My Dream for You

God is the ultimate good, the Unconditional which humanity can image somewhat through offering forgiveness without conditions. Jesus told people about such an Unconditional Love at work through our offering of forgiveness. He spoke of the “kingdom of God,” which is among us here and now. It is in us, not out yonder somewhere. Our struggle to enter God’s unconditional realm in this life is a daily one. But we can begin. Offering God’s unconditional forgiveness to all is a real challenge for humans. It is living by paying forward, not asking for anything in return, no payback, no expectations to have the favor returned.

Unconditional forgiveness and unconditional love come from the same Source. Unconditional forgiveness makes it possible to forgive ourselves and then forgive others right here and right now. But unconditional love is not entirely realized or even entirely possible for humans in this life. It is only practiced. Some are better at it than others. But all improve as they practice.

This is God’s dream for all of humanity. It is like the “kingdom of God” is here, but the “kingdom of God” is also coming. Again, the great “I am…” lives within us as if we are his temple. God has promised to never leave us, not even as we pass through death. There is more love coming, more than we can even imagine right now.

The thoughts above were a present to me from the niece (Julia) of my dear friend (Robert) in Australia. She knows that the great “I am…,” the unconditionally loving, accepting, and forgiving One is near to my heart. There is no other Savior/Father to fill me with joy. The gift of such a Presence within me is the reason for all my celebration and giving these days and every day.

I implore you, please do not permit all the words and songs and images of the season to hide this Love, this Presence, from you. This Source’s dream is to make us the Light of the world!

My Canadian friend, Wendell, added: If you note carefully…. the point made was about the teaching of Jesus in contrast to the teaching of Paul – two very influential people in history and about the central ideas that they promoted.

The good news I shared above concerning the Unconditional love of our Father/God was the Galilean’s passion. He was enlightened by it and it became his hope for humanity. Jesus taught and lived his unconditionally humane love for all.

However, Paul’s news was his dream of a Savior/Christ. It was exactly the the opposite of Jesus’ passionate message, and with the help of the Roman government and church authorities, it finally became the message of Christianity as well. They succeeded in making a savior/god out of the Galilean peasant.

The core themes of these two historical figures (Jesus & Paul) have changed subsequent history. At this moment in time, Paul’s message only appears to have won, especially around the Christmas and Easter holidays. But Jesus’ message will finally prevail because it is God the Father’s dream for all who are oppressed by their own behavior, by their enemies, by their governing authorities, and by the hellish threats of their churches that are laid on the minds of all who refuse to accept Paul’s message of a Christ crucified for their sins.

May we learn to pray with David, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from old. According to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.”

………………..

I respect all your thoughts and traditions on Christianity. Like me, they have provided some stability in the past, including the ritual sacraments. But my study of fear chose to recognize a development throughout history, one that the Hebrews, including the Galilean Sage, and then later Christians have participated in. Namely, a development of human civil and religious law! Not least of all an understanding of their sky-god(s).

Unfortunately, the Jews and then the Christians got stuck on the beliefs they had settled on after only a few centuries of haggling. Once decided, those doctrines were declared holy and inspired – like God’s Word is for them. And that was the final blow to further growth.

But the unconditional freedom offered by the Galilean encouraged further development, not stagnation. (I still think that his discovery of the Supreme’s Presence and unconditionality has been the greatest human discovery ever!) It so excited Jesus of Nazareth, a mere man as he repeatedly called himself, that he made it his brief life’s mission to teach and live it.

It was such a simple message. 1) The Fatherly Presence of the One and only Supreme lives in and among us, his sons and daughters whom he will never leave. 2) In the meantime, he is always accepting, unconditionally loving, and patiently forgiving each of us. 3) And finally, the Supreme’s dream is for us to finally love ourselves enough so that we can begin treating others likewise here-and-now.

His threefold simple message was meant to set people free so that they could finally love themselves enough to get about making things better for others; and, of course, to accept each other, respect, tolerate, and forgive each other.

Jesus’ message was a direct challenge to the need for a religion, a messiah, an atonement. a resurrection, and an apocalyptic end-time judgement. Religious leaders called this blasphemous and had him murdered for trying to start another insurrection.

While we are speculating on what we could be doing or becoming when unshackled with tyranny of thought and unjust laws, both civil and religious, we must really get our Fatherly Supreme excited.

Henry Hasse ~ March 2014

Published in: on March 29, 2014 at 10:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Fear – A Better Understanding

Surprise! Fear can be a good emotion. It can save your life by keeping you clear of dangerous situations, out of harm’s way. It can be the cause for wise and responsible decisions. And it can help to prepare one for unexpected lurking surprises. Training for such circumstances provides readiness for how to act when fear becomes a reality. No doubt many more worthy examples could be given, but I intend to concentrate on another choice.

Fear can also be used to control others. An unfortunate choice. A spouse, a child, a student, an employee, a group member, a citizen, and even a country can all be victims of tyranny. Leaders do not always lead to promised lands. Their position can easily turn against those who are being led. Power corrupts. Rules are set. And fear becomes their crafty weapon. The despot uses fear to make his threats sound real. Obedience is expected from his subjects or else – punishment is handed out for disobedience.

Can you see how fear can be used for good and for evil? Think about it in families, in neighborhoods, in organizations, in churches, in cities, in counties, in states, and in countries.

Fear has been used in these two ways for millennia. Families, tribes, nations, and empires used fear both ways.

Historically, natural disasters were the most difficult to avoid, and the tribal Shaman usually found what he thought was a reason for their violence. No doubt they surmised it was an angry sky-god who was punishing people for wrong-doing. Perhaps also for not bringing sufficient sacrifices and offerings. The ultimate punishment for disobedience was obviously death. This logic might be called a “religion.” No matter. It became the great influencer and explanation for natural disasters within the tribe.

Fortunately, science developed later and finally questioned these first claims.

The first written language was in a Sumerian cuneiform style. It developed during at least a millennia (3000 BCE – 2000 BCE). Hammurabi’s Code (1770 BCE) governed civil affairs. Zoroaster founded the first religion (around 1500 BCE). His explanation for the human condition was a Fall from a perfect creation which angered the sky-god and introduced the need for a sacrificial atonement plan to save mankind. The threat of an end-time apocalypse spread the fear to either believe the atonement work of the messiah figure provided or be destroyed by a hellish flame after an end-time judgment of the sky-god. Sounds familiar, huh?

These general themes ran through all the human religious myths as they developed among major civilizations. Each of the priestly mediators provided certain details to fit their needs. The civil laws of Hammurabi and the religion of Zoroaster that began in Mesopotamia spread into Egypt, into the Far East, and into Asia Minor over the following centuries.

