Beyond Theism and On with Evolution: Part One by Eileen Fleming

by
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
29 May, 2010

Christians cannot love their enemies and kill them, too
photo by Dandelion Salad

Theism: belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically a belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world. -Merriam Webster

“Any god who can be killed ought to be killed.”- Clifford Stanley, Episcopal Priest and Professor of Theology

I “got the message this morning, the one that was sent to me” [Bob Dylan] and although the topic of the conversation with the Editor of Salem-News.com was not on this topic, what Tim King wrote read like the voice of God speaking to me:

“Part of what is taking place is a simple realization of the power of creation that exists within.”

***

eileenfleming — May 28, 2010

Beyond Theism and On with Evolution: Part One in a Series

***

What I had been cogitating upon for weeks and what kept me wide-awake last night, were the messages I got while reading Bishop John Shelly Spong.

Way ahead of the masses he wrote in 1998, Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile.

It took him twenty years to write that book about his desire to worship the Mystery we call God as a citizen of the modern world who thinks!

God gave us all a brain that we should use it!

As there is so much heavy baggage attached to the name God, I propose a new name: Pure Being.

And I imagine that Paul Tillich would appreciate it.

Tillich was a refugee from Nazi Germany, a Christian existentialist and American theologian. Tillich philosophized that the existential questions of human existence centered on ontology: the study of the nature of being, existence and reality in general.

Before Tillich died in 1965, he proposed a 100-year moratorium on the use of the word God, because it had become so corrupted.

The concept of Being,

“appears in the present system in three places: in the doctrine of God, where God is called the being as being or the ground and the power of being; in the doctrine of man, where the distinction is carried through between man’s essential and his existential being; and finally, in the doctrine of the Christ, where he is called the manifestation of the New Being, the actualization of which is the work of the divine Spirit.” Tillich, Systematic Theology Vol. 2, p.10

For this Christian Anarchist-Buddhist with a dose of dervish, Jesus for me is my Brother and The Prince of Peace.

His last words to the community before his crucifixion-the Roman occupying forces standard method of capital punishment-was “To put down the sword.”

Among the last words the Prince of Peace uttered on the cross were: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they are doing.”

And not much has changed in 2,000 years!

The Prince of Peace also said that he came so that we would have life to the full; abundant life [John 10:10] and that takes deep thought and then taking action.

Two thousand years ago, there was lively debate about whom the Christ-the very first WIDE AWAKE man.

Until the Church got in bed with Emperor Constantine, all the churches were hot beds of individuality and not the institutions that have become big business today.

In 1994, Spong wrote, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? which faced the fact that viewing the resurrection of The Prince of Peace as PHYSICAL was a late developing tradition in early Christianity, which was called The Way until the days of Paul, in the third decade.

Paul as well as the gospel writers of Mark and Matthew made NO such claim that the burst of life, light and energy that accompanied the birth of Christianity was dependent on this orthodox theology or any dogma.

In 1996, Spong wrote,Liberating the Gospels, he contended that the writers of the synoptic gospels-Luke, Matthew and Mark- were NOT eye witnesses to the life and death of The Prince of Peace and these gospels/good news were not even based on eye witness memories.

Instead, they were liturgical works organized around the Jewish liturgical year and were NOT to be taken literally, but probed within the Jewish context.

The Prince of Peace/Jesus was never a Christian; but a social justice, radical revolutionary nonviolent Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up and challenged the job security of the Temple authorities by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already LOVED them just as they were: poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Military Occupation.

What got The Prince of Peace crucified was disturbing the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces by teaching the subversive concept that God/Pure Being preferred the humble, the poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under a brutal Roman Occupation above the powerful, elite and arrogant.

Spong wrote: “There is no hope for the revival of worship as long as an idol lives undisturbed in the place preserved for a living God.”

And “My aim is to agitate & disturb people. I’m not selling bread, I’m selling yeast.”-Unamuno

No religion owns Pure Being and no church owns The Prince of Peace. Any god, church or religion that is threatened by new truth is already dead, so on with Evolution!

The Prince of Peace spoke about “being born again” and he never meant that to be a solitary experience, but a lifetime endeavor of waking up and seeing Pure Being within oneself, all others and in every situation.

Living in the past has got no soul and the future of Christianity will not be found in antiquity, but in our ability to re-IMAGINE those ancient stories, symbols and concepts with modern eyes.

Christianity came into existence in a world radically different than ours. The ancients believed the Universe consisted of three tiers; the earth at the center was flat, and the judging, all knowing deity was up in the sky and hell was the place below.

The ancients ascribed to a tribal, male supernatural being who validated warfare as a noble and divine enterprise and his foreign policy was pro-Jewish.

The Christian god “evolved’ from tribal roots and the power of the Church to control knowledge and public opinion in an invasive deity dominated civilization for 1,600 years until a new concept dawned.

Copernicus and his disciple Galileo concluded that the sun did not rotate around the earth but that the earth rotated around the sun. This revolutionary evolution in consciousness began the shift from a god who was not so involved in the daily affairs of humans.

Galileo was condemned a heretic and not until December 28, 1991, did the Vatican officially admit he was right and the Church and Bible had been wrong about the universe and humankind’s place in it.

The god on his throne out there had died.

When Freud exposed the childish neurotic elements in religion he was vilified and demonized by Christian leaders.

Carl Jung offered a bridge of reconciliation when he recognized the historic process necessary in the development of Consciousness; which is the quality or state of being aware of something within oneself.

Albert Einstein introduced relativity as present in all things including “eternal and unchanging truth.”

Astrophysicists raised awareness of the emptiness in the heavens above and that hit at the heart of human loneliness.

“In the West there is loneliness, which I call the leprosy of the West. In many ways it is worse than our poor in Calcutta.” – Mother Teresa, Commonweal, Dec 19, 1997.

The theistic concepts of a supernatural big daddy in the sky, an errand boy just waiting to fill our desires, and a deity that will punish us and thus motivates behavior is a god that must at least be fired, if not killed.

