Shattering Comfortable Misconceptions

Dogbert (gazing at night sky): No matter how bad the day is, the stars are always there.

Dilbert: Actually, many of them burned out years ago, but their light is just now reaching earth.

Dogbert: Thank you for shattering my comfortable misconception.

Dilbert: It’s the miracle of science.

[It is also the miracle of history as you will see below from an essay by my Canadian friend, Wendell Krossa on his website, – because history has a way of shattering our comfortable misconceptions concerning religion as well. Comments in [ ] are mine. ~ hh]

The Birth and Death of Apocalyptic

Apocalyptic is the belief that life, history and the world will end in catastrophic destruction. This belief has always been an expression of nihilism, despair and hatred of life. It sees life as descending downhill toward a disastrous end. It is, in a word, doomsterism of the darkest sort.

Apocalyptic was developed from a variety of ancient ideas. One is that there was once a golden age, an original time of paradise. Since then, life with its obvious imperfection has degraded into something worse and is regressing further all the time. This idea of life as a descending and degrading trajectory took root in both Western and Eastern religious traditions.

In Buddhism it was stated that the “progressive decadence of man was marked by a continuous decrease in the length of human life” (The Myth of The Eternal Return, Mircea Eliade, p.116). The Indian traditions also believed in the progressive decadence of humanity and argued that humanity was presently living in an age of darkness that would end in catastrophe. The Iranians added the idea that a final catastrophe (a great fiery conflagration) would end the world and history. The good people (followers of the true religion) would, of course, escape the fiery end and enter a new golden age in a new world. These views revealed a pessimistic anti-history attitude.

Apocalyptic, with its view of life as a descending trajectory, took root in all religious traditions across the world. Life on earth was then viewed as nothing but tragic, unjust, miserable and the suffering of life heralded the coming catastrophe. …. This outlook produced the tendency to devalue the present historical time. [AND humanity in general – hh].

Thomas Sheehan in The First Coming sets forth the emergence and development of apocalyptic in Judaism. He speaks of this in terms of ‘eschatology’, which is the idea that there will be an end to time. This idea, he notes, has profoundly influenced the Western concept of history. He says the Jews borrowed their views of apocalyptic from the Zoroastrian religion during their exile in Babylon.

Before the exile the Jews had viewed salvation as God restoring their kingdom in this world. [Exodus from slavery to a Promised Land. -hh] But after the exile God appeared to have left to live in the heavens. Then the Jews began to hope for salvation, not in terms of a restored kingdom in this world, but in terms of an escape from history at the end of the world. …. It was another dark expression of despair.

Zoroaster had taught that history was divided between the present age of darkness and the coming age of light. He held a profound pessimism about present history and sought salvation in escape to a future golden age. Hence, Judaism “shifted the focus of its religious hopes from the arena of the national and historical to that of the eschatological and cosmic, from political salvation (here and now) to … survival in an afterlife.”

[These same ideas crept into Christianity through Paul’s writings and again, later, through the gospel narratives which changed the Galilean Sage, Bar nasha, into the Christ. And the less said about Revelation the better. Some 300 and 400 years later, this, and much more, was finally accepted by the Church Councils and written into their confessions. -hh]

This historical tradition of apocalyptic doomsterism began to crumble with the striking new message of the secular sage Joshua Ben Adam. He taught the radical new idea [like the prophets -hh] that the kingdom of God was not a golden age that would follow the future destruction of this world but rather it was “the joy of God’s immediate and liberating presence…. In this message there is no terror of coming judgment and destruction but rather the presence of a loving and forgiving Father. God is immediately present not as a judge but as a merciful [compassionate – hh] and generous Father [with unconditional love for all -hh]. His presence is a free gift and is to be enjoyed without fear. Hence, the repeated urging of Joshua Ben Adam to “Be not afraid,” “Do not be anxious about your life,” and “Do not worry.”

Sheehan continues: The kingdom of God means the incarnation of God in all humanity, not just in some divine Savior sent from heaven. The kingdom means that God has given himself entirely to humanity. The old ideas of God in heaven are now meaningless. God is to be found nowhere else but in humanity. This, as Sheehan notes, is the end of religion which is fundamentally about the mediation of God through priesthoods to the masses. And life is no longer to be a struggle to find and please some heavenly Master but simply to enjoy the presence of the Father. It is the profound difference between dirge and party. God is no longer to be sought, but to be enjoyed in loving relationships with fellow human beings. The infinite fullness of God is now entirely with humanity.

Modern science confirms this brilliant insight of Joshua Ben Adam. Life is not descending toward apocalyptic destruction but is rather a rising trajectory of hope, progress, emergence, and ongoing development. Life evidences continuing progress to ever higher stages of consciousness and advance. Everywhere in the improvement of human life and human societies we can see the clear evidence of the superabundant presence of the Abba Father that Joshua Ben Adam spoke so [adoringly -hh] about.

The bleak doomsterism of apocalyptic mythology that darkened human consciousness for so many millennia is now dead! – [That is, unless religion with its “holy” books and confessions and traditions continues to be someone’s comfortable misconception. – hh]

Copyright Wendell Krossa, July 4, 2011

[P.S. – I have my Abba-tree decorated and all my Abba-gifts wrapped and sent. – hh]

December 20, 2011

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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