I Will Love You No Matter What!

Thank you, Father, for loving me unconditionally! I discovered this hidden treasure (I will love you no matter what and I will never leave you or forsake you.) among all the weeds in the scriptures almost four years ago and I have been sharing it ever since, always finding a better way to say it, repeating it in many different ways just in case one way will have meaning to you. I call it “my diamond in the rough,” because it is certainly a Divine revelation and now it is finally mine, rough as I still am.

Before we proceed any further, you should know five things from the start: 1) Since this is a blog, I do not feel the need to document references to source material. A little research of your own will uncover them soon enough. 2) I view the OT and NT scriptures as interesting literature only, and certainly not as “holy” and “infallible” words “inspired” by God. You can find explanations for that based on scholarly work and archeology. In other words, I no longer idolize the Christian Bible for the reasons given. 3) I do not idolize the authority of the Church or its doctrines which have been designed to control people religiously and politically over the centuries. 4) I am not an Atheist by any stretch. The creation around us, life itself, and the wonders of the human body are proof enough for me that a Higher Existence is responsible for the same. 5) Finally, my acknowledgement of #4 is evidence that a consciousness of this Higher Existence resides within me as it does in all mankind, patiently waiting to be discovered and put to good use among humans. That it still remains hidden or undiscovered in so much of humanity indicates that it is above all else not a controlling influence and that freedom is its primary value and goal for all of humanity. It can be better defined as unconditional love.

The Father’s love for ALL his children is not really new. It has always been so. How could it be anything else? Mankind was created free, not perfect as if they were little gods.  Like the rest of creation that was adapting to ongoing changes. Humanity was a work in progress as well, but different, because humans were free to explore and learn and reason and choose the benefits of loving as they had been loved, finding better ways to live with others. This they could do because they housed a “piece” of the Creator within them, a consciousness of goodness to be discovered and acted on as well. The gift of life alone was enough to capture their attention and fill them with wonder and amazement! And what about waking up alive and well in the morning? Or having food to eat in the pantry? Perhaps an income source from farming and trading? Family? Friends? Possessions? Probably more than needed?

But this generous gifting and treatment and unconditional acceptance, in spite of possible prodigal behavior or unloving choices, was too unbelievably scandalous for most folks to fully understand. It seemed too unfair to treat others that generously – faulty thinking came to such conclusions. Probably taking their lead from the animals around them, instead of treating others generously and with similar understanding and acceptance, they demanded punishment for offenses. Families, tribes, nations, even civilized ones, all wanted some form of punishment as revenge for being exploited or physically harmed by another. It was really animal-like behavior. So it is not surprising that their mind’s configuration of a deity would soon have exactly the same demands for them as they had for others, not least of all an attribute of violence! Their gory stories about their ancestor’s exploits are proof of the same. And their religious practices reflected the same thinking as well – offerings, laws, sacrifices, and priestly mediators with frightful promises of terrible punishment for disobedience. All these were related. But notice the contrast between their deduced payback thinking and the reality of daily gracious mercy they were receiving! Notice the contrast between the god they had conjured up (really a reflection of themselves) and the benevolent Creator hidden by their thinking.

(After hearing all these violent exploits of such an angry “god,” no wonder many thoughtful folks became atheists (Samaritans)! I happen to know several atheists who are very loving people, generously willing to help anyone in need. Of course, that is not to say that all atheists are generous and loving people.)

It is the un-consciousness of a Divine unconditional acceptance and love, as only a loving and forgiving Parent could have for children, that leads to the sick violence described above. However, when consciousness of such Divine love finally overwhelms us, not all at once to be sure, a new life begins to take shape, and it slowly but surely changes the view of the world around us and how we ultimately treat others. Some may be unaware of the source of such consciousness, but they are loving and kind people none-the-less. This mystery should cause those who do recognize the source to wonder in amazement! This also explains how forgiveness without conditions brings relief to BOTH the giver AND the receiver. Is there anything more divine than that concept? It is restorative justice at work! It is proof of a better consciousness within being discovered. It is a relief to finally “mellow out” and not take ourselves and our belief system so seriously, including its scriptures! Accepting each other just as we are has a way of changing us both for the better.

The OT Hebrew prophets knew about, or at least deduced, the creation story from what they observed around them. But they knew nothing of a Paradise or a Fall story, two concepts picked up several centuries after the prophets spoke their promises of better times to come and complained about the priest’s demanding ways.  The Hebrew priests had developed their own religious system of laws similar to an even older code of laws written by the Babylonian, Hammurabi, in the 18th century B.C. Priests had learned about the Paradise and Fall and Flood stories in Persia from Zoroastrianism, Persia’s state religion, and these became a major influence in Judaism. They built on their old laws there and were honored for it by the Persians. Ezra was High Priest during the Jewish captivity, and it was he who rewrote many of the Hebrew historical documents and laws, obviously placing the Zoroastrian apocryphal slant on everything – (good god vs. evil god, good beginning vs. evil outcome, required punishment, need for laws and a messiah savior, things always growing worse, heading for final judgment and ultimate destruction of evil, threat of a fiery hell of endless torment, only selected insiders saved, and to hell with all enemies).

BEFORE the captivity, the prophets declared the hopeful message of unconditional love and treatment for all, and the promise for a better land and better times when people practiced the same treatment among themselves. They had caught the spirit of their consciousness within, the one given to them as part of their life, the same one given to all of humanity from the beginning, the one that mirrored their Creator. They observed the contrasting conditions all around them and began to speak against the religious establishment and all its rituals and sacrifices and burdensome laws. Unfortunately, they suffered the horrible and violent deaths demanded by the priesthood who had burdened the people with all their demands for sacrifices and festivals and even the Sabbath itself, all in order to have control over the people. It was religious tyranny that the prophets spoke against, tyranny that was even controlling the king!