Our most visible example is the development of the Hebrew civil laws and religion. Its oral history with its myths, traditions and rituals, were finally formulated and written by priests while under Babylonian and Persian captivity (about 600 BCE – 500 BCE). Remember that Zoroastrianism was the official religion of Babylon, just as it had been from the days of the Chaldeans when Abram left Ur between the two great rivers for Canaan on the Great Sea in the west. His growing family encountered similar civil law and religious traditions among the Canaanites and then more among the Egyptians while under captivity there. Although the Hebrew’s slavery released a yearning for freedom, they had also learned a further development of Hammurabi’s civil laws which had spread into Egypt almost five centuries earlier.

The Hebrew’s Exodus (about 1300 BCE) and the history of their kings were quite likely very different from recorded hearsay accounts finally made around 500 BCE. In the meantime, their sky-god had also changed from poly to mono, from Israel’s warlike avenger to a more universal compassionate forgiver as portrayed by the pre-captivity Prophets, from YHWH the Creator to Elohim the Endless and Everything One. Unfortunately, the life of acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness did not become so evident in Israel’s dreamland that had once held such promise for a better life. Although the Hebrew (Jewish) civil laws (Deut.) which required “an eye for an eye” punishment remained, their apocalyptic religious traditions (see their book of Daniel) soon returned while falling under Greek tyranny and then the Roman occupation. Several unsuccessful messiah-led rebellions expected YHWH’s vengeance but did not receive such aid. Oppressive fears of unjust treatment surrounded the Jews for the next five centuries. Not least of course was the fear of death itself.

During those days, a Galilean Sage began to echo the old message of the pre-captivity Prophets. He did not speak of a sky-god, but rather of an ever-present loving Fatherly Elohim. His acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness for all could change their lives from oppression into freedom. And they could easily imitate such an Elohim while spreading his “kingdom” on earth, right here-and-now, being unconditionally human, making things better for all. And since the consciousness of this Presence is always felt and will never leave or forsake us, not even in death, what is left to fear of death and/or an apocalyptic end -time judgment which will never come?

This is Elohim’s justice! It had always been his justice from the beginning. But only a few were enlightened by it and lived it by being unconditionally human. Most of humanity had been using a payback justice instead – and they still do! The Galilean was determined to teach how opposite these justice systems actually were. Unconditional Love vs. avenging payback punishment. He lived the first and challenged the latter.

Jewish religious leaders became furious over his “blasphemous” display of justice! And their kind of fearful justice finally had the Galilean murdered.

We cannot say much more about the Galilean called Jesus of Nazareth. Eyewitnesses of his life left no records of it. Some fifty years after his death, the Romans destroyed the Temple and most of Jerusalem, killing thousands of Jews after another failed rebellion. The first Jewish attempt to explain this disaster and link it to Jesus’ life was made by Mark about 75 CE to 80 CE. Since there were no eyewitnesses, Mark could only use hearsay and serve as a backup to Paul’s letters to the Gentiles written around 50 CE. Fortunately, Mark and Matthew did preserve a few of Jesus’ sayings and stories which illustrated his message of the Presence of an unconditional Love among us. See Matt 5: 38-48 and parables of the Prodigal Son, the Generous Landowner, and the Good Samaritan.

It should also be mentioned here that Paul was a Doctor of Jewish payback justice and grew up in an apocalyptic community. His background and his meditations finally saw the opportunity to find a “messiah’s” atonement in Jesus’ death. But Paul’s theology was totally opposite from the Galilean’s message, the one that early Jewish followers still lived and shared, that is, until they died or were either killed or scattered during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem (69-70 CE).

We need to note here that Paul’s letters to the Gentiles and Mark’s new narrative to the Jews were all that early “Christian” gatherings had to learn from. And both sources were apocalyptic to the core.

Just before the turn of the century and soon after it, three more narratives were written. And by comparing Matthew and Luke with Mark, it is easy to see that they had copied Mark’s narrative, and having rich imaginations of their own, they added several ideas to make the story fit the many OT “predictions” of a messiah coming near the end-time apocalyptic judgment. The fourth writer took another road altogether. John turned the Galilean into the “Word of God” that had become flesh among us. Later, he even painted a picture of this “Lord” returning as the judge in his Revelation vision of the end of the world.

Warning! Except for a very few sayings and stories that emphasize our Father’s unconditional love and presence among us, do not count on the accuracy of these narratives written 80-120 years after Jesus’ brief life and death. The Christian tradition was finally built on these New scriptures by 400 CE.

Compare Paul’s theology and the four narratives with the real good news of the Galilean Sage, hidden among all the weeds of the NT narratives. Which of the two messages sets you free with hope for your future, being unconditionally human? And which one means to control your life with the need for atonement and fill you with fear of an end-time judgment?

Henry Hasse ~ March 2014

Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Deity

My Canadian friend did so well with this, I had to share it here. -H Hasse

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The Problem of Deity

Over history an interesting relationship has developed between humanity and deity. People have long taken human features and projected them out to define deity, to shape their understanding of greater reality. We see this in ancient mythology- gods that fight, punish, destroy, and often in the pettiest manner and over the pettiest things. Primitive gods that were very much like the primitive people that created them.

But as we have become more humane so we have updated our conceptions of deity, making gods more humane also. We see this early on in the Pharaoh-gods beginning to exhibit kindness and mercy. We find it later in the Hebrews presenting God as compassionate. Over history we humanize our gods as we become more humane and as we come to understand better the core features of authentic humanity.

This human/god relationship has also worked in a feedback loop manner. People create their perceptions of gods and then use those gods to justify their own actions and existence. As anthropologists note, people have long appealed to the divine to validate their own lives and societies. This can be seen in the Israelites believing that God gave them detailed instructions on how to build their first temple, how to arrange their camps around that temple, and a vast array of other detailed instructions on things like clothing, diet, care and consumption of animals, sexuality, and more.

And there is a dark side to this appeal to deity, or ultimate authority, for validation. As the gods people created were often primitively violent, so those gods were then employed to validate similar violence among people. We see this even today where people appeal to their God to validate the killing of outsiders/unbelievers. People employ ultimate reality as an ultimate authority and then enslave themselves to replicate that ideal for good or evil.

This is why some have argued that the idea of God has been one of the most dangerous ideas ever conceived (Bob Brinsmead). Deity has far too often embodied the very worst of primitive humanity- things like tribal exclusion and opposition, domination, and destruction of others. In addition to this, far too often the engagement of deity has resulted in the abandonment of responsibility to improve the human condition here and now (i.e. time and resources wasted on appeasing and pleasing invisible reality). Because of this dark and debilitating side to deity, many have argued that we need to get rid of the concept of deity entirely. As one disgusted atheist blurted, “Let’s get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”.

While I understand his concerns, that is not likely to ever happen. Consciousness has made us aware that we belong to something greater, that we are part of some greater ultimate reality. And our basic impulse for meaning and purpose pushes us to understand that reality more. We have always been intensely curious to understand and explain the greater forces that give rise to our existence. We want to explain our origins, our existence, and our destination in terms of a greater reality. This has to do with our most fundamental desires, questions, and curiosities. We want to understand how we should live and why, and we seek answers in relation to ultimate reality, meaning, and purpose. This is all foundational to being consciously human.

