, to the heart of Jesus and his message of universal love of creator to its creation – all of his, her creation, not just a chosen few in the bible belt.

Let me be prophetic here too Kevin. Christianity must change or die. The global reality is indeed secular and godless and it is a drug that destroys humanity and men's souls. That if you cannot get to the heart of Jesus' message of love, understand and plant its seeds, then all is truly lost in this world and the next.

Allegory of Peter thrice denying Jesus

I have to wonder if the story of Peter denying Jesus three times in all four gospels – if it is not an allegory of sorts. It struck me like a lightning bolt just a few hours ago of my writing this.

I am using a time line to look at the development of the four gospels. I had the thought some weeks ago that maybe the meeting of Peter, James and Paul in Acts was merely a hypothetical event reconstructed from the histories of Josephus Flavius that mention the death of one James the Just, a brother of Jesus, a fairly common name back then.

I am not trying to be a heretic here. But with that thought of some weeks ago, I have done some research and found that others also think that maybe Josephus is the source material on this so-called brother of Jesus called James as well as other bits and pieces of the NT.

I have already written here that I think (I feel with my heart) that Acts is a bridge document to fill in some historical gaps not available to scholars after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.. The fall of Jerusalem is like the destruction of the city in a fire. Like in the middle of a struggle between life and death, do you save the local library or do you save yourself and your family? Good question.

Around this time, the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls seemed to have been hidden away. But speculation on who wrote them and why they got hidden could go on for decades. Interesting tangent though.

I recently got into some genealogical research on the internet trying to piece together some oral family history with real dates and places.

Alas, the only major help out there on the internet are copies of the U.S. Census. There is a privacy thing meaning that you cannot get to the 1940 census yet. So you pretty well have to look up your grandparents and great grandparents starting with the 1930 census and before. I lot of what I am looking for, need, is probably on hard copy at Philadelphia city hall in the form of deeds, marriage certificates etc.

And then there is the hassle of trying to get copies of birth certificates from the states. More privacy issues and cost to obtain computer printouts of a certificate if still on file over a hundred years later etc.. A lot of leg work is still necessary to figure out my family history before 1850.

There is also a great big gap in the middle of my family research. The U.S. Census of 1890 was destroyed in a fire. So you have a twenty year gap in material available if the census is the only reliable documents available. This at a critical juncture of my research. Oh well.

Still, it gives me pause to think. I am trying to fit oral history into historical fact. Still can't find the link that puts me as a supposed distant cousin of W.C. Fields. There is that 1890 historical gap and a lot of Smiths to look up etc. There are a lot of Smiths, even back then. But I keep trying.

It is strange but the hundred and fifty or sixty years that I am looking at is extremely limited, is awfully limited if you do not have family bibles or letters or photographs to go along with the oral history. The maiden name of women in the family tree are not so easy to find. Not mentioned on the census.

You can juggle the names around to fit your oral history exactly. You can also imagine what it was like for eleven people to live in a three bedroom Philly row house etc..

People on the internet site have constructed family trees that overlap with mine and list questionable names and dates. A lot of people go to the first Mike, Mary or Patrick and assume that that is their great grandparent. It is because I have written records from the national archives to contradict this - what I see is that some of these trees are sloppy, unprofessional genealogy. People believe what they want to believe and move on.

If you look at the hundred or so odd years between the life and death of Jesus in first century Palestine and consider that in that time Jerusalem disappeared and the Jews got dispersed several times, thrown out of Judea, you have to wonder where the historical paperwork for the four gospels came from. They probably did not get written in anything like the lifetime of any eyewitnesses of Jesus or his ministry.

Off on another tangent, I run into the fact or the supposed fact that depending on which ancient writings you read or interpret, that Linus was the “first” bishop of Rome from about 67-79 C.E.. If this is true, when and where does Peter the first pope come onto the time line.

The myth of Peter in Rome is found in the Acts of Peter, an apocryphal book that has talking dogs and Peter being crucified upside down after he gets the “quo vadis” line from the lord on the Appian Way when he tries to escape imminent arrest and death in Rome.

I do not want to make light of Peter, but this “first” pope Linus is supposed to have been made bishop by Paul. There was no doubt a possible Peter and Paul fight in the beginning of the church or was there such a fight or did either Peter or Paul really exist in the form as we traditionally visualize them in Rome at all.

Or was the Paul wing of the Christian church too powerful a thing to fight in the early days of the church? Did the follow up bishops or popes have to put the Paul wing of the party in its place. Did the gospels finally show a figure of Peter as more powerful than the Paul wing and its agenda?