Among the forward thinking founding father’s of America was Thomas Jefferson, who weeded out the miracle stories from the gospels and clarified the teachings and ethics of Christ in:

THE LIFE AND MORALS of JESUS of NAZARETH

1. Be just: justice comes from virtue, which comes from the heart.
2. Treat people the way we want to be treated.
3. Always work for PEACEFUL resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with COMPASSION.
4. Consider valuable the things that have no material value.
5. Do not judge others.
6. Do not bear grudges.
7. Be modest and unpretentious.
8. Give out of true generosity, not because we expect to be repaid.
9. Being true to one’s self in more important than being loyal to one’s family…those who think they know the most are the most ignorant…

The most ignored of our founding fathers was Thomas Paine, who wrote:

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.

It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.

Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.

Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.

Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.

Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion, when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.

Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.

Soon after I had published the pamphlet “Common Sense” [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion… The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.

Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.

Mother Teresa said she was just “a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who was sending a love letter to the world.”

In this ongoing series I hope to be a little pencil too, for “HOPE has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it.”-St. Augustine

Mother Teresa also knew that, “In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

But, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy. You know how hard it can be. The way things are going. They’re gonna crucify me.”-John Lennon

Amen and amen means so be it!

***

The Stages of the Soul and How Fundamentalism is Holding up Evolution

eileenfleming — February 19, 2010

Part One in the GREATER AWAKENING SERIES:

Have you heard the true tale of the Bedouin named Mohammed Ali?

I begin this true story at its beginning in 1945, in Egypt, in the land just above the bend of the Nile, north of the Valley of the Kings, across the river from the city of Nag´ Hammâdi, near the hamlet of al-Qasr, under a cliff called Jabal al-Tarif.

An Egyptian Bedouin named Mohammed Ali was out gathering sabakh, a nitrate-rich fertilizer for the crops that he grew in the small hamlet of al-Qasr.

He was aghast to stumble upon a skeleton as he dug, and bewildered when he uncovered a two-foot high earthenware jar. A bowl had been placed over the top, and it was sealed with bitumen.

At first, the Bedouin thought an evil genie was within, but when he shook the heavy jar, he heard things moving and thought it might be gold.

He smashed the jar open and out fluttered pieces of gold particles that he tried to catch, but they disappeared. When he peered into the jar, he was dismayed to find twelve leather-bound books.

Mohammed Ali was illiterate, so he placed no great value on books, but was confident he could sell them and make something for his troubles. So he carried the jar filled with books back to the homestead.

Now, Mohammed Ali also happened to be a fugitive from the law, for he had wielded the weapon that spilled the blood of a patriarch during a violent incident in a generation-long family feud, not so very long before.

After a few days of mulling over possibilities, he decided to give his find to the local Coptic priest for safekeeping. You see, he feared the authorities soon would be lurking about and would confiscate his possession before he could receive any money for it.

His mother ripped out many pages to keep the home fire going, and I grieve and wonder what ancient treasures she burned.

Anyway, the priest passed it on to his brother-in-law, a traveling tutor, who brought the books to the Coptic museum in Cairo on October 4, 1946.

What was found were ancient compositions, written in Coptic that had been translated from ancient Greek. The volumes were leather-bound pages of papyrus, and no doubt the gold dust that Mohammed Ali witnessed was from papyrus fragments that had broken off.

Under the leadership of UNESCO, Egypt, and the American scholar James Robinson, these anthologies and collections of texts with titles like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene have now been translated into many languages.

I contend that when USA Christians fall in love with the Mystery of God; we will begin the world again.

These ancient texts offer NO new answers; but they do provide us with a glimpse of Christianity at its very roots, and it was most diverse indeed.

The most likely source for these books that have become known as the Nag Hamadi Library, was the Pachomius Monastery, which thrived for centuries just three miles from the burial site.

Scholars agree that most likely a monk from there buried these books in the wilderness under the cliff of Jabl al-Tarif for safe-keeping.

These texts had been deemed heretical by those who were gaining power through the political arena; the Proto-orthodox.

In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine, a pagan warrior became the first Christian ruler, but waited until he was on his deathbed before being baptized.

I contend that the most decisive event in the history of Christendom occurred when Emperor Constantine accepted the Christian faith, for those who had once been persecuted were now protected by an earthly king.

Both a patriarchal monarchical state and church were formed at the same time.

Power struggles and debates were common among the early Christians.

Individual churches determined which texts were read, and they all had their favorites.

Constantine sought to unite his empire, and uniting the church was a savvy political move.

He announced he would pay for fifty illuminated copies of scripture to be bound, and thus the biblical canon was established and sealed.

There was fierce debate among the bishops about what should be included and what left out.

The proto-orthodox, who had now become the dominant voice, determined what was heretical for everyone.

The proto-orthodox demanded much-loved scripture to be burned, usually because it did not fit their understanding of God.

Many of these texts were considered Gnostic.

Gnosis is defined as knowledge discerned intuitively.

Gnostic texts offer deep mystery that is discerned via intuition, not rational thought.

This is not the way for fundamentalists.

A Gnostic is open to receiving intuitive knowledge of deep spiritual truth.

For students of the New Testament, this is a much greater find than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Forty of the texts had previously been unknown to modern scholars.

Thirty-five scholars worked diligently on these translations, and all agreed that the bound books themselves date back to the fourth century and were written in Coptic translated from Greek and Aramaic-which is what Jesus spoke!

The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of the sayings of Jesus, words of wisdom, proverbs, parables, and some very confounding mysteries.

About 35 of the 114 sayings have no counterpart in the New Testament, while at least 20 are almost identical, and 54 have similarities.

Many scholars concur that the sayings were originally written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Jesus and his followers.

It is very possible the sayings are closer to the words Jesus actually spoke than what is found in the canonical gospels.

Two thousand years ago, there was lively debate about who Jesus was, and why he came.

The proto-orthodox, who were the majority, considered these gnostic texts anathema and thus deemed them heretical for many reasons.

The main reason is that they did not fit neatly into the evolving dogma.

Gnostic texts offer us mystery, not answers.

Jesus said he came that we would have life to the full; abundant life [John 10:10] and that takes deep thought.

Falling in love with the Mystery of the Universe is a great place to start.

see

Philip A. Faruggio: Apathy among the church-goers

Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More?

