Never gonna give you up..

 Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you…  Yes, I just lured you in with a Rick Astley song.  For whatever reason I thought that set of lyrics was pretty relevant to what I am going to cover in this relatively brief post.  My recent post “Who’s in control?” garnered the biggest single day number of hits for this blog.  It also had a good number of comments and email responses.  It seems my Christian friends have taken issue with my position that as human beings we are not wretched, worthless, disgustingly sinful beings.  That we are not building up a debt of sin that will justify eternal torment and punishment forever, which can only be paid and forgiven by belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That all of our actions and imperfections somehow get erased by faith alone.  Well, aside from the fact that the words of Jesus himself contradict the concept of faith alone in favor of “what you do to the least of these my brethren you do unto me“,  it really doesn’t portray God as has often been the Christian position that God is love

So, is God love?  I believe so.  Mostly because no science has been able to prove what causes love and that particular feeling or emotion is the thread that weaves humanity with a concept of morality.  So what exactly is love?  The Apostle Paul, who as most of you know I have been pretty critical of, wrote one of the most inspirational chapters of the Bible and it happens to be perhaps the greatest description of love.  The chapter, for those of you who may not have guessed it, is 1 Corinthians 13.   As the Bible has multiple translations this chapter reads differently from version to version.  The most obvious difference is when comparing the KJV and the NIV.  (to those not familiar – the KJV is the King James Version which was translated in 1611 and the NIV is the New International Version which was translated in 1984. These are the 2 best-selling translations)  The KJV doesn’t use the word Love, it uses the word Charity.  To the skeptic this would seem to be a problem, but not to me.  Charity is, after all, a tremendous example of unconditional love.  When one exercises charity, they give for the sake of giving, with no expectation of reciprocation.  There is no doubt that is love.  So, if God is love, why not use 1 Corinthians 13 as a description of God.  For the sake of brevity, let’s just take the core of  the chapter which are verses 4-7 and replace the words “love” and “it” with “the Lord” (note- I am removing a few “it’s” for the sake of flow):

The Lord is patient, the Lord is kind. The Lord does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.  The Lord does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs.  The Lord does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  The Lord always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Now I ask you again: Is God Love?  If so, than we have never been rejected, nor will we ever be.  Why else would a word like “Father” be invoked so often?  The way I see it, our Eternal Father never gave up on you, me or anyone else.  It seems that for many people it really is the other way around. 

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you.. – Deuteronomy 4:31

The “power” of the mind and prayer

The human mind is an incredibly powerful and amazing creation. When you think (pun intended) about the things the mind is capable of you have to wonder why the words I can’t are in anyone’s vocabulary. The subconscious mind controls the senses, the emotions, and the essential life systems and cycles of the body. The mind truly is a terrible thing to waste on some of the mundane silliness we seem to waste it on this days (ie. “Reality TV”)

If the mind is capable of creating an entirely parallel universe while you are dreaming and if we, as it is written, are created in the image of our Creator, how can anyone doubt, question, or even fathom the limits of the power of the mind? The even greater power of collective consciousness can even be physical felt by those around it, whether they wanted to feel it or not. Collective consciousness is, in simple terms, a group of people thinking and focusing on the same thing. The easiest examples are pep rallies, funerals, and even a business conference room. Think of the almost electric positive vibe you can feel at a pep rally, the somber sadness you can feel during a funeral, or the tension in a conference room when opposing parties are engaged in a serious ideological debate.

So what does this have to do with prayer?

When someone prays it is a deep mental process (unless it’s a shallow recitation or going through the motions). So depending on the depth of a person’s consciousness, a prayer by a single person can very easily change their mood and perceptions of their situation. Now, add a few people who have the depth of consciousness and who knows the possibilities. This is where some “prayer circles” may have the “power” to impact their surroundings. I’m not saying a group of people can form a prayer circle and eliminate cancer, however imagine if for a few moments the entire planet at the same time focused on the same topic… The outcome could be astounding. I realize this may seem completely irrational to the secular mind. To those people I revert to my previous examples of the energy at a pep rally and the somberness you can feel at a funeral and ask them to come up with a better explanation than collective consciousness.

