I agree 100% with your last comment, especially the last sentence.
Michael Tymn, Mon 18 May, 01:30
“The evangelicals add fuel to the fire by constantly using the “W” word – worship, suggesting that their God is like some narcissistic king of ancient days, requiring constant praise and adoration while rewarding only those who totally idolize him. “
Something clicked when I read this: although I understand that the current-day GOP uses Christianity to cloak their thirst for power and control (of, for example, women’s bodies) and to reel in evangelicals who actually buy into this so-called God of retribution and merciless judgment, the latter with ease have affixed this uncritical support for Cult of Trump. They are used to self-flagellation and the medieval interpretation of their “faith”. It’s like Dostoevski’s Grand Inquisitor.
John Joseph, Wed 13 May, 16:17
I too feel the frustration of trying to navigate that valley between these far-right “Christians” and, as you write about, the visceral push-back from “nihilists” or dedicated materialists, who don’t know there is a third option which, ironically, politically motivated religion and materialist science alike have discretided and derided from both sides so successfully, many still associate all such evidence as the province of the back-room gypsy with her crystal ball.
I too winced when Chris Cuomo, dismissed his father’s apparent visitation as a corona-induced hallucination. Could the fear of death be so strong that to see the visit otherwise might have made home think he was coming to “get” him and usher him to paradise? In that flash, one’s earthly demise and one’s own immortality (through the confirmation of “The Father”, no less), was perhaps the more frightening prospect than the “not now, please….later” postponement of the “finality” of death and death anxiety. He might have just come to offer comfort that all would be well (as it seems to have turned out for Cuomo). Understandable too not to want to leave one’s children and spouse, one’s friends, etc. or perhaps Cuomo didn’t want to invite the derision some in his TV audience would have engaged in, and secretly “knows” it was real?
On the question of where God is in the present pandemic:
In response to one recent (not now the latest) comment, which is addressed to all of us but is otherwise anonymous, I would like to say that we can be a tad more specific than the writer realises. What we call scientific knowledge is gained via meditation on known facts, to which, often, a higher level of Being whispers a truth new to the scientist’s human consciousness. Kekulé imagined the benzine ring in this way, and subsequent tests
showed his “dream” correct. Terrestrial tests, carefully designed to test what, in any investigation, seem to be new facts then
establish the truth of those new ideas - or, of course, prove them false.
Alongside this process, somewhat independently perhaps, but often synaesthetically, artistic creativity often runs. A number of
composers have also been professional scientists or at least had scientific interests. Borodin, for example, was what we would call today a biochemist, and Elgar apparently discovered a process for producing Hydrogen Sulphide - don’t quote me; I do not know the details - and Einstein played the violin. There are many other examples too.
Some definite statements are possible; the spiritually-aware life is not dreamy in any vague sense of the word; it is not empty, feckless, fantasy, nor is it fraud. I think spiritual awareness often develops most readily when a whole body of alleged facts (such as the results of a dogmatic religious upbringing) begins to crumble in the face of human logic, which is itself a gift from Above that we should not despise but use in humility, followed by a sincere seeking for truth to be revealed from the Above. The physicists Sir William Barrett, Oliver Lodge, Ervin Schrodinger, Wolfgang Pauli, and many others to this day have not been the only ones to follow the solid stepping stones of fact across the dangerous flood of misleading and whimsical vagueness of many humans to find spiritual realities via mundane certainties.
Eric Franklin, Thu 7 May, 16:07
I think the American philosopher Gore Vidal got it spot on when he said,
Michael Roll, Thu 7 May, 10:45
“The one-god religions are easily the greatest disaster ever to be inflicted on the human race.”
I’ve found that I shouldn’t think that I have it and stop reading. All of the types of sources we are mentioning are secondary, filtered sources, talking about an ineffable place and they warn that our words can’t communicate what they know. By reading more sources, some of the blank spots get filled in, others get more color. I think that virtually every good source I’ve read cautions that their report is based on what they can see from where they are, and warn that there are places in the afterlife they’ve never been.
It’s a lot like looking at the old maps where they mark a border and note “Beyond here lie dragons.” I find that the more I read, the more questions I have!
Michael D, Wed 6 May, 14:26
Yes Michael Tymn, Silver Birch was nearer the mark about this God business. I prefer what my hero Arthur Findlay says about God. “Why not put an extra “o” in the word. We can all understand the force of goodness in the universe.”
The word God has too much baggage going with it.
Michael Roll, Tue 5 May, 10:36
Thanks to all for the comments to date.
I’ll stick with Imperator on the God issue, but I also like the way Silver Birch put it:
“It is impossible to give you a complete picture. God is infinite. All language, concepts, and pictures must be finite… [God] is not a magnified man, the Jehovah of the Old Testament. It is not a deity who is full of vengeance and sends plagues because of displeasure. It is not a capricious, wrathful deity…”
As for Jesus, Silver Birch said: “The Nazarene is one of the hierarchy behind all directives we receive when we leave your world occasionally to fortify ourselves to cope with our missions and to glean more of what it is we have to achieve.”
