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Sunday, December 31, 2023

At Least Consider This

If you are not a serious scholar of religion, you may not know this. The scholars have many viewpoints about the Bible. Historically there have been fiery debates, violence and wars over divergent understandings of what was or was not meant by various sections. Within the Bible there are not homogenous stances, but often widely different statements, sometimes opposite statements.

This has led a growing number of people to just throw the whole thing out. If you are one of those people, please consider what I am going to share today.

Context is important and affects everything. What era is it - Iron Age, Bronze Age, Greek/Hellenistic Age, Roman, etc? Who was writing? How long after the fact was it written? Is our thinking about it mostly influenced by later philosophers or theologians? How do we know what we think we know?

For me, the crucial issue is the New Testament. Jesus's teaching has been the guide for my life. I am convinced over and over again that by all of us actually living his teaching, we would bring forth the kingdom of heaven here on earth - peace, loving kindness, end of poverty and hunger, etc. 

Let's go back to the first century Roman Empire - brutality controlled society, literacy at 5-10%, poverty for the vast majority, dirty, smelly, short life expectancy, etc. Into this came Jesus's message. The people called him Rabbi and some called him Messiah, King of the Jews, the one to sit on the throne of David. Only the Roman Emperor could be ruler, no exceptions. They crucified all who fought their rule, thousands of them. They only crucified for sedition. Jesus was crucified. They thought they were done with him.

But, he appeared to people after he was crucified. His followers grew instead of disappearing. People told stories about him. Those who had heard him in person shared what they remembered of what he taught. The stories spread around the Mediterranean area. Peop!e who could write and could afford papyrus wrote down the stories they heard. Since they were in different areas, some heard other stories and wrote them down.  Some were copied and shared. 

Eventually, some were lost and so no longer copied, and later in the 4th century and beyond, some were destroyed because the people in charge didn't like them. Some were buried to save them. Scholars knew about some of them because earlier writers mentioned them or quoted parts of them. 

Starting in the 19th century, archeology became a thing and parts of some of discarded writings started to be found. The big find in 1945 was in Nag Hammadi. Some of the Gospels found had been mentioned very early, as in the first century. The Gospel of Thomas, for example, has been dated by many historians/scholars as old as the Gospels in the Bible. It has 114 sayings of Jesus, half of which are in the Gospels in the Bible.

I have gone on a long while here, and I could continue. But I want to ask you to consider that through all of this and more, a string of the life and teachings of Jesus has made it here to us in the 21st century with his core teachings intact. 

Whether you call him teacher/rabbi, savior, or both, he is here and can open our hearts and lives to a bigger life with The Divine Presence, The More, The God. 

In his name, I ask that God awaken us this very day, the last day of 2023, so that we walk into 2024 living and loving the teachings of the amazing man from Galilee. Come into our hearts Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Monolithic or Not?

This morning I was praying for guidance about someone with whom I had a conversation yesterday. He is 1,000% sure he is right about everything. He is aggressive in his conversation and hostile to any other viewpoint, so not at all convincing about his points of view. He does not have the magnetic draw that Truth has.

I know there is so very much we do not know. With so many holes in our knowledge and understanding, it is quite unlikely that we can be absolutely definitive about anything. It seems to me that we need to be open and questioning while living and making choices with our best guesses. As you know, my yardstick is the teaching of Jesus.

I also look for patterns that seem consistent and possibly mostly true. My dad said little quips that seemed mostly true like you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you can do anything you make your mind up to do, still water runs deep. 

The great religions and philosophies that we know about teach some form of karma, sowing and reaping, so some form of personal responsibility for one's life choices.

But there are holes in it all. I don't see how we can be responsible for seemingly random occurrences or other people's choices that affect us. We can be responsible for our responses to it all though.

Maybe the yin yang symbol is a good explanation of some of it. In light there is a seed of darkness. In darkness there is a seed of light. Little to nothing on earth is all anything. Everything can change, everything is in the process of change.

There have been great holy men and women across history. They thought they were teaching great truths that could lift others and that others could understand and live by. But along came the less enlightened who diluted and twisted the great teachings into strange shapes and shadows.