AFTER the captivity, the promises and hopes for a better future and treatment were soon forgotten. Apocalyptic bloody violence became the Jewish way of life and remained so, 1) between the Jewish Maccabees, especially their Judas “messiah” figure, and Antiochus IV of Greek origin who had banned the Jewish religion, set up altars to Zeus  and other Greek gods in the Temple at Jerusalem and slaughtered pigs and Jews on them, and 2) between Jews and the Roman occupation forces later, but also 3) violence between several Jewish factions. The Romans finally had enough of it and sent Titus and his Legions to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and the surrounding villages in 69-70 A.D. But still another Jewish “messiah” figure, Kokhba, revolted, and a final battle was fought about 134 A.D. with the Romans. He and his men were all killed. Jews were banned from Jerusalem from then on and any circumcised Jew found there was killed on the spot.

This was the background of violent times during which (about 30 A.D.) the Galilean Sage began teaching the same concept of the Father’s presence within (consciousness) and unconditional love for all of humanity. There was even compassion for the donkey that had fallen into a hole on the Sabbath and needed help to get out. Forgiveness every time, even for enemies, is always available. It is such empathy for all (raining on the good and the bad, sowing goodness generously to all, generously paying even late-comers a day’s wage), and especially helping the needy, orphans, and widows, who certainly were unable to return the favor, that displays the Father’s presence (consciousness or as the Sage called it, “kingdom”) among us. His justice was the Father’s justice (“sadak” is the Hebrew word for it) exactly as the prophets taught it. No payback, no retaliation, no threats, no payment for a helping hand, absolutely nothing expected in return for such love – only unconditional loving treatment freely given to all, especially those in need and those oppressed by religion and government. And the Father’s “kingdom” is already here and in operation now whenever such behavior is seen in practice! No waiting for an end-time for it! Caring for an aging parent or an ill child is proof of it. Doing the human thing, even giving humane treatment to animals and using the environment sensitively, not misusing it, is proof of it. Things could only get better and better under these conditions.

But what chance did this message ever have to survive in a violent environment such as we described earlier? Actually it did survive, here and there, but never on the grand scale of Christianity. I will explain why not later. As soon as some began to call him another Jewish “messiah” figure, bar Nasha was in trouble with the ruthless Romans. Worse, he was given the same treatment as the OT prophets received because he was a threat to the religious establishment and now the “peace” of Rome! The religious leaders complained to the Roman authority that he had broken their laws and hinted that he was leading another insurrection. But the civil government was too weak to stand up for real justice in his behalf! After all, what threat was a small group of twelve followers and a few women to the mighty Roman Legions? They cared nothing about Jewish law but were only concerned about another possible uprising growing among the Jews and they had the means to stop it quickly! The cross! The Romans used the cross to teach obedience and submission to their rules. Their Roman way or the cross way! We are used to the picture of only three crosses, but historians tell us that dozens and scores of crosses was more likely the true picture. No wonder followers quickly went into hiding!

His gruesome death had nothing to do with a salvation plan of a loving Father who had never required such a horrible thing! That idea was started by Paul, a student and graduate of Jewish apocalyptic law who was looking for a fulfillment. Do a study of Zoroastrianism to find the similarities in the OT laws supposedly authored by Moses but tampered with by the High Priest, Ezra, while in captivity in Persia. And a generation and more later, after bar Nasha’s death and the destruction of Jerusalem mentioned earlier, NT narrative writers used the same idea from Paul to make bar Nasha fit into the apocalyptic thinking of the day, as if he was the fulfillment of all the apocalyptic OT teachings, even the apocalyptic resurrection idea. Later, the new Christian religion took it from there, teaching that the NT replaced the OT by fulfilling it. They virtually buried his message of the Father’s presence and unconditional love by placing him at the center of their belief system, and finally, officially turning him into a god a couple centuries after that. This is what they did with the one who had refused any higher title than “son of man” (bar Nasha).

The Christian apocalyptic teaching of their god’s salvation plan and future return in judgment, with an eternal unquenchable hellfire waiting to punish anyone who does not believe their salvation theory is nothing but a “fizz”! (as a dear Australian friend calls it) Again, as I said earlier, repeating the message of bar Nasha, the Father is already here! He has absolutely no intention of getting even or punishing his enemies, but only intends to love them, to forgive them endlessly, unconditionally, knowing that only such gracious treatment has the power to turn them around, to arouse and overwhelm their consciousness within. This is what “justice” means to the Father who is our loving Creator. This is his patient message and it always has been his message from the beginning. The OT Prophets and bar Nasha were right! They got it! They caught this spirit of generous forgiveness! This is what finally turns us prodigals around, not threats of punishment that can only force obedience! Certainly not a stand-in proxy taking the full vengeance of an angry Father! And those who do not turn around? Well, surprise! They will, finally, especially when they face a loving and accepting Creator at their death. Trust me. They will simply be a bit behind with experience on how to treat others. But that will be OK and acceptable too. We will all have plenty of catching up to do in many different ways, ways that will turn us loose to do some unfathomable exploring and learning, hardly even begun here and now.

The point is that no part of the Father’s consciousness (“image”) will be destroyed! The Father cannot even THINK “getting even” thoughts! So much for a “fall” story! AND all those other horrible destruction stories of the OT which are blamed on God as well, as if that would make such violence acceptable.  Those stories merely came from the punishing mindset of the people involved and from the writer who recorded/expanded on them later. This is not to say that none of them actually happened, but certainly not with the Father’s approval, or as if it was his idea.

The unconditional message of a loving God is the scandalous concept that folks demanding payback punishment for disobedience to their laws find so difficult to lay claim to. As I said, it simply seems too unfair to them. Their kind of justice is payback punishment. Period! And, by golly, they are out to teach that lesson to everyone!

