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DIG DIRECTOR

The Rev. Madison Shockley
The Rev. Madison Shockley is a minister of the United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, Calif. and a regular commentator on religion, race, politics and popular culture....










 

Jesus: The Man, the Myth

(Page 2)

The Death of Jesus

The death of the man from Nazareth was historically inconsequential—a crucified Jew in Jerusalem among so many hundreds crucified during the riotous atmosphere that often surrounded the Passover observance. Passover, a celebration of Jewish freedom, was always an anxious time under Rome’s oppressive occupation. The historical fact is that Jesus was crucified by the Roman Empire. The charge was political sedition, considered a capital crime. For being known as the “King of the Jews” he was crucified by Rome because assuming such a title challenged the sovereignty of the Caesar. The trial scenes recorded in the Gospels were a fiction devised by the early Christian writers to put blame for Jesus’ death on Jewish leadership and deflect responsibility from Roman officials. They did this so that the new religion could survive in a hostile Roman Empire. Not only do they deny any Roman responsibility for the crucifixion, the Gospel of Matthew has a Roman centurion confess, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (27:54).

The Resurrection

Was the resurrection a historical event? No. It is a thoroughly theological concept. We learn a lot from the resurrection literature of the early Christian writers. Most of the resurrection stories find the disciples either hiding in fearful seclusion or having returned to their former lives (mostly as fishermen). So why was resurrection necessary?

With his death, his message, his meaning and his mission were now left to others to remember, interpret and continue. It all would have been so simple if Jesus had just written his sermons down. The most likely explanation as to why Jesus didn’t write his own Gospel is that Jesus was probably illiterate. Early Christian communities viewed themselves as authentically representing the words, ministry and mission of Jesus. The only way they could do this was if Jesus were still alive. So, they resurrected him.

The Gospels

But Jesus’ story proved quite malleable in the hands of the skilled editors who would later tell his story. Initially, a wide variety of such remembrances, interpretations and extrapolations emerged from the early Christian communities that had known the historical Jesus. This group—its members generally were known as “the disciples”—was soon distilled into an authoritative clique that the early church came to revere as “the Apostles.” Paul is the only apostle from whom we have authentic written product. However, he, by his own admission, was a lesser apostle because he never knew the historical Jesus but rather was commissioned as an apostle (“as one untimely born”) by the “risen” Jesus.

Though the documents that ultimately became the four Gospels bear the names of two apostles (Matthew and John) and two alleged companions (Mark, supposedly a friend of Peter, and someone named Luke, supposedly a friend of Paul—though the only evidence for this is “Luke” himself), they are all anonymous. These characterizations were added in the Second Century in order to add authority to the Gospels. As literary production proliferated, the early church began to list (canonize) certain documents as useful and all others were deemed heretical. It wasn’t until the Fourth Century that the Christian “canon” was closed.

However, all of the Gospels (in their final form) and Paul refer to Jesus as far more than a Jewish sage, wisdom prophet and sometime healer and exorcist. But it is exactly this “more” that reveals the fluid treatment that the historical Jesus received at the hands of his biographers. It seems that they mapped his footsteps rather than followed them. Each created the Jesus he needed for his constituency. Matthew mapped a very Jewish Jesus for his Jewish Christian community. Mark mapped a martyr Jesus to encourage his besieged community facing the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish war with Rome. Luke mapped a Holy Spirit that inhabited Jesus to do the work of God and inhabited his church to be the embodiment of the divine presence. John mapped a cosmic Jesus from the beginning of time to the end of eternity. All of this is evidence that the decades separating these writings from the life of Jesus were filled with theological imagination. It wasn’t until the authority of the first Christian emperor, Constantine, combined with a nascent church bureaucracy that alternative interpretations of Jesus were quashed. Only then would the Christian Church (big C) emerge as an international operation of culture and power with Jesus (the) Christ as its imperial head and the bishop of Rome as his vicar.

So Who Is Jesus Today?

Liberation theology is a branch of Christian theology that understands God to be primarily at work in the world for the liberation of the oppressed. Drawing from the story of the Israelite Exodus (Exodus 3:16), the Israelite prophetic tradition and the teachings and preaching of Jesus, liberation theologians see a clear and consistent “preferential option for the poor” (a phrase borrowed from the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops’ campaign for human development). Liberation theology identifies Jesus with the marginalized in every society, whether they be peasants in Latin America, African Americans in the United States or gays and lesbians everywhere. So, for black liberation theology Jesus is poor and black. When James Cone declared in 1969 that “Jesus is black” he caused no little controversy in religious circles. The claim by black theology that “Jesus is black” (note the present tense) had both theological and racial implications. First it meant that Jesus was not white. Jesus could not be white because whites were the embodiment of black oppression in America. Theologically, the claim meant that the Eurocentric faith produced by imperialistic Christianity was a gross distortion of the original Jesus movement. This distorted theology produced icons and images of a white-skinned, blond-haired and blue-eyed Jesus totally unreflective of the Palestinian peasant named Jesus, who lived at the nexus of the African and Asian continents. The assertion that Jesus was not white sent a shudder through a mainstream Christianity that was suddenly forced to confront its own racism and examine its version of Christianity, which was little more than a baptized Western culture. This same Christianity has not hesitated to traffic in slavery or condemn the Third World to colonial subservience.

The claim that Jesus is black, or gay, or a woman, or a peasant, is not an assertion about Jesus’ personal identity. It is more a way of making demonstrably clear what the central focus of Jesus’ ministry would be today. A popular phrasing of this approach simply asks, “What would Jesus do?” Liberation theology sees Jesus engaged in a ministry outside the four walls of the church and less engaged in a priestly ministry of liturgy and incense.

Conversely, the traditional mainline churches continue to hold themselves out as the embodiment of the continuing presence of Jesus—whether the Roman pontiff as the vicar of Christ, or the Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist claims of apostolic succession (for their bishops) or the Protestant focus on the local gathering of Christians in the church (derived from the Greek ekklesia) as the “body of Christ.”


The “Jesus movement” (i.e. those who followed Jesus prior to a formal church evolving) was left leaderless and without direction. The anticipation of Jesus’ death in the Gospels benefited from their hindsight of knowing how the story ended. But for the original disciples Jesus’ death was probably a sudden and unexpected occurrence.

Continued: Conclusion

 

Dig last updated on Dec. 20, 2005


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Dig Director's Blog

Apr. 12, 2006

Hallelujah! Easter is almost here. Aren’t you glad? What’s that low sigh I hear? Ohhhhh that’s right, you’re one of those progressive Christians. Easter is probably the most conflicted time of the year among progressive churches, even more so than Christmas. Even a progressive Christian can reasonably assert that Jesus was really born, even as the debate goes on among others about how he was born. But this is not so with Easter. Either he was resurrected or he was not. And when we say he was not, then someone somewhere will quote I Corinthians 15:12 to us, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?”

- - -
Dec. 22, 2005

Shockley addresses reader comments regarding the historical Jesus and representations of “the Christ.”

- - -
Dec. 21, 2005

The culture wars have clearly gotten out of hand when the front line is Christmas.

- - -
 
 
 

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By Jonathan, September 8, 2006 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In Search of Truth

On the question; Have I ever read an entire book cover to cover, that opposes my personal views?
By the time I was twelve – I had been thoroughly indoctrinated, I was a Catholic. In the Catholic doctrine we were taught that one should never question the existence of God and we should never read The Holy Bible, especially the book of Revelations. (the intention is clear)
When I was thirteen I was converted and my mother purchased and gave me a beautiful King James, leather bound bible with a biblical concordance.
I read searched and analyzed every conceivable topic, only to discover that the Holy Bible was jammed packed with concoctions and inconceivable fabrications – Lies. Yes – the book was my Holy Bible.
I nearly cried with amazement in realizing that I must be an Atheist!
If any one is interested in truth, you will find it in the book of Revelations etc. All about the Jewish God “Yahweh-God-Jehovah” and that Abraham designed “God” from the single word “YAHWEH.” (from nothing)
In reading the bible you will find that religious theories derive from Nimrod Baal the sun god and Christianity derives from Astronomy and Astrology.
From the “Seven Stars of Orion” and the “Seven Churches of Christ” of which “Smyrna” in Turkey was the First. Such as all Churches named “The First” and all Banks named “The First.” (Churches and Banks are about accumulation of Money, property and Political Power) Yes – the book that I read, opposes my views, was/is my treasured “Holy Bible.”
It is not my business to indoctrinate any one into disbelief.
If you want to keep your “Faith” don’t read the Bible and avoid the book of Revelations. (For there you will see the fallacy of it all)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Revelations chapter 1 verse 20 says; The Seven Stars of “Orion” (in the constellation of Orion) are the Angels of The Seven Churches.
Revelations chapter 1 verse 11 says; The Seven churches are; Ephesus, and Smyrna the First, and Pergamus, and Thyatira, and Sardis, and Philadelphia, and Ladocea.
Revelations chapter 22 verse 16 says; I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things, in The Churches; I am the root of David, the bright ”The Morning Star.” (catch 22) The Morning Star is not Jesus and is not a star – it is the Planet “Venus.”
Isaiah chapter 44 verse 10 says; Who? Hath formed a God, or molten a graven image (of a God) that is profitable for nothing?
Ecclesiestes chapter 7 verse 12 says; Wisdom and Money is a defense, but the excellence of “knowledge” is that Wisdom gives more life $$ to those that have it.
Ecclesiestes chapter 10 verse 19 says; A feast is made for laughter, wine to make merry; but “Money” is the answer to all things.
Conscience be your guide – by Jonathan

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By Roy Oetting, September 7, 2006 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Think about it. The Egyptians made up their gods. The Indians made up their gods and the Greeks made up their gods as well did other cultures and then finally the Jews make up their God. How can this seem credible to anyone. He’s a copy cat god. A couple thousand years later some guy (Paul)has a dream - starts a church - a bunch a guys write up stories and miracles about Jesus which were borrowed from a dozen or more other gods and some how today we have three major religions who are attempting to kill each other over this god which according to the old testament is a god of only one group of people which IS the tribes of Abraham. The people who made the first crop circles have come forward and said it was a hoax and yet there are people who believe they were done by aliens. The people who started the Abominalable snowman hoax have come forward and admitted it was a joke and yet people believe in the abominable snowman. What does this tell you? It should tell you people will believe in anything, especially when it promises eternal life. How can you really think that after hundreds of millions of years of life forms on this planet that some god created all this for man, dumb dumb. Thirteen billion years this universe has been going but some how people think this was all done for homo sapiens which have been around less than 200 thousand years. If you are reading this it means that you are a member of the most capable native species on this planet. Big deal. What does it mean that we were made in god’s image. Does that mean he looks human? What would be the point for god to look like man when the human form was designed (by evolution) to work best on this planet? Grow up! Face the fact that we are just one of the species on this planet. We’re the smartest so it is our responsibility to protect the environment, protect our species against anything that poses a risk including asteroids, comets and disease. We have the potential to protect our selves. Wouldn’t it be a shame if millions of people die because of some superstitious religious beliefs. Wouldn’t it be a shame if our species becomes extinct because we relied on some make believe god. I reiterate, GROW UP PEOPLE!

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By R. A. Earl, September 7, 2006 at 11:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re #22176,

Signed by,

“Robert L. Bufkin, Apostle of Jesus Christ”

It’s so sad. Robert is clearly mad. I guess fasting for 43 days will do that to a person. I tried it for one day (1) and was delusional!

The susceptibility of the human mind to full acceptance of complete balderdash never ceases to amaze me.

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By Robert L. Bufkin, September 6, 2006 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jesus Christ was and is GOD manifest in the flesh. To create man, our God had only to speak. BUT to SAVE man, our God had to bleed. For the wages of sin is death. Jesus took the sins of the entire human race into his own body as he hung on that cross. His dead paid for all those sins. Jesus placed a value on every mortal ever born on earth by taking their sins. And by that one stroke of love he lifted the entire human race from the falleness of Adam.
I can prove that Jesus Christ is who he said he was, the I AM or God before Abraham. I can prove that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after 3 days and 3 nights. I can prove that Jesus Christ is alive right now.
After losing a wife and daughter to cancer, I fasted 43 days for the Gift of Healing against Cancer and Aids and the Lord Jesus gave it to me.
During the 6th week of that fast, the Lord Jesus appeared to me and gave the instructions: what cancer is and what to say to it and how the Gift of Healing works.

That was in October 1989. Since that time, I have ministered the Words of Salvation and Healing to thousands.
This Gift has emptied entire Aids wards in Kenya, East Africa. See my web site and read the Nurses letter. http://www.rlbm.org
Call or write for ministry if you have hiv or aids or cancer or epilepsy or seizures or other afflictions.
Thousands have been healed when I bind the spirit of sickness or affliction and command it to come out in the Name of Jesus Christ.
TRY it and see. I can prove Jesus Christ is alive today and is exactly who he said he was.
The opinions of modern scholars is totally void when it comes to Jesus Christ who is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, Immanuel, God with us, God manifest in the flesh.
The mind of man is the enemy of God. The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be.
Modern scholars think as carnal men. Jesus Christ is spritually discerned.
Call or Write and you too can be delivered. At this writing, a man with an untreatable affliction was delivered and dismissed from the hosital today…9/6/06. His doctors called his recovery a miracle for they had no treatment for it. I cast the devil of affliction out of him and it came out instantaly.
A man from Florida with a deadly disease that had killed many in Florida was instantly delivered. Two days later his symptoms had completely dried up and he was free of the afflictions.
Thousands have been delivered in Novgorod, Russia, Kenya, East Africa, All across Canada from coast to coast and the USA from coast to coast and in Mexico as well as other parts of the world.
Call or write for further information.
I challenge all Voo Doo and Witch Doctors, and Shamen and Medicine Men and Priests. I will give you half of any cancer or aids ward in the world that will allow ministry. If you people call the spirits of disease out and they come out and we can know it… I will serve your gods Voo Doo and et al.
BUT I will take the other half of aids or cancer victims by myself. IF I call the aids or cancer devils out and we can know it.. then you must all serve my God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
How about it.
Robert L. Bufkin, Apostle of Jesus Christ.

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By Rebecca Fransway, May 19, 2006 at 1:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you with this inspiring article on the historical Jesus. For the curious, particularly believers who reject the view that everything in the Bible is the infallible Word of God, there is a growing political and social action movement, Sojourners, that might be of interest—

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm

Best,

Rebecca Fransway

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By Willis, April 19, 2006 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have read the Bible about 5 times and I do not claim to be an expert. I have also read the Koran. I was brought up as a Baptist, but as a teenager and adult I have not attend church more than 5 times within one year. I do not claim any denomination and I have respect for all religion resulting from Abraham and others that are truly based on love. From my reading and discussions with others I have came to the following understing in my lifes jouney to do the will of GOD.

Is Jesus GOD?

The answer is yes & no.

A man came up to Jesus and said “Good Teacher” and Jesus said “why do you call me Good only God is Good”. Mark 10:17.

When ask about the end of the world Jesus said he didn’t know only the Father knows Matthew 24:36.

Matthew 12:27. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

Jesus also said that the Father was in him and he was in the Father.

Jesus also said that he was in his apostles and his apostles was in him.

Jesus also said who are my mother and my brothers? He said that those who do the will of God is his mother and his brothers.Matthew 12:48

Conclusion: It would seem to me that in the phyical sense that Jesus was not God and in the mental sense it would seem to me that Jesus was the son of God because he did what God wanted him to do. Therefore as long as he did the will of GOD, God was in him and he was in God and oneday we will also if we can live up to the example of love that Jesus showed us.

I believe that we get too hung up on rituals and differences among various denominations and religions.

In the bible there is a story of a father asking his two sons to go to work in the vineyard Matthew 21:28. The first son said no but actually plowed the field and the second son said yes but did not plow the field. Jesus asked which one obeyed his father and they answer the first son.

I referrence this story to make a point that I believe that if you do the will of God in loving your neighbor your actions and deeds are like the first Son obeying his father, by deeds and not words therfore even though some people may not say they believe in God or have varying religous beliefs, there deeds are actually showing that they are doing the will of God and thus believe in God.

There is also a question about which is the greatest commandments Matthew 22:37, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

In summary: I belive that if the world follows these two commandments then the world will be a better place and we all will eventually be within God and God will be within us. The religion is only a tool to help us follow the main purpose or will of GOD. In the beinging there was no religion there was only God and from the worship of God sprung religion because we did not do the right things so religion came about to help us do the will of God and can be seen in varying religions in the two commandments mentioned above.

The World was created out of Love from GOD and those who live their life based on Love, I belive will return to GOD. Jesus was a living example of the Love of God and the Ten commandments were a written example of the love of GOD.

I know I have much more to learn but so far this is where I am at in understanding the will of God.

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By Jon Temple, April 12, 2006 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I always get stupified in the blind believing of the New testament as anything but a Novel. But, if one wants to believe in impossible myths like the Greek and Roman Gods that would be fine with me.