Also, because so much pathological inhumanity has already been projected onto deity, that needs to be countered properly with more humane alternatives. And, as noted above, the inhumanity already projected onto deity has caused much misery over history. Further, you cannot just cede explanatory ground to philosophies like materialism with its belief in essential meaninglessness. That definition of ultimate reality violates our most basic human impulses for meaning and purpose, and it answers none of our most basic questions and concerns.

There have been three general approaches to understanding ultimate realities. A dominant one over the past few centuries has been philosophical materialism. And of course for millennia we have had the mythical/religious approach. But now we have another alternative- the still developing approach that seeks to combine the discoveries of science with a new understanding of spiritual reality. This may prove to be the most fruitful yet in our quest for ultimate understanding and explanation.

And in one sense (tipping one’s hat just a bit to the materialists) we could all benefit from a good dose of atheism. I refer to the healthy atheism that Karen Armstrong spoke about, where over history people have always rejected gods that no longer work, for new ones more suited to the times- more humane gods. And fortunately, the gods have become more humane over history as we have come to understand what authentic human existence is about.

This trend of developing humanity in our understanding of deity is part of the greater historical process of humanizing all things. This is a core impulse of human consciousness. It includes our perceptions of ultimate realities. And this humanizing process culminates in the ultimate expression of authentic humanity- unconditional love. This feature/ideal takes us to the heights of ultimate meaning and purpose. We have now discovered that unconditional is the pinnacle of what it means to be authentically human or humane. And we correctly understand all other things in light of this core theme (Schillebeekx, “God is more human/humane than any human being”).

I would clarify here that ultimate reality/deity has always been unconditional love but it has just taken humanity a long time to fully recognize this truth. And unfortunately, while admirably humanizing our gods (our perceptions of deity), too many religious traditions still retain the features of the primitive deities and this results in a distortion of the new human features like unconditional love. Unconditional love then becomes limited by the conditional beliefs of religion (i.e. required atonement, required rituals and lifestyle to please some conditionally oriented deity). This is what Thomas Jefferson referred to as placing “diamonds in a dunghill”.

Further, in the process of humanizing our understanding of deity we need to recognize that there is no “Word from God” handed down from the heavens to tell us what deity is all about. That is the fallacy of Biblicism- the belief in some inspired holy book or Word of God that is an authority that tells us what to think/believe and how to live (i.e. inspired scriptures given to priestly elites to control the lives of others). Nonsense. We all know the divine as much as anyone else by understanding what is best in our own humanity. God is known primarily in all humanity and in all diverse human goodness. And each one of us holds the responsibility to know and explain ultimate reality according to the best features that we find in our humanity. We are all responsible for the greater humanizing project. There is no higher religious authority or mediating priesthood with superior insider knowledge of such things.

And it is unconditional love that now takes us to the absolute height of what it means to be authentically human or humane. This is a human discovery and not a “divine revelation”. We see its gradual development over history from early compassion and kindness to the great ideal of human love and then the further development of our understanding of love as unconditional. This takes love beyond limited tribal perceptions (love family, hate enemies) to an authentic universalism. The unconditional treatment of all people is our greatest insight and ideal (i.e. unconditional forgiveness, unconditional inclusion, and unconditional generosity).

Related to this- we need to purge ourselves of any sense of subservience to higher authorities, of any felt need to appease or serve some greater reality. Contrary to the claim of the ancients, we were not “created to serve the gods”. We are not obligated to subject ourselves to any higher authority, whether political, religious, or other. We have ultimate authority (and ultimate freedom) in our own human consciousness and our personal awareness of what it means to be human.

So there is no divinely-inspired obligation to serve or please some invisible deity, to re-establish or have a relationship with some invisible entity up in the heavens or in the future. The felt obligation to “get right with God” has always been founded on the distorting myth of some cosmic separation of humanity from deity at some time in the past. That never happened. There was no “Fall” of humanity into sin. There was never any fall from something originally better into something worse. To the contrary, the endlessly improving trajectory that is human emergence and development has always been a trajectory from something originally worse and toward something ever better.

Also, we live in the here and now and ought to be focused on loving and serving one another in real time and real life, and not focused on serving some invisible reality. And consider this: a God of authentic love would not be concerned about being praised and served but would ignore Godself to serve the other. Such is the nature of true love. Genuine love frees the other. It does not manipulate and control others with guilt, threat, or fear of punishment. It does not demand dehumanizing subservience. Love and freedom are tightly pair-bonded realities. You cannot have one without the other.

So yes, I am one with the critics on this point- worshipping some God up above in the heavens or up ahead in some future afterlife has long brought out the worst in humans: subservience, guilt, shame, fear, and worse.

We know better now. With the discovery of unconditional love it is no longer plausible to project any sort of inhumanity onto deity or ultimate reality of any kind. Unconditional eliminates all such projects. Unconditional takes us to the ultimate in human conception, ideals, and meaning. And understanding ultimate reality in terms of unconditional love liberates from all concerns about appeasing and pleasing some greater reality. It liberates humanity to embrace life fully in the here and now. It liberates from fear of death and whatever might follow (Near-Death Experience research affirms this outcome). The result is that it liberates from ultimate fears, anxieties, or concerns and orients us to humanity, and to improving the human condition here and now. It orients us to serving humanity and not something above humanity (again, this focus on serving something other than humanity has always led to neglect or abuse of real people). Unconditional love gives us the safest way to conceive of and handle the great reality and ideal of deity. Unconditional alone can properly respond to our most fundamental impulses and concerns.

Wendell Krossa, March 20, 2014

Published in: on March 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Better Than Bullying & Knock-Downs

Bullying and knock-downs are not much different. Delusional. Sick behavior. Low self-esteem. Attempts to build up self by harming others. Guaranteed to fail. Never works. Never will. Self-esteem only sinks lower each time such behavior is practiced. Loneliness finally assured.

Try the opposite. Find something cool about others. Something really cool! Thank someone for common decency. Praise someone. Thank others for anything. Even simple things. Lift someone up. Surprise others with kindness. Be generous with smiles and encouragement. Make someone’s day. Be caring and helpful. Forgive bad behavior. Listen. Make things better. The results will surprise YOU.

Henry Hasse ~ March 2014

Published in: on March 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Be Free!

I am currently reading John Shelby Spong’s Jesus for the Non-Religious. It was written in 2007. I remember reading somewhere else that “When you are ready, a light will appear.” I must not have been ready for this seven years ago. Spong and I seem to share several conclusions concerning Jesus, the Galilean from Nazareth. And his opening chapters have inspired me to give another account of my recent discoveries.