The history of the Christian Church, both before and after the Protestant Reformation, is proof enough of their unloving behavior toward those who disagreed with them.  “Unbelievers,” pagans, and heretics who taught anything different than the Church’s official teaching on salvation met violent deaths. From the time of Constantine on, the cross that was supposed to be their symbol of salvation turned into a symbol of legitimate violence. The Crusades and the Inquisition are proof of it. The Jews who upheld their one God of the Torah, and who would not accept the Church’s salvation by way of the cross, (the sin payment of Jesus Christ as the Son of God), were either put to death, chose suicide, or persecuted in many ways – (Spanish Inquisition, ghetto life, wearing only certain clothing, and later, for still other reasons invented by Hitler, the concentration camps and gas chambers of the Nazis). It is not difficult to trace the reason for this violence against the Jewish people back to Paul and the “gospel” narratives that clearly lay the blood of the Christian “god” at the feet of the Jews. Gospel readers seem to forget that the early Christians, many who were Jews themselves, wanted to distance themselves from the ruthless Roman treatment of the Jewish nation, and blaming unbelieving (un-Christian) Jews for “killing their god” was one way to do it. The real killers were the Romans, but who would dare write THAT in a narrative?

Many other persecuted Europeans came to the New World (later called America) to escape the Church’s violent treatment of heretics, but then they treated each other and their neighboring “savages” in similar violent fashion here, always in the name of their God and under the symbol of the cross. This continued into the days of the KKK. Even today, although government no longer allows such behavior, very conservative orthodox Christians will have nothing to do with others outside their immediate fellowship. Shun is the operative word! And one wonders if they really wish they could be more forceful and violent toward those who refuse to bow to their ways. Radical evangelical fundamentalist Christians even want to control the government in many ways.

The Christian interpretation of the cross event is nothing but a myth made to fit their payback punishment thinking of the Apocalypse! And blaming God for all of it again! Trying to cover up blaming him by calling it his deep love for us, that is, sacrificing his only Son, does not cut it! Who wants a Father that would do such a thing? Who wants such a blood-thirsty vengeful god? As I said before, it not only hides the Father’s real message of unconditional love and eternal grace to mankind, it also hides the terrible and gruesome punishment of the Romans for threatening “messiah” figures and other criminals of the day. However, the religious establishment demanding it for someone speaking out against their burdensome ways and “holy” words also needs to be recognized because religious tyranny can soon become political tyranny as well.

Our FATHER is our Savior God, as the OT Prophets called him, NOT the Sage from Galilee! Our FATHER is the God of justice, forgiveness, acceptance, love – unconditional at that! Placing Jesus, who called himself bar Nasha, into such a position is placing a person above his message and distracts from the Father as our Savior God. This is really nothing but idolatry! Jesus and you and I are ALL sons and daughters of the Father.

Again, as I said before, it was the Doctor of Jewish Apocryphal Law, Paul, who, in spite of a beautiful discourse on the meaning of love in one of his letters, led the earliest followers astray with his teaching of the Christ/Messiah and the cross, as if these had fulfilled the demands of the OT. The first followers had already returned to Judaism and just wanted anonymity at this time. After the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple, and surrounding Jewish settlements (69-70 A.D.), the NT writers followed Paul’s original lead and placed their own spin on Jesus in their narratives which could only have been assembled from hearsay accounts. (Fortunately, many of Jesus’ sayings, kept and passed on orally by some original followers, were used in these narratives. The key is to filter them out through his message of the Father’s presence and generous unconditional love. The sayings and acts that do not fit that criteria were obviously additions from the writer’s mind or from the hearsayer’s imaginations. In fact, promoting Jesus as the One and the only Son of God is nothing but an old Greek idea for their heroes, an idea also acceptable to Romans, a good thing for the first followers, but it means that we are not really his brothers and sisters as he said we are.  Is not God OUR Father too? Who formed US and gave US life and breath? The NT scriptures are filled with myth, just as the OT scriptures are filled with myth. No wonder Jesus said, “It is written, … but I say to you….” He was not afraid to compare the scriptures with the Father’s unconditional love to see if they did indeed stand as truth or were merely the result of some writer’s payback mindset. This test works for me as well.

The early church fathers confused the issue even more, much more, and anyone who disagreed with their teachings of the cross was publicly burned, drowned, beheaded, or pulled apart. Some love that was! Little wonder that Jesus’ real message of the Father’s presence and unconditional love for us received no attention! So once again, the people lived in fear and oppression. The fear of being an outcast, the fear of separation from their Creator, the fear of death and eternal damnation, all kept most mouths shut back then, and the same fears still keep mouths shut today. Unfortunately, the message of the Father’s unconditional love and accepting presence among us, and not least of all, his promise to never leave us or forsake us, was buried among the teachings of salvation, yes, resurrection too, a second coming, hellfire punishment, etc. ad nauseam, all upheld by the notorious “infallible” inspiration claim for the scriptures soon to become another idol of many.  But among the ones with closed mouths are many who have made the same discovery that I have made. (My loyalty to the Church’s teachings held me back from discovering my diamond in the rough until my 70th year.) And more of them are becoming vocal about the news they have found. In the meantime, although you have probably heard much of what was written by “holy” men, I say to you: threatening words and ways do not come from our loving Father!

Think about it. Even while suffering a painful unjust death, bar Nasha called out for his Father’s forgiveness for all those who had placed him there (Religious Leaders, Roman Governor, Roman military), “because they did not know what they were doing.” – It was the Father’s presence/consciousness within bar Nasha that was pleading with himself to keep them under his justice of unconditional love in spite of their behavior! The Father’s presence within bar Nasha was also encouraging us to go do likewise! The Father needs humanity to carry out his justice, that is, to spread his “kingdom” here and now! It is the Father’s unconditional love for us that gives us the incentive to go do likewise toward our neighbor, even our enemies.

This message of unconditional love calls all religions into question, I know. Their salvation plan and message comes from a punishing mindset. This message of the Prophets and Jesus may even be offensive to many who take their “faith” seriously as I used to. I am aware of that too. But I’ll stake my life on its authenticity! Our Father does not lie like men do.