The problem is how this novel has been used to murder so many thousands of innocent people, keep people ignorant out of fear and allow millions to bwe manipulated by having those few who had all of th e political and financial power to think that suffering is good, but don’t worry, when you die, you will see rewards.

That with the invention of The Devil which is simply as way for those in power to deal with original thought, debate, social change, ethics, questions, creativity and the rise of the Human Spirit.

That heaven and hell bit is the most childish thinking that has permeated Western Culture. There is a reason why people were not allowed to read or write.

I am not going to get into how Chrsitianity was invented as a religion over 300 years after the death of a Jew. Therer were approvimately 50,000 to 100,000 Jews crucified by the Romans during the time when Jesus was supposed to have lived. In the brutality of Rome’s reighn, anyone who would gather a crowd, show any type of remarks, atitudes or practice of Judaism would be crucified.

This did lead up to the destruction of the Temple.

This is the bottom line, any religion, spiritual thought, philosophy that splits people apart is immoral, invalid, unethical and simply man’s attempt to exploit others. Like any cult.

Thoughts that unite ALL mankind, see all pepole as brothers and sistersd, don’t focus on we are right and they are wrong,  and unify, respect and focus on the betterment of all mankind and strengthen the common good if mankind are valid thought.

For the life of me, I can never understand why Christians never criticise all those of look to steal money and hope from people from the Sunday Morning TV “car salesman”, who tell people that sending money to them will go directly to God.
The 700 club and the hatred they invoke.

I’m embarresed as a fellow human for this travesty, do Chrsitians like to be represented and have money stolen from them in the name of Jesus and do nothing ?

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By CHARLES CARTER, March 19, 2006 at 9:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

REV.,YOU’RE RIGHT ON TRACK.I APPLAUDE YOU FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH.JESUS WAS CREATED INTO A GOD,AT ...THE COUNCIL OF NICEA.THE ROMAN WAS SUN WORSHIPPERS.ALL OF THEIR GODS WERE SAVIOR GODS—APPOLO,MITHRA,I PRAISE YOU FOR PROBING BACK INTO HISTORY SEEKING THE TRUTH…I HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING CHRISTIANTY FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS….OUR MINISTERS ARE WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE…FOLLOWING THE EUROPEANS DOCTRINE OF RELIGION…WITHOUT RESEARCHING THEIR COLLEGES TEACHINGS,TAKING THE STORY ON FAITH…REV RESEARCH THE WEDDING VOWS ALSO,YOU’LL FIND THAT THEY ARE FROM PAGAN DRUIDS.800 B.C..BRIDEGROOM AND BRIDEMAIDS WAS TO WARD OFF EVIL SPIRITS’‘'WHY IS RING WORN ON LEFT HAND AND SECOND FINGER…ALLL PAGAN..THE COLOR WHITE IS BECOS OF QUEENS.

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By John m Sandoval, March 17, 2006 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is rather long, but it explains the fallacies of the Yahweh-God-Jehovah religion.
^^^^^^^^^^
          “ The Seven Stars ”            ( 1,282 words )

In the beginning; it was the word “Yahweh” with the “H” as in Yhwh as in Abrah’am, Yahweh’, Judah’, Noah’ and Jehovah,’ Isaiah’ and Jeremiah’ etc, - where ever you see the silent “H” in the spelling. The word was so Holy, that its “H” pronunciation was prohibited, because it was divination, like God. 
The Holy Bible – John chap 1 verse 1 says; In the beginning it was the word, and the word was “like God” and the word “was God.” unquote!
Ancients believed that “Spirits” of Kings and Pharaohs became stars, when they died. (therefore)
We also have the original - catch 22
    Revelations chapter 22 verse 16 says; I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things, in the churches; I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star. unquote Jesus Christ says; I am the bright, the morning star.
The Morning Star appears summer and fall, for nine months, on the horizon at 5 or 6 AM a few minutes before Sunrise – The Morning Star is not Jesus, it is not a star at all - it is the “Planet Venus.” (visible to the naked eye).
    Exodus chapter 15 verse 3 says; God is a man of War, “the Lord” is his name. unquote!  There is no proof anywhere, that Christianity or any other religion, has ever brought Peace Comfort, and Tranquility, to any place on Earth.
The Pyramids of Giza are positioned as the position of the three stars of Orion’s belt (were positioned) at that time. Since then Religions are based on Astrology and Astronomy. Facts are distorted by doctrines of false religions. Amos chap 5 verse 8 says; The Seven Stars of “Orion” also named Betelgeuse. ( Jews )
Revelations chapter 1 verse 20 says; The seven stars of Orion, are the Angels of the seven churches. Unquote! The seven churches of God, are in Asia Minor; “Smyrna” is the First – it is in Turkey - followed by six more churches. Revelations chapter 1 verse 11 says; The Seven Churches are; Ephesus, and Smyrna the first, and Pergamus, and thyatira, and Sardis, and Philadelphia, and Ladocea. Smyrna, the First, such as; The First Baptist Church, or The First Methodist Church, or The First Church of Christ, or The First Christian Church, or The First Presbiterian church, or The First anything Church. With the same ideology, we have; The First National Bank and The First State Bank and The First Bank of Commerce and The First Bank of America or The First anything Bank. All because Banks and Churches are about money, and Religions, are used as catalysts, for fomenting the creation of profitable Wars.
Exodus chapter 15 verse 3 says; God is a man of War, “The Lord” is his name.
Ecclesiestes chapter 10 verse 19 says; A feast is made for laughter, wine to make merry; but “money” is the answer to all things.
Revelations chapter 1 verse 4 says; John; to the seven churches which are in Asia; grace be unto you and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the “Seven Spirits” which are before his throne. (The Seven Stars of Orion) ref. Webster, Seventh Heaven.
Revelations chapter 1 verse 20 says; The seven stars (of Orion) are the angels of the “seven churches.” unquote!  The “seven churches” in Asia Minor, which are in “South Asia” are listed, in Revelations chapter 1 verse 11 - they are – Smyrna the First, and Ephesus, and Pergamus and Thyatira and Sardis and Philadelphia and Ladocea.
The bible says; The Seven Stars are the seven eyes, which are the “Seven Spirits of God” - the Seven stars of “Orion” are the Spirits of the Seven churches, which are in Asia. (Asia Minor)
Hebrews gathered “The Treasures of Zion” for the Financial Control, of “All Nations on Earth.”  ( The Federal Reserve Board, The World Bank – Central Bank (the IMF )
    Deuteronomy chapter 15 verse 6 says; Thou shall lend money to all Nations and never borrow from them, thou shall reign over them, but they shall not reign over thee. (Israel) 
  Isaiah chap 44 verse 10 says; Who? Hath formed a God, or molten a graven image (of a god) that is profitable for nothing? 
For what other purpose?  did King David create,  “The Treasures of Zion.” 
Perhaps; the entire Universe itself, is God. As Nature, can be the very “Essence of God.”
Faith!  Is believing in something, totally devoid, of any proof, whatsoever!
Once we establish a mindset to a religious belief – we have Faith! (with no proof whatsoever)
It is clear, that the bible erroneously claims, that the Seven Stars in the constellation of “Orion” are the Seven Spirits, of the Seven Churches. It is also clear, that the origin of such a religious deity began with the beatification of Nimrod-Gilgamesh who became Baal the Sun God, in Babylon. Nimrod was placed among the stars as the constellation of “Orion” The Hunter.
Nimrod married his mother to become King and preached that there was no such thing as Yahweh-God-Jehovah. His wife/mother named Semiramis, declared herself a Goddess and was worshipped by the Jews as “The Queen of Heaven.” (also known as “Ishtar” the origin of Easter) After Nimrod’s death and beatification, she had an illegitimate son she named “Tammuz” who was also beatified and worshipped by the Jewish people in Jerusalem.  ref. Ezekiel chapter 8 verse 14 – 15 – 16. Worshipped in an era in which Jews renounced belief, in Yahweh-God-Jehovah. To begin, and believe, one must believe in Angels - if you do?  Be advised; Pharisaic Jews do not believe in Angels and they do not believe in the hereafter.  They sanctimoniously practice the applications of law, on Gentiles, but conspicuously hold themselves above and beyond any applications of the law. The “English Puritans” do not believe in worshipping stars and planets as being Godly. Therefore; they refuse the Jewish doctrine of “The Seven Stars of Orion.” There are people who hold themselves to be Jews and are certainly not Jews. The bible says; beware of those who say they are Jews and are not Jews (for they cannot be trusted). Today we have millions of modern, reformed Jews who have no personal ambition to conquer and dominate and financially control, all the world’s Nations. (The New World Order – one ruler, one religion)  The word “Ibru” means “slave” in Egyptian; from there the word – “Hebrew.”
By the grace of God - all Jews are not, Ultra Nationalist, conservative, fanatical Jews/Hebrews.
Strange as it may seem – we have people that are Jews, and do not realize, that they are also Jews.
All Jews are not affluent and rich, they work, strive, play and pray, as we all do.
We can not “credit or blame” anything nor anybody for our individual Success or Failure. We are the sole possessors of our own Spirit and “we create” our own destiny, with our own decisions.
    Ecclesiestes chapter 7 verse 12 says; Wisdom and money is a defense; but the excellence of
“ knowledge ” is that Wisdom, gives more life to those that have it.
Whether or not one believes in the Jewish religious deity of “The Seven Stars of Orion” is a matter of conscience, a purely personal decision. (based on your personal religious mindset)
Religious convictions being a very personal matter, I wish all well - conscience be your guide - but now you know the truth; Abraham believed in intimidation, supposedly from his ferocious   Yahweh-God-Jehovah - a God that exempts himself from his own rules. END
Contribution by - John M Sandoval 185 Kona dr. Bastrop Texas 78602   (512) 321 1885

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By Resident Pedant, March 17, 2006 at 9:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE: Comment #4542 by JMark

This comment has a number of useful points, but contains one common misconception (pardon the pun) that I cannot resist dispelling.  The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception does not refer to Jesus’ conception in Mary’s womb, but in fact to Mary’s own conception leading to her birth.  The Virgin Birth is the doctrine to which JMark intends to refer, or else to Mary’s title “Blessed Virgin.”

According to orthodox Christian theology, to freely assent her faith and become the mother of the Saviour, Mary had to be enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.  The Angel Gabriel at the moment of the Annunciation, for instance, salutes her as “full of grace.”  [Although, it is not entirely clear to me whether Jesus’ Incarnation was immediately after, simultaneous with, or immediately before the Annunciation of the coming birth by the Angel Gabriel.]

Through the centuries the Roman Catholic Church has become ever more insistent that for Mary to be “full of grace” it was necessary that she be redeemed from the moment of her conception.  Remember that St John the Baptist though conceived had not yet been born; so Baptism was not an available path to such a state of grace. 

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, and it holds that Mary was preserved immune from all stain of Original Sin from the first moment of her conception by a singular grace and privilege of God.

[source: English translation of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, ]http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/]

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By A.A. Murphy, March 15, 2006 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
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What puzzles me is that intelligent people bother with this nonsense in the first place. It’s obvious that religious explanations for human existence are bogus and irrelevant. So why agonize over who did and said what?

Humanity must wean itself of religion before it destroys us. And we don’t have much time left to do it. The crazy Islamic fundies soon will acquire nuclear weapons, and they all seem eager to meet Allah anyway.

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By Joe Keysor, March 11, 2006 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment
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The author said :Traditional, liberal and even progressive elements in the religion don’t even have an oar in the water when it comes to resisting the overwhelming current that is fundamentalism. This is true in Islam as well as in Christianity.

The overwhelming current of fundamentalism? What planet is he living on? Someplace where gays stay in the closet, women stay at home, pornography is illegal, and the fundamentalists rule society? We all know how the overwhelming current of fundamentalism rushes on like a mighty river, sweeping away all opposition before it.

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By R. A. Earl, March 7, 2006 at 10:22 pm Link to this comment
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JMark in #4542 wrote: “This “dig” is rather cursory and incomplete.”

Really, Mark? Duh.

The ENTIRE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY as is reiterated ad nauseum today cannot possibly be anything but a “cursory and incomplete” tale. There’s likely no other collection of codswallop that has been so edited, expurgated, expunged, censored, altered, sanitized and outright falsified, as what is contained in today’s Bible.

I’m informed that in Islam, the only Koran which is recognized as the real, legitimate version is the original written in Arabic. NONE of the translations is recognized to be the authentic Koran… only the original is.

But the Bible? EVERY version is considered the WORD OF GOD as far as I know. Bizarre!

My apologies to “scholars” and theologians if I have offended. I have no doubt that most of you have dedicated your lives to honest, tedious and painstaking examination of the historical documents, even tablets. I have no doubt you fervently and profoundly believe what you tell us. And I have no doubt that you dismiss my protestations as those of a raving ignoramus. Ok with me! Because…

There’s one small problem.

The foundation of ALL YOUR WORK rests in the deepest pool of intellectual quicksand on the planet. You were not there, so right off the bat you have NO DIRECT KNOWLEDGE OF ANY OF IT.

You do NOT have either the ORIGINAL documents NOR complete texts to study. You have nothing but theories - no LEGITIMATE EVIDENCE whatsoever - from which you draw conclusions. Everything you’ve ever read and studied is incomplete and contradictory hearsay and unsupportable assumption copied from notions that have been translated and tampered with for centuries.

The absolute BEST you can offer is an educated GUESS. You have accomplished nothing more than a reworking of the notions of those who’ve gone before who were doing the same thing with the same material. What an awful waste of time. What nonsense.

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By Bryan, March 3, 2006 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
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Roslan said: “Jesus never stated that he was God. All of his statements pointing to the fact that there is a God that even Jesus prayed to. Why would God prayed to himself? What kind of logic is that?”

Just because Jesus never claimed to be “God” does not mean that Jesus never claimed divinity. Jesus is recorded numerously as claiming a deity status. Any one who can not distinguish the difference is either completely clueless to Christian theology or is participating in blatant theological propaganda.

Jesus continually claimed equality with God…

“Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me’.” Mathew

“I do not pray for the world but for the ones you (God) have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine.” John

Claiming equally to God is claiming to be God, which is why it is total blasphemy to a Jew. After all, this is why Jews where in support of killing him, remember he was tried for blasphemy.

During the trial this was said…

“If you are the Messiah, tell us,” but (Jesus) replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond.  But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  They all asked, ” Are you then the Son of God?”  He replied to them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony?  We have heard it from his own mouth… Mathew, Mark and Luke.

That doesn’t sound like a diniely of divinity to me?

Jesus continually claimed the power to forgive sin.

“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”—he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up you mat, and go home.”

And on and on and on. This is just the beginning and it doesn’t ever scratch the surface to Jesus’s claim to divinity. To claim Jesus did not claim divinity is the most absurd lie that I keep hearing being circulated.

So why did Jesus never blatently say the words “I am God”? The answer is very simple.

Raymond Brown put it this way: “In the earliest stage of Christianity the Old Testament heritage dominated the use of the title ‘God’; hence ‘God’ was a title too narrow to be applied to Jesus. It referred strictly to the Father of Jesus, to the God whom he prayed. Gradually (in the 50s and 60s?), in the development of Christian thought, ‘God’ was understood to be a broader term. It was seen that God had revealed so much of Himself in Jesus that ‘God’ had to be able to include both Father and Son.”

Roslan even your first claim about the ideal that Jesus was God being created in 325 A.D. is rubbish as well.

“Studies by New Testament scholars such as Martin Hengel of Tubingen University, C. F. D. Moule of Cambridge, and others have proved that within twenty years of the crucifixion a full-blown Christology proclaiming Jesus as God incarnate existed. “ William Craig

My quick find sources where well supported with multiple secondary sources

http://people.ucsc.edu/~mgrivich/J
esusClaimedToBeEqualToYahweh.htm
http://www.tektonics.org/
jesusclaims/jesusclaimshub.html

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By JMark, March 3, 2006 at 8:40 am Link to this comment
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This “dig” is rather cursory and incomplete.  There is no mention of the touted Essene connection and the possibility that Jesus sought to fulfill Jewish prophecy.  There is not indication he may well have been viewed as Siccari, a term for armed insurrectionists as described later by Josephus derived from a Jewish word describing the swords they carried.  There is also no discussion of the notion that the Jewish world did come to an end with the requisite destruction of the temple as a result of the two Jewish revolts.  What Jews survived the well-documented slaughter, or escaped, migrated to Egypt, Somalia and beyond.  The most significant historical figure of the period is James, called James the Just, and said to be the brother of Jesus.  James was indeed the historical leader of the Jerusalem Church, backed by the biblical narrative.  Church doctors subsequently devised the sibling contradiction with the Immaculate Conception solution as James being the son of Joseph from a prior marriage.