Most of the good people who attend their Christian churches today are completely unaware of the historical facts that follow. Today, I can freely write that theology is mythology, and, therefore, Christianity is mythology. Not very many years ago I may not have been quite so ready to write that. But today I understand that truth only offends a closed mind, a mind trapped within the tyranny of ancient explanations for unsolved mysteries. My mission is to set people free from religion.

For the best example I can think of, think of how theology changed the Jewish Jesus (bar Nasha) from an everyday human into a divine being. Apparently, he was known in Nazareth as the bastard that Joseph, the local carpenter, had adopted as his own son. (It was not unusual for soldiers of conquering armies to take advantage of local girls.) But Joseph provided protection and care for both Jesus and his mother.

“The hysterical claims of infallibility of theology (authority) and the inerrancy of sacred scriptures” are the cornerstones of Christian orthodoxy (the right way). Without those cornerstones there is no theology.

Christianity’s core stories of the Fall, a promised Messiah/Savior, an incarnation via virgin birth, an atonement, a resurrection of the body, an ascension to the sky-god as a triumphant and worthy payment for humanity’s sins, a return for an end-time judgement, and handing out a hellish punishment for unbelief in their salvation plan, are nothing but myths – all of them are complete nonsense concocted by tyrannical theologians wishing to explain the malady of human suffering and death.

Over scores of centuries, “theologians” had already developed a divinity, a sky-god. Finally, out of many ancient writings dating back to the Sumerians, the first civilization to leave written records of their existence in Mesopotamia, religion was officially born. Their sky-god became upset with humanity’s choices, chased them out of a paradise garden home, and finally decided to drown humanity in a flood. These myths became part of Zoroaster’s religion, the official religion of the Chaldeans and Babylonians. It told of a Messiah/Savior persona of the sky-god who would take on human form to sacrifice himself as an atonement for humanity’s choices that had continued to separate them from the sky-god. There was much more – a resurrection, an ascension, a return in judgement, and a hellish apocryphal punishment for unbelief in the holy salvation plan. Most of this religion was adapted by Hebrew priests who freely used it while under captivity to rewrite the Hebrew’s oral history (not much prior to their Exodus out of tyranny). And they craftily incorporated Zoroaster’s threat of an apocalyptic end for sinful humanity as a wedge to enforce compliance to their many rituals and laws.

But even before the captivity, there were always those who saw their lives and surroundings as a gift from a benevolent, unthreatening, and loving God whose mysterious presence among them became such a part of themselves that they could not help but share such ways with others. Abraham, Ruth, and David come to mind. Although their lives lacked perfection, their basic consciousness of a loving inner Presence still guided their ways. There were Hebrew pre-captivity Prophets who challenged the laws and rituals of the ruling priests and tried to comfort people with the news of a God who provided good things to all and was unconditionally forgiving and accepting in life and in death. Their message was quickly called “heresy” by the theologians, and they faced horrible deaths as punishment for challenging “sacred authority.”

The Hebrews experienced Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and then Roman invasions and rule during the eight centuries BCE. Just as before their oral history that spoke of a family moving out of Ur of the Chaldeans, their idea of a “god” continued to develop with their outside influences. (e.g. Like the Chaldean “god,” Abraham’s “god” required the sacrifice of the firstborn son. And like the sex “gods” of Canaan, there was always space in the Temple for prostitutes.) Even their concept of “Elohim” slowly changed from an indiscriminate god of war to a more personal god of protection and one that provides for daily needs.

Enter the Galilean Sage. His message was very similar to the message of the pre-captivity Prophets. He discovered the presence of a generous “Fatherly” God whose unconditional love, caring, kindness, and forgiveness yearned to be shared with all humanity, especially with those oppressed by tyranny, whether political or religious. His mission became to set them free with this good news of our Father’s real justice, scandalous as it was when compared to humanity’s ancient retaliation type of justice. In fact, he was murdered for this message because it threatened the Jewish standard of justice, “an eye for an eye,” and that murder was arranged by falsely accusing him before the Roman court for starting another Jewish rebellion. Since there had already been several messiah-led rebellions, the Romans were on the lookout for others and ready to “nip it in the bud.”

Jesus’ life and message had been simple and comforting to ordinary people. After his unjust death (30CE), his followers often gathered in homes to share the comforting words which they had heard him teach, and they practiced his kindness and caring toward those in need. Their testimony to what they remembered from Jesus was generally kept private and local. Those who did go public with Jesus’ message were arrested and jailed or stoned to death. Only a few of Jesus’ words were finally recorded by local scribes, and after the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple (70CE), following yet another rebellion attempt, some of those words turned up in a narrative written by Mark (80CE). Unfortunately, the source he used was either lost or hidden during those troubling times for the Jews.

An intellectual graduate of the Jewish Torah (apocalyptic Jewish Law), Saul, who had grown up in Tarsus, the home of Mithraism (the apocalyptic religion of many Roman soldiers), volunteered to impress the Jewish Sanhedrin by rounding up scattered followers of the hieratic, Jesus, who had been arrested and crucified twenty years earlier. Those arrested were then either jailed or stoned to death under his watch. While performing this duty under cover of Jewish Law, he had time to meditate on higher ideals. He dreamed to use his expertise and knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology to help spread Jewish Messianic apocalyptic theology among the Gentiles. All he needed was a “Christ/Messiah” as the centerpiece of his new religion.

A trip into the desert of Arabia to practice his meditations resulted in visions on how to change the crucified Galilean into the “Christ” he needed to spread his own myth. He changed his name to Paul and began doing exactly that among the synagogs of Asia Minor and drew in many converts because, he said, the sacrifice of this “Christ” would save them from the soon-to-come end-time apocalypse. He also added the “Christ’s” (Zoroaster’s) supposed resurrection of the body as proof that the sacrificial payment was acceptable before the God of the universe.

When Peter, James heard what Paul was teaching and that he no longer required Jews to follow the laws of the Torah because his “Christ” had fulfilled them all, they went ballistic! Even worse, they worried Paul’s salvation message was completely contradicting Jesus’ message of our Father’s presence and real unconditional forgiving justice. Then there was the supposed resurrection tale, another big myth that writers later used from Paul and attempted to expand upon with various conflicting stories. Peter and James demanded that Paul should return to Jerusalem to discuss these matters, especially using Jesus and his death in such a way that totally reversed Jesus’ simple teaching that had challenged a payback or retaliation type of justice in favor of an unconditional loving/forgiving justice. Paul finally did come to meet them in their synagogue, but he later ridiculed them as “uneducated super-apostles.” Paul continued to teach his “new gospel” and anticipated the end-time apocalyptic judgement to come on any day. He even told his converts to give away all their property because they would no longer need it.

Paul’s letters, written between 50-55CE, became the first “inspired sacred authority” concerning salvation as taught among the early gatherings of his churches. Only fifteen years later, after Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, Jews were either killed, or dispersed throughout the Empire and took his message with them.