Finally, some brief comments on the fear of death. There was no fear of it at first. It was a very natural thing happening all around among plants, insects, fish, birds, and animals. The fossils we find today are proof enough that death was around long, long before mankind was added to the scene.  But early humans obviously attempted to explain it by blaming their configuration of a deity for it – their god’s “justice” dealt out to mankind for disobedience. So, a fearful myth took shape in their minds! And it became important to make bloody sacrifices to pay for their sin and appease their god’s anger – Persians, Egyptians, Aztecs, and Hebrews to name a few, all spread this myth.

Although it too is surprising and even more scandalous to many, the Father’s present “kingdom” of empathy for all here and now pales in comparison to what is in store for us all one day. Death is merely a hand-in-hand walk with him (I will never leave you or forsake you!) into an even greater surprise prepared and waiting for us all, his dear children, whom he loves more than we can ever imagine right now as we struggle trying to hold on to his message of love and peace to all mankind. After all, we are more than meat and blood and bones! We are children and a piece of our Creator Father who is eternal! And let us not waste our time on surmising what that eternal existence may be. There is so much to do and share here and now. The weeds that surround us are many and thick and well established, but the Father’s wisdom and truth and justice can still be found scattered among them. Good hunting!

Henry Hasse ~ August 10, 2012

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Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm  Comments (2)  

The Mighty Story

The outline below is not mine. It was prepared by my Australian friend, Robert Brinsmead, and he promises more to come. Very thought provoking material, I think. ~ Henry Hasse, 6/18/12

I.   THE STORY IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD

The course of human history is not shaped by rulers, political leaders or marching armies nearly as much as it is shaped by its great storytellers. These are storytellers with big ideas, but they embody those ideas in grand narratives that sometimes capture the human imagination on a scale that can shape human culture and even change the course of history. 

The founders of the Christian movement were storytellers. Christianity began as an insignificant movement in lower class society, but it went on to capture the Roman Empire. It was able to profoundly shape Western culture because it embodied its theology in a grand narrative of the world that appealed to the Greco-Roman world.

Islam was stunningly successful because Mohammed was able to embody his ideas in a  grand narrative that appealed to the Semitic culture of the Arab world.

Joseph Smith was a great storyteller. Mormonism would not have enjoyed its success in America unless it had embodied its ideas in its own grand narrative of the world.

Karl Marx revamped the Judeo-Christian narrative about the Fall of Mankind at the dawn of history. Marxism would not have enjoyed its international success unless its revolutionary ideas were embodied in a grand narrative about mankind’s fall from the ideal world of communism at the dawn of human history.

Other storytellers gave birth to the modern Environmental Movement. Like Marxism before it, Environmentalism has embodied its ideas in a story revamping the old narrative of the Fall of Mankind at the dawn of history.  We are now told that the world that has to be restored is the ideal one that existed when mankind lived in harmony with an unspoiled natural world. This environmental grand narrative obviously resonates with an enormous number of people.

Within all of these grand narratives, there are storytellers who embody their ideas in stories that live within the larger stories. These stories spawn movements within bigger movements or political parties within nations. This is how it was when the Protestant Reformation formed within the broader Christian World; or the Labor Movement was formed in Australia with its grand narrative of becoming “a light on the hill.”

Mankind does not live by ideas alone, but by ideas that are embodied in stories. Ideas become powerful weapons only when they are embodied in a grand narrative. To re-phrase an old truism, the story is mightier than the sword.

II.   THE TWO MOST INFLUENTIAL STORIES EVER TOLD

The two most influential stories ever told are the story of the lost Paradise and the story of the Exodus out of Egypt. Their impact does not derive solely from their being imbedded in Judeo-Christian Scripture. They are what Jung calls “archetypal stories,” meaning that they have become templates for retelling them in a whole variety of ways.  This is how these two stories are both very old and very new.

Whether these stories actually happened or to what extent they are myths makes no difference. Ideas that are embodied in story are no less powerful just because the stories are myths. The old Greek legends about Achilles, Prometheus, Narcissus and others were no less winsome because they were myths.

There are many versions of the story about the lost Paradise at the dawn of history. The ancient Greeks had their story of a lost Golden Age. Within most nations and religious movements there are stories of a legendary period of the founding fathers, each followed by a great falling away from how things used to be. These stories inspire dreams of finding a way back to how things were at the beginning.  Rousseau (1754) was accused of dreaming about a return to the age of “the noble savage.” The Marxists dreamed of a return to the state of pure communism that they said existed at the dawn of human history. Environmentalism now dreams of a return to how things were when mankind lived a simple life in harmony with nature.

The archetypal story of the Exodus has also been re-enacted or relived again and again. The early Christian Church saw itself reliving the Exodus when it broke away from Judaism to begin the journey of the Christian movement. So did the Reformers when they made their exodus from Rome to begin the Protestant movement. The Pilgrim Fathers who set out from the Old World in the Mayflower to find their Promised Land in the New World to become America fondly thought of themselves as reliving the story of the Exodus. So did the Boers in their Great Trek to South Africa. So did the Mormons in their journey from Michigan to Salt Lake City. So did Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement in the United States. So did the Liberation Theologians in South America who embodied their ideas in a new Exodus story. The Hebrew dream of the Promised Land forms the template of the American dream, the African dream, and all Third World dreams of a better life. The Exodus story is right up there among the greatest stories ever told because it is a universal story of the quest to improve the human condition.

III.   THE EXODUS MODEL

The story of Exodus is overwhelmingly the dominant story in Hebrew history and  scripture. Hereunder we identify the main features of this classical, archetypal story.

A.      It is a story with a very unpromising beginning.

The story begins at a time when Egypt was building pyramids as monuments to its unrivalled political and religious power. Firmly under Egypt’s control and subjected to appalling conditions of slavery, was a minority group known as the Hebrews. They were descended from a tribe of shepherds, a class of people whom the Egyptians had traditionally despised. As the Hebrews came to recite, “My father was a homeless Aramaean who came down to Egypt…But the Egyptians ill-treated us, humiliated us and imposed cruel slavery upon us.” (Deuteronomy 26:5). One of the prophets likened the human circumstances of Hebrew beginnings to the state of a child that is helpless, filthy and abandoned. (Ezekiel 16:5)  One could hardly imagine a more unpromising national beginning than this one.