And They Crucified Him by Art Katz

Israel: The Politics of Faith and a Land of Conflict

Jewish Marxist Atheist has vision of Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

52 thoughts on “Beyond Theism and On with Evolution: Part One by Eileen Fleming

  1. Natureboy –my whole youth was spent studying Buddhism , Hinduism , Lao Tzu , and practicing meditation and pranayam breathing exercises daily . then right in the middle of this is got a revelation of Jesus Christ. then i picked up and read the new testament . it confirmed my expereince to a T .
    i still have a profound respect for eastern thought and dialogue with Buddhists , and many others , and i still use my mantra in contemplative meditation with our monks at our parish .

  2. ‘saint’ John Lennon said and sang:

    “You say you want a revolution? Well, you know we all want to change the world, but when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out.”

    “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends…I believe that as soon as people want peace in the world they can have it. The only trouble is they are not aware they can get it.”

    “What people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”

    “You’re just left with yourself all the time, whatever you do anyway. You’ve got to get down to your own God in your own temple. It’s all down to you, mate…All we are saying is give peace a chance…All you need is love…Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

    “The struggle is in the mind. We must bury our own monsters and stop condemning people. We are all Christ and Hitler. We want Christ to win. We’re trying to make Christ’s message contemporary. What would he have done if he had advertisements, records, films, TV and newspapers! Christ made miracles to tell his message. Well, the miracle today is communications, so let’s use it.”

    “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”

    All quotes are by John Lennon

    • One thing is for certain, we’ve developed a profoundly complex yet conflicted brain, that somehow works together as a miraculous universe (we hope).

      We still know so little, yet it’s a fascinating time of brain science. Those who seek a simple answer are the dangerous, it’s anything but simple or scriptural, satisfying as simple explanations may seem.

      those who work hard to reconcile to find introspective equilibrium through combined disciplines of training and technique, the open-minded, embracing the primacy of perception as well as the dream time, the combined learnings, seeking sanity in an imperfect cognitive universe of neurons, neurotransmitters and inevitable structural variation are on the fascinating path.

      It’s the dogmatic who are dangerous. And none of this will work unless we lobotomize the obsolete limbic violence.

      • actually natureboy , it is not the dogmatic who are dangeriuos . that is a fashionable fallacy . rememebr the movie ”Dogma ” by kevin smith ? he was trying to say that Dogma is what we need . he mentioned that in countless interviews.
        let us look at it this way : liturgy and ritual is a ballet if seen thru the eyes of those who have been illuminated , and dogma is the fence by which we can play and be protected , instead of falling over a cliff . the dogma not only protects but resounds .
        yes , there is much to go on the brain . but the locus of the slef has never been founf in the brain . Kant and Jung leave it open to the possibility that it resides outside the brain . so does number on brian scientist nobel prize winner sir john Eccles.
        we dont need an open mind but an open heart.

    • Why do they kill our prophets?

      “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice”
      MK

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  6. Dear All,

    I must confess that I have been in excruciating PAIN ever since Memorial Day AM when I learned of Israel’s assault on the FREE GAZA Flotilla;

    Which added to my distress of Israel re-imprisoning Mordechai Vanunu on 23 May 2010 because of interviews he gave to foreign media in 2004.

    Please and thanks for your patience in responding to your comments, but I am so whipped because my plate is over filled dealing with fundamentalist Zionists on The Daily Beast, etc, etc, etc!

    PLEASE also know how blessed/encouraged that I am that this site has readers who THINK!!!

    I DO LOVE YOU ALL but as i am just one little sister in the service of The Prince of PEACE and as Christ Knows it ain’t easy; I beg you all for more patience until i return.

    • Take care of yourself, Eileen, the comments will be here whenever you’d like to reply to them.

      One question: why bother talking to fundamentalist Zionists? Many of the people who post on various sites are being paid by the Israeli govt to give the govt line (propaganda).

      • YES I am aware there is no true dialogue with them; BUT others with a working brain are reading and also THE MEDIA follows such sites as The Daily Beast, and I am really talking to them!

        Plus, it is FUN to agitate!

        xoxe

  7. Two thousand years ago the Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry.

    When Jesus/The Prince of PEACE said: “Pick up your cross and follow me,” everyone back then understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads in Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any others who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces.

    In the latter days of Nero’s reign [54-68 A.S.] through the domination of Domitian [ 81-96] Christians were persecuted for following the nonviolent, loving and forgiving Jesus.

    That Jesus was first left behind when Augustine penned the Just War Theory.

    Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other.

    Augustine was the first Church Father to consider the concept of a Just War and within 100 years after Constantine, the Empire required that all soldiers in the army must be baptized Christians and thus, the decline of Christianity began.

    In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine legitimized Christianity and thus, those who had been considered rebels and outlaws began to enjoy political power and prestige.

    With the marriage of church and state, The Prince of Peace’s true teachings were reinterpreted.

    The justification of warfare and the use of state sponsored violence corrupted what Christ modeled and taught.

    Jesus was always on about WAKE UP: The Divine already indwells you and all others.

    • Eileen , i am with you politically on the pre-Constantian deal . although i think that the Apostasy that Paul warned of came before that , as seen in the death of Hypatia .
      Martin Hengel’s book ”Crucifixion ” sheds a lot of light on the extant sources that show the absolute scandal of proclaiming a peasant condemned by the Empire , using the Emporors title ”SON OF GOD ”. so it was Political-religious in its most unique form . no other group was doing that . the rest just joined the pantheon .
      so , the cross , by the mid 40’s of the first century was beginning to take on a deeply religious context that was not only political . but a unique hybrid . and also by its pacifist message running in parallax with might is right Rome , began to undermine the Empire itself as Gibbon points out . that is why Tertullian said ”the Church is built on the seed of the blood of the martyrs ”.

      • THANK YOU ROCKET!

        Do you write articles? I would love to read more from you as you know many things I do not know.

        What i do know about The Cross is that 2,000 years ago the cross had no religious symbolic meaning and was not a piece of jewelry.