The notion that Jesus was crucified for calling himself King of the Jews is somewhat contradicted by the biblical narrative when Pilate immediately shows interest when Jesus admits he is a Galilean.  In that time the term Galilean was synonymous with Siccari.  Jesus suffered the punishment of an insurrectionist as a result.  The biblical narrative even indicated he traveled with armed men who might well lop of an ear if you grabbed the leader. 

The development of Christianity during the Ante-Nicene period is grossly overlooked.  This roughly three-century period was rife with controversy and disagreement between the successive leaders of the seven churches.  It fails to describe the all but missing Jerusalem Church after the second Jewish revolt and the mystic/Gnostic/Coptic developments in the very powerful Church of Alexandria – a location where most surviving Jews immigrated.  A place where earlier in the era, the seventy Jewish scholars miraculously created identical Septuagints that we now know as the Old Testament. 

There is no discussion of James the Just in his historical significance or mention that the mysterious, short-lived character Stephen dies an identical death to what actually happened to James.  The Gospel of Luke, that is most Pauline of the Gospels and brings Stephen into focus, is also indicated by some biblical scholars to be an incomplete document.  The charge is that a middle part is missing that might well have described the conflict between the traveling preacher Saul turned Paul and the leader of the Jewish-Christian church James the Just.  There has been a good deal of commentary also about the nature of the letters (epistles) written by Paul and chiding James’ upholding of the Jewish traditions in the new congregations.  The biblical narrative goes so far as to indicate that when Paul and a pal arrived in Jerusalem, he was made to serve penance by James.  This was a religious punishment of significance.  What did Paul do wrong?

There is no clarification that Christian “canon’ was actually voted on in 365 at the Council of Nicea.  Such ecumenical councils were common among the original seven church congregations in an attempt to establish a uniformity and punish those who endorsed the newly developing heresies.  There are historical references from attendees of the council that are referenced in historical studies indicating the Book of Revelation almost didn’t make the cut.  Men voted on Christian canon in direct response to the developments within the Ante-Nicene period.  Historians also indicate there was an original Gospel of Matthew that was written in Aramaic and carried by the earliest disciples and “interpreted as best they could”.

Then, the development of doctrine and dogma that would follow from the great doctors of the Church of Rome, of which much more information is available via Tixront, makes the head spin.

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By Roslan, February 28, 2006 at 7:40 am Link to this comment
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To those who continue to believe that Jesus is God, you will be surprised that the deitification of Jesus was decided by a group of men (under watchdog of pagan King Constantine) and enforced via bribe, intimidation and ‘vote’ during the 325 AD Council of Nicaea. Prior to the event, the Christian population were divided between Arius and gangster leader Athanasius. Arius was of the view that Jesus was only a mortal man ie prophet while Athanasius was seeking the view that Jesus was God. The self serving Constantine pushed his own political agenda to get Athanasius view to be adopted because of the centralized control that priest hold with the Athanasius view.

Jesus never stated that he was God. All of of his statements pointing to the fact that there is a God that even Jesus prayed to. Why would God prayed to himself? What kind of logic is that?

An interesting book in this topic was published under the title “When Jesus Became God” by Rubenstien.

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By Roy Oetting, February 26, 2006 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
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The truth is there is no need for a progressive Christian movement. There is a need to dissolve the gods and put the burden on mankind. We are the superior species on this planet and it is time for us to grow up and take responsibility for this planet and all the people on it. We could do such amazing things.

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By William, February 21, 2006 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #3479 by Jerry on 2/10 at 1:02 pm

> Please remove that picture of Jesus.  Jesus
> s not a White European. Anthropologist say he
> had dark skin, dark short curly hair, low
> slanted forehead and large jaw.

That is about as real as he was a green alien given that he never existed.

Yes, given the location and time that he was suposed to live in he would most likely not look like a White European, but I guess since he didn’t have a father we don’t really know how his DNA was constructed.  He probably looked however God wanted him to look and God seems to like white Europeans these days, so why not.

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By tharpa, February 13, 2006 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment
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Pankaj: I really appreciate your posts. I found on your website that most links didn’t work. Pity.

I find it interesting: some Christians are extremely proud of their tradition because it, as for example the great G.K. Chesterston pointed out, uses an incredibly powerful story of a god that is human. Chesterton likes to say that no other religion taps into such a human level of storytelling. That oriental traditions, for example, are simply fatalistic and disengaged, regarding the world as a messy, unworkable quagmire. They are fatatalistic and impersonal because of the law of karma, for example, which is a sort of mechanical view of reality devoid of personality, emotion, colour.

This is interesting, because I happen to suspect that the reason that the monotheistic religions are so often involved in rather serious conflict - or blood vendettas basically - and also that their cultures have given birth to the ‘modern scientific’ age, relates to some of what you were pointing out, namely the separation of Creation and Creator. This separation works on the level of story as something to populate a perceptual landscape, something one can journey through and in so doing, it evolves. But the same mind that has given birth to ‘scientific, objective’ reality, a truth that never changes, a being that never dances, a fixed ontology anchored in precisely defined epistemological chains of (usually latin-derived) concept, that same mind has frozen the notion of God or reality to the point where it insists that its particular version is the only one, the unchanging truth, so that all other versions are false.

So scientific and monotheistic definitions of ‘the One true Deity’ are remarkably similar in functional terms, seeing as they all come back to saying, essentially:“there can be only one reality.” This is the dark power of the Sauron’s One Ring to Bind them all in Tolkein’s fantastic myth.

Anyway, all this a clunky way of ruminating on what you posted about symbol. If only more monotheistic adherents could truly appreciate their tradition as a story, not the truth, how much more penetrating the truth of those stories would be!!

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By Jerry, February 10, 2006 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment
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Please remove that picture of Jesus.  Jesus was not a White European. Anthropologist say he had dark skin, dark short curly hair, low slanted forehead and large jaw.

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By Elwood, February 2, 2006 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
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The best book I can recommend that covers the life and teachings of Jesus is “The Urantia Book”

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By Pankaj Seth, January 31, 2006 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
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Zack points out, in comment # 126: “Then comes the real shock. Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else.”

The notion of a creator standing outside His creation is a metaphysical stance, and one that Yoga considers to be an error, if it is considered to be the whole truth. Why? Because it doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Thinking is not as near an approach as meditation. Also, Zack commits a blunder when he says that Indians are Pantheists… this is a commonly held misconception by persons unschooled in things Indian, and unfamiliar with the concept of “Samadhi”, much less the experience of Samadhi… more below.


The first 4 stanzas of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (India, 200 CE)

1. Now, an exposition on Yoga.
2. The aim of Yoga is the complete cessation of mental fluctuations.
3. Then, the Seer stands in its own form.
4. Otherwise, there is conformity with the flux.

Meditation in the Yogic tradition works like this: Expand self-experience from the gross to the subtle. One starts with breath, moves to Prana and then to Samadhi.

Breath
Sucking breath in is not the same as making room and gently drawing in, exactly to where its ebb and flow is desired, beyond the obvious yet misleading fact of its confinement in the lungs. In doing this, the effective flow of breath conjoins with the body-wide flow of Prana. Prana, the subtle and not-yet-become ordinary reality/solidity of things. Pra-na: before-breath; that which is prior to breath—subtle, but sensible and knowable—and amenable to conscious control. Once the mental chatter has been quelled, what was always hidden underneath becomes visible.

Pra-na-yama: before-breath-observance
In attending to the flow of Prana its dynamical movements may be directly known. Just like ordinary breath, it can be wild or calm, diffuse or sharply focused. In learning to order its flow there is the attendant and resonant effect on deeper mental content—a further quelling of the torrent become a stream, become a trickle.


Sama-dhi: same-seeing
Now, drop by drop comes the trickle. WHAT IS, is between the drops, unmodified, primary, supporting and containing all. To the eyes it looks like empty space, or maybe the light that illumines all. To the ears it sounds like silence, or maybe the sound that contains all vowels and consonants—the backdrop hum of the worlds. But what is it to itself—THAT which is sensorily and conceptually distant, but existentially intimate. Then, Samadhi—what looks and what’s seen become ONE. THAT knows itself as only THAT can… but here, the Yogin is THAT too.


Samadhi is not enough
The inquiry into self and world might lead only to intellectualism. But perhaps, it might move one towards deeper experiences of self and world, towards alternate measurements of self and world via the meditative methods of Yoga. The experiences unfolding from the practise of Yoga may or may not significantly impact on the person’s outlook and worldview. Even after deep Yogic experiences, there is still pending the all important process of reifying experience into one’s conceptualizations of self and world. If a person falls into metaphysical conundrums while trying to make sense of it all, then the process of self-discovery becomes stalled; a confusion, a fanatical outlook, or even a psychosis may result. This is why such a high premium is placed on a capable guide, who himself has travelled the further road.

Non-duality can be experienced, and when this happens in meditation then the dualistic formula of The Creator standing outside of His creation gives way to a deeper truth. Then, the naive assumption of a fundamental divide between Creator and creature is seen through. However, if the mind has not been made ready for this, if the original dualist metaphysical stance still persists, then there is confusion and inner conflict. Persons who somehow open to this experience while still embedded in a dualist stance of Creator-creature do not move ahead smoothly.

So, to utter “I am God” (so to speak) is precisely the aim in Yoga. This must come because of a conscious, experiential knowing, called in Yoga “Samadhi”, and not merely due to a clever mental calculus. While what Jesus says may be shocking to many, but in India it is considered that all persons must move towards uttering the same. This however is considered heresy elsewhere. You can either stay on your knees, covered in “original sin”... or, seek the deepest self-experience and knowledge possible, and then see what happens.

Not everyone understands this, nor is ready for this. But still, that is the aim of Yoga. So, when Zack says that Indians are pantheists, he is way, way off the mark. Non-dualism would be a more accurate label.


Finally, from Heinrich Zimmer in “Philosophies of India”:
“We of the Occident are about to arrive at a crossroads that was reached by the thinkers of India some seven hundred years before Christ. This is the real reason why we become both vexed and stimulated, uneasy yet interested, when confronted with the concepts and images of Oriental wisdom. This crossing is one to which the people of all civilizations come in the typical course of the development of their capacity and requirement for religious experience, and India’s teachings force us to realize what its problems are. But we cannot take over the Indian solutions. We must enter the new period our own way and solve its questions for ourselves…”


BTW, there is more on this, on my website… look for “Deep Yoga” once there.

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By Kevin, January 30, 2006 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment
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Reply to Omarius #140:  I don’t know what you’re trying to prove, Omarius, but most of those old testament laws do not apply to us today.  Slavery back then was not what you are thinking it is like we had in the United States.  Servants were paid and given places to live.  They were treated a lot better.  It was like a job.  Women were given away in arranged marriages or marriages that were paid with a dowry back then.  Some of the rules were given by God to protect His people.  The rule about not having intercourse with your spouse while she is on her period is to protect them from infection and disease.  These bond servants had rights.  That was what the rules pertained to.  Many times people would go bankrupt and become a bond servant to pay off their “master.” 
  Working on the Sabbath?  These were rules for Jews, the chosen people of God.  It’s good to take a day off of work, and even better to have everyone have it on the same day.  It makes getting together a lot easier.  We don’t follow these Old Testament rules except the ones that Jesus said to follow.  Basically the first two of the Ten Commandments and others that He spoke of and ones that He acted out.  You are misinterpreting when you speak of homosexuality and shellfish.  You cannot compare the verses.  If you look closer, you will see that it says you are to detest eating the shellfish and the other verse says that homosexuality IS detestable.  Do you see the difference?  One is for protection from the unhealthy, and one is unnatural, unhealthy, and an abomination to God. Leviticus 21:20—-  Do you approach THE altar of God in THE temple?  Are you a Levite priest?  This is one of the rules given to a Levite priest because they would actually be in the presence of God in the Holy Temple.  This obviously does not apply to you.  All of these other examples from LEVITicus are for the Levite clan.  They did not have the farming techniques we have today.  They didn’t have the chemicals and the knowledge of rotating crops like your uncle does.  Blaspheming is a little more than using God’s name in vain.  You’re uncle is lucky if he is blaspheming that he is not Jewish and living back then. 
  Let’s do our research and use common sense before we post nonsense please.  You’re just adding to the degenerate state of many people’s intellect. We have basically two rules to follow: Love God, and love your neighbor.  If love means correction, punishment, or judement, then so be it.

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By R. A. Earl, January 30, 2006 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment
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Re omarius’ posting of humor in #140…

This was even funnier when I read it in response to one of Dr. Laura’s tirades a few years ago.

BTW, where is Dr. Laura? You’d think by now she’d be heading up the CIA or at least be one of GWB’s chief advisors.

But this forum is about Jesus. I’m no biblical scholar but I’m reasonably certain Jesus had nothing to do with the nonsense written in Leviticus.

But it sure demonstrates how the latter-day Christians cherry pick their marching orders, applying common sense only when it pleases their “groupthink.” I just love listening to them fluster and stutter their equivocations when challenged as to why they’ve discontinued stoning people for getting their hair cut but continue to “abominate” gays and lesbians for loving!

Even the mythical Jesus had more brains than today’s religiousright wingnuts.

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By Pankaj Seth, January 30, 2006 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment
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A foundational Yoga text, ” The Yoga Vasistha” (India, 500 CE) says “The world is an impression left by the telling of a story.”

For our modern, globalized world, there is a pressing need for a universalizing mythology (story, narrative) which compassionately connects all peoples in their common humanity and indeed all Nature beings in their common creatureliness. In trying to move past tribal mythologies which divide us we may meet certain obstacles along the way, and in the interview excerpts below, Joseph Campbell speaks on what the obstacles are and how we may meet their challenge. We choose and devise our narratives, so its up to us to make tolerance and compassion THE most important pillars of this new house that must be built. I would like to express my gratitude to leaders like The Rev. Madison Shockley for showing the way forward. I am also much heartened to read so many thoughtful comments by posters on Truthdig.com (and I too hope Kira comes back; she sees clearly the task ahead). Here are some thoughts left by Joseph Campbell that I think will be helpful for us in our task… from interview transcripts which I have collected.

——————

Tom: What does the term “transcendent” mean, in von Durckheim’s phrase, “transparent to the transcendent”?

Joseph: The simple meaning of the term is that which goes beyond all concepts and conceptualization, or that which lies beyond all conceptualization.

Tom: Where does this experience come from?

Joseph: Your life is your experience of transcendent energies because you don’t know where your life comes from, but you can experience them. We’re experiencing them right here, just by sitting on them and having them bubble up.

Tom: Are you using “transcendent” as another term for God?

Joseph: If you want to personify it. Brahman is the Sanskrit way of talking about it. Manitou is the Algonquin way, Orinda is the Iroquois, Owacan is the Sioux.

Tom: Jahweh?

Joseph: Jahweh is personified. He is it.

Tom: We can’t speak the name, though, because he is beyond ....

Joseph: Well, it ought to be, but we know all about him, or he’s told us all about himself and how we ought to behave. The basic mythological concept is transcendent of personification. Personification is a concession to human consciousness so that you can talk about these things.

——————-

Tom: Heinrich Zimmer said “The best truths cannot be spoken. . . “

Joseph: “And the second best are misunderstood.”

Tom: Then you added something to that.

Joseph: The third best is the usual conversation - science, history, sociology.

Tom: Why do people confuse these?

Joseph: Because the imagery that has to be used in order to tell what can’t be told, symbolic imagery, is then understood or interpreted not symbolically but factually, empirically. It’s a natural thing, but that’s the whole problem with Western religion. All of the symbols are interpreted as if they were historical references. They’re not. And if they are, then so what?

Tom: Let’s go carefully here. What are you calling a symbol?

Joseph: I’m calling a symbol a sign that points past itself to a ground of meaning and being that is one with the consciousness of the beholder. What you’re learning in myth is about yourself as part of the being of the world. If it talks not about you, finally, but about something out there, then it’s short. There’s that wonderful phase I got from Karlfried Graf Durkheim, “transparency to the transcendent.” If a deity blocks off transcendency, cuts you short of it by stopping at himself, he turns you into a worshipper and a devotee, and he hasn’t opened the mystery of your own being.

Tom: You once called that the pathology of theology.

Joseph: That’s what I would call it.

Tom: Walter Huston Clark says the church is like a vaccination against the real thing.

Joseph: Jung says religion is a defense against the experience of god. I say our religions are.

——————-

Mishlove: You point out in your most recent book, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, that we’re coming to a period in time where our society is becoming global—that we can’t think of ourselves as a group of competing tribes any longer.

Campbell: This is a crucial problem today. Every mythology—and by mythology I include religions—every religion has grown up within a certain social order. And today these social orders have come into collision with each other. All you have to do is look at what’s going on in the Near East now, and it’s a horror. There are the three major monotheistic religions of the world, creating havoc. I’ve been in Beirut; it was once a glorious, beautiful, darling little city, and now it’s just hell, because each of these units of religion thinks it has all the values on its side, and it doesn’t know how to open up and recognize those are human beings also.