Did the written gospels show Simon now called Peter in the gospel of John rewriting the first three synoptic gospels? Peter is proclaiming love for Jesus three times in the last chapter of that strangely written gospel to negate his three denials.

I always thought that this last appearance of Jesus to Peter in John was somehow a political statement.

You have Paul under house arrest at the end of Acts and nothing mentioned of Peter in Rome yet. Chapter 21 of the Gnostic style gospel of John is a bridge chapter, document to connect Peter directly to Jesus over the questionable self appointed, after the fact, apostle of Paul aka Saul of Tarsus. Enough of opinion.

Now for speculation on a time line.

Since I feel that the four gospels are written near the beginning to the middle of the second century, a time line about the final break of Jews and Christians is complete with not one but three so-called Jewish -Roman revolts in 66-70 C.E., 115-117 C.E., 132-136 C.E..

That if there is symbolism or hidden meaning of Jesus written into the official boiler plate gospels, it is perhaps this. That the three denials of Peter towards Jesus in the early hours of the first Good Friday in the four gospels are an allegorical reference to the denial three times by the Jews - in hope of independence, justice and a messiah - and in direct rejection three times of Jesus as that messiah.

Simon the Jew becomes Peter the Roman. This is the symbolic break in writing with the Jews.

That after Hadrian's final solution and holocaust of the Jews in Palestine in 136 C.E., Jews and Christians were separate political and religious entities from that time forward.

That even then, in a symbolic sense, Peter is somehow mythically transported to Rome and the “first” bishop in opposition to Paul's literate scholarly mission of faith. Paul and his writings won't get a thorough going over for another fourteen hundred years, not until the Reformation. Until then nothing but Roman pagan traditions, rituals and myth to hide the true social message of Jesus.

The Christians that count in 150 A.D., the Christians in Rome, anoint Peter in post apocalyptic literature as the chief honcho, the first pope, retroactively, into the imperial capital and center of the world. Great script writing. Fade to black. The end.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rob Bell, Resurrection, Emerging Church

It took a long time and many e-mails from a friend to recognize the qualities of this "emerging church" movement thing. It is more than just touchy feely.

It is an awakening to, perhaps reawakening of Jesus' message.

In any case this guy Bell is the first fundamentalist I've heard that doesn't put me to sleep.

It is good to have a Christian in a pulpit with an I.Q., above zero, to communicate something to me on a personal and spiritual level.

You are going to hear his name mentioned a lot in the future. The next Billy Graham? Hardly.

The Pharisees are out and attacking him already. Watch your back Rob.

Let's just wait and see.

Trajan's Demonization of the Jews

The Roman emperor Trajan was mucking about in Mesopotamia trying to annex Armenia. Then, like now, trying to win an impossible winnable land war in Asia. His army garrisoned in small numbers, left behind to protect his conquests, got attacked by Jewish rebels, remnants of the diaspora after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.. No doubt Trajan was trying like Alexander to find an easy profitable land route to India and China. Greed is responsible for more human misery than can calculated in heaven or on earth.

Word got through the grapevine about the Romans stretched out too thin in the vastness of the middle east. Other discontent spilled over into rebellion in places such as Cyrene (in Libya), Cyprus, Egypt, Mesopotamia (parts of present day Syria, Turkey, Iraq) and Lod in present day Israel.

Recorded history (by the Romans) puts a name on this people's social revolution across north Africa and the middle east as the Kitos (Quietus) war (115-117 C.E.) after the Roman general Lusious Quietus who successful put down these various revolts with much death and bloodshed. Quietus (Kitos) in essence got stuck cleaning up the mess Trajan brought about by his mismanagement. Hadrian, Trajan's successor, executed Quietus. Assasinate the assasin is the number one rule of power.

The revolt spread from Libya to Alexandria and toward Judea. Jews were no doubt part of this social upheaval. They get the blame both in Roman and later Christian histories. Demonization propaganda that got quoted over and over again by later historians.

In my own opinion perhaps some Jews were ringleaders or on the vanguard of revolt against the Romans. I do think that the populations in general in these far flung Roman colonies rose up, not in solidarity with any Jewish agenda but rather rose up, against official corruption and desperate living conditions. In other words mismanagement and corruption were probably the cause of Trajan's f*ck up war in the middle east.

The Jews got the lion's share of blame in these histories. Things quieted down after the Roman slaughters to enforce Roman law and order. It is remarkable that a people with such a minority position in population outside of Palestine throughout history have been able to acquire such a bad rep for starting trouble. Convenient scapegoats through the ages no doubt framed through some other point of view or agenda.