        When Jesus said: “Pick up your cross and follow me” everyone back then understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads into Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Empire and Military Occupying Forces. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipOtpwr09ck

        xoxe

        • Eileen –yes i do write articles . i am a musician by trade and you will find me all over youtube performing my origonal stuff , and also acting in a movie called ”a Ripple in the world ”. just google in rocket kirchner . also my testimony on how Christ came to me 36 years ago and saved me from eastern relgion , even though i have a profound respect and dialogue going with Buddhists , and Hindus , in the Church tradition of ”Nostra Atatea” , ala Thomas Merton style .
          To the right of my testimony page is the list of articles that i have written for this blog . you will really like ”The Gospel of Mark verses the Imperial mindset.”
          i am also a Catholic worker activist in our community of homelss people and soup kitchen ala Dorothy Day .
          When Jesus said ”pick up your cross and follow me ”, he did not say ”follow yourself , or follow the Torah , but FOLLOW ME . of course he said ”without ME , you can do nothing ”. ”no man comes to the Father , but by ME ”. expect you repent and believe that i am HE , you will all perish ”. The emphasis must be on this , and not the wonderful by product of the good news.
          So , how do we reconcile these things with this sort of one truth many paths general unitarianism ?
          this is how i do it : God is providentially with every creature . that spark within . however , the wake up call that Christ was giving had to do with weather one wants to enter into deep communion with God thru Christ Jesus . so , here is the paradox . and that interpenetration spiritually thru Christ is THE EVOLUTION THAT BRINGS FORTH THE REVOLUTION . The does not negate the importance of Karl Jaspers ”Axiel Age ”theory , of the Hebrew prophets , Greek philosophers , Buddha , Zoraster , Confusciuos ,Lao Tzu , all basically going on at the same time . one the contrary Jaspers is dead right about this paradigmn shift away from the many to the One .this i believe prepared the way for the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all life to incarnate into human flesh as ”the One ”. for as St. Paul said in Galations 4;4 ”in the fullness of time , God sent his Son . The worlds mentality was ready . and He came , and conquered death by taking the Karma of the universe upon himslef in total vulnerability , and then rose from the dead and lives as an ”embodied apologetic ” sign of contradiction ” , and a resurrection phenomeneon” inside all those who have been interpenetrated by The Spirit of Truth that he sent . it was then and only then that the Kingdomof heaven that was at hand , came . WOW ! I AM GETTING EXCITED JUST WRITING ABOUT IT !

  8. New age prattle . the concept of ”pure being ”as laid out in Hegel’s ”the philosophy of history ” was demolished by both Nietzche and Kierkegaard .
    as far as Spongs work , N.t. Wright ‘s ”The Resurection of the SON OF GOD ” sets the record straight historically .
    The Gnostics hatred of the body is at the root of the fundamentalist’s mindset .
    thank God for Orthodoxy , and not some kind of ersatz phoney form of evolution . The APOSTLES CREED is true evolution .

    • “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident.”-Arthur Schopenhauer

      If you can say and believe every word in The Apostles Creed-you are stuck in antiquity: “Conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary.”

      There were never any card carrying Gnostic’s-their beliefs were diverse and all we have known about them for centuries was the attacks upon them as their scriptures were banned/censored/burned by the proto-orthodox-fundamentlaist!

      God/PURE BEING does not/cannot be put in a box and Gnostic texts offer us mystery, not answers!

      • you use the phrase ”stuck in antiquity ” in the pejorative . i use it in the progressive evolutionary sense.

        let us take what you quoted ”Conceived by the Holy Spirit , born of the Virgin Mary ”. The trajectory of God incarnate runs that way . no Logospermotokos , means no Theotokos. Mary was the God –bearer. Without this ”Incarnational thinking ” of God within Mary , and then transferred to us via the cross and resurrection , we get stuck in the mindset of the God in the sky , or sky God making God in our own image , and look at the wars that have followed with that one .

        The Apostolic creed heads that way of thinking off at the pass , and presents God as coming in humility , being vulnerable , even to choosing death on a cross .

        Eileen , this is what is missing . we need to see THE HUMILITY OF GOD –jesus christo domino .

        if not sky -god projection will continue and the planet will go up in smoke .

        • Dear rocket, tell me what you think of my spin of The Sermon on the Mount:

          About 2,000 years ago, when JC was about 33, he hiked up a hill and sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people;

          “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

          In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and sins honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God.

          How comforted we will all be, when we see, we haven’t got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.

          God’s name in ancient Aramaic is Abba which means Daddy as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours.” -Isaiah 55:8

          JC proclaimed more: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

          The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge. In other words: how comforted you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourself, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.

          “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”

          In other words: how comforted you will be when your greatest desire is to do what “God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord.”-Micah 6:8

          “Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.”

          In other words: how comforted you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your ‘enemy.’

          “For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you” Christ warns his disciples as he explains the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.

          “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.”

          In other words: how comforted you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child. The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.

          “Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God.”

          And what a wonderful world it would be when we all seek peace by pursuing justice; for there can be none without the other.

          “Blessed are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires, theirs is The Kingdom of Heaven.”

          And one fine day the lion will lie down with The Lamb and man will make war no more and that is the Kingdom of God.

        • pretty damn good . i think that there is a pecking order . he starts with th poor in spirit. this pecking order could possibily be more important in Luke. J.D. C rossan’s ”Jesus , a revoltuonary Bio ” ( the short book , not the long one ) stresses that Luke’s take trumps Matthews on the first Beatitude becuase Luke says ”blessed are the poor , for their is the Kingdom of heaven ”.
          Crossan goes on to point out that the greek translation there is ”destitute”. in a greek play , the god of wealth says to poverty and destiution ”well well , look at you two . ” and poverty interupts and says ”at least i work . i am poor , but the gods have not cursed me . i am not destitute . i have some honor”.
          The mentality of the Maria Nostra culture.. be it monothiestic ( Persians or Jews ) or be it Pagan culture ..they all had one thing in commen –if you are desitute you are cursed by the gods or God .
          Right off the bat Jesus inverts that deception and exposes it . and if that is not enough , he states that they are blessed from heaven ! you got to love a Messiah like that. total reversal of expectation .
          not only are the destitute not cursed , they are first in line to be blessed . INVERSION THEOLOGY !
          this also goes for the poor in spirit , but is more pronounced or the desitute in general . that is why we need both Matthew and Luke on this one .

    • Kierkegaard understood the arrogance in philosophies that were rooted in a detached standpoint.