Mishlove: Their particular god is the one god, but it’s the only one.

Campbell: We’ve given them three names, you know; you have Judaism, Christianity, and Islam there. They’re all right out of the same box. They can’t get on together.

Mishlove: So what you’re suggesting is that a lot of our social conflict results from the failure of the leaders of these communities to properly understand the role of their mythologies.

Campbell: The role of their mythology has been to support their society. And they’re hanging onto that. I think one could say there are two main types of mythology. There are mythologies like that of the Biblical tradition, which have to do with coordinating the individual into a group. He is a member of that group. He is baptized or circumcised or whatnot into that group. And that is his realm of compassion and sympathy, and aggression he projects outside of that group. There’s another kind of religion which grows out of the emotional life of the natural order. We are nature beings, after all, not members of a society primarily. Such religions as the Dionysian religions of ancient Greece; and Hinduism is full of this. And all the religions that have to do with meditation—they’re coming over here from the Orient.

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By omarius, January 29, 2006 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment
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excellent post, pankaj.

For people who believe the bible hasn’t ever been changed, and don’t seem to know about Constantine or Martin Luther doctoring it, here are some other interesting thoughts:

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev. 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.
Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22) . I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town
together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

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By Kevin, January 29, 2006 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
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——-We need to nurture voices such as yours which engage us with intelligence, reason, insight and enlightenment.——R.A. Earl Oh yeah, lots of enlightenment.  It’s all opinion with no logical basis whatsoever.  I think it is sad then when people lose arguments they give up and tear down others.  Some of you need to go back and hone your critical thinking skills.
  —converse with the religious robots of this world.—— I’m pretty sure I’ve proved my points without basing everything on religion.  It’s sad that intellectualism is scorned and many people think their opinions are right when they are proven to be wrong many times over on many levels.  I have not heard any more logical arguments from Kira or R.A. Earl.  I didn’t hear much since we started the conversations.  Now it’s just opinions on who I am, when they have no idea.  I could easily say the same thing about them.  They are not open-minded.  They don’t listen to REASON.  When you have something with substance, come back to the site and share.

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By Pankaj Seth, January 28, 2006 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment
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Grist for the mill

Its sometimes pleasant to think about the unthinkable. The physicist David Bohm once asked though—“If thought is only a part of the whole, can it ever contain the whole?”


Physicist Werner Heisenberg in Science and Philosophy: “Any concepts or words which have been formed in the past through the interplay between the world and ourselves are not really sharply defined with respect to their meaning: that is to say, we do not know exactly how far they will help us in finding our way in the world. We often know that they can be applied to a wide range of inner or outer experience, but we practically never know precisely the limits of their applicability. This is true even of the simplest and most general concepts like ‘existence’ and ‘space and time’. Therefore, it will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth.”

The first stanza of Patanjali’s yoga Sutra reads: “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha”; that is, “The aim of Yoga is the intentional stopping of the spontaneous fluctuations of mind/thought. Why? To address the problem so well described by Prof. Heisenberg above.


A Zen saying
Your concepts are a stake to which a donkey can be tethered for 10 million years.


Heinrich Zimmer in Philosophies of India: “According to the thinking and experience of India, the knowledge of changing things does not conduce to a realistic attitude for such things lack substantiality, they perish. Neither does it conduce to an idealistic outlook; for the inconsistencies of things in flux continually contradict and refute each other. Phenomenal forms are by nature delusory and fallacious. The one who rests on them will be disturbed. They are merely the particles of a vast universal illusion which is wrought by the magic of Self-forgetfulnesss, supported by ignorance, and carried forward by the deceived passions. Naive unawareness of the hidden truth of the Self is the primary cause of all the misplaced emphases, inappropriate attitudes, and consequent self-torments of this auto-intoxicated world.”

“There is obviously implicit in such an insight the basis for a transfer of all interest not only from the normal ends and means of people of the world, but also from the rites and dogmas of the religion of such deluded beings. The mythological creator, the Lord of the Universe, is no longer of interest. Only introverted awareness bent and driven to the depth of the subject’s own nature reaches the borderline where the transitory superimpositions meet their unchanging source.”

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By R. A. Earl, January 28, 2006 at 11:48 am Link to this comment
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Even though you and I have vastly different views about “God and Jesus” I’m sorry to lose your input, Kira. We need to nurture voices such as yours which engage us with intelligence, reason, insight and enlightenment.

However, I fully understand why you would choose not to waste another minute trying to converse with the religious robots of this world.

Luckily, the “Kevins” who lurk in these forums lack the skills to hide their fanaticism for long and soon display their profound ignorance which inevitably goes hand-in-hand with their complete absence of critical thinking abilities.

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By Kevin, January 28, 2006 at 8:18 am Link to this comment
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Reply to Kira #135:  Doing karma will do nothing for me but maybe calm me down.  Are you saying I have to DO something in order to reconcile?  That’s not what the Bible says, and that’s not what I believe.  That’s the whole point I was trying to make.  What about Kira’s ignorance?  She has no place to tell me that I cannot judge except for the fact that she doesn’t like it when I tell the truth and bring her back to reality.  You must be a child of another God than mine.  My God does not live in everyone.  Kira can’t argue her beliefs because there is no basis for them except for the ones she makes up in her mind.
——-You consider yourself to be on the level of Jesus, that you would walk around judging everyone as he did?—-
  I said nothing of the sort.  Am I able to judge as He did?  Yes.  Am I on the same level?  Not a chance.  Read your Bible again, no matter how many times you have already.  Read it literally without making any of your own interpretations to suit YOUR desires.  Stop putting God in a box.  Well, you apparently spend time with a different God. First you say that you think Jesus was just a man.  Now you say you believe in God and Jesus?  You can’t just be God’s divine daughter because you want to be.  That’s LUDICROUS!! 
——I do believe in God and Jesus (in a different light than you.)———————-      That’s just it.  You can’t believe in God and Jesus in a different light because we only have so much information on Him, and it is clear what we know about Him.
    Without judgement humankind would be in some serious problems and disillusionment. 
  YOU, KIRA, are the one who is “horribly mistaken.”  The Bible clearly states who will enter the Kingdom (children of God) and who will not.  I have a personal relationship with God, and I don’t need karma to find Him.

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By Kira, January 27, 2006 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment
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I am going to leave this website, Kevin, and never come back. Go ahead and post me back here if you want, but you will do it for your own self-satisfaction to have the last word, because I will not see it. I cannot argue my beliefs against someone who keeps coming up with ludicrous statements about them that aren’t even true. Your ignorance and statements in this forum will no doubt have to be worked out through lifetimes of karma.
You consider yourself to be on the level of Jesus, that you would walk around judging everyone as he did? My good friend, you are horribly mistaken. I am a child of God. I do believe in God and Jesus (in a different light than you.) My disbelief in the bible doesn’t rob me of being God’s divine daughter.
I will pray for your soul.

Kira

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By R. A. Earl, January 27, 2006 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment
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To I.M. #132…

We clearly aren’t in sync here…

You wrote:

“While it is very rare in antiquity that any work’s original documents exist, the authority of such a text can be tested by a comparison of the copies that have been made of the original through history…”

You can STOP right there. Unless you have the ORIGINAL neither you, nor anyone else, can be assured that the COPY is identical to the original, or “just a little bit changed” or has had parts deleted, added or re-worded to mean something entirely different. So to go forward with theories from that point can only be mired in ASSUMPTIONS. To argue that is a waste of time.

I don’t know why this is so difficult to understand. A COPY is NOT acceptable as PROOF of anything unless it’s CERTIFIED by an acceptable witness who has seen the original and attests to the FACT that the COPY is IDENTICAL to the ORIGINAL.

Working even from the oldest copies cannot possibly prove they’re the same as the originals. Suppose someone made a copy from the ORIGINAL and in the process, made changes. Then the original is lost and only the copies remain for later scholars to pour over. It doesn’t make any difference if ALL THE COPIES ARE IDENTICAL… there’s no proof they’re the same as the ORIGINAL, that’s just proof all the COPIES are identical to each other. So what?

Now if you still insist on accepting copies of copies of copies of translations of revisions of copies…etc., AS TRUE AND FAITHFUL COPIES of the ORIGINAL… then, that’s your bed. I find it far too lumpy to sleep in.

Then you offer: “The work which has the highest number of such manuscripts is the New Testament; over 20,000 copies of New Testament manuscripts are in existence today, 99% of which contain no significant differences.”

I’m sorry… I don’t accept that. If you can point me to the authoritative sources for your figures (the libraries where these “manuscripts” are physically housed will do), I’ll research your statements for myself and will report later.

And again, it wouldn’t make any difference to me if there were 20 million COPIES of manuscripts in existence… unless one of them is THE ORIGINAL… the actual one on which that the scribe with quill and ink etched his verbiage… then my view stands. A COPY is not acceptable unless you have the ORIGINAL with which to compare it.

That’s why ORIGINAL documents are required even today to obtain most passports or gain entrance to reputable schools and universities… there’s too much room for alterations to be made with no way to verify them.

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By Kevin, January 26, 2006 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment
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Reply to #131:  Hey now.  Do you think we would believe that the Bible is the same as it was just out of faith?  THE BIBLE TODAY MATCHES THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.  There is proof that it has not been changed.  You have no choice whether or not to believe that the Bible is historically correct because it is a plain fact that it is.

—-I don’t believe the original manuscripts even exist… so I don’t know what you’re talking about.——
    Wow.  R.A. Earl has some issues.  If I don’t believe you exist that makes me wrong.  YOU ARE WRONG.  Sounds pretty childish. 
  The accounts of the gospels do “jive”  They are the same stories told from different points of view, with different messages, and angles, and specific details. 
  ——Even if your sources are correct that the ORIGINAL manuscripts of those chapters CHOSEN to appear in the Bible by characters unknown to me were written in the period 20-50 years after Christ’s alleged “death,” this doesn’t mean the content hasn’t been extensively “diddled with” in each and every translation and revision since.—-
  Think before you write, please.  If you have the old version of something, and then OH, you have the new version, and they match, well gee, I guess they weren’t “diddled” with. 
  I thought this was a “grown-up” conversation.

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By I. M., January 26, 2006 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t necessarily “expect” you to accept the veracity of the New Testament, but I definitely hope and pray that you would.

While it is very rare in antiquity that any work’s original documents exist, the authority of such a text can be tested by a comparison of the copies that have been made of the original through history, with special attention paid to older copies. In this process of comparison, the more manuscripts, the better. Homer’s Iliad, of which no original remains, has been tested in this way. There are slightly less than 650 manuscripts containing sections of the Iliad, giving it the second most count of such manuscripts. The fact that the content of these documents differs only very slightly from copy to copy gives scholars confidence in the manuscripts’ faithfulness to the lost original. The work which has the highest number of such manuscripts is the New Testament; over 20,000 copies of New Testament manuscripts are in existence today, 99% of which contain no significant differences. Other accepted historical documents do not even approach such numbers. To give a quick example, the five (5) manuscripts of Aristotle’s peotics which exist today were copied almost 1400 years after the original was composed.

I’ve read the da Vinci Code. I know the stories about emporers and church authorities editing the Bible to suit their purposes. But they are just that, stories. In the real world, such flawless execution of such a grand conspiracy is not plausible, and more than that, not historical.

F. F. Bruce, the late Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, stated this: “And it was not only friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with; there were others less well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so.”

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By R. A. Earl, January 26, 2006 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
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To I. M. in #27…

Even if your sources are correct that the ORIGINAL manuscripts of those chapters CHOSEN to appear in the Bible by characters unknown to me were written in the period 20-50 years after Christ’s alleged “death,” this doesn’t mean the content hasn’t been extensively “diddled with” in each and every translation and revision since. I don’t believe the original manuscripts even exist… so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

In any event, the “diddling” that’s taken place over the past two millennia, unequivocally makes today’s Bible UNRELIABLE as “Word of God” or even as a secular recording of history.

I understand there’s NO EVIDENCE to support the assertion that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ACTUALLY EXISTED as individuals. Apparently there IS legitimate evidence that they didn’t, for example, that their alleged accounts of the exact same events don’t jive at all!

But then, “we” today can’t even agree that William Shakespeare actually wrote the stuff attributed to him. And there we’re dealing only with a few centuries!

Do you with a straight face actually expect us to accept that stuff written essentially anonymously 2,000 years ago, translated and revised dozens of times since, IS ACTUALLY HISTORICALLY CORRECT as it stands today?

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

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By john, January 26, 2006 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
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I think the gnostic, early christians (i believe) did not believe that the Christ did not exist in human form.

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By Kira, January 26, 2006 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
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To Mr. Earl,
Absolutely no apologies were needed. I obviously mistook your attitude of words and I’m grateful that you have clarified yourself.

To Zack, for your post… Thank you. That was very thought intriguing.

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By Kevin, January 26, 2006 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
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Reply to Kira #125:  I don’t know what kind of studies you did on the Bible, or what church you attended, but in your responses you sound ignorant of basic concepts and validity of the Bible’s manuscripts.  Have you read the latest?  #127?  You can take what you want from different sources to create your own beliefs, but logically you can’t.  I’m not telling you you can’t have those beliefs, but they are not logical.  The Bible is one piece.  You can’t pick and choose what feels good for you logically.  You are doing away with God in some aspects.  I may be somewhat unlearned in Yogananda, but apparently some of it must not make sense or make you feel good, because you have only chosen to believe some of it.  God is not in everyone.  He says who He is in in the Bible.  If I may ask, what made you leave the church.  You certainly were not a Christian if you left the faith.  Going to church and studying the Bible does not make you one.  You know this. 
—— “You have no right to tell me my opinion is wrong.”——-
  I don’t?  Maybe in your world of meditation I don’t.
  I am also not pushing my beliefs on anyone.  I am just presenting good information.  It’s not my fault that it makes sense, and that my beliefs follow logic.
  ——A lifetime of study has not led me to a place where I need to find out more about the Bible over the internet with someone who refuses to even respect me as another child of God.——
  Again, it just doesn’t sound like you’ve studied enough.  I respect you.  I don’t respect what you are saying about the Bible and who God is.  I’m just looking for good conversation on the subjects.  You know I can’t “respect you as a child of God.”  You would know this if you read your Bible.  A child of God is someone who accepts Jesus as God and repents of their sins.  You don’t accept Jesus as God.  You said so yourself. 
  Yogananda says that God is in everything?  If this is what it is saying, then Hitler had God in him?  All the people in jail for murder?  Correct me if I’m wrong on this.  That’s what I got from the Yogananda website.
  ——- How Christ-like of you, by the way, to do so.)—— Exactly.  You don’t think Jesus told people they were wrong?  Once again, it doesn’t sound like you’ve read the Bible.  He talked to the Pharisees all the time.  He corrected many.
  ——” My opinions are wrong for YOU, not ME.”—-  Well, one of us has to be wrong.  Everyone just can’t have their own opinions of what’s going on.  Well, you can, but not logically.  I’m going to go with ideas that are supported by ancient documents, coincides with science, and gives hope, and I don’t have to do anything.
  ——” I pray for your openmindedness”  Openmindedness?  How openminded do I have to be?  Just becuase I disagree with your opinions, does not make me not open-minded!!  I think you are just upset because you have no basis for your beliefs, and so when you try to argue for them, you are at a loss for words and so you attack my credibility. Please reread the Bible and get with a good church.

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By I. M., January 26, 2006 at 3:34 am Link to this comment
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All the talk of New Testament manuscripts being unrelaible is nonsense. In the realm of real historical scholarship, their reliability is largely unquestioned.

The common misperception that the New Testament manuscripts date back to the second century at the earliest stems largely from the work of one German text critic, F.C. Baur, who wrote during the 19th century.

William F. Albright, a leading 20th century biblical archaelogist, well-known for his authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, stated, “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80.”
Albright also wrote concerning the “myth” of Jesus: “Only modern scholars who lack both historical method and perspective can spin such a web of speculation as that with which form critics have surrounded the Gospel tradition.”
More pointedly, Albright stated, “A period of twenty to fifty years is too slight to permit of any appreciable corruption of the essential content and even of the specific wording of the sayings of Jesus.”

Sir William Ramsay, another great archaeologist, at one time convinced of the historical inaccuracy of the New Testament, later had this to say about Luke, a Gospel author: “Luke is a historian of the first rank…this author should be place along with the very greatest of historians.”

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By Zack, January 26, 2006 at 2:37 am Link to this comment
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“God has left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong: and all through history there have been people trying (some of them very hard) to obey it. None of them ever quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was—that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.

“Then comes the real shock. Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

“One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history.

“Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

C. S. Lewis

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By Kira, January 25, 2006 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Kevin,
I have read the Bible several times. So that’s exactly how I “dare to speak to you” about it. I was a Christian for my ENTIRE LIFE until 2 years ago. I had gone to church every single Sunday for 3 hours, and a women’s bible study group every Thursday for an hour. During high school I woke up every single day at 4:30 am to go to seminary for an hour and a half before I went to school. (How many other teenagers do that nowadays?) I HAVE READ AND STUDIED THAT BIBLE EXTENSIVELY. I have a right to, and have chosen not to, believe in it. Do not disrespect me so much as to assume things about me. (Again.) And I do not have any questions to ask you. A lifetime of study has not led me to a place where I need to find out more about the Bible over the internet with someone who refuses to even respect me as another child of God.
I pray for your openmindedness, (to God, not myself, duh) and that is not a hypocritical thing for me to do, SINCE I HAVE NOT DISRESPECTED YOU OR TOLD YOU YOUR BELIEFS WERE WRONG (as you have done to me). You have the right to believe whatever you want. I have no idea why you want to consider my opinions fact. They are not. And I have the constitutional right to them.
Searching the internet for anything, especially something with this kind of depth, IS HARDLY RESEARCH. Any learned adult knows how fallable information on the internet is. So, as of yet, you are STILL unresearched of things about Yogananda. Yogananda does give me hope, and more importantly, understanding about people like you. Through him (and Jesus) I have found the ability to still have love for you. Several things you said in your latest post about Yogananda are completely wrong and intrusive, but I can see I will get nowhere explaining anything to you. I will not waste my time or emotion.
What is important to notice here is that you are PUSHING YOUR BELIEFS ON ME…...

STOP!

You have no right to tell me my opinion is wrong. (How Christ-like of you, by the way, to do so.) My opinions are wrong for YOU, not ME. And vice versa. I have said nothing so disrespectful and hurtful to you. I have respect for you and your beliefs, and I expect the same from you, no matter how much you disagree with what I think.

“Peace be with you, my brother.”

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By R. A. Earl, January 25, 2006 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment
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Reply to Kira’s #119

My apologies if I offended. It’s not my intention to “tear apart other people on this board…” I haven’t reviewed all that I’ve posted but I hope I’ve only torn apart opinions, assumptions and notions presented as FACT, not the people who presented them.

These “digs” are public forums and as such I consider all the readers when I respond. My remarks are not necessarily intended as private conversation. That’s why I sometimes “amplify” and explain beyond what is perhaps necessary to be clear to the addressee.

I don’t think we’re “arguing over nothing”... at least, not yet! And I don’t think I intended sarcasm when I wrote “I’m not evolved enough to “respect” a belief that makes no sense to me and has no evidence to support it’s premise. I was dead serious. I do not understand how anyone can just choose to believe something when there’s no evidence to support making that choice over another. Further, I also am not at that point in my enlightenment where I can “respect” such a belief. (respect = “to consider worthy of high regard” - Webster’s).

I DO support a person’s right to hold any belief he or she chooses. I certainly claim the right to hold my beliefs but I don’t expect anyone to “respect” them if it doesn’t suit them to do so.

As far as I’m aware the beliefs I hold are based on, at the very least, deep reasoning and what seems to make sense to me. I’m not some mouthy youngster… in fact, I’m well past retirement age and have thought long and deep about life, it’s meaning, asked the “whys” and listened to all the answers from books, preachers, TV, film and even from that “little voice within.”

I don’t just CHOOSE a belief because it makes me feel good, or calms my spirit or puts an end to some emotional or intellectual tussle. It is my view that many people do just that… they get scared and tired of seeking answers on their own and, often just go along with their peer group because, well, it’s just a hell of a lot easier than thinking! Everyone congratulates them, and they all join hands and wander down the yellow brick road in fantasyland together. And from that day forward all their energy goes into DEFENDING an indefensible position… a “choice” they’ve made that has no grounding or reason or logic to support it.

Hope to hear from you again.

So endeth today’s rant.

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By Brian Hodges, January 25, 2006 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment
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Greetings,
    I am truly amazed in the lack of belief in Jesus Christ due to the knowledge of such almost superhuman intellects. Intellects with such flippant seemingly all knowing arrogance. After reading your Jesus seminar and alot of the posts of this forum it has been an eye opening wake up call for me to help reaffirm my faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God. Thank you so much.

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By Kevin, January 25, 2006 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment
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Reply to Kira:#120:  How dare you speak to me about the Bible like you know all about it.  The Bible does speak about judging others, but not in the sense you are saying.  I would recommend reading the Bible first and studying it.  You may find you change your mind about it.  I find that most people who argue with me over what the Bible says, have NEVER EVEN READ IT!!
    I did do research on your Yoga.  It was simple.  I looked it up on the internet.  I think I understand what it is talking about.  I’ve learned about the ideas held by people all around the world.  God is everywhere.  You believe something just by faith and you pick and choose what you want to believe.  I read and study the actual words of God and believe based on actual evidence AND faith.  What I meant by Yoagnanda can’t do anything for you is that it does not provide you with hope or understanding.  I cannot be accurate when describing what you believe when you said YOURSELF that you pick and choose what you believe.  Based upon the definition of RELIGION, Yogananda IS one.  You will pray for me to be more open-minded and understanding?  How hypocrytical of you.  You are going to pray to yourself?  Is it disrespectful to tell the truth?  I was just speaking about reality?  What information did I have wrong?  If you have an intelligent question to ask me about my beliefs, I’d be happy to try and answer them.  You could probably find them for yourself in the Bible. 
  The reason I told you your opinions were wrong was because they were.  They are not opinions on my part.  The Bible was passed down verbally for many years.  Many of the New Testament documents were written about 40 years afterwards with incredible, unmatched detail. 
  You can believe what you want, but that does not mean it is good for you or others.  Are you going to just go by feeling?

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By John Fancher, MD, January 25, 2006 at 2:23 am Link to this comment
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Great summary article of what can be known about the historical Jesus.

I tend to believe that there was indeed a historical Jesus, if only because his brother James is so well documented as the head of the first “Church” in Jerusalem.  In fact, far more is known about James than about Jesus himself.  Paul talks about him, as does Josephus, and possibly even the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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By Kira, January 25, 2006 at 1:40 am Link to this comment
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Dear Kevin,
I do not understand why you respond to my post (which was full of my opinions only, nothing I claim to be FACT) and tell me all of my opinions are wrong, and then the evidence you give me that I was wrong is YOUR OPINIONS? I don’t think so. Nothing you said is fact either. It just keeps going round and round with you guys.
I will not argue with you about the Bible because it is a waste of time. You will believe what you want, and I will too. As far as the Bible is concerned, I’m afraid I have to wholeheartedly agree with what RA Earl said in Post # 118 about it. It is heavily corrupted. And it doesn’t matter that you have so called “original historical documents.” Even if they are authentic, they were written MANY YEARS after Jesus died. Hardly reliable. THE BIBLE IS PROOF OF NOTHING. (In my opinion. Do not push your beliefs of what is fact upon me.) I made nothing up about Jesus. That was only my OPINION. I am going to copy and paste part of your post now then respond.

Yogananda isn’t going to help you do anything here or after you die.  I can say that the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda were changed over time too and he only started spreading in 1920.  How can you know when you are meditating that you are in God’s presence.  What does feeling God’s presence do for me?  What does having spiritual well-being do for me?  Sounds like a stress reliever.  One ordinary man says that you can reincarnate and that everyone has God inside?  What makes one believe this? How does he know God is in everything?  This religion doesn’t give answers, but creates more questions.

You obviously did not do your research on Yogananda, and who are you to tell me that he can do “nothing for me?” You cannot tell me what something does for me and what it doesn’t. That was INTENSELY disrespecful of you. You say you follow God, yet you pass judgement so quickly upon me (Something your precious bible says explicitely not to do btw) by saying things like “What makes one believe this?” Since you are so completely UNRESEARCHED in Yogananda, I do not have the time to sit here and answer your questions. What I will say is that the movement Yogananda started WAS NOT A RELIGION. It’s called the Self Realization Fellowship and it spreads the word about yoga and meditation. Yogananda himself was of the Hindu religion. I think your religion calls for many questions also, but you don’t see me challenging it to you. I personally am of no religion.
You need to respect my beliefs, as I respect yours. And next time, before you write incorrect info, do some research and save us all the time. A good book to get your facts straight with is called Autobiography of a Yogi. You don’t have to believe what’s in it, but at least see what he’s got to say before you MAKE IT UP.
I will pray for you to be more open minded and understanding in the future.

Namaste
(The God in me bows to the God in you.)

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By Kira, January 25, 2006 at 1:11 am Link to this comment
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Alright Mr. Earl, I have seen you tear apart other people on this board, and I have no interest to become one of them. Let me clarify myself in this post. Your negativity just absolutely floods its way out of my monitor. (BTW I actually was on your side with your Mr. Hugh escapades, and I find your logic very respectful and interesting.) I will copy and paste as you did then respond.

WHY do you find it necessary to FOLLOW anyone? You’re not a duckling requiring imprinting! Are you incapable of “dreaming up” your own theology/psychology/philosophy of life? Do you HAVE to FOLLOW what someone else has devised? Just asking.

First of all, “just asking” doesn’t require the sarcasm and meanness that is so apparent through that entire paragraph. You kill more bees with honey than vinegar darling. “Follower” was a bad choice of words, and I regret using it. I have recently been investigating into Yogananda’s teachings and find them interesting, but I only take what’s right for me, quite unlike a mindless duckling. I meditate for the relaxation and centering that it brings to my life. A great stress reliever. It also helps me feel closer to God, someone I believe in but have absolutely no proof of. And that’s okay, because I’m not pushing my belief on you or anyone else.

MANY would consider Falwell, Buchanan, the 700 Club nitwits and the Pope in the same light. So, Kira, your “evidence” to support your conclusions (Jesus was a good man, and, that there’s a God) is…

I don’t need evidence. I was expressing a thought of mine, not a fact or theory. It is merely my opinion. Let’s say you don’t like apples. It’s your opinion that apples are yucky, and you don’t need evidence to support your feeling about them. Catch my drift? Please don’t turn my words into something they aren’t.

I’M not evolved enough to “respect” a belief that makes no sense to me and has no evidence to support it’s premise. I guess I respect an individual’s RIGHT to hold any belief he or she wishes… it’s only when they decide to impose their notion on the rest of us that I dig in my heels. For example, many believe that Sunday is the “Lord’s Day” and accordingly all businesses should be closed, and, based on that notion they lobby and intimidate “authorities” to pass laws imposing that kind of nonsense on everyone else. If everyone who believes that sort of thing want to clump together in an exclusive commune and shut down everything on Sunday, FINE. But they should have no right to impose their rules and regulations on the rest of us.

1.)Saying you’re not “evolved” enough for simple courtesies such as tolerance is very sad in my opinion. (You may think otherwise but I don’t need a scalding remark in return for my opinion, because it’s not fact.) You also limit yourself (something that you’re capable of) by saying things like that.
2.)I also shop on Sundays and would be extremely angry if that right was taken away from me by some whacko bible thumper. WE AGREE HERE. Your rant was unneeded. Let’s not look for an argument when there is none.

YOU got that right. Anyone who actually believes what appears in today’s “Bibles” bears any resemblance to what was originally written or intended, is either profoundly ignorant or astonishingly gullible. The Bible is not accepted as evidence in any court in the land… and for good reason! It’s not a reliable source of information… it’s just opinion… third, fourth, one-thousandth hand opinion. You might as well use Grimm’s Fairy Tales as your encyclopedia!

Again, we share the same opinion here. I get the feeling in this paragraph that you wanted to do more than just agree with me… you just seem to enjoy ranting, because the rest of that paragraph is just that.

“BELIEVING” based on logic, reason and probability is one thing. “Believing” in the absence of evidence, or worse, in the face of evidence to the contrary, as far as I’m concerned, is just stupid and certainly not deserving of “respect.”

Hmmm, this is your opinion, and a fine one it must be for you. I will continue keep my faith in a higher being, knowing that there’s no evidence (that would satisfy the likes of you anyway) to support my belief. This does not mean I am stupid. I most certainly deserve respect, and my faith in God shouldn’t strip me of that from you.

Once again Mr. Earl, I have no intentions of battling “beliefs” out with you. This entire post of mine was to defend myself (in which you were so quick to attack) and not to hash out logic with you. We agree on a lot of points, but seeing absolute eye to eye with someone is never really going to work on a virtual level and I would like to save myself the stress of arguing with you over nothing.

Peace.

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By R. A. Earl, January 24, 2006 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment
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Kira in #116 makes a few points to which I’d like to respond…

“I am also a follower of Yogananda and yoga…”

WHY do you find it necessary to FOLLOW anyone? You’re not a duckling requiring imprinting! Are you incapable of “dreaming up” your own theology/psychology/philosophy of life? Do you HAVE to FOLLOW what someone else has devised? Just asking.

“I understand that Jesus “the Christ” was very sensationalized, but I consider Jesus the man to be a good man who was close to God.”

MANY would consider Falwell, Buchanan, the 700 Club nitwits and the Pope in the same light. So, Kira, your “evidence” to support your conclusions (Jesus was a good man, and, that there’s a God) is…

“It’s very important to respect others beliefs (or lack thereof.)”

I’M not evolved enough to “respect” a belief that makes no sense to me and has no evidence to support it’s premise. I guess I respect an individual’s RIGHT to hold any belief he or she wishes… it’s only when they decide to impose their notion on the rest of us that I dig in my heels. For example, many believe that Sunday is the “Lord’s Day” and accordingly all businesses should be closed, and, based on that notion they lobby and intimidate “authorities” to pass laws imposing that kind of nonsense on everyone else. If everyone who believes that sort of thing want to clump together in an exclusive commune and shut down everything on Sunday, FINE. But they should have no right to impose their rules and regulations on the rest of us.

“People who literally interpret the Bible as their proof of Jesus need to be careful, because that Bible had been heavily manipulated in the hands of many.”

YOU got that right. Anyone who actually believes what appears in today’s “Bibles” bears any resemblance to what was originally written or intended, is either profoundly ignorant or astonishingly gullible. The Bible is not accepted as evidence in any court in the land… and for good reason! It’s not a reliable source of information… it’s just opinion… third, fourth, one-thousandth hand opinion. You might as well use Grimm’s Fairy Tales as your encyclopedia!

“We basically all “believe” in some way or another. There are some here who believe in a God and in Jesus. The others here cannot say they “know” they don’t exist, but simply that they don’t believe that they do. There has to be evidence either way before anyone “knows” anything.”

“BELIEVING” based on logic, reason and probability is one thing. “Believing” in the absence of evidence, or worse, in the face of evidence to the contrary, as far as I’m concerned, is just stupid and certainly not deserving of “respect.”

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By Kevin, January 24, 2006 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
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Reply to #116:

    We know that Jesus did want to start a religion.  We know this from the Bible.  We can take the Bible literally because it has not been manipulated by many different hands as Kira noted.  We have a few original documents, and some really close to the original that match the Bible word for word as we have it today.  The people who translated the Bible over time did so very meticulously.  This is amazing because if you mess up one little mark in the original language, you could change the meaning of a word entirely.  We need to remember that the Bible is a historical document that is also very accurate.  Many small details are mentioned in it.  It is synonomous with secular writings around the times and with archeological findings.  Using your intellect can only go so far.  It cannot give you a life after death.  There is no proof for things you just make up.  The Bible is proof that things happened.
  Kira, you say that Jesus was a good man who was close to God.  You can’t just make things up about Jesus.  He was God.  He said He was, and He proved Himself.  Historical documents say that He was, so how can you just make things up?  Yogananda isn’t going to help you do anything here or after you die.  I can say that the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda were changed over time too and he only started spreading in 1920.  How can you know when you are meditating that you are in God’s presence.  What does feeling God’s presence do for me?  What does having spiritual well-being do for me?  Sounds like a stress reliever.  One ordinary man says that you can reincarnate and that everyone has God inside?  What makes one believe this? How does he know God is in everything?  This religion doesn’t give answers, but creates more questions.

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By Kira, January 22, 2006 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment
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I found this article very interesting, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that it’s only an opinion really. How did he “know” that Jesus didn’t want to start a religion? Where is his proof of that?
I am also a follower of Yogananda and yoga, although I take what’s right for me (by thinking and using my intellect, as Mr. R. A. Earl so prizes) and leave the rest behind, and that should be the same for everyone. If you don’t believe in Jesus, fine. I understand that Jesus “the Christ” was very sensationalized, but I consider Jesus the man to be a good man who was close to God. It’s very important to respect others beliefs (or lack thereof.) People who literally interpret the Bible as their proof of Jesus need to be careful, because that Bible had been heavily manipulated in the hands of many.
We basically all “believe” in some way or another. There are some here who believe in a God and in Jesus. The others here cannot say they “know” they don’t exist, but simply that they don’t believe that they do. There has to be evidence either way before anyone “knows” anything.
Peace

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By R. A. Earl, January 21, 2006 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment
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Kevin, in #111, wrote: “There is more truth to Creation than evolution.”