No doubt the demonization of the Jews in early second century Pax Romana in the Mediterranean world was fresh on the minds of the writing committees that pieced together the four gospels from 120 through 150 C.E..

The gospels of the small Christian sect had to distinguish itself from the Jewish community in general given that Jesus was a Jew and his original teachings and connotations were extremely Jewish beside being revolutionarily human and humane.

“What me Jewish? No way! I am Christian. Not Jewish. Let me explain the difference. Read this.”

Indeed the four gospels were no doubt part of a paper propaganda war of gentile Christians to separate themselves from the source of their faith with is Judaism. Survival of Christianity in light of the recent failures of the Roman state blamed on the Jewish troublemakers made a separation between Judaism and Christianity a priority in the newly revised Christian agenda.

Once that break occurred, the Myth of Jesus, which was the story of a human Jesus got morphed into mainstream pagan Roman culture. If you want respect as a religion you need a god and eventually that is what happened to Jesus in the next phase of Christianity which I label the Christ Myth.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Benedict XVI and the Self Hating Gospels

 In an attempt to soften his own roots and contributions to recent European history, Joe the Pope aka Joe the Scholar has let the Jews off the hook for the execution of Jesus in his forthcoming book, Jesus of Nazareth – Part II.

Pope Benedict: Jewish people not guilty for Jesus death

The Jews as a collective body are not directly responsible for the politics of the Jewish “Aristocracy” and or Temple hierarchy that plotted with the Romans to get rid of one minor Jewish Sect/Cult leader in first century Palestine.

Surely Josef Ratzinger was dragged screaming and kicking out of his youthful house and forced to join the Hitler Youth. In a very loose sense, he might be referred to be a self hating German. But the Germans do not really take responsibilty for the Holocaust in their hearts. They have paid some reparations to survivors and built a few monuments and passed a few laws outlawing anti-Semitic discourse in public view. This false sense of mea culpa, of wished for self hating Germans, by the German people for the collective acts of WWII was imposed on them by their conquerors in 1945.

True contrition by individuals can only be experienced by individuals who directly took part in their own little sliver of war crimes during the Nazi regime. Group guilt and group punishment is quite a different matter.

Anti-Semitism is I am told a nineteenth century term. If you go back to the first century the proper term is perhaps anti-Judaism. We again go back to the mysterious dividing line between Jewish Jews following the teachings of Jesus and the half Jews and full Gentiles that morphed a Jewish sect/cult into mainstream Roman pagan culture and Jesus into a god status.

As I have stated before the four Gospels were probably written after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.. In deed the language of blaming the Jews for Jesus' death in those gospels reeks perhaps of self-hating Jews as authors. So, if it comes down to logic, you can see that the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses or in some cases by real Jews, Jews that Jesus knew in his lifetime.

How many generations from the believed death of Jesus around 30 C.E., to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., to the Kitos diaspora wars 115-117 C.E., and the final destruction of Jewish resistance by Hadrian in 135 C.E.? Somewhere along that time line, Jesus and his very Jewish mission got turned into Mac and Cheese with Beef Gravy (not kosher).

Benedict XVI scholarship I believe will limit itself to the four anit-Judaic gospels. It is very limited flawed post WWII German scholarship at best for a possible “self hating” German to discount the writings not of first century self hating Jews but rather mid second century Jew hating Gentiles outside of Palestine.

The true message of the Jewish prophet Jesus was, is Love. Anything less, like many passages in the New Testament, just does not cut the mustard.

Third rate hack Roman scholarship seems to have changed little in nineteen hundred years.

And so it goes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jesus, a man of true heart and spirit

I have written before about the Jesus Seminar which has made a scholarly attempt to decipher the New Testament. Long story made short, this decades long project has produced a body of scholarly opinion about the origins of the gospels and the writings in them. Bottom line. The gospels are not eyewitness accounts, play by play, blow by blow, of the holy man aka Jesus of Nazareth.

The Jesus Seminar among most things states that less than twenty percent of the sayings attributed to Jesus were actually said by him directly or indirectly.

The first time I heard something like this in I believe a New York Times article more than a decade or so ago I was completed dumbfounded. The New York Times had a stellar reputation then of printing all the news worth printing.

The Jesus Seminar has more than its share of critics regarding methodology, qualifications of scholarship etc.

Jesus Seminar

The bottom line however is that this niche of historic research, scholarship and educated opinion puts the story of Jesus being resurrected into an allegorical mode and style consistent with Jewish studies and teachings of the time.