A decade later (80CE), a writer well-versed in Paul’s letters and new religion took a common pen name, Mark, and began to gather together hearsay stories about Jesus (better known by then as Paul’s “Christ”), and any scripts still available of Jesus’ words. He put them into a narrative that would quickly become well-known among the churches. By the end of the century, two other writers, Matthew and Luke, theologians in their own churches, used most of Mark’s narrative to write their own narratives. They, of course, personalized their story with suppositions of their own, some of which they also connected to their better knowledge of the Torah, Jewish history, and the Psalms.

After the turn of the century, a fourth writer/theologian, John, obviously disturbed by current deteriorating events between the Romans and the followers of the new “Christian” religion, took an entirely different slant for his narrative and did more than just hint of Jesus’ divinity (similar to Roman gods) and told of his actual existence before coming to earth as a man on a mission to save humanity from the eminent apocalypse to come. John was later exiled to a remote island in the Mediterranean Sea where he supposedly composed his vision, a Revelation of the returning Jesus/Christ as Lord and Judge of all the risen and all the humans still alive. He will then separate the faithful from the unbelieving damned. The destruction of the damned is painted as blood running as deep as a horse’s bridle. Then the faithful saved will be taken to heaven and the damned thrown into the everlasting fiery furnace of hell.

What a change! From bar Nasha to Lord and Judge in only a century. This, then, is what the theologians of Paul’s new religion had made of the human, Jesus of Nazareth, whose simple message was, “Do not retaliate. Be like our Father is among us. Be kind, caring, generous, loving, and forgiving, even toward our enemies.”

Romans began to mistrust the new “Christian” religion (a mix of various ethnic groups, converted pagans, Jews, and Romans) because they were now meeting in secret and were said to be eating and drinking human flesh and blood during regular festive meals. Severe persecutions of Christians began. Many were arrested and made sport of in the arena while being killed by lions or gladiators. Others were enslaved around the Empire. But the new religion continued to appeal to oppressed common people looking for an end-time relief. And they had grown tired of Roman gods and emperors who claimed their own divinity. The Empire became deeply divided over the next three centuries. As a political move, Emperor Diocletian had split it up between three opposing Caesars. Early into the third century, after several conflicts between them, Emperor Constantine emerged and saw an opportunity to reunite the Empire by using the power of the Christian Bishops. He was able to do exactly that by claiming his own conversion to Christianity and by “encouraging” the Bishops to meet in council to form a confession of unification at Nicaea in 325CE.

The Jews, of course, who professed only One God, were first to refuse to accept the confession’s Triune God and atonement claim. They also became the first to be put to the sword for their unbelief. In fact, Christianity spread through Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa because of the Roman sword which was held up to look like Christ’s cross. The Crusades followed next. They were an attempt to take back the holy places in Jerusalem from the Muslims. But thousands died in the name of the Triune God and for believing the myth concerning God’s Savior-Son’s cross.

There is much more that followed during European and Asian history. The expansion of the Arabian Muslim religion of Muhammad was related to Judaism through Ishmael and having the One God, Allah. It also opposed the Triune God of Christianity. The expansion of Buddhism in India and the Brahman of Hinduism related only to kindness and lack of violence. Many other religions developed in China, Japan, and Indonesia. The power of the Christian Church over civil governments continued to grow. The Reformation movements made only minor changes among the many hallowed doctrines of theology. New confessions and catechisms only promoted old myths and helped to bury the Galilean’s message even deeper. Many Protestant religions divided over minor theological differences but still left Jesus’ comforting message of an ever-present, loving, unconditionally accepting, and forgiving Father buried under their atonement myth.

To repeat, bar Nasha’s message brings true comfort and relief to humanity – the real good news of the presence of an unconditionally loving and forgiving Father/God among us yearning to be discovered and imitated throughout the human race – a God who is with us to bring us through life’s challenges (learning experiences) – a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us – a God whose arms are open wide and welcoming as each of us passes through death. Here, a reading of a few simple near death experiences does more to explain what follows next than any theological mythology ever could. Jesus’ message is controversial to say the least, especially because it does not retaliate for wrong. And it obviously challenges the need for all theology and religions.

So, for here-and-now, be free! Pursue happiness! Love one another.

Henry Hasse ~ March 2014

Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Real Deal

Must share this from my Canadian friend. Just an appetizer from his ever-changing website: http://www.wendellkrossa.com/?wref=bif

Search for the Real Deal on Non-retaliation/Unconditional

It has long been recognized that there is an historical Jesus whose authentic message can be found among the contradictory and distorting accounts contained in the New Testament gospels. Many have recognized that not all that is contained in the gospels is authentic to the historical person and in fact much contradicts profoundly the core message of the man.

This recognition has been expressed in a centuries-long search for the authentic sayings of Jesus, for the authentic gospel. This search begins with people like H. S. Reimarus in the 1700s (he starts the modern critical study of Jesus that challenges the long-held Christian teaching on Jesus), and moves to David Strauss in the 1800s (he recognized that the historical Jesus was buried underneath layers of Christian myth), and on to Albert Schweitzer’s apocalyptic Jesus of the early 1900s, and then into the later 20th Century “New Quest” for the Historical Jesus. The Jesus Seminar is one part of this new quest and recognizes that there are notable “dissimilarities” (differences) between the historical person and the gospel accounts. The Seminar researchers note, for instance, the difference between the injunction of Jesus to love enemies in Matt.5 and the later condemnation of towns (Matt.11) that rejected his followers. They conclude, “He would not have told Capernaum to go to hell after instructing his disciples to love their enemies” (The Five Gospels, Funk and Hoover).

Researchers like Stephen Mitchell argue that the historical Jesus was wise and forgiving in contrast to the punitive and self-centered Christian Jesus (i.e. John’s gospel). Mitchell then tries to “extricate the authentic sayings of Jesus from the morass of false, imputed statements found in the gospels”. People like Mitchell state that Christianity has created a New Testament that almost buries the authentic teaching of Jesus. Thomas Jefferson referred to this larger NT context as a situation where Jesus’ authentic words were like “diamonds in a dunghill”. This expresses well the point of stark difference between the message of the authentic person and the later contradictory additions to his teaching.

Another aspect of the quest for the historical Jesus was the recognition that the gospel writers (i.e. Matthew and Luke) used another source called Q Sayings Gospel when they wrote their gospels. Q research- or Quelle, the German word for “source”- recognizes that there was a stunning shift from the earliest version of this Sayings gospel that was non-apocalyptic (sapiential or wisdom sayings) to later versions that were strongly apocalyptic. And we are grateful for Q researchers like James Robinson that have noted this difference between an original Jesus gospel and the later Christian gospel. But you do not need Q research to see the striking difference between the authentic message of the historical Jesus and the Christian message about him, the Christ myth.

To appreciate the profound nature of this difference it is useful to get a grip on his core teaching. This will help to evaluate what is authentic among the rest of the material that has been attributed to him. We can engage here what some have referred to as “thematic coherence”, that there is often an organizing theme that consistently shapes the thinking, teaching, and acting of a person.