      Kierkegaard was not concerned with a system, but with man in the world, especially as a being before God.

      Kierkegaard asserted that the claims of religion, must be appropriated subjectively to have any effect or value for the thinker.

      “Therefore, be cautious with an abstract thinker who not only wants to remain in abstraction’s pure being but wants this to be the highest for a human being, and wants such thinking, which results in the ignoring of the ethical and a misunderstanding of the religious, to be the highest human thinking.” -“Concluding Unscientific Postscript To Philosophical Fragments” page 307

      Human beings are in process of becoming god.

      Pure Being is God.

      • Eileen , thank you for your intelligent responses .

        in regard to Soren Kierkegaard , have you read the book that instrumental in the conversion of Edith Stein ? it is called ”Training in Christianity ”

        There is a chapter there called ”THE OFFENSE” . it sums up how the Cross and the blood atonement are deliberately offensive . one must past thru the offense of the paradox of the God-man in order to be in that state of blessedness . ”Blessed are those who are not offended by me ”Christ says .

        Kierkegaard goes on in that chapter to explain that unity between God and man is the unity of the God-man Jesus , with God , not some abstract unity of God and man . until the unity of of the God-man in all its paradox is revealed to a person , they will never be reconnected to divinity . this is why the Apostles creed is not and can never be outdated. so called evolution without it is a self deceptive form of progression , when in reality it is digression .

        as far as human beings being in the process of Apotheosis , becoming divine . yes ! i agree . but as st. John of the Cross said ” God became human , so that humans can become divine ”. we have been forewarned by the mystics like Him and many others , both male and female that one must be anchored in Orthodoxy in order for this to happen . for their are spiritual deceptions and landmines everywhere .

        regarding the Gnostics : you are right , there are many forms — when i stressed the hatred of the body , i was referring to Manicheans more than the Carpacradians , or Valtenians . Hans Jonas and Elaine Pagels is our sources for this . have you read her work ”The Gnostic Paul ”? this is more where i am coming from .

        Texts that are danger to me are ones like the Second treaty of Seth ..that deny the suffering in the flesh of Christ himself . it is texts like that that deny his full humanity . to me that is fundamentalism at its worse. The romance of the dying God is if understood the very Epiphany needed to bring us into the Epiphany that leads to spiritual and social justice evolution . for in that we see divine vulnerability at its best.

  9. “HOPE has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it.”
    -St. Augustine

  10. Ah, stage three. But it is a transition, no? There is a period of limbo between the still selfish stage two and the awakened stage three adults. If people could just get to the obvious stage 3, I’d be less cynical. Stage 4 is too enlightened for most minds. We don’t have to be shamans to function, I’d be happy with stage 3, or at least 2-3. So why didn’t these devout christians at least get beyond stage one? Where are these aware children, we’re supposed to get a whole generation of indigos, why can’t we evolve?

    • GREAT QUESTION you asked:

      “Why can’t we evolve?”

      We can! Good and Evil cut through every human heart and FREE WILL means we get to choose which rules!

      “I said, you are gods: you are all children of the Most High God.”-Psalm 82:6

      The stages of the soul are fluid and one will pass back and forth-the only danger on the spiritual journey is getting stuck!

  11. This is a big post lo!
    I’m only part of the way through the first woman, but imagine if christians had actually listened and put down the sword back then, What a wonderful world this would have been,,,
    Prince of peace indeed, why didn’t believers at least believe in that? I’m so over romans, then and now.

      • Jesus/The Prince of Peace had few friends in the Temple hierarchy because he challenged their jog security by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God/Pure Being-for He/She/? already LOVES ALL just as they are.

        There is no need to jump through any man made hoops to love and have a relationship with The Mystery of the Universe-all one need’s is the desire.

        • agreed . no jumping thru man made hoops. that does not preclude jumping thru God made hoops . ”if you love me ( Christ says ) , then keep my commandments ”.

        • EXCELLENT point rocket!

          In the gospel [good news] told in Mark 3: 31-35, the mother of Jesus’ and his brothers arrived at the house where he was teaching.

          Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him out. The crowd around Jesus told him, “Your mother, sisters and brothers are outside asking for you.”

          Jesus replied, “I am here with my mother, sisters and brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother.”

          And, “What does God require? He has told you o’man! Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord.” -Micah 6:8

        • i recently got some revealation on the body language in Mark’s Gospel of Jesus . his family is standing outside , thinking that he is beside himself , and what is said is ” behold your ….. . but before he says ”who is my mother , brother , sister …those who do the will fo God ” . before he says that ..check out what Mark says ” and Jesus looks around the room and says ..”
          LOOKS AROUND THE ROOM ! Mark is the king of subtle , editing , secrecy motifs. what does this really mean ? is Jesus saying that becuase they are believing in Him that they are his real family ? rememebr , Mark does not waste a word .
          i got about 8 or 9 different revealtions on Jesus body languae in Mark that are astounding , that i never even noticed before . not that i understand them yet . we will have to talk about it . e-mail me . in the meanwhile , what does this REALLY mean ?

    • natureboy –join in on the frustrations that we pacifist christians have at those who think that there is such thing as a just war as laid out by Augustine .
      the answer is this : the decisive factor is AUTHORITY . Keirkegaard in his short but brilliant essya ”On the difference between a genuis and an Apostle ”says it all. why ? Augustine was a genuis . his just war theory was genuis . everything about the guy was genuis and sincere . greatest philsopher of antiquity says bertie russel . but ….he was not Christ , nor was he an Apostle . a genuis has no divine authority . the Apostle does . and Christ and the Apostles were ALL pacifists and died for the faith .
      when in doubt going with the Apostolic authority is the route to go everything time in my book .

      • I’m forever chasing after your references to ancient thought which I’d never heard of I’m NOT well read, it’s well known). Augustine was an oldtimer in the midst of a smorgasboard of theories about what is wrong with people, seemed to oscilate a bit wildly no?

        It took so much hypothesizing then about good v evil, gnosticism, just wars (which to me is just war). Zoroastrians & Manicheists…
        What a maze of conjecture with nothing to go by but instinct, theory and indoctrination.