A recent online article about J.D. Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar appeared in CNN. The article was insightful into the background of the man who helped start a pathway to truth about the real Jesus and perhaps too the real message of Jesus.

John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' portrait of Jesus
Crossan believes the public should be exposed to even the most divisive debates that scholars have had about Jesus and the Bible. He co-founded the Jesus Seminar, a controversial group of scholars who hold public forums that cast doubt on the authenticity of many sayings and deeds attributed to Jesus...

Crossan's overarching message is that you don't have to accept the Jesus of dogma. There's another Jesus hidden in Scripture and history who has been ignored...
My own search for the real Jesus started many years ago in reading the New Testament several times. As time progressed I noticed the flaws and differences between the gospels. No big deal to a Roman Catholic as I had been raised and never read the bible as a one piece of literature. The gospels doled out in the Roman mass ritual were more like what they describe as soundbites in the media. Short readings and short homilies too as I remember from my youth. In the RC church it is all in the traditions and rituals and not in the writing styles or intent of the original “four evangelists”.

The modern world discounts the ancient world. Jesus and religion and or “Christ”ianity compete with mankind's attention along with media commercials for hamburgers and car insurance.

All this stuff on the side of scholarship by a Jesus Seminar also competes for the tradtional fundamentalist Christianity that in recent decades here in America has seemed to graft itself onto one of the major political parties.

So it is not surprising that people were not aware of all this scholarship and research stuff going on not in secret but off the main media stage. Perhaps too another generation is only getting first wind of this ongoing religious research. The CNN article has something in excess of eleven thousand comments as I am writing this several days after the article first appeared.

In any case I use the Jesus Seminar to reinforce my own historic and religious research. Alas I nevered studied Latin or Greek and cannot do what someone like Crossan and others can do with reading the oldest documents available to scholars regarding the New Testament.

Never the less I find that my own Irish Catholic American upbringing parallels Crossans when he comments on the usage of accepting Jesus to a evangelical Protestant.
Some critics say he's trying to debunk Christianity. Some question his personal faith. At a college lecture, Crossan says an audience member stood up and asked him if he had "received the Lord Jesus" as his savior.

Crossan said he had, but refused to repeat his questioner's evangelical language to describe his conversion.

"I wasn't going to give him the language; it's not my language," Crossan says. "I wasn't trying to denigrate him, but don't think you have the monopoly on the language of Christianity."

When asked if he is a Christian, Crossan doesn't hesitate.

I know where Brother John is coming from. Once the Roman religion is engrained in you, phrases like receiving “the Lord Jesus” as your savior is language you never heard as a child or in the style of Roman Christianity as I experienced it. Five centuries after the Reformation there is still a linguistic and cultural devide perpetuated by both sides of the “Kristos” aisle that only helps to splinter understanding regarding concepts of Christian faith, salvation, purpose and ideals. And then again it might be the non-verbal cultural thing of the Irish.
After spending much of his life in the Roman Catholic Church, Crossan is now an outsider.

He hasn't joined a church because he says a priest might deny him the sacraments because of his run-ins with church leaders.

"If I attend a local Roman Catholic Church, I would get sucked back into all the debates," he says. "I don't want to spend my life fighting Roman Catholicism."
This is the quote that hit home for me. Any of you who are regular followers of this blog know that that is what I have been doing – fighting Roman Catholicism. I have not been fighting it to attack it but rather to deprogram myself in the many pagan aspects of a Christian belief system merged with Roman paganism in its prime. Whatever.

As a cultural Christian I still consider myself a Christian. I believe in the basic message of love of Jesus to us and all our neighbors. I believe in God and the Holy Spirit and believe that Jesus was in some of those few words recognized by the Jesus Seminar as authentic, a true man of heart and inspired by that holy spirit of the creator.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jesus and the Parable of the Unions

Got an e-mail from my old friend Jesus, a retired dude in Vegas.

He thinks that union workers are near the bottom rung socially and economically these days.

Jesus tells me that this image of unionized automobile workers in their glory days past of great wages and benefits is the false union image the whining employers are trying to sell to other points on the population spectrum at the moment.

Then Jesus told me a story, a parable or actually a joke. Jesus has a great sense of humor IMHO.

A unionized public employee, a teabagger and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the teabagger and says, "watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."(anonymous)
I got the joke the first time round. Jesus says that a lot of people in America just don't get the joke or see the humor or the injustice of it all.

Oh well. Maybe Jesus can come up with a better joke in his next e-mail to me.