I can imagine the horror Jesus must experience as he watches his holy teaching of love, forgiveness, generosity, care for others, healing, prayer, meditation, oneness with God, etc into wars, pogroms, gas chambers, slavery, all manner of violence and tortures for those with different theologies - all claiming to be following  Him.

It seems to me nothing on earth is monolithic. There are many ways to look at anything here. Maybe we could be more charitable to our companions on this journey on earth. Maybe we could be more humble and give our egos a rest.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Interesting or Liberating or Shattering?

I have recently heard a discussion regarding the opposite perspectives of  the Gospel of John and the Synoptic Gospels as well as the Gospel of Thomas.

I had not really defined it as such, but now that I've seen it, I can't unsee it.

The Synoptics and Thomas come from the understanding that the Kingdom of God is Light and is within. Let your light shine... You have come from the Light and are Light... the Kingdom is within... etc etc etc

John comes from the point of view it is outside a person and has to be gotten, achieved, received, or gained by  belief in one outside of self. 

Which is true changes religion and therefore life. 

If we don't have the Light, it's pretty scary. Who can we trust to tell us how to get it? If we don't have Light, how can we even be alive? What energy energizes us, if it is not Divine Light within?  How can our Light go out if we don't have it to begin with?

If we have Light, it's a matter of tuning in to it and letting it guide us. Its the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom within, the Father doing the work with and through us.

It seems to me that the authors of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and Thomas were onto something wise and profound and true.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Faith - Works

 Note - You may notice that I have switched to a larger font. My macular degeneration has degenerated, and so I need a bigger font to see what I am writing.


James, the Righteous, the brother of Jesus, the leader of the Jesus movement after Jesus left, yes that James, told us that faith is dead, if it does not lead us to do good works. He implied that faith is a verb and not a noun.

For as far back as I can remember, I have done my best to live that teaching. Yet I see and hear so many who claim to be followers of Jesus declare loudly, You just have to be saved!!! This generally means believe a list of things, thanks a lot Martin Luther.

Jesus did not teach - sit on your rear and just believe this or that. He taught to care for others, to actually forgive, even though it might be challenging, to be kind and generous. He taught about actions we should take, and those very actions lead us to enter the kingdom even while here on earth. Think sheep and goats (yes that again, I don't think most people get the significance of his story about the sheep and goats). Think what we call the "Lord's Prayer" - thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

How could we help.that happen if we just sit down and don't participate? We need to give our faith some exercise. Stand against the darkness. Stand for the light. Refuse to fall for false ideologies (communism, fascism, anarchy, terrorism, etc.) Use Jesus' litmas test - what is the fruit of ........? What has it historically brought? What is it likely to bring in the here and now?

We are at a critical juncture. Will we rise up to preserve our freedoms, our Christian beliefs that are based on what we know about the teachings of Jesus (rather than manmade theologies often at odds with the man from Galilee), our culture our art, our music, our very way of life?

Or will we watch as it crumbles, as so many have done in the past - from Rome's fall to Hitler, the signs were ignored until it was too late?

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Ways To Read The Bible

This morning in my prayer time, an idea presented itself, and urged me to write it here. Part of it I had realized before, but this morning it was enlarged.

The basic original idea is that there are many ways to read the Bible - the surface level only, trying to make it fit a preconceived bias, as myths with meaning, as literal, as symbolic of deep spiritual truths, as a study for scholars, trying to unpack deeper meaning and what obvious metaphors meant to the people of the time, etc. And one way I've also taught is that it is every person's story. That is, the characters and stories represent the human journey with it's pitfalls and triumphs, it's turning toward and away from God, life and death, etc.

This morning I was shown that it also has a thread of listening and following Divine Guidance/Holy Spirit - or not listening, or hearing but not following - and what happens in each case.

So Adam and Eve heard, but did not follow Guidance, and ended up making a mess of things. Jonah heard, refused, got himself in a lot of trouble and finally relented. Moses heard, resisted, did most of it but not all,  and didn't get to go to the promised land. You can look at examples yourself regarding your favorite stories,  look for the thread.