        At this very moment so much of brain is being deciphered, irrational fears ascribed to disbalanced neurotransmitters, revelations about ancient limbic reptilian vs. higher intellect, irreconcilable conflicts in a profoundly subtle system.

        Evil, true psychopaths, sociopathology is likely a form of brain damage (as genius is likely mutated hyper-development). Passion is likely all dopamine, anxiety & feal lack thereof.

        Maybe evolutionary psychology and brain science will finally get to the bottom of good v evil. Certainly we suddenly live in a moment where we’re finally scratching the surface of what really is wrong with people and their attitude issues. Much of it is obsolete addiction one way or another, hate, killing, racism, nationalism, greed, dominance/control, all based in biological baggage.

        Ironically it’s the deadly sin of greed that’s behind the research at big pharma, not humanitarianism. But maybe we do just need better drugs (or a life of constant meditation to rise above our innate demons).

        • From The Message of the Day: http://www.aweber.com/archive/dailyseed/20r7u/t/Message_of_6_2_10.htm

          AT THE MASTER’S FEET
          – by Sadhu Sundar Singh

          The Disciple: “Master, it is clear to almost everyone that to disobey God and to cease to worship Him is sin, and the deadly result is seen in the present state of the world. But what sin really is is not absolutely clear. In the very presence of Almighty God, and in opposition to His will, and in His own world, how did sin come to be?”

          1. (continued) Satan can only spoil that which has already been created, but he has not the power of creating anything. So sin is not a part of creation, nor has it independent existence such that it could be created. It is simply a delusive and destructive state of being.

          For instance, light is something which has real existence, but darkness has not; it is only a state, the absence of light. Thus sin or evil is not a self-existent thing, but simply the absence or nonexistence of good. This dark state of evil is most terrible, for because of it many miss the right course, and making shipwreck on the rocks of Satan fall into the darkness of hell and are lost. For this reason I who am the Light of the world became manifest in the flesh, so that those who put their trust in Me should not perish, for I rescue them from the power of darkness and bring them safe to that desired and heavenly haven, where there is neither name nor sign of darkness (Rev. xxi.23, xxii.5).

          – Part II, Section 1

          More on Sadhu Sundar Singh http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org/yourti88607.html

        • and the highest form of selfishness is a deliberate rejection of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ who became sin , so that we would be reconnected to the divine .

        • Great point about brain damage and you also hit the nail on the head about greed!

          “For the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”-! Tim 6:10

        • Greed must have had more of a biological basis than just corruption of character or failure of faith.

          The sociopath next door dealves into the genuine 3% born without conscience, charming as they often are.

          The dominant who naturally has disbalanced androgenic hormones, and the females who do their bidding in screaming, feinting flocks, all these biologically based evolutionary mutated flaws in particularly aggressive, selfish & paranoid, likely guaranteed our survival yet undermine any effort to design an equitable community.

          But worshipping the alpha-male, glorifying his violence and his proclivity to tribal conflict, and promoting his dominating of those who would follow him into battle, indoctrinatind]g the people to reinforce the dysfunctional elements in the disbalanced brain are all an addiction that undermines any way to peace, regardless of wisdom, sabath, sunday shul or sermons.

          How else can it be explained that the wise credo of the Prince of Peace so categorically failed, with not even the carrot/stick invention of heaven & hell having any positive impact on millenia of ‘believers’?

          Great wise words have been wonderfully articulated, yet nne of it helped. Why? That is the question.

        • they failed natureboy ..because people keep rejecting him . he has been raised from the dead like we followers keep harping on over and over and over , and people keep rejecting over and over and over.

          free will is a bitch !

          you mentioned the term ”biological basis ”, as a problem . it is a problem for many things . but the real problem as Hedges said in his debate with Hitchens is ”the heart”.

          until we see that we are a spirit that live in a suit of skin , we will continue to blame God , and go backwards as a species . for that which does not advance goes into retrograde.

        • But…
          Why/what convinced you that it was christ and christ alone who spoke the wisdom, and the wisdom was that of the biblical god? Why would you not, in all your readings not have read Lau Tzu or Buddha who had so much more to say? And what convinced you that it was the words of a deity and not the wisdom of mind? Did the bible alone indoctrinate you, and despite all your philosophical incantations (all theorems not truth), decide that it was that one of many, this new testament (which you clearly question here and there) become the word of a god which clearly was an in invention of man? What about Lau Tzu, Buddah? Why conflate the death on the cross, the unproven resurresction with the wisdom of jesus, because of tradition? Do you not question authority and dubious scripts? Where is your evidence of the resurrection, and how does this prove that jesus died for our sins and not because he was killed by romans like the rest? Wouldn’t you be a fool if it was all a myth?? Do you not question and only believe and therefore preach what may very well be a lie or myth? Why have you convinced yourself that you may not be wrong? Because someone wrote something (and definitely not jesus) in a screed in an old book?

      • The first and greatest heresy in Christianity was The Just War Theory! That was when church and state got in bed together and we the people for justice and peace have been getting screwed ever since!

    • IMAGINE indeed IF all Christians actually DID what Jesus/The Prince of Peace taught and modeled with his life-it would be a very different world!

      The early followers and lovers of Jesus were called members of THE WAY-being THE WAY he taught one should be; Nonviolent, Loving, Forgiving and NOT judging nonbelievers; but provoking the believers onto good works!

      In the gospel [good news] told in Mark 3: 31-35, the mother of Jesus’ and his brothers arrived at the house where he was teaching.

      Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him out. The crowd around Jesus told him, “Your mother, sisters and brothers are outside asking for you.”

      Jesus replied, “I am here with my mother, sisters and brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother.”

      In Micah 6-8 we learn:

      “What does God require? He has told you o’man! Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord.”

      Being just means correct, true, accurate, right and fair.

      Merciful is to have, feel and show compassion, that sense of viscerally feeling the pain of another and being moved to help.

      Being humble is knowing yourself; the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.

      • There was another ‘The Way’ of wisdom that appears centuries before Christ,

        But it seemed yet vastly more developed than the wise words Jesus , perhas because it;s all jesus was able to formulate in his tragically short life.