Michael Tymn, Sun 3 May, 06:34
I don’t see many people ever mentioning Anthony Borgia (“Facts” and other books on the same topic). His contact has a lot to say on the issues under discussion. “Facts” is a good read for those who are ready for it.
Michael D, Sat 2 May, 21:28
Dear Rick Darby,
I empathise with anyone with similar views to your own, but I have something to add.
Perhaps living organisms start with viruses, which seem to be mere chemical permutations useful in controlling the freely-willed and hugely self-damaging madness of much higher forms of life. A sort of weedkiller useful when the weeds rebel to arrogantly. Perhaps the life within viruses is allowed to grow and become something that needs a bacterial physical carrier. Life in a bacterium can be a tad deeper, wider, higher, than in a virus. Perhaps it then becomes, after some evolution, let’s say a rabbit, or, say, a fox. Perhaps later both fox and rabbit psychologies then inhabit a human physical form.
Perhaps eventually, self-aware light glimmers, and those beings in physically human form become sufficiently aware to understand and value and operate, or refuse to operate, ethics. Perhaps at that stage a few are fit to forget the physical kind of life because they have humbly learned enough to deserve and enjoy a higher one which, by definition, and in fact, is not in the physical world. (Already, life itself, the essence, has never been other than of the highest, but that fact has not been obvious to animals, except those bipeds soon to escape the animal state for the higher spiritual uncontaminatedness of a life that is livingness itself, and needs no corruptible carrier that it has to maintain during a “lifetime” in the physical, despite attacks by those damn viruses. The living essence then leaves the physical biped altogether, perhaps entering one of the many living-places that surround the physical world in the greater relativistic cosmos from which in their concern for those still struggling below they try to communicate with, and succeed when those below are willing to listen.
I have a busy day ahead of me and have no time to polish this rough sketch, but I assure you it warrants attention nonetheless.
Have as good a day as I wish myself.
(Not properly proof-read or edited - I don’t have time.)
Eric Franklin, Fri 1 May, 09:04
Robert (Thu 30 Apr, 02:14),
I empathize with your feelings about what the world seems to tell us concerning God’s love or lack thereof.
The pain and cruelty that all creatures (not just humans, as you say) experience all around us is too much for me to accept. Period.
Sure, I know all the feel-good rationalizations. We are too limited in our understanding of God’s ways, which are far beyond the compass of our little minds. Suffering is our teacher. (No pain, no gain?) Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care while being ripped by the talons of an eagle.
Whatever truth these ideas may contain (not much, in my view) the agonies of God’s beloved creatures are real. The big picture doesn’t cancel them out. Maybe a headache or tonsillectomy could teach us something about spiritual growth—though it’s hard to see what—but sink me if I can understand cancer or torture as uplift.
I’m with you in praying that I am never reincarnated. So my enlightenment may be slower on the other side than via the harsh lessons of this world. Big deal. If what I read is true, I’ll have bags of time in the afterlife to get with the program.
I can’t quite let go of meditation and seeking the life divine. What else is there? Maybe when I shake hands with God I’ll find he’s really not bad when you get to know him. If he’s all-forgiving, I’ll give him a piece of my mind about what a botch he made when he designed the physical world.
Rick Darby, Thu 30 Apr, 19:48
Let’s say that I drop in from nothing and after a span of years I drop out to nothing. Have I gained or lost anything in that interim? Would I rather never have been?
Is it is all a matter of biology? Did I luck out at the cellular level when an egg and sperm united to become me or would it have been better if that sperm that became me was flushed away with the other millions of sperm cells that never had a chance at life? If it had been a different sperm cell that fertilized that egg would it still have grown to become me or would it have been someone else. There is a 50% chance that I could have been a female rather than a male. Would I then have had the same consciousness as I have now or a different one? Was my consciousness in that sperm cell or the egg or did it come from somewhere else? There are no answers to those questions yet but they provide cause for contemplation.
It may be that the physical form is not really the important thing. But consciousness, soul or spirit is what is important and what is real. It may be that what happens to the physical form is not very significant as long as it does not affect the soul. Somewhere it was said to not fear those who destroy the body but fear those who are able to destroy the soul, that is, the consciousness or spirit.