If you must have it your way, Kevin, then hear this: Evolution IS Creation!

Kevin also wrote: “A person without hope is already dead.  Christ offers hope and comfort.  Evolution offers death, and dog-eat-dog.  It is actually traced to Communism and Nazism.  Who is more evolved?”

All that and much more from Kevin who penned the following as advice to us all: “Please do thorough research before posting…”

Christ may do a lot for those who need “hope and comfort” but he clearly doesn’t do much for some people’s ability to THINK or do CRITICAL ANALYSIS. Pity.

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By Eugene Lehman, January 16, 2006 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment
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99. (revised) Comment by Eugene Lehman  on  1/09  at  7:01 am

Jesus? If it was the messiah it should have written its sermons and published them for the world to read. If it was illiterate it should have appointed a James Boswell (1740-1795) to its Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).

Spreading the Gospel?  It was criminal negligence on its part not to broadcast its highly important message in such a fashion as to make everyone believe it. No wonder only about 25% of mankind use it properly as a savior. I don’t need one anyway. When the blood supply to my brain quits, I will go into a permanent coma.

Intelligent designer? It created trillions of species. Only a few billion now survive. That’s <0,1 of 1%. Not a very bright architect. It made humans into such warriors that I fear by 3000 CE we will have wiped out all life on this planet.

We Jews created the messiah between 5000 and 2000 BCE. We will know when it comes. 

As for god, the number of true gods is a nonnegative integer less than or equal to one.

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By R. A. Earl, January 16, 2006 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
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Re #106 -

Interesting that in Italy, of all places, Christianity should be taken to court.

I sure hope the religion isn’t ruled illegal. I think an awful lot of people somehow “need” it and get a lot out of it.

What I WOULD like to see illegal - world wide - is the ability of any person, institution, organization or government to base laws, rules and regulations that apply to or affect everyone in the society on the teachings of Christianity… or any other religion or faith-based philosophy.

The only basis for such societal controls should be REASON and LOGIC. For example, I think it justifiable, reasonable and logical that EVERYONE EVERYWHERE BE REQUIRED TO STOP AT A RED LIGHT. However, for the “religious” to lobby and intimidate legislators to pass a law requiring businesses to close on Sundays because it’s the “Lord’s Day” (just one example) is pure, unadulterated BULLSHIT and an unacceptable intrusion into my right to be free from other people’s philosophies of life.

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By Kyle R., January 16, 2006 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment
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I think all of the things said are correct. Many peple do ask the question of who is Jesus and who is Christ. I really enjoyed reading this.

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By Kevin, January 16, 2006 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
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Shockley wrote: The truth about Jesus is that he never intended to start a church or a new religion. He did not understand himself to be the divine Son of God; rather, he saw himself as the “Son of [hu]Man[ity]” or an “average Joe.” Not only did he not start a church, he joined the reform movement of John the Baptizer (aka John the Baptist), who was a popular and charismatic Jewish prophet. Surely this man, this “reverand” has not read the Bible much at all.  Or maybe he missed the parts including Jesus.  Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.  He was clearly no ordinary man.  Somebody needs to go back and read John 8:23,John 14:6.  Not only did He claim to be above this world, He did and said things to prove He was.  If people would actually read the Bible and not twist what it plainly states, there would be less hate and dissention.  The author says the resurrection was not an historical event.  Well, if the written historical documents we have say it happened, why would you say otherwise?  I don’t know what kind of agenda the “reverand” has.  There are other documents of Josephus that talk about a Christus who may very well be Jesus Christ. 
    On the subject of Creation/Evolution:
  Microevolution occurs.  This has been documented.  Many people will say that animals can change into other animals.  This is a fairy tale.  This has not been documented.  Now scientist’s claims should be thrown out of the window becuase of their attempts at tricking the public into believing Macroevolution occurs by putting together ape/man skulls.  They were found to be fake in court.  This hurts credibility in my eyes as it should many others’.  There is more truth to Creation than evolution.  Just looking at nature and seeing the complexity should tell anyone how impossible it would be to have animals change and even form bodily structures.  You are telling me that I should believe in evolution which states that every living creature came from nothing over time?  All of the complex bodily systems just formed?  Sex just came out of nowhere?  The Bible says God created animals “after their kind” meaning that if a bird changes/adapts it is still a bird.  It may become another species of BIRD by our definition of species, but not another animal altogether.  There are too many faults with evolutionary theory.  Circular reasoning, the age of the earth is actually quite young, sex, dating of fossils, probability, and no hope which Christ offers.  Religion can be dangerous, but faith is life. 
  Please do thorough research before posting something so detrimental on the internet for all to see.  Be open-minded and use your agenda to find truth for yourself.  Don’t make up your own truths.  This is dangerous.  A person without hope is already dead.  Christ offers hope and comfort.  Evolution offers death, and dog-eat-dog.  It is actually traced to Communism and Nazism.  Who is more evolved?  I’m pretty sure you would see walking “missing links,“unless everyone and every creature evolved at the same time.  Very dangerous just like religious fairytales such as jihad.  Jesus is the answer to prophecies of 100’s of years earlier.  You have a choice between yourself and God.

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By Ted Smith, January 16, 2006 at 5:17 am Link to this comment
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Note to those who continue to treat myth as historical fact or appeal to faith as a reason to accept myth.

Before the 18th century the obligation of proof rested on those who said the Bible was myth.  If you thought the creation story was a myth, for example, you had to demonstrate this to your friends or colleagues.

But since about the middle of the 18th century the onus of proof is now really on those who claim the Bible is factual.  Generally, the Bible is completely myth with only a few “facts” here and there buried in religious confessions, mythic stories, and national epics.

So, now the case is that those who would claim that the creation stories in Genesis, for example, are historic fact have to prove their case.  It is, of course, an impossible proof because it is easily shown that they are derived mainly from pre-existing Babylonian myths.

Further, regarding the creation narrative, there is no evidence that creation occurred literally as the Bible describes.  The Bible has every creature being created and named separately, but the evidence of the earth is that all life forms, including our own, evolved over time from other life forms.  What can one say here except that there isn’t any evidence to suggest the contrary? 

And besides, there are thousands of creation narratives from around the globe of the ancient world.  Why, for example, should the biblical narrative of God speaking the world into existence be privileged over the Navajo narrative in which the world is sung into being?

Modern “knowledge” and ancient “knowledge” are different things.

We are not reading “science” when we are reading the Bible.  However modern and ancient people both use their “knowledge” for political and social reasons.  The Bible certainly does represent political and social points of view.

Most of the historical narrative in the Bible is written from the point of view of Judah with ancient Judah’s concerns in mind.

Significant stories from the southern tradition, such as Solomon’s temple, are legends not facts.  They are so because the point for the ancient scribe is the story or myth (we might even say “propaganda”) of Judah.

Nations today do exactly the same thing:  political mythmaking is regretfully the highest priority of most governments.

Faith is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t mean you can abuse popular credulity by appealing to faith to “prove” anything.

Ted

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By Skeptical Cynic, January 15, 2006 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment
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RE: ‘The followers of this Jesus eventually gathered themselves into congregations of the Christ and ultimately into the Christian Church.”

The gentiles converted not to a christianity of Jewish Jesus. They converted to a mixture of Persian Zoroasterisn, Hellenism, the Egyptian theology of Isis and Osiris preached by the forefathers of all TV Evangelists, Saul aka Paul of who really knows where.

And as far as the Gospel of Thomas being fake , they are no less valid than the Four Fictives of the New Testament

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By Omarius, January 15, 2006 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment
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I see your point. Although I doubt if the alternative for most people writing here would be another religion, it doesn’t do any good to try to tear down other people’s beliefs, no matter how ridiculous or based on fantasy they may be. i live in a free country where people can believe any F’d-up thing they want, and trust me; for every idea there’s someone who believes it.
So we have to be careful to draw the line between finding the real truth and ridiculing people. Even if we think the Jesus in the bible wasn’t real, he can still have value for people, and to turn against those people for believing a lie would be no better than the people who created it to begin with. Also, those who condemn people for wanting to know the truth and
call it blasphemy are no better than those they hate.

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By Moryea, January 15, 2006 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment
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Where is your opinion?  It sounds like your are only assuming other peoples.  I do not agree with how you refered to Jesus as “the man from the myth”, I am not the one to say whether the bible is a piece of fiction but nobody should have that right unless you personaly knew for a fact that Jesus did not walk this earth.  Having a “Faith” means to have faith in something and if a person does not have faith in their religion then maybe they should consider studying another religion instead of critisizing one that other people respect and believe in.

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By Ted Smith, January 15, 2006 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment
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Viterbo, Italy
————————————————————————————————————————-
“Atheism attacks Christianity in a lawsuit against its ministers for the abuse of popular credulity and the substitution of person (artt. 661 C.P. e 494 C.P)

It is the first time in the history of mankind that a religion is prosecuted directly in a law case that will end with a verdict regarding specific and defined crimes, which is the abuse of popular credulity and belief (article 661, Italian criminal code) and the substitution of person (494, Italian criminal code).

The audience of January 27th 2006 has been confirmed at the Court of Justice in Viterbo for the lawsuit of Luigi Cascioli against don Enrico Righi, parish priest in Bagnoregio, as representative of ministers of religion, for abuse of popular credulity and impersonation.”
————————————————————————————————————
I hope this lawsuit in Italy gets the widest possible media attention!  Particularly here in NA.

I don’t know if the US or Canada has laws such as the ones in Italy by means of which the church must answer the question of Jesus’ literal existance.  But if there is a way to take the fundamentalists (televangelists, ID advocates, etc.) to court and force them to prove that they are not perpetrating a fraud on a credulous (naive) public, I’m all for it.

One decent class action suit, sponsored by The Council for Secular Humanism, eg. (or by Sam Harris himself) would go a long way towards shutting down these small, expensive, time-consuming suits such as the one in Dover, PA.

If Jesus is not historical & more and more evidence is coming forward to show that he wasn’t, then articles and arguments based on his existence simply perpetuate the myth & continue to mislead the credulous public.

Ted

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By mattingly conner, January 14, 2006 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment
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The veracity of ideas and the validity of tradition does not necessarily depend on two millennia’s acceptance.  Two responses come to mind immediately.  During the four hundred years or so when Christian orthodoxy was being invented, several pagan critics lambasted this new religion for not being based on the pagan traditions.  Thus, the contention that Christianity’s validity depends on its status as tradition is modeled on pagan rhetorical techniques employed by thinkers such as Porphyry, Celsus, and Galen to undermine Christianity before it received official state protection by Constantine in 313 A.D.  The argument from tradition is an ancient one indeed. 

Secondly, the longevity of ideas and views about the world does not necessarily correspond to their truthfulness or validity.  Human communities have held in common (scientifically) erroneous views regarding many areas of learning for far greater periods of time than a couple millennia.  Consider communal understandings of conception, cultural taboos, or the issue of whether the sun orbits around the earth.  Surely, we would want to grant to our descendants the right to revise our own erroneous views just as we revised those of our predecessors.  It is only fair. 

While all this might be true, this certainly does not mean that Christian traditions (and Christianity is by no means a monolith today or in antiquity) do not have intrinsic value or meaning.  The problem is when history is manipulated to justify one religion’s superiority over another.  Certainly, nobody wants that.  Thus, the argument for tradition has a promiscuous past and is rather problematic, to be avoided. 

For historical references see:  Robert Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (this work systematically explores the writings of the major extant pagan writers responding to Christianity, including Julian the Apostate); anything by Peter Brown, who has been very innovative in study of how Christianity fit in with other religious developments in the 4th c. A.D., and with the social and political history of the Late Roman Empire. 

http://jungcircle.com/muse/deborah.html
What beats your heart beats all hearts. What other truth do you need?

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By hope2endure, January 13, 2006 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
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The best way to learn about Jesus is to study the biblical accounts of his life and ministry. There is more historical evidence for his existence and life than many other ancient figures such as Julius Ceasar.

Ask yourself one question, why is this Jewish man the most talked about person in the last two thousand years? And being a Jew, why do even Muslim people accept him as a prophet of God?

No matter how many critics try to deconstruct Jesus it never succeeds. The Romans killed his body but they could not kill his spirit or his message.

Jesus was well aware that false christians would try and overtake his ministry for greed, profits and political power and warned his genuine followers. The rise of Christendom was the long foretold, but its eventual destruction was also made known. Christendom is currently on life support. God himself will pull the plug. Revelation is symbolic and describes the destruction of all false religion especially Christendom.

“And I heard another voice out of heaven say: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind. Render to her even as she herself rendered, and do to her twice as much, yes, twice the number of the things she did; in the cup in which she put a mixture put twice as much of the mixture for her. To the extent that she glorified herself and lived in shameless luxury, to that extent give her torment and mourning. For in her heart she keeps saying, ‘I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning.’ That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.” Revelation 18:4-8

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By Jim MacKrell, January 11, 2006 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment
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#102:
Thank you so much Roger for you compassion. Your writing seems to be so much yelling across a crowded room. ignorance is excusable, arrogance never.

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By Roger, January 10, 2006 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment
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All this conjecture, mystery, faith,  blah, blah and more blah blah is an exercise in futility.  If you are a rational human being and you put the emotionalism of religion aside you can only come to one conclusion.  This Judeo/Christian God is a man made creation of primitive people.  If he were real he would have to go down in history as the dumbest ass/god who ever came down the pike. No god would present its followers with so many contradictions. No god who allegedly performed all these miracles way back when the bulk of the people were illiterate and steeped in superstition would suddenly stop performing miracles in an age when sophisticated people could accurately report them. Why aren’t we seeing miracles today.  Is the best they can do is claim the image of the virgin mary in a toasted cheese sandwich or a taco.  The religion is so absurd and is nothing more than a newer version of the old pagan religions. Don’t be stupid - unless you are most comfortable that way.

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By Omarius, January 9, 2006 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
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I am put off by people using religion to control others also. I do think it has done some good where it teaches us to treat others better.
A lot of the teachings of jesus, wherever they came from are good for humanity. And a lot of people who have been scared into being nice by christianity wouldn’t have been otherwise.

I follow Hinduism, mostly through Yogananda, and his writings praise the bible for paralleling truths found in ancient Hindu texts. To his credit though, he never mentions that the average person could never understand those truths through the bible alone. For instance, the seven churches are the seven Chakras. How the hell would I ever know that? And in the beginning was the word. not the word of the bible as christians will tell you because 200AD wasn’t the beginning. But in the beginning was sound; the “aum” vibration of God energy, which is an approximation of the basic sound of creation of all matter that can be heard in deep meditation. But there’s no way I can get that from the bible.
So I think religions are good to the extent that they teach us to treat others better, and to find the truth by perception within ourselves rather than by blind faith.

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By Frei, January 9, 2006 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
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RE: 97: What is your gullibility quotient?  Do you consider yourself to be a C-based biped?  Cosmic protoplasm?  Don’t believe the exodus ever happened…or Moses ever existed…Sorry.

RE: 98: R U clueless in SF or in Seattle?

RE: 99: I’m not a fundy; don’t interpret the Bible literally.  Evolution is intelligent design.

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By Eugene Lehman, January 9, 2006 at 8:54 am Link to this comment
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Jesus? If it was the messiah it should have written its sermons and published them for the world to read. If it was illiterate it should have appointed a James Boswell (1740-1795) to its Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). It was criminally negligent. No wonder only about 25% of mankind use it properly as a savior. I don’t need one anyway. When the blood supply to my brain quits, I will go into a permanent coma .

Intelligent designer? It created trillions of species. Only a few billion now survive. Not a very bright architect. It made humans into such warriors that I fear by 3000 CE we will have wiped out all life on this planet.

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By Michael Tripper, January 8, 2006 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment
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get a clue:

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com

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By R. A. Earl, January 8, 2006 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
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Re #96 above: would someone please interpret for me.

It’s my conclusion that Frei is asking US to explain, if the Resurrection was not indeed a FACT, how a few wandering “disciples” got their act together to decide to start a cult.

How about… these guys realized how gullible and vulnerable the “sheep” are and recognized a golden opportunity to fleece them big time? Who’s got time to worry about death when the way to enormous power and control lies open before them like the Red Sea before Moses?

(Apologies for dragging in a myth to support my thesis… but heck, if the believers can do it, why can’t I get creative for once?)

Sorry Frei, you can’t use one myth as evidence than another is fact. But you keep on truckin’! Millions will buy it… they always have.

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By Frei, January 8, 2006 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment
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Anyone who believes the Resurrection was not an historical event, has to explain how, through the medium of a “message”, the apostles, or rather, disciples, were able to overcome their fear of death (they dispersed and reassembled)and present their kerygma to the Hellenistic world.