A summary of the core teaching of Jesus is found in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapters 5-7. A similar assembling of his core teaching is found in Luke 6. Within this larger body of core teaching there is a brief statement of his central theme (the core of the core). This is set forth in Matt.5:38-48. It is a clear and profound statement of non-retaliation as related to both ethics and theology. In fact, the ethical ideal is based on the theological truth.

Jesus’ statement on non-retaliation is arguably the clearest and most potent such statement in all history. Others had argued long before him for the principle of non-retaliation in human relating (e.g. the Akkadian Father’s advice to his son, Wikipedia). But Jesus took things to new heights of clarification by opening his statement on non-retaliation with a clear rejection of traditional retaliatory justice (eye for eye) as an ethical standard. And then he offered a new theological element in his statement, something that no one else in antiquity had ever done. He broke with all past perception of gods as retaliatory, judgmental, and punitive for a new theology of God as non-retaliating.

To summarize this core theme of Jesus as stated in Matt.5- first, he straightforwardly rejects eye for eye justice or ethics (payback, retaliation, vengeance, punishment) in favor of non-retaliation. This is a clear rejection of tit for tat response or relating. A rejection of “getting even”. While non-retaliation is the negative aspect (the passive aspect), today we state this type of response or relating positively in the term unconditional love, or unconditional treatment of all people.

After stating that we should not retaliate, Jesus then moved on to emphasize this positive element of unlimited goodness and generosity toward others. This is a call to unconditional forgiveness, unconditional inclusion of all, and the expression of unconditional generosity toward all. And the emphasis is on unconditional or unlimited. Absolutely no conditions before loving all. None.

To illustrate further, Jesus repeatedly argues that we should not retaliate against those who offend or harm us in varied ways. Instead, we should forgive and respond with unlimited generosity. We are to positively love our enemies. In stating this he lifted love out of the constricted realm of tribal or group thinking. Thugs and primitives restrict their love just to those who love them, to family and friends. You, Jesus urges, can do much better and love universally, including everyone, even enemies. He was eliminating all the divisive and discriminating categories of friend/enemy, insider/outsider, or good/bad people. There should be no limiting discrimination with authentic love.

And he added that people should not let their unconditional treatment of others depend on a similar response from others (Luke 6). Do not let your good treatment of others depend on how they respond to you or treat you. Do not expect others to respond in kind with similar goodness. Just love them anyway. He called for a full liberation from all tit for tat expectation and relating. These were uniquely new insights into unconditional treatment of others. His insights took human perception of love to a new height of humane response and relating.

And then he states the reason why we are to do so. We are to love enemies unconditionally because God does. We are to forgive all unconditionally, include all unconditionally, and express unlimited generosity toward all unconditionally. Because this is what God does. God forgives all, and includes all. God does not discriminate between good and bad but is generous toward all alike. He sends rain and sun on all without discrimination. God loves universally, including the bad or enemies. So be compassionate in the same manner that God is compassionate. Be merciful just as your father is merciful. It is a tight pair-bonding of ethics with theological ideal.

We find this core theme of unconditional treatment of all people throughout the teaching of Jesus, whether in parables or sayings or other statements. There is thematic coherence in his teaching. We see it in the parable of the vineyard workers (unconditional generosity), the prodigal son (no payback conditions), in his statements on unlimited forgiveness, and in his meal-time practice of embracing “sinners” without conditions or exclusion. For more detail, see the added summary posted below, “Unconditional In The Jesus Tradition”.

And this central theme of non-retaliation is critical to resolving the debate over whether he was an apocalyptic prophet/messiah (like his mentor John), or not.

The point is straightforward- if Jesus’ core theme was non-retaliation then he could not have been an apocalyptic messenger. And this gets us to the greatest of all contradictions between the historical Jesus and Christianity (the Christian or Pauline gospel).

Apocalyptic is most essentially a statement of retaliation. It is a grand divine retaliation against sinful humanity. It is a grand punishment, an act of divine vengeance, an exacting of revenge for sin. Paul is clear on this- note his comments, for example, in Thessalonians on God finally acting to repay (see also Romans and Hebrews for similar statements of divine retaliation). Apocalyptic is God intervening to retaliate in a grand final act of punishment of sin.

But Jesus, in his statement of his core theme, had clearly said that God does not retaliate. That core theme of his teaching then contradicts the entire structure of Christian belief or theology. Paul’s Christian system is built on the foundation of divine apocalyptic retaliation (Tabor- Apocalyptic influenced all Paul said and did, and Christianity is Paul’s religion). Paul’s Christian atonement theology is a subset of the larger apocalyptic framework (payment, punishment of sin in Christ’s death, salvation, final retribution against all sin, consummation, transformation). His Christ myth is all about retaliatory apocalyptic through and through. And his retaliating God emphasizes the profound contradiction between Jesus and Christianity.

So the core issue in the difference between Jesus and Christianity is that of retaliation versus non-retaliation, and not just apocalyptic versus non-apocalyptic. Once again, apocalyptic is most essentially retaliation, divine retaliation. This is the key point. And this is the most significant contradiction of all between the historical Jesus and the Christian myth of Christ. One is about non-retaliation and the other is about a supreme and final retaliation.

This difference can also be emphasized in a variety of ways- as that between authentic unconditional love and conditional atonement. Or between authentic forgiveness and the demand for atonement or payment. Or, as I have argued above, the difference between non-retaliation and vengeance or payback retaliation.

You simply cannot mix and merge these opposites, as Paul/Christianity has done, or you eviscerate the true meaning of the unconditional element in the process. With the conditional atonement of Christianity you distort and bury the unconditional insight of Jesus.

Conclusion: To summarize again this issue of thematic coherence- the historical Jesus consistently and coherently taught a message of non-retaliation or unconditional treatment of all. This unconditional treatment of others is a baseline from which to evaluate all of the other teaching attributed to Jesus. Much of that teaching in the gospels contradicts the tenor of this unconditional theme and therefore should be challenged as not authentic or consistent with his core theme.

And as Jesus’ core teaching is coherently and consistently non-retaliatory, we can then conclude that he was unquestionably non-apocalyptic. Apocalypse is a grand divine punishment, a divine retaliation against sinful humanity. As Jesus was consistently non-retaliatory in his core message, then he could not have advocated for divine apocalyptic retaliation, or apocalyptic in any form. This is especially clear in his Matt. 5:38-48 statements, where he says that God does not retaliate. God is therefore not behind apocalyptic in any way, shape or form.

Note: Once again, we do not need Jesus as some special authority to validate the ideal of unconditional treatment of others. Our own sense of the authentically humane tells us today what it means to be truly human. But we do benefit from the varied breakthrough insights of past historical figures.

