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Archive for December, 2009

Christmas is kind of hard. Especially since, deep-down, I really want to fit in with everyone else… go to a good service or two and sing about baby Jesus, light a candle, or whatever you all do. I want to, but I just can’t. Or even if I do go, I just can’t forget the things that I know… the things that I know and so many of the other smiling faces in the crowd either don’t know or simply refuse to accept.

Through all my years of Christian (yes good old bible school seminary) education, Church history, apologetics, and various other studies I just know that this holiday can’t be taken literally. Although tonight I realized that I can still enjoy it and take it seriously.

I may not believe in god the same way that you all do. I believe that the whole thing is an allegory, meaning to inspire and point us all towards a greater truth… and one that we took far too literally. Believing, or better put “knowing”, that has always been a hang up for me. Especially on this holiday since it centers so much around the telling, re-telling, and proclamation of a ridiculous series of events as a historical fact that I should just accept as though I’m accepting the fact that there is a Europe, or that Abraham Lincoln was a President of the United States.

Tonight though, while in a service, I smiled and felt a certain amount of release and joy as I slowly broke down and started singing along with one of the Christmas hymns. The joy came from knowing that even though I debate the historical accuracy of this whole thing, and even debate the literal existence of a Christ… that I do believe in it conceptually, and that even if to me he was allegory and to you he is literal, that in the end our songs and our prayers are both reaching the same heavens.

For those of you who are new to this concept, and who think that I must be off my rocker for even proposing it; let me take a second to explain some of the basics of what was once called Christianity but now is referred to as heresy… or Gnostic Christianity.

A fact that I learned while studying church history in my minister’s training, was that in the beginning of church history there was already a debate going as to if the New Testament, and especially the story of Christ was to be taken literally or if it was simply a tool to help man “awaken” and be brought closer to god/enlightenment. There was even a point in time where both of these groups of people were still considered Christians and even managed to get along and worship side-by-side.

Now, most churches and religious schools today will state that the literal Christians came first, and that the non-literal “Gnostics” came along much later as Christianity got watered-down and mixed in with other Pagan religions as it spread through Europe and other territories. That is the popular answer, and as it is commonly said… the ones who win the wars get to write the history books.

However, archeologists, scholars and theologians across the globe have not too recently found enough evidence buried deep in the sands of time to support the theory that it was really the opposite that was true. That the Gnostics were the first to call themselves “Christians”, and that it wasn’t until much later that a fundamentalist movement came along, professing a literal, historical belief in the events of what we now call the New Testament.

Gnostics saw Christianity as a fluid, adaptive religion that could embrace any culture and would not only tolerate but incorporate other beliefs as it spread. For it wasn’t the message which was sacred, it was the end result. Jesus was a path to lead us towards the divine, but they saw many paths and never lost sight of the end goal… knowing that you are a Christ, that you are in God and that God is in you.

Historically, we should all be able to agree, that the split between the “Christians” and the “Christians” came to a head when Constantine decided that he wanted to pick a one world religion for the Roman Empire.

His final two choices had boiled down to what we now know as the Gnostics and the fundamentalists who soon after became the Roman Catholic Church. He made his decision, and one faith was elevated and the other cut-down… almost erased from history. Which does make one wonder… who the heck was Constantine, a political figure and ruler to decide our faiths in the first place?

For many years the church painted Constantine as a saint, even literally made him one, a man of God, a devout Christian who encountered God in a holy vision giving him divine direction, making him a messenger of God… an instrument to give direction to His church.

History, real history, paints quite a different picture. Constantine was a cruel and shrewd ruler, who even after his supposed “conversion” was killing wives, going to orgies and up until his death bed considered himself a pagan.

The desire of a one world religion wasn’t spiritually based but politically. Rome had one government, one ruler, and people needed to understand that there were dire punishments for disobeying that ruler, and benefits for obeying him. The religion needed to be the same. One religion, one ruler, some after-world benefit for following it, and some eternal damnation for disobeying. There would be another catch as well… Constantine wished to control this religion as well, setting himself up as the spiritual leader or director of it and its teachings. Total control of the people, both politically and spiritually.

Now out of the two primary choices, which fits the criteria best? Gnostics do not believe in a “heaven” or a “hell”, and could really care less if someone was Gnostic or not. The point was to help people find enlightenment, unleash the true good of the inner man, and adapt the message to something new if the current flavor doesn’t work for you.

The others, on the other hand… fit the criteria perfectly.

But what does this mean for me if I truly believe this? Does this mean that I can’t call myself Christian? Because the Gnostics sure didn’t have a problem with calling themselves that. Can I not enjoy church? They founded the church. Can I not enjoy Christmas? Communion? Easter? What do you think the Gnostics did during those holidays? I’m sure they worshiped right there alongside the rest — knowing full well that even though we may disagree on certain specifics, dogma, or theologies… that their worship and prayers are too making their way to their object of worship.

Am I declaring myself a Gnostic? No. No I am not. And neither would they, for in the end although some did die for their beliefs, many instead just simply adapted again… as I adapt and learn from this wealth of spiritual knowledge that is available to me from not only this one culture but so many, many more.