Is there something in the agonies of life during a few paltry years on earth that makes living worthwhile? Maybe the answer is—- experience! Just experiencing whatever life has to offer may be all there is to it; both the so-called good and the so-called bad. Good and bad are like beauty; they exist only in the eye of the beholder. Overall, it is just experience that is important and to what extent does it enlighten the soul. To what degree is the consciousness raised to a higher level on its way back to its Source.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 30 Apr, 17:03
At the end of a life one looks back and sometimes things begin to take their place in a larger context. What was unknown at the time it occurred, now considered from a different perspective becomes crystal clear? Pieces of the puzzle begin to fit and one sees the bigger picture. Perhaps during a life review in the afterlife I will hear “Well done my good and faithful servant!” or maybe I will agree that perhaps more work needs to be done and I need to go back and try again. The vicissitudes of physical life are not part of the agreement. The chance for growth of the soul is what is important. - AOD
A postscript to my earlier response to AOD - but the postscript is for Robert:
What if many higher cosmoi are much happier places than this? Sir William Barrett, speaking via Gladys Osborne Leonard after his departure from THIS universe in 1925, assures us that he is happier there than anyone could be down here. There are higher and nicer universes than ours. The great plan seems to be to make ethical progress from all the nasty things we have to endure here via the mature FREE WILL response of our personalities to our present sufferings, to higher realms we shall by then deserve to live in, and would not mar by being there before we attained that ethical stature.
Eric Franklin, Thu 30 Apr, 11:01
Dear Amos, (AOD),
The dark matter is not within our cosmos, not merely a part of a spectrum within our universe that we are not sensitive to. Instruments we can devise down here might be sensitive to THAT. No, Dark Matter and Dark Energy are outside our familiar universe. That is why they are ‘dark’, why it is so mysterious to physicists, yet so undeniably present somewhere. I believe, and probably many physicists believe, that dark matter is the aggregate of those other universes that we can regard as possible, indeed probable or even certain, on the basis of a correct understanding of Relativity Theory. Relativity Theory allows for, and inherently explains, gaps that are out of communication with our universe, in which an infinity of other universes reside right here alongside us. The infinite aggregate of universes is the God in Whom we live and move and have our very being. Spirit communication (eg via a medium) comes from one or another of those universes around ours. And well-corroborated physics gives the ground for the belief, rather than mankind’s pre-scientific imaginings that have informed all the religions of faith and fear and frenzy in the historical past. Physics gives the mind calm peace to know all manner thing is well.
I have mentioned Relativity Theory’s relevance before in response to Michael Tymn’s blogs, but no-one has responded with any comprehension, nor any recognition that physics confirms the “religious” possibilities I have mentioned. Now that you (and doubtless others) acknowledge that physics (rather than the man-manufactured religions) is beyond contradiction an integral part of any true understanding of the relationship between humans and the Great Being Who is the Whole Multiverse, and in Whom we live and move and have our very being, you may like to read up on Relativity, and understand it and its consequences for yourself.
Kind regards, Eric Franklin
Eric Franklin, Thu 30 Apr, 10:39
I am almost 62 years old, was raised in a very easy going reformed Jewish home. My father grew up in Europe and lost his entire family in Auschwitz. He escaped from a work camp, and the war ended a few months later, then he came to the U.S. in 1948. My mom was raised in Brooklyn. Her older brother was killed when she was 8 years old (he was 19), while storming a German pill box near the Siegfried line in November 1944. My only sister dropped dead at the age of 36, leaving 3 daughters under the age of 10. I grew up in the 1970’s in a solid middle class family, never really lacking anything, but no real luxuries either. I never went through a war, but still I have lost many friends to suicide, cancer, car accidents, drugs…etc. Everybody alive, every family, has lost, or knows another family who has suffered untimely deaths, disease, divorce, domestic violence, murder, drugs and alcoholism…and you name whatever else. I have also been studying the afterlife for over 40 years now. I have read dozens of books on it, including all of Arthur Findlay’s books, and have even attended a physical mediumship seance where I believe actual phenomena were achieved. I have experienced readings with clairvoyents, where the results obtained were beyond question ( to my understanding at least.) I would say that I am more than 99% convinced of the reality of life after death, or the survival of consciousness.
However, when I think about the darkest realities of the human condition, not death but untimely, unjust deaths, diseases, rape, war, drug abuse, alcoholism, human trafficking, poverty and on and on and on…. I don’t give a damn what Imperator, Silver Birch, Jesus, Moses, or anyone else, human, spirit, angel, most highly evolved “shining one” or whatever says. I will never believe in a God, energy, spirit, being of light or whatever else you want to call it, that loves us. Perhaps I have a impenetrable defect in my psyche, because I can readily admit that I am awestruck by the universe itself, the beauties of nature, the cosmos, the magnitude of it all, the love I have for my own children, for puppies, for all the good things. Yet, despite all the good of life, all the gifts, and even if it’s true that all the blackest heartache is for our good although we can’t see it right now….I don’t care. I just have never been able to, and still cannot square a loving, caring, benevolent creator with the conditions of life on this planet, and in this universe. And I am not complaining for myself and my fellow human beings, either. I include all life that lives, suffers and dies in my nabob of negativity inclinations. I equally complain for the little squirrel that ends up road kill, and the sparrow who not only God knows about when it falls out of a nest, but also when it is being ripped to shreds and devoured while still alive by a Hawk just stopping for a snack while flying over my back yard on the way to wherever else it’s going. I am even horrified, literally sickened when I consider the horror of nature, when I watch something on You Tube, like when a squadron of hornets attach a honey been hive and literally murder 30,000 honey bees in an hour and then fly off with the bee’s larva to feed to their own hornet babies. Ugh, nature is scary!!!!