Wendell Krossa ~ February 2014

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Have Mercy

It took me years to forgive myself for much more than you will ever know about. I was unable to do that until I became convinced of our Father’s unconditional love for us, no matter what. At first I thought it too scandalous to be like the Prodigal’s father. I was too much like the Prodigal’s brother whose justice demanded payment for his brother’s wastefulness. But our Father’s justice was taught by the historical Jesus in Matt. 5:38-48. “Blasphemy!” said the priests. “He must die for challenging the standard of justice in our Torah!”

And when he taught that our Father lived among us and in us, accepting us as we are, (the Father’s kingdom of here-and-now), well, that did it for me. That’s when I was able to forgive myself for a shameful past. Why? Because my Father forgives my past and accepts me as I am. And from then on, when faced with choices, I try to remember to ask myself, “Is this what Abba would do?” If I remember to ask myself that, then the choice is clear. If I do not remember to ask myself that, then I could still make the wrong choice and end up hurting myself or someone else. But I always know that Abba’s arms are open to me, no matter what. So I can start over.

That concept of our Father’s presence among and in us challenged the Jewish Temple religion and rituals. It challenged the priesthood itself! And that is when they brought suit against him before the Roman court claiming that he was the ringleader of another rebellion.

Jesus was falsely accused and murdered for what he taught. And even then, he asked our Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing. The message that Jesus taught and died for was caring for, compassion for, acceptance of, forgiveness to, and love for others – no matter what. It’s what Abba would do, and it’s what Abba had always done from the beginning. Love does not generate fear. Love requires no payment for wrong-doing. Abba would not even THINK of sending his enemies to a hellish punishment. Such nonsense only came from the minds of those who required retaliation – priests and writers who did not know what they were doing or writing.

I could go on here about how and why Paul completely twisted and reversed the historical Jesus’ message with his production of a bloody “Christ” salvation idea that the NT “gospel” writers bought into and used to generate their narratives two to four decades later. Another time, perhaps.

For now, just think of Abba’s love and compassion for you as his dear child. What you and I have done or believed in our past is not an issue for Abba. He has long ago thrown our errors into the far horizons of space and accepts us like those mistakes never even happened. Just part of our learning. No blame. No guilt. No punishment. No payment required. Only gratitude for his open arms and for being his beloved child – then sharing such a love with others.

Jesus’ message puts a smile on our face and relief in our heart.

Indeed! Father, have mercy! We still have so much to learn.

http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=45b75085e6ab57e339ea89d67&id=2140e1a771&e=8d19b8d7c2

Had to get my response of last night out of my system before reading the Rule of Life attachment. Glad I did. She has it! Margaret has found and seen the Light under the religious bushel. She is commenting on the historical Jesus, not the “Christ” of Paul. Total opposites. And yes, Paul did get a couple things. One, that there is no difference between Torah, Logos, and religion – any kind. All three cover up the mercy of our Father with their “laws.” The other worthy piece in one of Paul’s letters is his going on while describing love.

But then, of all things, Paul does a turn-about and proceeds to build his vision of a new religion – one that included all the same points of Eastern Zoroastrianism. (Fall, loss of paradise, promised savior, atonement, resurrection, return in judgement, and hellish punishment for unbelief) Muhammed used exactly the same line for his Koran. Both buried Jesus’ comforting message of the Presence of a caring, compassionate, loving Father-God always among us and in us. Some OT pre-captivity Prophets got it as well, but the religious priests had them stoned, etc. for blasphemy according to their “holy law.” Even Abraham had grown up in the tradition of Eastern religion and was ready to practice it on Isaac. The Jewish scribes and priests rewrote their Hebrew history while in Babylon, all in line with Eastern religion, and always involving their myth of judgmental-punishing “god” who must retaliate.

In fairness to Paul, he was, after all, a brilliant scholar of the Torah which had come home rewritten from Persia. And he saw an opportunity to use Greek and Roman mythology to formulate a new similar mythology for the Gentiles. Same line. Different characters. (Jesus’ brother, James, and Peter who had actually heard Jesus’ comforting message, vehemently refused to accept Paul’s new religion. After meeting with them, Paul even uses sarcasm to belittle them as uneducated “super-apostles.”) One to two generations later, well after Paul’s influence among the Gentiles and after Jerusalem was destroyed (70CE), the writers of the “gospels” took pseudo names and each added their twists to the accounts of the Galilean that were still being passed about orally.

I do not have time here to show how opposing theologians gathered copies of circulating manuscripts over the next three centuries and finally formulated their confessions and rituals and “laws” for the new Christian religion. Enter Constantine and his “sword” used on unbelievers, especially Jews. The church became a powerful arm of European, Middle Eastern, and North African governments that followed. Or was it the reverse? Another three centuries later, roughly 600-700CE, Muhammad, like Paul, began having his visions among the Arabs who claimed being children of Ishmael.

I know, all this challenges everything we were taught and held dear. But I know for certain that Love does not generate fear. Therefore, with the historical Galilean, I challenge the value of religion – any form of it. And no one can formulate a religion around sharing our Father’s presence and love for each of us. Other than that, all we can do is learn how religion actually hides this authentic good news with a pseudo “good news” of their own – plus endless laws and rituals and confessions and threats to keep folks from questioning an ancient tyranny.

And yes, I suppose there may be gatherings with leaders whose purpose is to reassure each other with the authentic love that our Father has for us, gatherings that find ways to help those in need and surprise with goodness those who would do them harm. May there be many such gatherings that do NOT organize but only have a caring, compassionate, loving mission.

Be free!

HH ~ February 2014

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Let Love and Freedom Rule

The historical Jesus got it!

Our Father’s unconditional love for humanity has no strings attached to it. No ifs. No belief requirements. It is meant to set humans free – free to love: free to accept others, free to forgive self and free to forgive others, free to give others permission to be free, free to be humanely human.

Divine justice is scandalous to a religious mindset which is based on retaliation.

To be truly human a person must first discover and then claim their freedom. Animals are incapable of doing that. Only humans can be truly free through the Divine gift of self-consciousness. It’s a Divine Presence within each and every one of us which yearns to be so discovered and claimed. When freedom prevails, astounding things occur – ideas, creativity, productivity, trade, discoveries, and on and on.

Let love and freedom rule. Five words say it all.

It’s the very nature of a belief system (i.e. religious, ideological) to conform, to limit freedom – all must think according to the system. And the pressure to conform is enforced with threats of punishment and hell or enticements of utopia and heaven.

All this is something fresh to those of us who have been brought up in religious traditions – to be true to oneself, to claim one’s personal freedom, to forgive and love one’s self, to know one’s true self are all discouraged. Only your sinful worthlessness and the crucifix is held before your eyes.

Religious orientation also subsumes one’s self to the larger group. People are coerced to not be selfish but to subject their identity to the collective, to the state, to the church. Freedom is diminished and creativity and production is squelched.