Do you know someone who is extremely persuasive? You know, that friend who can talk you into anything or that sales guy who can sell ice cubes to Eskimos. Have you considered the fact that this is a person, whether they know it or not, had the ability to use their mind to influence yours? Think of the scores of motivational speakers, religious teachers, even regular teachers that with their words (which originate from their mind) plant seeds of hope and knowledge into the minds of the people they speak to. These seeds then grow into other thoughts based on that person’s perspective of what they thought they heard.

In today’s world people really don’t use their minds as much anymore. The rise of technology have made things like spelling and grammar to be unnecessary skills. Studying and reading have been replaced with television and video games. As smart as we think we are, we are probably less intelligent than people were just a century ago. Think of people like Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, and even further back – Pythagoras. Do we have anyone even remotely comparable to these people? In ages past some people, like Nostradamus, were so in touch with their subconsciousness that they could pinch the ripple of time and predict events that would occur centuries later.

The power of human thought is immeasurable. Sincerely focused prayer from a non-dogmatic perspective is literally a person tapping into the innermost recesses of their mind and consciousness. The possibilities of those thoughts really could be limitless.

Think about it.

The Blood, The Word, and the Reason

There are 2 passages of scripture that almost everyone has heard at one point in their life regardless of whether they are religious or not:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

and

For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish…” John 3:16

The first passage is clear. All things come from God. No other being. The ultimate sovereign of the universe is God and only God. And as Deuteronomy 6:4 states: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God is One”. There is only one God and there is not a multiplicity of this God nor is there any other being – good or evil – equal to God.

So why would the second passage be necessary? Why would the Creator of all things and Master of the Universe have to sacrifice his “son” for anything? I personally have a hard time with the concept that God would have to do anything to forgive me outside of let say… Forgiving me.

This is where context and an allegorical exegesis of scripture is needed. The kind of things mainstream preachers would denounce as heresy. Frankly, I’d rather interpret scripture for myself than let someone who’s paid to do it do it for me. Jewish tradition has always held to individual commentary of scripture because only the Decalogue (10 commandments) is “etched in stone”. The Talmud, Mishnah, and Zohar are examples of that continuous search for hidden meaning. Jesus himself used parables to provide his interpretation of the Torah and the Psalms and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are perhaps the best interpretation of Torah ever uttered.

We are in the midst of Passover, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday. I personally believe that there is a deeper allegorical meaning in all of these mythological events. However to keep this blog post under a thousand words, I am going to focus on the Passion of Jesus from a non-dogmatic and allegorical perspective.

The primary verse in all of Christian scripture is John 3:16. It is this verse that billions of Christians base their faith and belief in Jesus. What if there is an entirely different meaning than the one developed by the early church fathers? A tradition that was formed then that has snow-balled into a religion that worships Jesus instead of following him. Let’s take a look at another series of passages:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

“and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” – John 1:14

Now I am going to paste all of these passages together:
In the beginning the One and only God created the heavens and the earth. From God’s word all things were created and through God’s word all men can be one with Him for eternity. Man was created in the image of God and wanted to be God, so man rejected the Word. Man became a mortal being and God had compassion on him. Many times God had compassion on man and many times man rejected his Word. So God made the Word into flesh so that man could know God face to face and have a living example of the Word. Once again man rejected the Word and rejected the Word by shedding blood. Man can reject God’s Word but, that will never destroy it. So therefore God so loved the world that he gave us his Word and whoever believes in God and follows his Word will be one with God for all eternity.

I know what you are thinking. I used a lot more passages than I said I was going to do. To be completely honest every single word I just wrote came from somewhere in the Bible. (all are easy to find)

But wait, there’s more. I am obviously not going to leave you hanging without talking about the actual death of Jesus. The death of Jesus was a tragedy. The greatest of all Rabbis who wanted nothing more than to teach everyone the sum total of the Word:

“Love your neighbor as yourself”. The lesson was so important that Jesus even gave us an example of the most profound act of love a person can show anyone “that a man lay down his life for his friends”.

In a world so technologically advanced it is difficult for many people to believe the miracles attributed to Biblical characters. It is also very difficult to accept that some of the very violent forms of punishment in the Bible can be attributed to a merciful and loving God. Whether the characters in the Bible actually lived or whether the events recorded actually happened is irrelevant. What is so ever critical to remember is that it doesn’t really matter what the Bible says – it is the underlying meaning that matters the most.

The Bible is unique in that it can be interpreted in so many ways – good and bad. I personally believe that to truly understand it you need to keep reading it.