Final thought. My greatest fear is that reincarnation might be true. I will do what I have to do here, to earn a living, put food on the table, supply my kids and wife with face masks and…God forbid (it’s just an expression)... Hydroxycholoquine should the need arise… but I don’t want anything after this physical life. This is even though I know there is most assuredly an afterlife…because, who is to say the God, if there really is one, won’t change it all when it’s my turn to die. Maybe all bets will be off when I finally croak. Who is to say that it’s not possible God will revoke any salvation, and send us all to hell at any time, even if we are already in Heaven, or the spirit world? After all, doesn’t it appear that he already changed everything around radically. I mean first there was the law, and then that went out the window, and we got grace when Jesus came? Wasn’t that a complete about face? Hope there’s nothing after this, and the afterlife is just some type of contrivance that actually is a bye-product of physics, but no necessarily permanent. I’ve never understood why nothing, no survival is considered the most frightening thing one can consider. It may not be an adequate payoff for putting up with this life, but if it’s really nothing, permanently, what is really scary about that? Nothing also means nothing bad, like fire and brimstone or worse, endless boredom.
Robert, Thu 30 Apr, 02:14
Dear Amos, (AOD),
The dark matter is not within our cosmos, not merely a part of any spectrum that we are not sensitive to. That is why it is so mysterious to physicists, yet so undeniable. I believe dark matter is the aggregate of other universes that we can regard as possible, indeed probable or even certain, on the basis of a correct understanding of Relativity Theory. I have mentioned Relativity Theory’s relevance before in response to Michael Tymn’s blogs, but no-one has expressed any recognition that it confirms the possibilities I have mentioned. Now that you (and doubtless others) acknowledge that physics (rather than any man-manufactured religion) is beyond contradiction an integral part of any true understanding of the relationship between humans and the Great Being Who is the Whole Multiverse, and in Whom we live and move and have our very being, you may like to read up on Relativity, and understand it and its consequences for yourself.
Eric Franklin, Wed 29 Apr, 20:02
I am beginning to see new meaning in the reported comment of Jesus that ‘the kingdom of God is within you.” That comment does not specifically say that God is within you but that the ‘place’ where God reigns is within you. There could be an implication however that if God’s kingdom is within you that therefore God is there also in his kingdom—-within you. Those ‘many mansions in my Father’s house’ that Jesus referenced may be “within you” and that everyone experiences heaven or hell in his mansion according to one’s belief in either of them, that is, whatever is “within you”. If one’s belief systems are primarily composed of hatred, fear and ugliness or the seven deadly sins or pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth and wrath, then maybe one will find oneself in a ‘heaven’ made up of those negative beliefs and to the contrary, those whose belief systems are filled with warmth, beauty, caring, love, appreciation, and thankfulness might find themselves in a mansion composed of those positive values. After all, someone with a belief system based upon the seven deadly sins would want only a heaven for them made up of those things. Wouldn’t they? That would be what they know and perhaps what they would desire to experience as heaven for eternity.
There is no hell, only dreams (beliefs) gone awry.
This hearkens back to Mike’s comment that one makes one’s own heaven or hell according to one’s belief. Jesus reportedly said ‘be it done unto you each according to his own belief.” I know this is taken out of context but perhaps it also applies generally; that according to one’s belief is one healed or saved, that is, one experiences wholeness, eternal life, salvation, reincarnation or whatever according to one’s beliefs. I have once thought, even as an uneducated child, that one might survive death or not according to the degree that one believes that one will survive death.
I see no problem in regarding an etheric or metaphysical reality to which one enters after destruction of the physical form as a branch of physics. Probably that is the way it should be. That would remove any taint of superstition associated with religious dogmas and make an etheric world or worlds as something as mundane as an existence in physical life on earth. And at some point maybe “God” will be explained by the use of physics.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 29 Apr, 17:55
Perceived realities are just a matter of receiving and interpreting vibrations or wave lengths within a spectrum, the visible and tangible world made up of only a very small piece of the spectrum which humans have evolved to experience. The larger part of the vibrational spectrum and so-called dark matter, humans can not detect. As science advances, more and more of that “dark matter” might become evident. - AOD
Mike, all the atheists in England that I am in touch with are not nihilists. They follow Arthur Findlay and are reading the subject of survival after death as a branch of physics - forces in nature that are natural and normal.