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By Bryant the Tyrant, January 7, 2006 at 11:41 pm Link to this comment
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Jesus was a troublemaker, and the Man nailed his ass to the cross, and then he died as we all shall someday.

Nothing can be ever said to convince me that “God” is a guy from the Middleast.

It’s all about control, and that’s why the church was created, and continues today, to subjugate the human race with fear of the unknown.

I am not afraid to die, and I look forward to what’s next, if anything.  No being on this earth today or ever can tell me what’s next.

I cannot believe I exist as a consequence.  Life has a purpose, but it’s truth and source, I believe, is above the capacity of human thought forever…until they get to die, and see what’s next.

Good luck to all in your search for the truth…but I can only suggest you find it YOURSELF.

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By Omarius, January 7, 2006 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
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Just a comment; to people who are not aquainted with ‘netiquette’; writing in all capital letters it the equivalent of shouting, and it is rude and hard to read. I know you weren’t aware.

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By Omarius, January 7, 2006 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
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How can people who are defending the antiquated traditional view of Jesus say the bible hasn’t changed since the second century? Have you heard of Martin Luther and his rebellion against the Vatican? Even if you discount Constantine completely, don’t you know that Martin Luther decided that seven books in the bible were essentially worthless, and moved them to the back of the bible as an appendix without verse or page numbers, and subsequently most protestant bibles, including King James don’t include them at all? All the while he proclaimed “Sola Scriptura” was the only way; that the only truth is in the scripture.
And people named their babies after him.

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By Save Us., January 7, 2006 at 8:42 am Link to this comment
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According to Bill Moyers, former anchor of the PBS program ‘Now”, fully one third of the adult populace of a country with the most awesome weapons humans have ever known, suscribes to the ‘end-times’ scenario. Their belief system includes an utter disregard for the environment (the better to hasten the end). Moreover, like the ‘terminator’, these people never relent, never take pity, and absolutely cannot be reasoned with. This sizeable minority will bring, no, has brought, chaos to our world. This is why columns like this is so important. We must understand them, anticipate their moves, and foil them if we can.

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By Ruth Petit, January 7, 2006 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
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Dear Reverend,
I am not a scholar as most of the participants of this forum appear to be (although there also appear to be a few almost illiterate ones).

The following are just my own thoughts and conclusions I have come to, after a lifetime.

It is totally irrelevant whether Jesus was a historical figure or not; there is no God, no Afterlife.

There are two things I accept as truth (guidelines) written in the bible by truly wise men and women.
THAT WE ARE MADE OF DUST AND SHALL RETURN TO DUST, AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

We are all space travellers made of stardust, and as such we shall return to the universe. Our spaceship is the planet Earth. It has (had?)a perfectly balanced ecosystem, one that envelops our planet and allows all lifeforms on it to exist.

The universe is chaos, with stars dying and being born for eternity. Life on Earth developed by accident, and over millenia human beings appeared, purely an accident of evolution. After the extinction of the dinosaurs, birds had the same chance at becoming dominant as mammals. Mammals prevailed.

The ten commandments tell us how to treat each other. Unfortunately we have largely ignored them. The churches call for blind faith and as a consequence humanity has been blinded by faith.

OUR MANTRA SHOULD BE: DO NO HARM TO EACH OTHER AND THE ENVIRONMENT.

We ignore both at our peril. We kill each other in ever growing numbers in the name of God, Allah or whatever deity is the flavor of the month.

We overpopulate this beautiful blue pearl and will cause the demise of our own species and others sooner than later. The laws of nature dictate that.

I mourn not the death of so many others, nor my own end of life, soon to come. I mourn the destruction we cause to our little paradise, our precious little planet in all the universe.

Take a look at pictures of the universe that come to us through space telescopes and you too will be amazed at the vastness of it and realize our irrelevance in the scheme of things.

My life was for the most part beautiful; an accident of birth and circumstance. Billions of others lives’ are neither beautiful nor fulfilling but a fight for survival from the day they are born into their environment.

Why did I merit to live a life of plenty and they did not?

As we continue to ravage our planet’s air and water, Life will die and we and other lifeforms as well. Maybe a second chance at life will come out of the oceans in coming millenia, but in the end it won’t matter, as billions of years from now our own Milky Way Galaxy will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy and that, my friends, is not the end, just a new beginning.

Let me close with a quote from the Rubaiyat:

I sent my soul through the universe,
Some letter of that after-life to spell;
And by and by my soul returned to me,
And answered
I myself am Heav’n and Hell.

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By roger holstein, January 6, 2006 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
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Jesus: The Man, The Myth, a Dig (an intellectual dissertation) led by the Rev Madison Shockely is indeed a brilliant exposé that bares naked the truth of a big make-belief story based upon practically nothing.

Many of the answers to the text are brilliant too. It is highly encouraging to see that so many enlightened and intelligent people live on this earth, amongst us.

I believe that ALL religions are pure superstition; yet I also believe in an all-powerful creating intelligent entity or perhaps more than one.

I believe this because no matter how long one will throw together a bunch of stones - even after an infinite amount of time – one will NOT be able to create a living creature by accident. But then maybe I could be wrong! I know for a fact that I have been wrong before!

I am presently, emotionally and intellectually satisfied being of the agnostic conviction.

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By R. A. Earl, January 6, 2006 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment
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“A picture is worth a thousand words” someone either wrote or said, and boy, did the Christian religious dreamers ever hit the jackpot with their fictitious depictions of their fairy “Godfather,” Jesus.

You’ll find “His” portrait hanging in almost every Sunday school where the little ones are brainwashed into “believing” before they’re mature enough to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Talk about CHILD ABUSE!

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By Ronald Rubin, January 6, 2006 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment
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I agree with David Barton (comment #1) that your picture of an Aryan Jesus is absurd. I’m the grandson of Russian Jews and a while back friends showed me a composite picture of how Jesus must have looked on the cover of Science Illustratedd. He looked like me!
Not to worry. Lately people have been telling me I’m the spitting image of Saddam Hussein.

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By NETTIE, January 6, 2006 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
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THANK YOU, REV. SHOCKLEY FOR SUCH A WELL ELUCIDATED PERSPECTIVE.  PART OF THE REASON, I THINK, THE FUNDAMENTALIST JUDEO-CHRISTIAN-ISLAM SORTS, ARE ALL TRYING TO LOUDLY ACHIEVE THEIR STRANGLE-HOLD ON THE REST OF HUMANITY, IS SECONDARY TO THE MANY CONTEMPORARY SCHOLARS WHO EMBRACE YOUR VIEW AND ALSO THE MANY WHO WRITE OF THESE RELIGIONS AS ALL “BIRTHING” FROM THE EARTH-MOTHER GODDESS RELIGIONS AND CULTURES.  THE PAGAN/CHRISTIAN CONNECTION HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT SINCE THE 30’S, BUT MOST RECENTLY IS “JESUS AND THE LOST GODDESS”, BY FREKE AND GANDY AND ,OF COURSE, “THE LOST CHALICE”, AN EARLIER WORK BY RIANE EISLER.  THERE IS A PLETHORA OF MODERN LITERATURE THAT SHOWS EVIDENCE FOR JESUS AS A MYTH.  GOOGLE UP APPOLONIOUS OF TYANA, VERY INTERESTING.  THERE HAS BEEN A STEADY TREND OF “FEMINIZING” CHURCHES, BOTH ORDAINING WOMEN, ACCEPTING SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS, AND ENDORSING A HUMANE “METAPHYSICAL” AND HISTORICALLY COHERENT PERSPECTIVE OF THE BIBLE, TORAH AND KORAN.  THE BANSHEE SHREIK OF THE FUNDAMENTALISTS WHO ENDORSE WAR, WILL NOT ORDAIN WOMEN, TAKE A PURPLE DINOSAUR AND TINKY-WINKY TO TASK, CHOOSE TO CONDEMN SAME-SEX ADULTS WHO GENUINELY LOVE EACH OTHER, RAPE THE PLANET FOR CORPORATE PROFIT, AND HAVE THE HUBRIS TO INVOKE THE NAME OF THEIR GOD IN ALL THE BLOOD SHED, IS REALLY THE DEATH RATTLE OF THESE EXTREMISTS.  THERE ARE MANY WHOLLY SPIRITUAL (OR NOT) PEOPLE WHO WILL SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES FOR THOSE THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW, GIVE OF THEMSELVES UNCEASINGLY TO OTHERS, ARE STERLING PARENTS WITHOUT EVER RAISING A HAND OR THEIR VOICES TO THIER CHILDREN (YES (!), EVEN SOME EVANGELICALS!)AND KNOW THIER HISTORY.  HEY!  CHRISTIANS HAVE BEEN HELD ENTHRALL SINCE CONSTANTINE, WHO CONVENIENTLY ENOUGH, ONLY OFFICIALLY BECAME A CHRISTIAN ON HIS DEATHBED.  NETTIE

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By R. A. Earl, January 4, 2006 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment
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A followup to Hugh Askew’s #82

Hugh offered:
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you.”

This is not news, Hugh. Any Psych student can tell you that we most often FIND what we look for. And the human brain being the creative instrument that it is, if we can’t FIND what we seek, WE WILL INVENT IT!

Which brings me to another of your points:

“The Almighty refuses to provide proof.  He will not be dictated to.  I/we don’t set the conditions, He does.
If telling the Creator that your conditions must be met - or else - isn’t arrogant, what is?
Remember, He created us, not vise-versa.”

Again, Hugh, you offer us YOUR OPINIONS. You speak of my arrogance. What about yours in professing to KNOW anything about “the Almighty?” You think “HE/SHE/IT” “refuses to provide proof.” I submit that there’s no PROOF because “HE/SHE/IT” doesn’t exist except in your imagination.

And finally, the bit about “He created us, not vise-versa (sic).” It’s my view that we indeed invented the “Creator” in OUR image. I offer as PROOF the evidence right in your Bible… “His” actions all down through recorded history indicate a controlling, judgmental, vindictive, reactionary, unbalanced, cruel, angry, destructive, anal-retentive, capricious, bi-polar, ego-driven personality… traits you’ll find in overabundance in HUMANS.

That’s all the PROOF I need that WE invented HIM, and not the other way ‘round. I think it’s preposterous to even consider that any GOD OF ALL THE UNIVERSE could possibly behave in such an unsophisticated and ungodly manner. You’d think, with all “His” power and abilities, “He’d” have come up with something better than such fault-filled creatures as human beings… in fact, one look at we humans is all the PROOF I need that God exists only in the minds of those who, for reasons that are beyond my ability to understand, need “Him.”

BUT… if “He” makes you happy Hugh, “He’s” all yours. To be exposed to everything you’ve presented is like being trapped in a store full of parrots - each just chirping away what they’ve been taught and NONE contributing anything new to the chorus. Not ONE of you - teacher or student - actually KNOWS anything about which you speak… you just make it up and then choose to believe it. Repeat it often enough and it becomes TRUTH. Madison Avenue makes BILLIONS on that premise.

Unless you have any NEW information or insights into your “God” to share I’m just going to agree to disagree with you on this topic and move on. Thank you for the encounter.

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By Yonk, January 4, 2006 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
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Child of God
Jesus is not coming. Many have called for his return on many occasions.
In fact Jesus himself told a group standing before him that some would see his return. Bible apologists say that means in the pre Messonic Age. They forget Jesus didn’t write it down but said it to those attending and forget that apologists at the same time claim the reason the Apostles didn’t write their works sooner was due to the fact that they thought Jesus would have returned already and there would be NO need.
There may well be a God, but the Bible and Jesus have nothing to do with it.
But if you are happy with your beliefs fine, just let us make public policy based on unreliable beliefs.

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By TJD, January 4, 2006 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
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“Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven.”

- Mark Twain (The Lowest Animal)

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By Timothy Travis, January 4, 2006 at 9:52 am Link to this comment
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Dear Hugh Askew,

Will U acknowledge that the way U have faith and believe in your Jesus god is the same and no more valid than others feel and have felt about their god/gods over the centuries? Do U acknowledge that the followers of Zeus, for example, felt just as strongly as U and with all the same heart-felt human emotion? Can U give other’s beliefs the same respect U ask for yours?

Actually, I have no problem with any god or gods because no god has ever punished or killed anyone nor told anyone to do so. All the atrocities committed in the name of gods has been done at the instigation of the clergy. No “Gods” were involved. It is the clergy that has committed evil. They are dishonest and all their “truths” are self-serving; anti science, anti democratic, anti modernity, and anti human. No Gods have never been involved in human affairs unless U count nature and natural events. The Gods do not count for anything in the social realm, but the clergy sure do. 

So believe in your Jesus if it gives your life form and meaning but do not follow the clergy. They are not on your side.

Timothy Travis,
Member of the UU Infidels

It matter what U say.
It matter what U believe.

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By Hugh Askew, January 4, 2006 at 3:42 am Link to this comment
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Follows R. A. Earl on 1/03
Quote:
“It’s your BELIEF that to KNOW God I must search in my heart.”  <end quote>
No, not search your heart, USE your heart.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you.

Either He exists or He doesn’t. Simple boolean logic.
He tells the us the truth or He doesn’t. Again, simple logic.
He loves us (plural & singular) or He doesn’t. More logic.
He is who He claims to be, or all the above are false.
Still simple, still logical.

Yet, I can offer no “proof” to answere the questions above. In fact, if you where to pay me a bazillion dollars, I could not provide one miniscule bit of “proof” for anything God has done, ever.

The Pharisee, after Jesus healed a man blind from birth (without the aid of surgery or lasers, mind you), were unimpressed. It simply wasn’t “proof” to them.
This is not good news to those who demand proof, but The Almighty refuses to provide proof.  He will not be dictated to.  I/we don’t set the conditions, He does.
If telling the Creator that your conditions must be met - or else - isn’t arrogant, what is?
Remember, He created us, not vise-versa.

He forces no one to believe, yet is more than willing to be found by those that want to know Him.


If knowing Him is what you are really seeking, then tell Him that- from the heart, without qualification.
Tell Him that you are trying to seek Him.
Then start looking to Him for the answeres, as it were. And pay attention.

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By Ron Ranft, January 3, 2006 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment
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Amazing, simply amazing! 2,000 years later, foolish people still believe in foolish things merely because someone else told them so!

It is one thing for a person to have a religious “experience” and an entirely different set of beliefs because they were brainwashed into believing something. And that is exactly what happens when small children are put in rooms and told fairy tales. Then someone scares the crap out of them by telling them they will go to hell if they don’t believe. Their parents believe so it must be believable. So if “GOD” stands at the foot of your bed and tells you something, and you’re not dreaming or on drugs, fine. But for anyone to tell me that God wants me to do anything will get no time from me. I’ll wait until “GOD” visits me personally.

For anyone to make life decisions on a daily basis using a 2,000 0r 4,000 year old book makes as much sense as taking a 4 year old child around with you all day and letting them tell you what decisions you should make. People who say that you have to find God or Jesus with your “heart” amuse me. If they fly on an airplane they better not have a pilot who searches for the destination using his “heart.” Intuition, faith, belief is wrong more often than right. Only uneducated people, people lacking critical thinking skills, people mentally deficent, and people bent on exploiting the former believe in what they cannot prove as fact.

Religion is at the heart of all that is bad on this planet and what keeps humans from truely meeting their potential! All living organisms survive based on doing what works. That also applies to humans. We have developed a moral structure that when adhered to ensures our survival in order to propigate the species. We know it is wrong to kill because it doesn’t work, it doesn’t ensure the survival of the species. Yet, we continue to do that which is not in our own self best interests. Why? Possibly that we have not evolved far enough to eliminate the non-thinkers. And it seems to be the only way to keep the population from exploding more than it is. Humans spend their time in pissing matches about whose GOD is the best instead of wondering how the hell we are going to fed, shelter, and find water for this cancer that is spreading across and devouring the planet. I don’t think 7 loaves of bread and 5 fishes are going to do it. Do you?

As an aside, to find as many thoughtful and well reasoned comments here about a subject that drives most Americans up the wall and over the edge is a pleasure. To the reactionaries, go back to college and take a few courses in Logic and critical thinking. And quit going to churh!

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By R. A. Earl, January 3, 2006 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment
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Further to Hugh Askew’s post #76 on 1/03

Hugh wrote: “Excuse me, but the similarities between the posts here and the attitudes of Jesus’ enemies is unmistakable.
If you can point out an instance where Jesus provided the “proof” that His detractors demanded, I’ll be happy to listen.
The I AM of the bible never asked His followers if they had proof of His existence. His son Jesus never asked His followers if they had proof of His existence.”

I hope you’re not lumping me in with “Jesus’ enemies.” I’m no ones enemy. What I’ve read of Jesus, and what I’ve read by others “reporting” what Jesus is alleged to have said, leads me to conclude, for the most part, that He provided good advice (but then so did Ann Landers). I have no quarrel with the essence of (most of) His alleged messages.