B.      It is a story of a human progress.

When the Hebrews escaped from Egyp tand settled in Palestine, it soon became apparent that the so-called Promised Land left a lot to be desired. Compared to the fertile lands along the Nile river in the south or the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the northeast, Palestine’s land was all too hilly, rocky, without a great river system, and subject to uncertain rainfalls. The territory was also infested with hostile tribes who were not inclined to put out a welcome mat for the refugees from Egypt. The Promised Land was more a potential than an empirical realization. The Hebrews may have put a foot on some real estate, but turning it into the Promised Land was to become a work in progress.

The early part of this historical journey was quite messy and marked by all too much violence and bloodshed which, unfortunately, the Hebrews undertook in God’s name.  In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins has a field day finding things to ridicule about this God of the Hebrews. It is true that their vision of God rose no higher than their vision of what it meant to be human – as it always does! Dawkin’s argument is like criticizing the American dream because the Pilgrim Fathers mistreated the Indians.

It is not until we come to the great Hebrew prophets (7th – 8th century BCE) that the Exodus narrative unfolds into an astonishing vision of a truly humane future for mankind. The theology and the ethic of the prophets are based on the Exodus narrative. Rarely has any literature of any age risen to the high moral and ethical vision of the prophets, or excelled the fury of their passionate protest against man’s inhumanity to man. With them, the Exodus demands liberation from every form of human oppression and injustice. It meant that the Hebrew people were obligated to treat others with the same kind of compassion and liberating justice that had been extended to them in the great Exodus event. What mattered to the prophets was not observing religious rituals or offering sacrifices at the temple, but becoming truly human in the practice of justice, mercy and humility.

This prophetic vision of the Promised Land meant creating a society in which none would be without food, clothing or shelter. It meant that no human being would oppress another human being. The prophets even dreamed of a land in which no one would be sick. In an age when the average human life span was no more than about 30 years, they dreamed how this would improve to 100 years. (We are not quite there yet!)

Finally, this vision of the Promised Land expanded to take in the world. The nations of earth would see the light and learn what it means to be truly human. They would beat their swords into plough shears and their spears into pruning hooks. “Nation will not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.”  The time would come when even the wild beasts would find a peaceful existence. The lion and the lamb would lie down together and a little child would lead them.

In short, the Exodus story finally unfolds as a journey toward universal brotherhood and peace. It is a story of unlimited human progress, an ever improving human condition. Even the environment is depicted as sharing in the benefits of this humanizing process. The goal of the journey is always ahead. It is never a story about going back to some better Golden Age in some mythical past. As one of the Hebrew prophets puts it, “Before us is a garden of Eden, and behind a desolate wilderness.”

C.      It is a story is about a journey within the historical process.

From beginning to end, the Exodus story is about a journey in this world within the historical process. It is not an allegory of a journey to another “heavenly” world as in Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress. To be sure, the Biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt was embellished with some legendary flair, but for all that, Egypt was a real place with a real history. The Hebrew settlement in Palestine took place in real history. Not-with-standing the legendary elements that became part of the story, the violence and bloodshed of this early period were also a real part of the historical process.

In the great Hebrew prophets, the Exodus journey always remained firmly set in this world with the goal of the journey seen as something achievable within the historical process.

IV.   THE APOCALYPTIC MODEL

Around 200 BCE, the Jews (as the Hebrews were now called), abandoned the worldview that was based on the Exodus model and the vision of the Hebrew prophets. They developed another worldview that became known as Apocalyptic.

A.   Apocalyptic was a theology of despair.

During the Second Temple era that began around the 5th century BCE, the Jews suffered a series of setbacks and national calamities that crushed their hopes of realizing their national dreams within the historical process. They developed another grand narrative to explain why the present age is hopelessly flawed. It was a “theology of despair” called Apocalyptic.

B.   Apocalyptic was based on the mythology of a lost Golden Age.

This “theology of despair” was based on the grand narrative about the Paradise that was lost through the defection of Adam and Eve at the dawn of history. Until around 200 BCE when Jewish Apocalyptic developed, the story of Genesis 2 never received any attention in Hebrew thinking. It played no role at all in the theology of the Hebrew prophets. It was as if this story of the lost Paradise lay unnoticed in the nest of Hebrew Scripture like some cuckoo egg until it hatched out as Jewish Apocalyptic.

This raises the question of how a story so fundamentally at odds with the Exodus story got to be included in Hebrew scripture. Did the early Hebrews even know that the Genesis 2 story existed? Did the Hebrew prophets know it existed? We do know that the story of mankind’s Fall in Genesis 2 is remarkably like an old Persian mythology about a Fall from an original age of light into the present age of darkness. We also know that Judaism absorbed a lot of Persian influences when it came under the sway and patronage of thePersian Empire.

We can’t go into some of these intriguing literary questions here, but one thing is crystal clear: all the Jewish Apocalyptic books of this era ( The Book of Enoch, Jubilees, Tobin, Ezdras 1 and 11, etc.) based their entire theology or worldview on the grand narrative of the Fall of man and the lost Paradise.

 C.   Apocalyptic was a model of human regression and inevitable decline

The grand narrative of the Fall from the age of light meant that this present age was given over to the powers of evil. The narrative meant that the national dreams would never be realized within the historical process. Until this historical process ends we can only expect things to become worse and worse. History all runs downhill and everything is in inevitable decline.

Apocalyptic was like a theological version of the Second Law of thermodynamics.

 D.   Apocalyptic put its hope in an end to the historical process.

 In Jewish Apocalyptic (as in Persian Apocalyptic before it), the only hope was for this present age to be swept away by a violent act of divine intervention. Apocalyptic put its hope in the arrival of a new age beyond the cataclysmic revolution, beyond the historical process.