Now, let's look at our own lives. I can say with assurance, that regarding my mistakes, as I look back at them, I have usually said " I knew I shouldn't have done that." I didn't heed the Guidance.

Taking the Bible as a cautionary tale of what happens when we don't listen or don't follow, and conversely what happens when we do, it is time to pay attention. It has always been time. As I matured, I have tried more and more consistently to listen and follow. I suggest to us all, it would save us a lot of pain and anguish, if we strive to listen and follow Guidance.  

You can discern Guidance from ego. Ego wants attention and applause. Guidance wants us to be humble. Ego wants to win, to be the center. Guidance wants us to serve quietly. Ego is all about self. Guidance is about others. Ego doesn't ask how this or that feels or affects others. Guidance is about respect, lifting, caring about others.  Ego is about greed. Guidance is about generosity at all levels. Ego is about creating a personal kingdom. Guidance is about participating in creating the Kingdom of God on earth.

I can hear Jesus saying, "Decide today, whom shall you serve?"

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Another Wrinkle on the Collective Unconscious

One of my mentors, a long time ago, spoke of the band of psychic energy around earth that was made up of all thoughts and words and emotions of humanity. It was a jumble of good and evil, of brilliance and ignorance, of hope and fear. He didn't see the clusters of light that I saw, just a bubbling mass of human thought and emotional energy.

He said that the job of those of us who seek enlightenment is to break through that layer to the Cosmic Consciousness beyond it. We need to be careful to not be distracted by the psychic level (collective unconscious possibly, although he did not use those particular words), but to persevere with contemplative practices that teach our minds to be focused and one pointed.

If we succeed, we touch The Presence. Some say Christ Consciousness. Some say Buddha Consciousness. Some say Brahmam or Absolute Consciousness. 

According to the Power Thesaurus, there are a whopping 384 words in English that are synonyms for Cosmic Consciousness!

Whatever name you call it, there have been, and are, those who succeeded in not getting sidetracked in the band of jumbled energy and spent/spend a significant portion of time in touch with Higher Consciousness.

It is a worthwhile endeavor to seek what Jesus called "the kingdom of heaven." Since many have attested to their own experience of it, we can know it is touchable. From the great Avatars, to the known mystics of every religion, to little known citizens of earth, there are written records of their experiences.

Reading their words is exquisitely inspiring. Seek out Jesus of course, but also Meister Eckhart, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Jacob Boehm, Hildegard of Bingen, Brother Lawrence, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich and others in the Christian tradition for example. Let them reach across centuries to quicken your deepest knowing. Something exceptional awaits you.

God bless you on your questπŸ™πŸ’–πŸ™

Friday, December 1, 2023

Who Am I on the Spiritual Spectrum?

This morning I was wondering how I could explain my spiritual perspective.

The thought came to me that I am a metaphysical Christian who has deep respect for all religions, for all ways people have come to seek and know God across all history, and also a person who thinks science not only does not conflict with God, but instead points to an even more  incredible Divinity than the mystics have known. 

I believe in goodness and oneness, in love and kindness. I believe we are here to learn and grow in our relationship with God and one another. I believe we are accountable for how we live our lives. I believe life was, is, and shall be after we leave this earth. I believe because God is Love, we don't need to be afraid of God.

I know all the names of God are about the same Divine Presence. I believe arguing with one another over man-made theologies is counterproductive and actually dumb. It is our egos arguing, not our souls. We approach spirituality from different vantage points, from different cultures, from where we are on the unfolding path. 

I believe in individual responsibility. I believe there are spiritual principles that we can and need to learn and with which we need to get in harmony. 

I believe the Presence of God can be experienced in all natural things - the first look into your baby's eyes, a magnificent sunset, a redwood forest, a beautiful flower or even a weed. I believe there is no spot devoid of God.

I wish and pray for we the people of earth to wake up to such ideas and save ourselves and our planet from the hideous forces working in the opposite direction - before we destroy this incredible place. 

Shall we save the future?