Great to see the Council of Nicaea in 325 quoted. Constantine called this council in order to stop a civil war. Scores of Christian sects were murdering each other across the Roman Empire with their own doctrines and dogmas. Nicaea decided on a universal and all-embracing(Catholic) set of doctrines and dogmas that all must believe or face death.
Michael Roll, Wed 29 Apr, 10:49
Just do not understand how you can quote from the Bible. There are terrible passages in the Bible that have caused all the killings down through the ages. It is no more the word of the creator of the universe than any other book that has ever been published.
Thanks for the Seth teaching. It has been 20+ years since I read Seth. I must get back to it one of these days. I don’t know if it was Seth or some other advanced spirit who said that we also create our own afterlife to some extent and that nihilists who expect nothing, get nothing, at least until someone wakes them up.
Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Apr, 07:21
You are probably right. The image of heaven being angels strumming harps and floating around on clouds is probably outdated. I don’t think there is a standard image of the afterlife these days. I preferred my “humdrum heaven and horrific hell” description of the afterlife, but a couple of people told me they tired of hearing that, so I had to revert to the angel scene. It sort of like Purgatory. When I was a Catholic school student, we were told that Purgatory is just like hell, except that it wasn’t eternal. You might spend only 100-200 years there before being admitted to Heaven. And everyone, except maybe the saints, would spend time in Purgatory. It was really something to look forward to. However, it is my understanding that the Catholic Church has backed off that vision of Purgatory to no vision at all. I guess that is the way it is with Heaven and Hell as well. I may go back to my humdrum heaven and horrific hell description, although I believe Amos hit the nail on the head by saying that some militant nihilists still cling to that vision of heaven as they need something to visualize in order to attack it.
Michael Tymn, Wed 29 Apr, 07:17
Perhaps God wants to be loved—Jesus said so himself. Love is different from worship: It is more personal, equal, and reciprocal.
The worship we translated this love into is tinged by our sense of fear and distance from God.
But if the kingdom of God is within us, as Jesus taught, then God is more personal, loving and love-worthy.
Indeed, God is love, as the Gospel tells us.
Our words, concepts and practices, colored by our not quite loving experiences and feelings, tend to obscure and distort this truth.
And if worship, perhaps it is then a state of recognition of the holiness of ourselves and the world we were created into. Worship as awe and gratitude for this communion of subjects, to use Thomas Berry’s phrase. Such worship can be seen as an expression of that love which we and God are.
Elizabeth Mika, Tue 28 Apr, 20:53
Great article Michael. The question of where is God during the pandemic is similar to the question of where was God during the Holocaust? One particular rabbi who survived the concentration camps pointed out that the question of where was God during the Holocaust is the wrong question. The question we should ask instead is where was humanity during the Holocaust? The question is not why would God allow such suffering, but why does humanity allow such suffering?
It seems to me that God expects humans to solve their own problems with as little divine intervention as possible out of respect for the divine trait of free will. If God is like our divine “Parent(s)”, then I expect God is willing to let us suffer to learn important lessons about life—in this “School of Hard Knocks.” Forgive me for citing the Bible, but even the Bible claims Jesus’ suffering on the cross “perfected” him as a human being (Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 7:28) suggesting that God allows suffering to bring about a “higher” and greater good from it. If Jesus was who he said he was (the Jewish Messiah)—then his crucifixion was one of the most unjust actions ever committed by human beings. However, the Bible also claims that Jesus’ crucifixion was also one of the greatest displays of divine love (John 3:16). So it seems to me that if God can transform one of the greatest injustices into one of the greatest acts of self-sacrifice, self-denial, and love, then God can (and does) certainly transform lesser injustices involving suffering into a greater good.
Concerning the nature of God, the Bible claims that “light” is God (1 John 1:5) and physicists tell us that all things are made up of light particles. All matter is just condensed or “frozen” light according to David Bohm. So it would be correct to say that the universe itself is actually a part (fractal) of “God”—the Ultimate Whole. The Bible claims that “life” itself is God (Acts 17:28) because Paul references Cretan and Stoic philosophers in that Bible verse. This suggests that Paul is claiming that God is the very “life force” in this universe and beyond. Then, of course, the Bible claims that love itself is God (1 John 4:7-8) and that “all things are held together” by the power of God (Colossians 1:17).