Hugh, just because the writings of others, offered decades if not hundreds of years after the “alleged” fact, are contained in the Bible, does not, IMHO, make the information any more reliable or true or FACT than if you or I wrote a piece and published it today. Why do you “believers” put so much credence in what some ancient scribe is alleged to have written when you KNOW how fallible, inaccurate and out-and-out wrong today’s reporters can be even with electronic help? Do you truly believe that OLD makes the information more reliable and CORRECT?

How many times has that very info you’ve quoted been EDITED and CHANGED and TRANSLATED and “PLAYED WITH” since it is alleged to have been written in the first place? I don’t know… but I’d bet a year’s salary on a DOZEN times or more. And that, in itself, makes the info no more than an interesting “read.” If you choose to literally believe it, that’s your choice… but it sure isn’t mine.

Hugh Askew also wrote, asking me, I assume: “Do you really want to know, or is this just some exercize for your intellect?
The only way to find God, or His Son, is via your heart. The brain will reject Jesus as pure nonsense. He does not make sense from a human perspective.”

Oh yes, Hugh, I really want to KNOW. However, to KNOW something “stresses assurance and implies a sound logical or factual basis” (Websters).

To BELIEVE, also “stresses assurance but implies trust and faith as its basis” (Websters).

So there we have it. I REQUIRE logic and fact before I can accept a proposition as being true. You don’t.

It’s your BELIEF that to KNOW God I must search in my heart. But my heart runs on EMOTIONS and HUNCHES and other highly intangible, mysterious, illogical, unreasonable and, in my view, UNRELIABLE impulses. Perhaps your heart runs on different fuel.

So that’s why I continue to SEEK. I do have intellectual difficulty in discounting the views of millions of others… i.e. the “believers.” It seems illogical to me that so many people are intellectually and emotionally satisfied with unsupportable BELIEF but I acknowledge that this seems to be fact.

I am aware, however, that millions of us humans run on emotion alone… it just feels soooo good to be “full of the spirit” and be surrounded by crowds of others under a similar hypnotic spell. I’ve been to Billy Graham Crusades and “felt” the EMOTIONS. I’ve also been full to the brim with emotion when watching an inspiring movie or listening to a grand piece of music (including “church” music). So I know my “heart” isn’t dead. If this is what you believers base your FAITH in Jesus on, then I UNDERSTAND where you’all are coming from… I just don’t (can’t) jump on your bandwagon. “Because it feels good” is far too unreliable a basis upon which to hitch my wagon. My emotions are wide open to be triggered by any cleverly concocted scenario. Aren’t yours?

To date, not one of you has ever provided me with anything more than your BELIEFS from which to begin my search. If you are correct that I will never “find Jesus” using my intellect, then I get counted as one of the lost sheep. I could NEVER accept the existence of an omnicient God without at least a shred of real evidence to support that conclusion. A heartful of emotional “feel good” is NOT evidence of anything to my intellect.

Nice Catch-22, ain’t it?

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By deborah conner, January 3, 2006 at 8:56 am Link to this comment
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“Appeasing humanists?” Is that what we do when we don’t believe in a literal Christ? Do you have any idea how ofen in the last 2000 years, people have had to appease the literal belief? How many paid with their lives? No one denies anyone a church. We uphold separation of church and state to protect religion as much as to protect others from it.

But faith: bear with me a moment.

I find 4 leaf clovers, sometimes 5 leaf clovers… But my eye is trained to find them. It honed itself hunting shark teeth in the cliffs of the Chesapeake. You get attuned, is all.

Not that things aren’t connected.

I heard a terrific explanation of the old
Axiom of Maria, a precept in Christian alchemy: “One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth.”

A friend translates this as:

Hidden in the Fourth is the One. Find it by uniting the Two in the Third.

Which is cant for:
masculine+feminine (expressed as metal, charge, planet, lovers, etc.)—transcending to—> divine nature/incarnation /big L love. Yin Yang stuff. Tao. It’s the cornerstone of alchemy. The power to transform.

Carl Jung (and these are psychological statements: Jung is always speaking of the psychological experience) used the axiom of Maria as a metaphor for the whole process of individuation. From Sharp’s Jung Lexicon: One is the original state of unconscious wholeness; two signifies the conflict between opposites; three points to a potential resolution; the third is the transcendent function; and the one as the fourth is a transformed state of consciousness, relatively whole and at peace.

(Jung smokes his pipe and grins and me. He says, ‘I was only in it for the transference.’ Ah, yes, for the babes.)

But the oddest things can take on the transcendent function…

There’s a swing my son made by throwing a rope over a tree half-way up our front yard. It set the stage above our little stone amphitheater here to help me tell this tale. He also left a chair up there by the swing. Odd old chairs left around the property here. I leave them alone. They add charm. And I’m not sure who they belong to, who sits in them. Like the old tribes in the desert, the chair is dragged from place to place that it might be a portable holy of holies. (Such was the arc of the covenant, historically, oddly enough.) But—this new chair sits there happily, covered with shade, the entire hill covered with great trees, all the way to the split rail fence, looking very Cold Mountain—which it is. The sun comes up here at an angle through the tall trees at the edge of the ridge. It has to slant in here, Helios, Ra, Apollo, the ever reborn Sun. He’s magnificent in his coming, sending out spears and rays and solid golden ladders. Morning is a wondrous happy thing. But I noticed as I got in the car that He also found my son’s chair up there in the darkness. He shines on it, sits there like a beautiful prince.

So that’s who sits in that chair.

But the tale today… I stopped at a park to pick up my son from soccer practice. All around the huge field is (surprise, surprise) beauty. More Ra and his rays, mountain framed, rocks that climb the hills in tiffany and yager cut layers. I talked with another woman waiting there. She’s a Richmond native, I find, and she mentioned her child goes to the local Christian School. We talk about the history around us, the war, the Reservists who have all been called up and will be gone for so long, and she says, after a pause,—“My mom was saying the other day that she just wished that the Rapture would come and be over with!” (I’m a magnet, I swear…) And so I looked her deeply in the eye. And said what came to me.

I told her that parable, scripture (lingo? She stayed with me, so it must have been okay) I liked most was the bit where Jesus talked about doubting Thomas, asking if he must put his hands in his wounds to Gnow (though I think I said ‘believe’. Forgive me, for I don’t believe in any believing). “Why can’t people listen to that?” I asked her. “It’s so simple. Is it the blood and wounds that are important or is the message that lives in the heart? Where do you believe? With hands and blood and eyes, or the heart? Because that’s the incarnation. That’s the “Rapture” fulfilled, and everyone can have it right now by letting the Christ (Ra, Apollo, Sun Sun Sun, rose by any other name) live in the heart, without middlemen or magic books or politics. You just look into someone’s eyes and see (don’t you know me?) the Christ there. And you incarnate, Christ in you.”

She seems to like this.

I guess she’ll go ask her pastor about it. He’ll shoot it down. Anyway, Temple is everywhere, I think. You just have to recognized it.

Seems you can make whatever you like from the grail. Just be sure you know who and what your grail serves.

This is also worth a look:

http://www.thegodmovie.com/clip-Trailer.php

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By Hugh Askew, January 3, 2006 at 3:42 am Link to this comment
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RE: comment by R. A. Earl on 1/02
Excuse me, but the similarities between the posts here and the attitudes of Jesus’ enemies is unmistakable.
If you can point out an instance where Jesus provided the “proof” that His detractors demanded, I’ll be happy to listen.
The I AM of the bible never asked His followers if they had proof of His existence. His son Jesus never asked His followers if they had proof of His existence.

Then the Jews surrounded Him and asked, “How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
“I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me.  But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep.  My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish….
... If I am not doing My Father’s works, don’t believe Me.  But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.”

Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”  “Who are You?” they questioned. “Precisely what I’ve been telling you from the very beginning,” Jesus told them.

Do you really want to know, or is this just some exercize for your intellect?
The only way to find God, or His Son, is via your heart. The brain will reject Jesus as pure nonsense. He does not make sense from a human perspective.

Why not try asking Him if He is there? Ask for His guidance. Then, pay attention.

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By Rene Jul-Hansen, January 3, 2006 at 2:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for a very interesting read. Regarding the death of Christ I can highly recommend this historical analysis “The Passion” by Geza Vermes.

He also looks at some of the historical facts and tries to separate what is obvious propaganda from what might have been real events.

By the way, the New Testament is after all an edited version of events that has been edited several times from between 100 B.C. and today.

According to the present needs of the day Gospels went in and out. Very seldom this had anything to do with the truth of their content but more often selection was made on day-2-day political analysis.

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By CHILD OF GOD, January 3, 2006 at 1:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

JOHN 8:42-37 READ IT! ” IF GOD WERE YOUR FATHER YOU WOULD LOVE ME, FOR I CAME FROM GOD AND NOW AM HERE I HAVE NOT COME TO MY OWN BUT HE SENT ME’‘.wHY IS MY LANGUAGE NOT CLEAR TO YOU? BECAUSE YOU ARE UNABLE TO HEAR WHAT I AM SAY. YOU BELONG TO YOUR FATHER, THE DEVIL, AND YOU WANT TO CARRY OUT YOUR FATHER DESIRES…... YESHUA IS NOT A MYTH! HE IS REAL NO MATTER WHAT ARTICLE YOU PRINT OR SERMONS YOU PREACH AGAINST HIM.. HE IS REAL AND HIS COMING BACK..  GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER….. BE AFRAID IF YOU DONT BELEIVE IN HIM!

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By Doug Wilson, January 3, 2006 at 12:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why wasn’t my commentary of 1/1/06 presented on your website?

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By R. A. Earl, January 2, 2006 at 9:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From Hugh Askew’s comment in #70

“Amazing, simply amazing!!!
2000 years later and the scribes and pharisees are still demanding PROOF.”

  I’m not quite sure of your point here, Hugh, but I will assume you imply that for anyone today to use his/her intellect to search for truth is a no-no.

“As if the Almighty God must need answere to man’s demands and specifications!
The moral and intellectual arrogance shown by the posts here have changed not a bit in two millenia.
Simply and utterly amazing.”

  I’m really sorry, Hugh, but it sounds very much to me as if YOU assume to KNOW WHAT GOD NEEDS. Further, that you have insight into what all the peoples of the earth for the past 2000 years have thought and written. Not only are you easily “amazed” but you have insight far beyond mine.

“Jesus provided no proof to non-believers then (in fact made a clear effort to hide any “proof”), and it is very unlikely that He will provide scoffers any now.
How utterly sad.”

I continue to be baffled by your direct line to the deity’s reasoning and behaviors. Heck, I’m astonished by your psychic talents to foresee what your deity would do today.

You see, Hugh, IMHO, BECAUSE you choose to BELIEVE, you have no need of proof. In fact, I submit that you reject out-of-hand ANY information that comes to your attention that does NOT already fit with your PREJUDICE (please look up the word… it is EXACTLY what your “belief” without PROOF is).

You offer us your GLIB OPINIONS and UNSUPPORTED ASSUMPTIONS, Hugh, and nothing more, unless you wish to also accept your share of that “moral and intellectual arrogance” you charge the rest of us with possessing.

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By LAM-06.....FORMERLY LAM-05, January 2, 2006 at 12:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

THIS REALLY WILL BE MY LAST TRY.
There is much I would like to to discuss with people on this site.
I have tried repeatedly to get my comments posted. I think they
are relevant, and would add to, and not detract from the questions at hand. I had hoped to warm things up a bit. I think both/all sides are missing several salient points I hoped to make.

Indeed, I actually made them. I actually sent them in. I requested
you “Remember my personal information”, and “Notify me of
follow-up comments?”. I did. I really did!

I got bubkees from you. I inquired as to why I had not been posted…..see #26 above. Then I did get a response from HQ.
They are looking in to it. I still did not get any of my comments
from before or after my questions posted on this site. Nor have my second set of questions regarding this problem been posted by HQ, or addressed from HQ to me via e-mail. I do, however,
get repeated notification via e-mail that someone has sent me a
follow-up comment that can be viewed on this site.

And here I am again…..going to the place HQ sends, me only to
find the same misdirection has taken place. I REPEAT:

1.-WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN ACCORDED THE COURTESY OF BEING
POSTED OR GIVEN ANY REASON WHY OR WHY NOT?
2.-ARE YOU GUYS FOR REAL?
3.-IS THIS A REAL PLACE TO READ INTERESTING STUFF AND THEN COMMENT ON SAME?
4.-IS THIS A CLOSED-LOOP/MEMBERS-ONLY SOCIETY THAT IS
TRYING TO DETERMINE HOW MANY PINHEADS CAN DANCE ON
A USELESS CONCEPT?
5.-GEE, I WONDER IF I’LL EVER SEE THIS ON YOUR MESSAGE BORED?
6.-LET ME KNOW,OR LET ME NO.
7.-LAM-O6 SAYS, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

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By Musa, January 1, 2006 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find Top’s honesty refreshing. Serious research led me to a very similar conclusion i.e. the story of Jesus Christ is basically illogical and irrational which is the main reason for such great insistence being placed on blind faith. If the ministers and elders in the early part of my life had been so honest it would have saved me a good deal of pain and confusion.

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By R. A. Earl, January 1, 2006 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re #69, Top…

You wrote “...as someone who believes beyond any doubt that Christ is God.”

Problem is that, IMHO, the ONLY way you can believe “beyond any doubt” is if, during your deliberations, you choose to filter out those FACTS that don’t fit your prejudice.

But then… that’s what all believers must do, right?

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By Hugh Askew, January 1, 2006 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amazing, simply amazing!!!
2000 years later and the scribes and pharisees are still demanding PROOF.
As if the Almighty God must need answere to man’s demands and specifications!
The moral and intellectual arrogance shown by the posts here have changed not a bit in two millenia.
Simply and utterly amazing.
Jesus provided no proof to non-believers then (in fact made a clear effort to hide any “proof”), and it is very unlikely that He will provide scoffers any now.
How utterly sad.

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By Top, January 1, 2006 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is no rational or logical way to explain Christ. That is where faith comes in.  There are so many things in this world to explore and to learn, why waste time trying to figure out something that cannot be figured out.  I say this as a Christian, as someone who believes beyond any doubt that Christ is God.  I consider myself a thinking Christian, but that does not mean that I deify my intellect and engage in the endless pursuit of explaining what cannot be explained.  I enjoyed reading the good reverend’s extensive article, but I must say that the creeping bias to appease the humanist who doesn’t buy in to the so called “myth” of Christ stale and tired.  I expected truthdig to find an interesting and original way of approaching the debate over the holiday season, but I suppose I was asking for too much.

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By Deborah Conner, December 31, 2005 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Any ancient historian worth their salt will tell you that, truth is, too often in the last 2000 years, Christianity has been more of the old Roman Sol Invictus / God-king / tool-of-state than spiritual leap-of-heart. And so it is in our own time. Dangerous and tragic, it can be turned around.

Some excellent articles related to this right now on line:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/
feature/1997/11/monroe.html

http://www.motherjones.com/news/
feature/2005/12/a_nation_under_god.html

http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC12/Campbell.htm

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By R. A. Earl, December 30, 2005 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ahhh… tolerance.

I’m afraid it’s come down to a case of “I will if you will” for me when it comes to tolerating fundamentalism, Christian or and other kind.

I can’t understand why folk who are so into “God” and “the Lord” and “His Church” etc., cannot see the hypocrisy and unfairness of their ways when they denigrate and disparage others who view life differently from themselves.

I have absolutely no use for organized religion of any stripe, nor do I believe there is a “creator.” But I’m not out there demanding that church bells be silenced so I can sleep on Sunday mornings, or that churches be taxed just as any other business is taxed. I’m not showing up at church rallies carrying signs and shouting awful bigotted slogans. And I’m sure not lobbying (the polite word for intimidate and threaten) politicians and school boards to pass laws designed to force everyone else to follow my sense of morals and values. I WANT to tolerate the fundamentalists but I require equal RESPECT and TOLERANCE from them.

So… when the “church” folk just do their thing and LEAVE ALL THE REST OF US (the majority, I think) ALONE to do ours, THEN we will have achieved an acceptable level of TOLERANCE in our society. We seem to be a long way from that point.

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By Dody Martin, December 30, 2005 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Rev. Madison Shockley,
Once again you’ve done an awesome job of explaining another issue of Christianity that helps me understand and accept Christianity more.  It’s funny this former atheist who leans toward Buddhism, has learned more about Christianity this year then probably in all my preceding years.  The Buddhists encourage their followers to do their own diligence in determining what are true and valuable lessons.  My Christian friends have told me that it’s against their religious teachings to question the word of God and/or the bible.  Though I believe the bible (and most spiritual texts) has taught humanity an enormous amount, it was written by men, and it was written after Jesus walk the earth, this is important to remember this, however divine the inspiration was.  I look forward to more articles from you.  Thank you.

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