        It’s called the ‘Tao’ (LATER THE TAO TE CHING) which pre-empted much of Jesus’ somewhat cryptic translations of how to live, while Lau Tzu was afforded the time to extend almost identical such wisdom with greater subtlety and poetry, some 5 centuries prior..

        • George Harrison, sang in 1971:

          You don’t need no love in
          You don’t need no bed pan
          You don’t need a horoscope or a microscope
          The see the mess that you’re in
          If you open up your heart
          You will know what I mean
          We’ve been polluted so long
          Now here’s a way for you to get clean…

          The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see
          The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see

          You don’t need no passport
          And you don’t need no visas
          You don’t need to designate or to emigrate
          Before you can see Jesus
          If you open up your heart
          You’ll see he’s right there
          He always was and will be
          He’ll relieve you of your cares

          If you open up your heart
          You will see what I mean
          You’ve been kept down so long
          YOU think that we’re all green

          The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see

          The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see

          The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see

        • Maybe the lord doesn’t need to wait, maybe we are born to see, but our limbic reptilian brain is following the blind, and it’s the blind who follow.

          It doesn’t take the lord to see the obvious. The reptilian brain, the layer of forgotten amphibian eggs, the spewer of spawn who then leave, the anti-intellect, the one who procreates like microbes, the one who reacts without logic or forethought, the primal primitive, the unevolved, the turtle of the buried eggs left to fight for the froth before the gulls get them, the terrible trap of the unprotected, the eocene relic tracking us from ancient eras where society hadn’t yet happened, who only carelessly procreates in vast volumes hoping some won’t be eaten…

          Conscientiousness was a higher biological impulse born of billions of years and a bigger brain, resultant longer gestation. This was the origin of compassion. God didn’t design this, life did.

        • i have studied it since i was 15 years old . the difference is that the wise men of the east never claimed to be the message. Christ claimed that he was the message. the messenger in the gospel sense is THE MESSAGE.
          ”If you meet the Buddha , kill him ” Zen saying
          ”except you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you ” Jesus of Nazareth .
          the death of Jesus was not a tragedy , becuase he rose from the dead,. the only way to know this is by an epistimology that is revelatory and not deductive reasoning .

        • WOW! This is a great conversation and I am lead to add that the truth is that the best Christians are also Buddhists, such as Thomas Merton, Trappist monk poet, social critic and mystic, who said: “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” [Steindl-Rast, 1969, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West”]

          The pre-Christian Merton was attracted to the mysticism of Aldous Huxley in the book, “Ends and Means,” which sowed the seeds of apophatic mysticism-meaning a knowledge of God obtained by negation-that sprouted into a relationship with Buddhist teachings about the Void and Emptiness. Merton also devoured Christian mystical writings by Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregory of Nyssa, Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross.

          Merton understood that other religions and denominations all led down the same road and he grew deeper in his own faith through studying and respecting Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Zen.

          The sorry state of US Christianity today is its lack of depth and a rigid fundamentalism [meaning one who has closed off to new thought] that see non-Christians as targets for conversion.

          Merton understood that Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam all shared his belief that we all are searching for the ultimate truth.

          Merton’s openness and commitment to Eastern religions were best expressed in the last words of his life, at the lecture he delivered at a Conference of Benedictine and Cistercian Abbots, on December 10, 1968, at Samutprakan, just south of Bangkok.

          Merton spoke on Marxism and Monastic Perspectives and concluded with, “What is essential in the monastic life is not embedded in buildings, is not embedded even in a rule…It is concerned with the business of total inner transformation…all other things serve that end.

          “I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions, because they (the Asians) have gone, from the natural point of view, so much deeper into this than we have. The combination of the natural techniques and the graces and the other things that have been manifested in Asia, and the Christian liberty of the gospel should bring us all at last to that full and transcendent liberty which is beyond mere cultural difference and mere externals — and mere this and that.”

          After his talk, Merton said he would take questions later on and, “so I will disappear.”

          A few hours later he was found dead on the floor of his hotel room with a tall electric fan lying across his 53 year old body.

          “There has been a lot of gossip about this, whether he was killed accidentally, or by an enemy. He had many enemies; the CIA feared he had connections in religious circles in Asia that might have an adverse effect on the U.S. war effort in Vietnam; the FBI felt the same kind of fear over his role in the peace movement in America; neither side in Vietnam liked him; the Communists, both Russian and Chinese, were suspicious of him.

          “He had enemies who simply objected to his beliefs. He still has this type of enemy in the United States. And of course, there were enemies, some of them powerful, within his own Church, even with his own Order. And the latter probably felt even more justified in their opposition during Merton’s Asian trip.

          “It could have been assassination by some unrevealed force, or it could have been what it was said to have been, just an accident, I suppose it’s something we will never know. There was no autopsy. The man who hated the war in Vietnam was shipped quickly back to the United States, via Vietnam, along with casualties of the war, in a U. S. Air Force plane.”

          In January 1962, Merton wrote against the Bomb: “I have little confidence in Kennedy, I think he cannot fully measure up to the magnitude of his task, and lacks creative imagination and the deeper kind of sensitivity that is needed. Too much the Time and Life mentality, than which I can imagine nothing further, in reality, from, say, Lincoln. What is needed is really not shrewdness or craft, but what the politicians don’t have; depth, humanity and a certain totality of self-forgetfulness and compassion, not just for individuals but for man as a whole; a deeper kind of dedication. Maybe Kennedy will break through into that some day by miracle. But, such people are before long marked out for assassination.”

          It was Merton’s faith filled compassion for people in distress that inspired his prolific writings on the social issues of civil rights, nuclear weapons, war and peace, and the Viet Nam War, and his religious superiors tried to silence him because of his literary protests.

          Gandhi also inspired and influenced Merton in the way to find deeper roots of one’s own religious tradition by immersion in other faiths-and then returning “home” to one’s own heritage with a transformed consciousness.

          Gandhi also said:

          “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy? If we are to teach real peace in this world, if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

          2,000 years ago, a nonviolent Palestinian Jew, named Jesus taught his followers that they must be “born again” to enter the kingdom of God.

          Reverend Richard Cross explained to me that, “Being “born again’ means more than just being baptized. It implies, at least for me, a metanoia (μετανοια -a turning around) of heart and commitment to live the values we find in the Gospel. The implications of this “conversion’ are unending.”[Learn More: http://www.users.cloud9.net/~recross/why-not/%5D

          For me being “born again’ also implies a transformation of heart and mind to see The Divine in all people and circumstances.