One of the best NDE revelations concerning God, the universe and everything in it comes from Larry Hagman of the Dallas television series whose NDE testimony is described on my website. Here is the revelation he learned:
“Everyone has within them a unique celestial song - an inner melody wanting to burst forth. The inner vibration within us connects us to the deep, modulating, harmonious music of the celestial orchestra. This cosmic orchestra is the collective energy of everything that’s ever lived and everything that’s ever going to live. It is the life force. It is the power of the universe. It is ecstatically happy. The culmination of this energy is love. Love abounds with its feelings of ecstasy and deep bliss. It is the love holding every atom, every sparrow, every galaxy, everything together. Everyone has forever been a part of this life force and always will. We are already familiar with this at a deep level. We know it. The problem is we bury it under so much apprehension and worry. Don’t worry. Be happy and feel good. There are an infinite number of levels of existence and each level adds to the hum of the cosmic orchestra. It’s as if we’re always spiraling upward until we reach a state of atomic bliss. Life continues. The show goes on in ever varied and unfolding settings.”—Larry Hagman
I will leave it at that from the lips of the “I Dream of Jeanie” star.
Kevin Williams, Tue 28 Apr, 19:29
Mike, you ask:
“I don’t know that much about Church history before 325 AD and wonder who or what they visualized or symbolized as God before the Council of Nicaea elevated Jesus to the Godhead. Do you happen to know?”
Before Nicaea (and for quite a while after), as far as I know, Christians had no common image of God. Perhaps that was because early Christianity’s forms of worship had a tinge of the mystery religions it had long coexisted with; perhaps too its heritage from Judaism, which had and has no iconography of the supreme God; maybe there were too many sects, some widely separated from one another, to agree on a “picture” of God.
The images that have survived from catacombs and places of worship strongly emphasize the figure of Jesus. I find them moving, particularly those characterizing him as The Good Shepherd:
Jesus carrying a lamb on his shoulders is, for me, a timeless portrayal of his message of love. Images of the crucifixion only began to appear in the early Middle Ages, and while they can be artistically powerful, they convey human suffering more than divine inspiration.
Rick Darby, Tue 28 Apr, 19:08
David Stang gives us the following, which I have lifted intact, by simple copy and paste:
The irony of it all is that Christ – according to the Gospels – never touted correct belief, instead he promoted loving thy neighbour as thyself. From little old ladies who are members of the altar Guild to famous nuns like Teresa of Avila and from the sexton who sweeps the church’s floors to the great mystics like Meister Eckhart – these people all know in their hearts that what being a Christian is all about is loving one’s neighbours as one loves oneself.
I would add, still quoting Yahshua, that we should first and foremost regard “God” in the same way, and then add the second commandment which is indeed simply as David Stang says.
Why is what David says correct? Because Yahshua (Jesus is the Greek form of the name) says so himself. Look it up. You will also find, perhaps with shock, that he says that anything more than this simple and genuine good-heartedness is of the evil one. All the buildings, all the dogma, all the secret dishonesty we see in almost every so-called Christian, are dross. Now, there’s a thought for the established churches and the militant splinter-group dogmatists to pause for. More could be said, but the simplicity must not be lost.
Eric Franklin, Tue 28 Apr, 13:04
Many thanks for the history lesson on the Council of Nicaea. It is very interesting and appreciated, but I don’t see it as necessarily discounting the idea that an underlying motive in elevating Jesus to the Godhead was that people needed a human figure to visualize and pray to.
The Christian teaching is that “God” gave The Ten Commandments to Moses, inspired the books of the Bible, etc., etc., but how do we know that it was not really some Group Soul, such as the Imperator Group, inspiring it all and that this Group Soul decided a human figure was necessary to represent the Godhead? In effect, the Group Soul, an assembly of advanced spirits, might have been “God,” although, as Amos suggests, Moses and the Bible authors saw “Him” more as a Greek or Roman ruler and that’s how “He” (rather than “They”) became symbolized.
I don’t know how much of the Council of Nicaea proceedings were recorded at the time or if they are still available in the Vatican archives—I doubt it—but even if they are, it is unlikely that Constantine or the Council members knew who was inspiring them or what exactly the intent was. That is, they didn’t know any more than we do now as to the nature of God.
I don’t know that much about Church history before 325 AD and wonder who or what they visualized or symbolized as God before the Council of Nicaea elevated Jesus to the Godhead. Do you happen to know?
Again, thanks for pointing this out.
Michael Tymn, Tue 28 Apr, 07:18
Several intereseting comments on this great blog. I especially agree with Amos Doyle. I would like to say something from my perspective as a Christian. With regard to the QM physicists: Many of the great pioneers in this field would say that creative mind mind brings all dimensions of reality into being. The QM pioneer Max Planck this in the early 1900s.
Led by physicists such as David Bohm many would accept that there is creative Mind or Spirit and Created, namely, the physical realm. Several of these great people experience meaningful synchronicities, which has left them that they have knwon for sure that have been influenced for good by a higher realmm. They include Wolfgang Pauli, who worked with Carl Jung, David Bohm who worked with Krishna Murti, David F. Peat, Brian Josephson and others.
In the Bible there competing theologies. The one I follow is that of the Gospel of John: In the beginning was the Creative Word, or idea, without which came into existence. We read of a God who is in all, through all, and above all.