When the historical Jesus discovered a Presence within him bearing the gifts of love and freedom, his core message became like a Light to show humans the way of our Father. It became his very life and reality, his mission, to share our Father’s dream for humanity.

Question authority. Shine on!

HH ~ February 2014

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 5:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Narrative

The following brief post from PJMedia brings up thought-provoking questions on the Galilean peasant whose birth was recently celebrated around the world.

Return of the Jesus Wars

“The fact that the Asian’s take on Jesus is not original doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. But it has the same problem that bedevils most of his competitors in the “real Jesus” industry. In the quest to make Jesus more comprehensible, it makes Christianity’s origins more mysterious.

“Part of the lure of the New Testament is the complexity of its central character — the mix of gentleness and zeal, strident moralism and extraordinary compassion, the down-to-earth and the supernatural.

“Most “real Jesus” efforts, though, assume that these complexities are accretions, to be whittled away to reach the historical core. Thus instead of a Jesus who contains multitudes, we get Jesus the nationalist or Jesus the apocalyptic prophet or Jesus the sage or Jesus the philosopher and so on down the list.

“There’s enough gospel material to make any of these portraits credible. But they also tend to be rather, well, boring, and to raise the question of how a pedestrian figure — one zealot among many, one mystic in a Mediterranean full of them — inspired a global faith.”

http://pjmedia.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love my Australian friend’s response:

“Ah, the answer to this guy’s observation is St. Paul. The original, dull Jewish believers didn’t have a clue how to turn the story into a global faith – but Paul brilliantly did it. He forged the most compelling myth in human history. According to Paul it fulfilled Jewish Scripture. But not only that, it fulfilled all the ancient myths of Osiris, Tammuz, the dying and rising divinities aplenty, the mystery religions of Dionysus and Mithra, the apocalyptic tradition going right back to Zoroaster – Paul brought it all together as a faith to break down all the old religious walls between Judaism and the rest.

“As Luther looked at the religious expression of Jewish Christianity which he found in the book of James, no wonder he called it “a strawy epistle.” Nothing to see here, move on folks! Peter, John and James (the brother of Jesus) did not have a narrative to capture the imagination of the world – they were a pretty dull bunch who had no idea how to turn their Jesus story into a narrative to conquer the Greco-Roman world. Paul left them all in his dust and they did not know how they should deal with his cosmic Christ-figure. It was all completely beyond the ken of any Jewish messiah-ism. Of course Paul never got this new world-faith from those dull apostles of the first Jerusalem Church. He got it from his own visions and cogitations. He did not even get it from the historical Jesus.

“I too understand the criticism raised against the Jesus Seminar and their fellow travelers – the presentation of the Historical Jesus as a Jewish Cynic (Funk, Mack), a social revolutionary (Crossan), a religious mystic (Borg) – and more…..none of which can capture the imagination of a wide human audience. Better to retreat to the old myth of St. Paul than end up with an impoverished looking historical Jesus that neither works great miracles nor has an exciting apocalyptic vision about what is about to happen to this world.

“Of course the apocalyptic worldview of Paul is two thousand years out of date now – his reworking of the Zoroastrian drama of a great contest between God and Satan in the arena of this world – well John Milton and EGW reworked that too – but in this Universe of space/time that is beyond the capacity of our imagination, billions of galaxies with the possibilities of billions of world’s with intelligent life, the image of God playing the game of chess with the devil concentrating on this little world that becomes the centre of the universe drama, of a God in the sky who pulls all the strings to control what we humans do (in answer to the prayers of his special few) – and perhaps above all, of a God who makes everything right by having the Romans carry out a gruesome execution of an innocent man all of which magically gets rid of sin and makes us right in the eyes of God – well, none of that is going to make sense to the mind the has to deal with the realities of the Hubble telescope…” (RB)

Much better said than I could have said it…

Henry Hasse ~ December 30, 2013

Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Think More Like God

Too many folks have forgotten (perhaps they never learned it) that our country was first settled by people who escaped the tyranny of religion. They not only believed in freedom OF religion but also in freedom FROM religion.

In America, under our Constitution, we enjoy the right to believe as we please. And we have the right to share that belief publicly with anyone willing to listen and consider what we believe.

But that privilege does not give us the right to threaten and eventually punish those who do not accept our beliefs. That would be tyranny again, the very thing our founders escaped from.

Unfortunately, the very nature of any religion carries with it the need to threaten and finally punish outsiders. Study any of them and their histories. Notice their demands. And learn their methods of punishment. At least they are no longer allowed to publicly whip, burn, drown, stone, hang, behead, etc. in America. But they have more subtle methods of punishment.

All this threatening also keeps members in line and discourages questions.

Heretics, unbelievers, outsiders and their like are barred from membership, ridiculed, generally ostracized, and threatened with a judgment and a hellish payback punishment in the end.
Fundamentalist, Orthodox, Radical, and Extremist religions, even GLAAD groups, are especially outspoken concerning their beliefs, and they are always ready to demand some sort of punishment for anyone who disagrees with them.

The Duck Dynasty father and founder, Phil Robertson, recently pushed his brand of Christianity and its threats of a hellish punishment for unbelief in Christ’s salvation payment for sin, including homosexuality and other sinful behaviors as mentioned in the Bible. To his credit, he also spoke of love and forgiveness, but the threats of punishment in hell were already out of the bag. He claimed to make no judgment and added that God would judge in the end. Typical sidestep – like passing judgment off to God makes judgment OK. Some comfort that is with the threat of hell still hanging in the air!

Love and forgiveness and acceptance are non-judgmental. God is non-judgmental. Always has been from the beginning. Retaliation and punishment would not even enter God’s mind. God’s thoughts are purely humane thoughts. He patiently waits for humans to begin thinking like him. What people think governs what people do. When people think more like God, they will do more like God.

A certain Galilean peasant taught the above and challenged the Jewish scriptures for saying otherwise. (an eye for an eye) And the NT scriptures need to be challenged for saying otherwise as well. Their teaching of an end-time judgment and hell does not fit with Jesus’ teaching of our Father’s unconditional love for all humanity.

Retaliation is the opposite of God’s way.

When will people learn that tyranny does not work when trying to establish and maintain human relationships? Threats of punishment will never build anything!

Under freedom, human interactions always leave room for growth and development through mutual acceptance of each other’s right to own their personal beliefs, beliefs which may then be only temporary as they learn more and more along life’s journey.

Always remember that the opposite of love is fear. Love and hatred are choices so close to each other that humans get them confused at times. But if what is called “love” retaliates and conjures up fear, it is not love at all. It is hatred.

Henry Hasse ~ December 29, 2013

Published in: on December 29, 2013 at 11:13 am  Leave a Comment  
SYNERGY

Discovering Flashes of Unconditional Love Among Us

Discovering Flashes of Unconditional Love Among Us

The Unconditional Human Spirit

Discovering Flashes of Unconditional Love Among Us

Great New Story

Discovering Flashes of Unconditional Love Among Us

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