Have a nice day.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Leo Tolstoy - Christian Anarchist

Like the young, I too can learn something about history from the cinema. Ran into a movie about Leo Tolstoy's last days in the film The Last Station. Not high drama, a good soap opera though of everyday life in the life of a very famous man in his day. I am also a Helen Mirren fan.

Well anyway, I never heard of Tolstoy and his Christian Anarchy and non-violence advocacy. Tolstoy's socialist views were more than exceeded and abused after the Russian Revolution. But that is another story.

The Christian anarchy thing sounds areligionist. Tolstoy was no doubt repulsed by the state religion of Russia in those days. In a way his message is the message of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Tolstoy's book The Kingdom of God is Within You (Luke 17:21) is the basis of a non-violent reaction to business as usual regarding wars, social injustice etc.

Another interesting tangent regarding this book I was wholfully ignorant about is that it inspired a young Mahatma Ghandi to form his own ideas about passive resistance against the British in India. Ghandhi wrote to Tolstoy for permission to translate and reprint Tolstoy's A Letter to a Hindu in which Tolstoy advocates love and non-violence to overthrow the British in India. Tolstoy's last letter was to Ghandhi.

I am a student of history and know that Martin Luther King Jr. based his passive resistance program and efforts on those of Ghandhi. I am not a very good student of history to not know that Ghandhi based much of his political strategy on ideas put forth by the Christan Anarchist Leo Tolstoy.

The ripple effects of the Sermon on the Mount have an energy that seem to go on forever no matter what any official or sanctioned vested religion does to cloud the message of Jesus.

The Kingdom of God can be truly said to be within each one of us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eckhart Tolle and the Collapse of World Order

I gave the devil his due in my previous entry proclaiming Eckhart Tolle as a Secular Prophet. I did stop half way through The Power of Now to comment on what I thought was a brilliant rendition of what in all practical purposes was a new version of basic Buddhist philosophy.

Further research on the Internet has not revealed similar exorbitant praise from any Buddhists. Hint. Maybe it is not Buddhism Lite or Buddha Latte after all.

In a nutshell, The Power of Now is to block, discard, get rid of the past because it reaches to the future with expectations that cannot be fulfilled or make you happy. That unhappy future clouds or blocks you life energy in the present – the Now.

So your mental homework is to let go of the past and discard hope for the future and find your bliss in the Now. Wow. Whatever.

This secular prophet’s inner god in the Now is blind and narcissistic to an exponential power and not a reflection of a greater power in the Universe.

Now to Jesus. In the Power of Now there are at least a few dozen direct or indirect quotes or thoughts from the bible. All well and good. It falls into my loose definition realm of cultural Christian to mention and take lesson and wisdom from the fragmentary history and teachings of Jesus.

The dozen or so direct or indirect quotes of Jesus are all selectively presented, follow his party line, and are used to prove Tolle’s new makeshift philosophy. Talking about quoting things out of context. These quotes are mere footnotes to selling a new global con$ciou$ne$$ described by this self taught shaman.

I am reminded of Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and his fancy mumbo jumbo which IMO is an amalgam of Psychology, Sociology, chutzpah and basic old fashioned Dale Carnegie in the pursuit of streamlining business communication and success. Nothing succeeds like success in America or at least the appearance of such. Packaging is just as important as marketing in the American business sense and vision of things.

I started on the first page of A Earth and stopped at the end of the page. The first page tells the story of the first flower 114 million years ago. “…a crucial threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet – if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it.”

NO perceiving consciousness??? Has Eckhart Covey-ed Buddhism and cultural Christianity into a new pure science of mind and in reality atheism?

I have read many comments from the fundies about Tolle. While I may sometimes enjoy seeing the fundamentalists upset, I have to give that devil its due.

Agnosticism, atheism, science does not have to masquerade under Tolle’s new world order of things pretending to be Buddhist Lite without the breathing exercises to give you a temporary high of extra oxygen received through your lungs.

Standing back from Tolle’s worldview about how the world would be better to forget the past and live only in the present and not worry about the future, I have this to say. That since The Power of Now was first published in 1999, the macro world of politics, economics and religion has imploded globally. In my opinion this collapse of standard classic practice in government, finance and beliefs has a lot to do with living in the Now and letting the past and future to go to hell for the sake of here and now.

I’ll stick with my yoga breathing exercise and cultural Christianity and pass on Eckhart Tolle’s “new” vision of the world and mankind in this world.

What the world needs now is individuals to love their neighbors. People should be embracing, hugging people locally, globally first, foremost and then secondly hugging a tree or two and not the other way around Eckhart.