“In whod we live and move and have our being.”
This has to be the case, all must be connected to all else, This fact makes possible all psychic phenomena. All mediumship, all Near Death Experience, all the wonderful phemena with Rosemary Brown, all distance viewing, all prayer, all answers to prayer, all love, all inpiration, all answers to prayer. Mountain top experiences, sense of union with God, all depend on the fact that that is connected to all else.
Michael Cocks, Tue 28 Apr, 06:26
(On the material plane the Internet suggests a paaalell. The importance of the religions is that they point to communion with and absorbtioninto the Creative Spirit.
Rick questioned, “ Does any modern church really teach that in the afterlife, “we strum harps and float around on clouds for eternity, praising God twenty-four-seven”?” To which I would answer, probably not but atheists who do not go to church might still think that is something church-goers believe in and use it as a silly talking point in an attempt to explain why they, in their wisdom, don’t believe in God. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 28 Apr, 01:37
I’m very much enjoyed reading your latest blog.
My understanding of the Council of Nicaea is slightly different than yours inasmuch as it wasn’t trying to give Christians something to visualize.
All of the early ecumenical councils were convened by the Emperor Constantine. You recall he had a dream the night before the battle of Milvin Bridge. In that dream he saw his troops marching into battle carrying an ensign depicting the cross. Constantine was told in this dream, “By this sign ye shall conquer.” So he woke up his tent makers in the middle of the night and had them sew new battle ensigns depicting the cross. And this is what the ensign bearers leading the troops carried into battle. He won the battle and decided that the Christian God and choreographed his victory and he deserved to be recognized and treated with respect. So he befriended the leading bishops around the Roman Empire and conversed with them about who this Jesus really was. He received somewhat of a different story from each one and realize that this is no way to run the Christian church. He felt they all ought to be singing out of the same handbook so to speak. So he convened the Council of Nicaea, as well as the other ecumenical councils to reach a consensus on who Christ was. The Nicene Creed was an answer to that question.
Now there was a downside to the agreed-upon written results of each of the ecumenical councils and that was that they became the measuring rod for determining who had true faith and who didn’t. Those that accepted and supported, for example, the Nicene Creed were regarded as Orthodox believers. Those who seem to shy away from its literal meaning were viewed as heterodoxical and warned about the necessity of adhering to correct belief. Those who openly disputed the Nicene Creed were regarded as heretics, and those among them who refused to change their opinion were condemned to hell and excommunicated from the church. Excommunicated had two meanings back then: one of them is denied the sacrament of communion and the other is kicked out of the church.
So you see it is not only the fundamentalists that are causing problems. In order to preserve unity nearly all of the other Christian churches to this day demand adherence to such correct belief. One method they use to uphold orthodoxy is to require the person being ordained to publicly vow such beliefs as part of his or her ordination vows, including the belief that God inspired each of the authors of the books and epistles of the New Testament to write down what they did.
When in seminary I asked a New Testament professor how he could take all of those vows knowing that he didn’t believe in most of them. He responded, “You just Have to hold your nose and swallow – say the necessary words – then forget about what you vowed.”
My inference is that the reason that you direct your attacks on the Christian fundamentalists alone is that they make the most amount of noise about orthodoxy and correct belief, while the clergy and members of the less noisy Christian religions only defend orthodoxy when pushed up against the wall. The rest of the time they discreetly believe what they want and quietly share those beliefs with one another from time to time.
My awareness of all of this business about orthodoxy and heresy, etc. is that for the past two millennia the emphasis in the Christian church has been on correct belief as the key to making it into heaven. The irony of it all is that Christ – according to the Gospels – never touted correct belief, instead he promoted loving thy neighbor as thyself. From little old ladies who are members of the altar Guild to famous nuns like Teresa of Avila and from the sexton who sweeps the church’s floors to the great mystics like Meister Eckhart – these people all know in their hearts that what being a Christian is all about is loving one’s neighbor’s as one loves oneself.
I hope that you will find this information both useful and uplifting.
David Stang, Mon 27 Apr, 19:25
A response to Riley: I agree with you that “there is nothing in the universe that requires worship,” but think it likely that the universe owes its existence to something far greater than Nature, if by Nature you mean a Force that lacks consciousness and will. The most advanced sort of reality we know is personal, both at our level and at higher levels, such the heavens where we find Imperator and other greats that lie beyond us.
As I see it, the higher we go up the chain of being, well beyond even Imperator’s level, the more deeply personal we become. And at the acme of that almost infinite chain is the infinite Person, the Mother/Father of the universe. And we, their children, form the third person of a Trinity reconceived: Father, Mother, and the Universe itself.