          The night before his death Merton said, “Zen and Christianity are the future.”

          Merton warned that if Western Christianity continued to ignore “the spiritual heritage of the East,” it would “hasten the tragedy that threatens man and his civilizations.” (Mystics and Zen Masters, p. 46).

          Compassion and hope were Merton’s motivations for his immersion into Buddhism and meaningful interfaith dialogue. He wanted to be a good Buddhist because he learned from that faith path how to be a better Christian.

          Merton wrote that studying other faiths is not enough, but that “We must seek not merely to make superficial reports about the Asian traditions, but to live and share those traditions, as far as we can, by living them in their traditional milieu.” (Asian Journal, p. 313).

          Merton integrated Buddhism with the Christian contemplative concept that the true self is where God is and “all is emptiness and all is compassion.”

          See! See! My love is darkness!

          Only in the Void,

          Are all ways one:

          Only in the night

          Are all the lost

          Found.

          In my ending is my meaning.-The Night of Destiny

          For Merton, “the anguish of the modern person was often based upon an addiction to a false self, one’s ego-mind, that only a realization of the no-self (Buddhism) or dying to one’s self (Christianity) could transform. Thus, the dialogue was not to be only an intellectual exercise, but a vital and compelling way to directly address the absence of freedom, compassion and meaning in contemporary living and society. And only people authentically free could really value and beneficially contribute to the dialogue since the purpose of it was to free people from the wheel of causation and suffering.”

          The Sorry State of US Christianity:

          St. Paul, who never failed to express his freedom of speech, warned the followers of Jesus, to not judge the unbeliever but to provoke the believer onto good works.

          As a Christian Anarchist [meaning one who takes Jesus seriously but questions all ‘teachers of the law’] Buddhist with a dose of dervish, l I am compelled to remind US Christians that the gospel-which means good news- that JC preached to the poor and oppressed was a direct challenge to the politically powerful and the arrogant, the self-satisfied, self-righteous teachers of the law and to every individual to do-or not do-to any other as you would or would not do unto God.

          Not many US Christians are cognizant of the fact that Jesus was never a Christian, but was a social justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up and challenged the job security of the Temple authorities by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already LOVED them just as they were: sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Military Occupation.

          Even fewer consider that what got Jesus crucified was for disturbing the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces by teaching subversive concepts such as Caesar only had power because God allowed it and that God preferred the humble sinner, the poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Occupation above the elite and arrogant!

          Two thousand years ago the Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry. When Jesus said: “Pick up your cross and follow me,” everyone back then understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads in Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any others who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces.

          Inspired by Saint Paul and Thomas Merton, I hope to provoke my sisters and brothers in Christ, with what Merton responded to the nun who complained to him at a rally against Vietnam that he hadn’t mentioned Jesus once in his speech:

          “What we are asked to do at present is not so much to speak of Christ as to let him live in us, so that people may find him by feeling how he lives in us.”

          AND leave you with this:

          “The duty of the Christian at this time is to do the one task God has imposed upon us in this world today. The task is to work for the total abolition of war. There can be no question that unless war is abolished; the world will remain constantly in a state of madness. The church [meaning all Christians] must lead the way on the road to the abolition of war. Peace is to be preached and nonviolence is to be explained and practiced.”

          Other SOURCES:

          http://www.thomasmertonsociety.org/altany2.htm

          http://www.therealmerton.com/tommie5.html

        • you will love the new documentry on Merton . it is great ! i have seen it 9 times in a row !
          Eileen — i have studied Merton fro almost 35 years , and have been involved in interfaith dialogue with the east. i half jokingly call myslef a zen -catholic.
          here is a few things to rememr —
          1. Every Merton book has the nihil obstat on it . which is THE imprimator from Rome and his Trappist order.
          2. Merton was obedient to his superiours .
          3. When Merton went east , he waited until he got permission . he wasnt just doing his own thing . he was ”sent out”. of course that is where we get the word ”Apostle ”( sent one ) . in fact , Pope Paul X1 personally sent him a cross to wear around hisneck for the trip .
          The Dalia Lama in his book ”The Good Heart : the Buddhist perspective of Jesus ” ( 1994) said that ”you cannot put a sheep on a yaks head, and visa versa . In Merton’s private journals he talks about the fact that he is not a Buddhist but sees it as a needed thing to know for western mystics .
          bottom line –you cannot be a buddhist and a Christian at the same time . we Christians at our parish , meditate with our Dominican friars , using the ”prayer of mental subtraction ”so that we can get the mind out of the way and let God move in our lives to plow a deeper channel . we use some Tibetan techiques , but we are not Buddhists and neither was Merton . This is a very important distinction . one does a really diservice to Buddhism by saying that it is all the same with Christians , cause its not .
          so –interfaith dialogue is this : first –find what we have in commen . then find our differences. it is not a debate . it is a dialogue . now , there is time for debate , and a time fro hell fire preaching . Christ did it all. he was not a one dimensional figure.
          The Merton -Dalia lama meeting was one of the most important events in all of history .

        • one more thing — pick up your cros and follow me . Bonhoffer said ”when Christ bids a man , he bids him to die ”. From the Roman view you are right . he was put to death by being a rebel agatator . but who was he agitating , and who delievered him up ? the non believing jews . the ones he said that where the ones who where the sons of those who killed the prophets ( matthew 23)
          so , their motivation was not like the Romans . theirs was one of the accusation of blasphemy . how dare he forgive sins . how dare he claim to be the Son OF GOD ? for that , he had to die . for that , the Cross was a symbol of heresy , and therefore a relgiuos one …for as the Torah says ”cursed is every one who hangs on a tree”. Jesus knew this . for his resurrection would prove that the curse was lifted on him , which means on them , and all mankind . the Cross has always been a relgiuos symbol in the plan of God , and his people the jews . the Romans were clueless , execept for the roman soldier atthe foot of the cross who said after Jesus died and the way he died on the cross ”truly this was the SOn of God ”.
          i wrote some stuff on merton below this check it out .

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