The word “Apocalyptic” came from a word meaning “something revealed.”  Apocalyptic not only revealed this catastrophic, revolutionary future, but it revealed ways people could prepare for it and even hasten its arrival. Some of these ways were innocent enough (like ritual baths or strict Sabbath observance), but some of them were fanatical and violent.

E.   Apocalyptic was fundamentally ahistorical and surreal.

Jewish Apocalyptic was based on the account of a world at the beginning of time that never did exist. In despair of this world, Apocalyptic turned its back on the present historical process and put its hope in the arrival of an end-time event that was as surreal as the Golden Age at the beginning of time. Even the literature of Apocalyptic was filled with lurid images of surreal animals and symbols that did not exist in the real world. It created a world of religious fantasy.

F.   Apocalyptic was soaked in bloodshed and violence.

Jewish Apocalyptic was all about the process of history coming to a violent end. It not only saw this end as imminent, but prayed, hoped and worked to hasten its arrival. To use some famous imagery from Schweitzer, Apocalyptic not only waited expectantly for the wheel of history to turn, but it threw itself on the wheel to make it turn. The results were not pretty.

In the older Persian mythology, the sons of light and the sons of darkness would be locked in conflict with each other until a great final battle at the end of history would deliver one side and destroy the other. Those who counted themselves on the right side demonized those on the other side. This aspect of Persian Zoroastrianism was absorbed into Judaism and was eventually perpetuated within Christianity. It inevitably produced a lot of hostility and sectarian violence – not just violence toward the national enemies such as the Syrians and the Romans, but violence even toward those in opposing Jewish factions.

Apocalyptic inspired the Jews in the time of the Maccabees to fight their Syrian oppressors with amazing courage and ferocity. At the same time, Jewish factions demonized and slaughtered those who were in opposing factions. As very graphically described by Josephus, this kind of sectarian mayhem and murder was still going on with incredible ferocity in the city of Jerusalem even while the Roman armies had the city under siege (69 – 70 CE) and were about to burn the whole city and destroy its temple. The Apocalyptic fanatics went on with this kind of sectarian violence while they confidently waited for a divine intervention to punish both Romans and their factional opponents.

What they proved has been demonstrated many times in history. Whatever hopes for violence ends in violence. Apocalyptic embellished its vision of the end with frightful, worse-than-pornographic images of a fiery hell full of eternal foments that awaited the national enemies and everyone else counted among “the sons of darkness.”

Apocalyptic demonstrated that those who go down this road of demonizing their opponents and proclaiming that they will soon be objects of the end-time vengeance, will themselves not just hope opponents will be punished, but will become all too willing to start that punishing process.

Jewish Apocalyptic inspired a revolt against Rome that was never going to succeed. The city was reduced to a heap of ruins, its temple was completely destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of Jews perished. It was not the kind of end time that Apocalyptic had hoped for, but for Judaism – its culture, its history, its priesthood and temple that would never exist again – it was the end of their world. One might have thought that Jewish Apocalyptic would never raise its sorry head again in another revolt against Rome.  But it did just that about 60 years later in one final sally known as the bar Kokhba Revolt (132 – 136 CE). Bar Kokhba was an insurgent warrior messiah figure who led his countrymen in one final bloody apocalyptic assault on Rome who by this time lost all patience with the Jews. Not only was this military Messiah and all his followers put the sword, but thousands of Jews were slaughtered. Jews were totally banished from Jerusalem. Any circumcised male found in Jerusalem was summarily put to the sword on the spot.

After this latest disaster, the rabbis, who were now in control of Judaism, pronounced a curse on anybody within their community who promoted Apocalyptic again.

Was this to be the end of Apocalyptic?  Not an all, because another fledging movement had taken it up, having inherited it from Judaism. The movement was called Christianity.

Outline of what is to come:

  • Judaism was the mother of Christianity. At the time of its birth, the mother was suffering from an Apocalyptic fever – Christianity imbibed Apocalyptic in the mother’s milk.
  • Kasemann:  “Apocalyptic was the mother of all Christian theology.”
  • Christian theology was set within the framework of the grand narrative of the Fall of mankind. This story was basic to the Christian narrative – St. Paul Romans 5, the controversies between Athanasius and Arius, Anselm and Abelard, illustrate how basic the lost Paradise/Fall of mankind narrative was to Christian theology (worldview), so too the great epic of Milton’s Paradise Lost. The narrative of the Fall is basic to most Christian Catechisms both Catholic and Protestant. Even today,Romerules that Evolution is a permissible theory provided the doctrine of original sin is not abandoned.
  • Christian Apocalyptic teaching of a world getting worse and worse – this present evil age, man-hating, world-denying, etc. leads to opting out of this world.
  • Christian Apocalyptic retains Jewish Apocalyptic basic ideas about an imminent fiery end of world, embellished with hell, etc.
  • Christian Apocalyptic is based more on next life as the heavenly Promised Land.
  • Christian Apocalyptic teaches this age is evil, not reformable, and opts out of this world…monasticism, asceticism, etc.
  • Christian Apocalyptic is ahistorical – its theology is ahistorical, not dealing or focused on real history – its doctrine of atonement is ahistorical, etc.
  • Christian Apocalyptic is soaked in bloodshed and violence.
  • Reasons why, in recent centuries, its bloodshed and violence has ceased:
  1. movements of humanism, liberal democracy, and political reality in the face of religious pluralism, loss of commitment (“the civil people are not committed”).
  2. the teaching of Jesus seen not to condone intolerance and violence, etc.
Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Made for Change

Change is inevitable. There is nothing more sure than change. Nothing stays the same. Time does not stand still. Old always makes room for new. Improvement is bound to happen. Things always go from bad to better when given half a chance. Everything evolves. Change is natural.

Turning back history is impossible to do. Even going home does not find things the same. Nothing is as it once was if you really look hard enough. You will find that they are either worn out in some way or have been replaced. Everything looks smaller than it did when you were a child, and the corner drug store with its soda fountain is gone. What used to be a favorite place is now a parking lot.