Stafford Betty, Mon 27 Apr, 19:17
Mije Schmicker, Mon 27 Apr, 18:36
Excellent piece, as always
One comment. The Seth material suggests that we create our reality, both individually and en masse, by our thoughts and beliefs. This includes natural phenomena such as weather and viruses. In sum, we create the physical world with our individual and collective consciousness (consciousness creates matter, not the other way around) If we dont lije what we have created, we have the ability and opportunity, indiviidually and collectively, to shape and change physical reality An interesting hypothesis that is explained in more detail in the Seth literature, if anyone is interested. I personally find the hypothesis logical and rational, and coherent with quantum physics, paranormal research, and the basic findings if Spiritualism.
One of the problems in discussing “God” is that the word ‘God’ is only a symbol representing something that perhaps is indescribable. Like all words, the word ‘God’ represents a concept. Those alphabetical characters, g—-o—-d have no intrinsic meaning alone or grouped together. The word symbol ‘God’ represents different concepts to different people from the human-like Greek and Roman gods to the god-is-in-everything nature god. Today many people who give little thought to what God may really be if it exists, are stuck in the Greek and Roman concept of a human-like God embellished and depicted in the paintings and sculpture of Michelangelo as an older white bearded male hurling lightning bolts at humans and demanding obeisance, sacrifice and worship as required in the stories of the old testament of the Jewish tradition. People who espouse that concept, both those who support it and those who ridicule it just cannot seem to move beyond that idea of God.
But there are a few other concepts to be considered if one is open to considering them. Many people who experience a near death experience (NDE) might have a different concept of God. They often describe something ineffable, most often a beautiful bright, sometimes colorful, all-encompassing light that doesn’t blind the eye and exudes warmth, acceptance and love for those who have the experience. Occasionally the light communicates non-verbally with them. The NDE-ers feel drawn to that light and want to be absorbed into it. Few NDE-er s go so far as to say that they met God but what they describe might be something that over the years has been conceptualized as God by primitive cultures and societies, the people of which may not have been able to think of God as nonphysical, as energy or as consciousness in some other form other than human, like themselves.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 27 Apr, 18:32
Today some people might think of God as energy or consciousness of which all living creatures are a part and to which they all return. Some people might think that that concept is supported by ‘scientific’ ideas about the nature of reality and quantum theory. So considering that concept of God, every consciousness, either in the physical world or in the etheric world, is part of God; is a particle of energy from the source of all energy; that God is creative and active in both worlds, is loving and exists in a reality in which there is no time or space. - AOD
I have no connection with any evangelical churches, so maybe I am mistaken, but are you using an outdated stereotype? Does any modern church really teach that in the afterlife, “we strum harps and float around on clouds for eternity, praising God twenty-four-seven”? It seems truer to say that evangelicals these days reduce God to a theological sweet treat (“God is love”) and concentrate their efforts on social action and rescuing the Third World.
The nihilists are, as you say, at war with any higher meaning. But they give a case to answer. It’s not about Covid-19, which is a dilute apocalypse compared to the horrors of history some of which carry on today. The believers say God’s ways cannot be understood by man (true for the great majority, if not all, of us) and that suffering nudges us to spiritual growth (sometimes true, but only in limited and relatively mild forms of suffering).
I find myself searching and meditating because of something like faith, while skeptical of feel-good bumper-sticker answers such as that adversity is our friend, a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
I cling to the hope that transforming my consciousness is non-rational but the only choice that makes any sense. My own version of Pascal’s wager.* The wager is wrong as an argument for believing in Christianity or any other religion. But it is a thoughtful explanation of why we can take steps to know God without understanding God’s ways, or even being repelled by how they appear to work.
* “Pascal posed the following argument to show that belief in the Christian religion is rational: If the Christian God does not exist, the agnostic loses little by believing in him and gains correspondingly little by not believing. If the Christian God does exist, the agnostic gains eternal life by believing in him and loses an infinite good by not believing.”—Encyclopaedia Britannica
Rick Darby, Mon 27 Apr, 18:15
Well said Michael. When I was a teenager, I was a firm atheist. The whole idea of God sitting on a throne and passing eternal judgment seemed absurd. But at one point my eyes were opened and I realized it wasn’t God that was unbelievable. It was the ridiculous concept of God that had been fed to me since childhood by the church and my elders. As we grow in our understanding, we must find more advanced models of the universe to satisfy our ever growing minds. But in the final analysis, God is beyond all knowledge and understanding. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said in his famous Poem, The Chambered Nautilus,
Bart Walton, Mon 27 Apr, 15:28
“Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from Heaven with a dome more vast,
‘Till thou at length are free.”
Great work Mike, as always.
riley heagerty, Mon 27 Apr, 13:23
I have come to believe, after more than 30 years of dedicated, deep research on Historic Spiritualism, that Nature is the one and only true God, and that cause & effect is the unstoppable and unalterable law of all things.There is nothing in the universe, in my humble opinion, that requires worship.
Add your comment