Chasing memories of the past is a false dream. Moving forward toward the unknown is the real dream. It is reality with a plan to make things better. Yes, it is like heading into uncharted seas or looking for greener pastures. It is escaping slavery or abuse or tyranny. It is being filled with hope at the outset. It is seeking liberty and freedom and relief all in one.

When things do go from bad to worse, always know that it is only temporary. You or someone out there can make things better. Progress will always follow regress.

It is also good to know that there are really only two choices to make at any specific time of your life, so do not confuse yourself with more than two. There are never more than two roads to take, one back to the past and one to the future. Since you will either be leading or following, it is also wise to know where you are headed or where your leader is taking you.

Which way are you going? Are you returning toward slavery, abuse, and tyranny or are you moving on to liberty and freedom and prosperity? Do not be distracted by temporary setbacks on the way. Just know where you will ultimately arrive, and know that it will take no small effort to get there.

And above all, do not fall for the smooth high-sounding words that cover up a hidden agenda for you. Test the spirit of the matter. Examine the purpose with great care. Deception usually takes great pains to hide itself. It may even promise more than it could possible have in its pocket without robbing from another first. Promises that must take from one in order to give to another are false promises and end in tyranny again.

Stay thirsty, but evaluate the source of the flowing waters. Be willing to change, but only to the better result, the one that benefits both you and your neighbor, as well as your neighborhood. Use your environment wisely, with benevolent thoughtfulness, and it will replenish itself for you. Destroying it with greed and useless abandon benefits no one. Remember, it is not a god to be worshiped. It is a resource to be used. We are not it’s enemy. We are it’s caretakers.

So, change is a sure thing, but it is ever dual when you think about it. If you do not choose, then someone else will, and who can tell what change he might bring? It may end up growling at your doorstep. At least you know your dream, your hope. You can choose to make things better! Good ideas are the seeds of a great consciousness within you. Freedom. Liberty. Relief. Remember? And not least of all, responsibility! Not only to your neighbors, but also to the environment itself.

My Canadian friend, Wendell Krossa, writes:

“It is perfectly natural that humanity improves its environment. This will change wilderness to a more domesticated environment. In the extreme environmental vision, there should be no humans and all the world should be covered in wilderness. This is an unattainable utopia of a human-hating “religion.” This extremism believes humanity is eliminating all wilderness and claims we are emptying the oceans of fish, destroying all forests, eliminating most species, and destroying all other resources.

“Consciousness has given us this ability to humanize life and with this responsibility we have the right to improve all life and the world. We have an awareness of something better and we continue to seek that better future. We can see what is less than human, and creatively seek something better. Where something is less than human we will make it better. The overall evidence is that we are doing well in our relationship with nature. We have not produced decline but have created rise and progress.”

More on change and the contrasting stories (retreating vs. moving forward)  from my Australian friend, Bob Brinsmead:

“I started thinking about the way the Bible unfolds this Exodus/Promised land story. We have to admit, that before it progresses to the vision of the prophets there was some pretty gory violent stuff at the beginnings of this story – but as it unfolds it gets more and more humane. In the prophets, the Promised Land even expands to take in the whole world, and Egypt and Assyria are said to God’s sons too, the same as Israel.  In other words, it was vision of humanizing the world, not the next world as in Christian apocalyptic or even Jewish apocalyptic which came from their Eastern captivity. Rather, the task was to humanize this world.  What happened in Apocalyptic is that it substituted the next world for this world! And it spiritualized the dream of the Promised Land.  It can’t be emphasized enough that the focus of the prophets (and Jesus) was on this world rather than the hereafter.

“What the Apocalyptic did was to do away with the historical. Apocalyptic Christianity did away with the historical Jesus too.

“Now here is the point. Apocalyptic, especially apocalyptic Christianity, starts out looking like a lamb but ends up speaking like a dragon! In contrast to the story of the Exodus that starts out soaked in a lot of violence and progresses to something more humane, apocalyptic starts real gentle and peaceful looking like Christian religion – wouldn’t’ kill a fly, gentle martyrs and all the rest – but it turns out very violent, killing more people than any religion in the history of man. (Islam has a long way to go to catch up here.) And look where it all ends – with blood up to the horse’s bridle, and treading out the peoples of earth like grapes in a winepress. While only a little believing insider group survive, the rest are swept into a fiery pit of unbelievable ferocity! But where does the Promised Land vision of the Exodus end? – As a very humane one indeed, with even the wild predators lying with the lamb and eating straw like an ox.”

Henry Hasse ~ June 4, 2012

Published in: on June 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unconditional Love

 

I discovered this hidden treasure (a pearl of great price) among all the weeds of the scriptures a little over 3 years ago and have been sharing it ever since. The Father’s love for ALL his children is not really new. It has always been so. But such news was too scandalous for most folks who demanded punishment instead of mercy. The OT Hebrew prophets declared the same hopeful message and were shut down by the religious establishment who had burdened the people with all sorts of demands for sacrifices and festivals and rituals and even the Sabbath itself. The Galilean Sage taught the same concept of the Father’s unconditional love for all, even for the donkey that had fallen into a hole on the Sabbath and needed help to get out. Forgiveness every time, all the time, even for enemies, plays an important role in unconditional love. It is such empathy for all (raining on the good and the bad, sowing generously, generously paying even late-comers a day’s wage), and especially helping the needy, orphans, and widows, that displays the Father’s presence (kingdom) among us. Never payback, no retaliation, no threats, no payment for a helping hand, absolutely nothing expected in return for such love – only unconditional treatment freely given to all. His presence (kingdom) is already here and in full operation now! Caring for an ill parent or child is proof of it. Doing the human thing for someone, even doing the humane thing for animals is proof of it.

 

The Christian apocalyptic teaching of God’s future return in judgment with an eternal hellfire waiting to punish anyone who does not believe their salvation theory is nothing but a “fizz!” (as a dear Australian friend calls it) The Father is already here! He has absolutely no intention of getting even or punishing his enemies, but only intends to love them, to forgive them endlessly, unconditionally. This is what “justice” means to the Father, our loving God. This is his message today and it always has been his message. He proved it in caring for the Hebrews who were far from being unconditionally loving as a nation. This accepting treatment is what turns us prodigals around. And those who do not turn around? Well, surprise! They will, finally, when they face a loving and accepting Creator at their death. Trust me. They will simply be a bit behind with experience on how to treat others kindly. But that will be OK and acceptable too, because they will then be learning on a fast track how to do it. The point is that no part of the Father’s image will be destroyed! The Father cannot even THINK “getting even” thoughts! So much for a “fall” story! AND so much for all those other horrible destruction stories of the OT which were blamed on God as well! They merely betray the punishment mindset of the writer who was seeking justification for such destructive behavior. This unconditional love is the very scandalous concept that folks who keep demanding a payback punishment find so difficult to lay claim to. It simply seems too unfair to them. Their kind of justice is payback punishment. Period! End of story!

 

The Christian interpretation of the cross event is nothing but a myth created to fit their payback punishment thinking! It hides the terrible and gruesome punishment and injustice that the religious establishment demanded for someone questioning and speaking out against their burdensome ways. Our Father, God, is our Savior God, not the Sage from Galilee. Placing Jesus in such a position, one who called himself bar Nasha (son of man), and who would not accept any higher title, is placing a person above his message. Nothing but idolatry really. And again, it hides the message. Besides, Jesus and you and I are already sons and daughters of the Father, our Savior God, and Creator of the universe. None of us can be placed any higher than that!

 

It was the Doctor of Law, Paul, who, in spite of a beautiful discourse on the meaning of love in one of his letters, led the earliest followers astray with his academic teaching of linking Jesus to a Christ/Messiah. They had already returned to Judaism, probably quite disappointed in Jesus’ brief leadership and demise. And two and three generations later, after the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple, and surrounding Jewish settlements, the NT writers followed Paul’s original lead and placed their own spin on Paul’s Christ in their narratives. (Fortunately, many of Jesus’ sayings, recorded and passed on by unknown followers, were also used in those narratives. The key is to filter them through his message of the Father’s presence and generous unconditional love. The ones that do not fit this criteria are obvious additions from the writer’s mind who otherwise had only hearsay accounts to consider for his story.) In fact, the writer, John, took things to the next level by promoting Jesus to the One and the ONLY Son of God. Does that mean that we are not really his brothers and sisters after all? Is not God OUR Father too? Somebody is handing us a made-up story here.

 

Yes, any Marine can tell you what it is like to place himself in the enemy’s line of fire, even being willing to die for the sake our freedom, but God our Father is NOT the enemy in this cross event. He requires no payment, no sacrifice, especially at the unjust expense of another, remember? Jesus was a victim of the tyranny of the religious establishment and a weak civil government too frightened to stand up for real justice and for the protection of a simple teacher from the hill country with only twelve illiterate men and a few women in his company. What threat was he to the mightyRoman Empire and all its legions? The Jewish religious leaders could very well have been thrown out of Pilate’s presence on their behinds for their arrogance and shouting!

 

Near the end of all his needless and unjust suffering, bar Nasha still continued to show us the Father’s way: “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” Think on that for a minute. Forgiveness freely offered to his enemies under such circumstances! Now THAT is unconditional! And it is precisely why I expect to hear the same just and comforting remark from a loving Father, God, when I face that same walk through death. Jesus too was so convinced and conscious of the Father’s presence here and now that he was ready to take the walk through death, knowing that he would NOT be forsaken and that he would be freely accepted as a dear son of the Father himself, along with his forgiven “enemies”when their time came. So, now I also offer this: who needs a resurrection of the body? To what purpose? To be limited by time and space again? The resurrection idea was nothing but a Jewish dream brought home from their Eastern captivity and given yet another spin by NT writers. Again, it covers up the presence of the Father who will never forsake us, not even while we pass through death. Into where? There we go again, thinking time and space. Forget about where! Those who have experienced near death speak only of an indescribable existence. No words for it anyhow, so back to work here and now. So much to do yet.

 

The early church fathers confused the issue even more, much more, with further suppositions, and anyone who disagreed with their teachings was publicly burned, drowned, beheaded, or pulled apart. Some love that was! So once again, the people lived in fear. The fear of being an outcast for even the slightest unbelief, and the fear of death and eternal damnation, kept mouths shut then and such fears still keep mouths shut today! Church authority has managed to stifle vigorous growth and development of individual consciousness for some 2000 years, and that in all areas of life, all to its own benefit of course. Its effect on civil governments has been especially enormous. Worse, the message of the Father’s unconditional love and accepting presence among us, not least of all, his promise to care for and never leave us or forsake us, has been buried beneath the teachings of salvation, resurrection, second coming, hellfire, etc. ad nauseam, all covered under the notorious inspiration claim for the scriptures.

 

 So, in summary, you have heard what was written by these “holy” men, but I say to you: threatening words and ways do not come from our Father! Instead, words of love fill his presence among us. Just because the still, small voice of love is barely heard among all the shouting and screaming of tyranny, do not underestimate its resolve and ultimate value to all humankind.

 

This message of unconditional love calls all religious authority into question, I know. And a lot of government authority too for that matter. This message may even be downright offensive to many. I am well aware of that too. But I’ll stake my life on its authenticity! Our Father does not lie like men do. Although it too is surprising and also scandalous to many, his present kingdom of empathy for all here and now pales in comparison to what is in store for us all one day. Death is merely a hand-in-hand walk with him into an even greater surprise which is already prepared and waiting for us all, his dear children, whom he loves more than we can ever imagine. We are more than meat and blood and bones, and the Father’s consciousness within, an integral part of our very personhood and being, patiently waits for us to come to that conclusion. The evidence is overwhelming when you think about it.

 

 Henry Hasse ~ June 1, 2012

 

 

Published in: on June 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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