I like their attitude though, but I see no need for saying that I am any one thing when my attitude and beliefs are fluid, able to learn, able to change, able to appreciate all that is out there, and always, always focused on the end-goal… knowing god and self. Knowing that the form, the message holds nothing sacred for me, but that the quest itself IS sacred.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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When you sit and meditate, given long enough, you get a lot of time for self evaluation and reflection. Some would even argue that is the whole point; where, as one of the many fringe benefits. Regardless, I had one of those moments the other day and now it’s stuck in my mind like a sliver I just can’t seem to pick or an itch that I just can’t seem to scratch.

The realization was a simple question and answer session. Why am I looking, trying so hard to find a brand of religion that I can call my own and agree with 100%? Why am I going to church again, when clearly my theology, if known to these people would set me apart from them as a heretic? Why am I looking for that perfect teacher, temple, religion, practice… so I can find a home and finally call myself a Zen Buddhist in the _____ tradition, or brand myself as a Vedantic, a Mahayana or Gnostic?

Is my motive to find “truth”, god, and enlightenment; or is it that other word previously mentioned in my jumble of thoughts: home? Home. What is my greater desire? Could it be that somewhere along the way my quest changed, or was this it from the very beginning; some primordial need that I was seeking to meet without even knowing it?

Maybe I want to “be” something because I want a religious home, a community of fellow believers to practice with and be a part of — friends, family, teachers, community support and a sense of belonging. Could it be that this natural instinct, something that goes so far back in our genes as pack animals, is so strong that I would even trade finding the truth to fulfill it?

If I found a community that accepted me in, would I not look over all kinds of flaws, short-comings, and differences to hold onto my new found family? Would I play the part of a good Christian, Buddhist or really anything to keep my friends and my newly found social structure of comfort? How long would it take before I even forgot that I didn’t fully agree with what I was being told, and fall into some self delusion?

I can even seen now how cults do so well in bringing people into the fold and how they get such a strong hold on their lives. Soon they are enveloped in it as a community; they find a new family, friends, social activities, a girlfriend, a teacher… everything they always wanted. Everything I want. Now that’s a scary thought.

It’s not easy, that feeling of never fitting in. It’s deep-seeded, and brings back painful memories from childhood that best be forgotten. And what would I give up in order to make that go away?

Now here is the painful truth. If someone were to come to me and offer me belonging; a mate, friends, a community, but their asking price was for me to give up truth… I would be tempted to take the offer.

Look deep inside yourself. Would you? Have you already? It is probably more common than we think.

Knowing this, having this realization, has actually helped me out a lot. I have to be careful in my actions and double check my actions. I had to stop and really decide, am I looking for truth or am I looking for a place to fit in?

I decide I wanted truth. I hope I find community, but I must remind myself what my decision, what the true cry, or at least the loudest cry of my heart is.

This is also a liberating realization, for without the pressure of needing to find that perfect religion I am now freer to take from and enjoy many of them as they come to me. Without having to define myself so specifically I no longer have to so limit and define god, spirit and enlightenment… who I supposed to be limitless anyway.

So what am I then? Nothing really. A seeker, a finder, a good man, and just another crazy mixed-up human being trying to figure this thing out, and trying to enjoy as much of the process as possible along the way.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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You know, I’d like to have faith in something. In fact, I have faith that there is some kind of spiritual part to this world — that it is just not all what we can see and feel, but that makes this whole thing even more frustrating. Because since I believe that there is something out there, it’s hard for me not to know what it is. I want to slap a name and a face on the thing and put it in a little box I can carry around with me! Who knows though, maybe thats the point? Maybe you just can’t really put such human restrictions on such a limitless thing?

I’m in Texas now, still searching, and I must admit that I am a bit lonely out here. I have no family here, and it’s always been hard for me to make friends. I’m not stand-offish or anything like that — just… different.

I heard online that there was some church out here that had a very large singles scene for people about my age and so I went there hoping that maybe with such a huge “dating pool” it would be easier for me to meet people. And yes, I totally went to a church to check out chicks. However, it didn’t take me long to correct that mindset and push that out of my head once I realized that was what I was doing. Once I realized it, I laughed at myself and decided to just concentrate on the sermon and figured that maybe experiencing God was much more worth anticipating than getting a wink or two out of the crowd.

Who knows though, maybe that was where I went wrong? Because the last thing an unprepared pastor would ever want, if they knew what’s good for them, is someone like me actually paying attention to what they are preaching.

I’ll be blunt. Crass even. The place was big, but as well all know it’s not the size that matters but if you know how to use it. You know, I have been celibate now for three years, but before that I did my share of sleeping around. During that time I met this really cute girl at a New Years party, no I don’t remember her name, and we hooked up. It was pretty good sex, even though she was a bit taller than my average, but when we were done she said something to me that was supposed to be a compliment but it sure rubbed me the wrong way for a while… enough that I forgot her name and never called her back.

She told me that some of the other guys she had been with before me were “bigger” than me, but that they were unable to please her, but I was able to give her not one but multiple orgasms… and then she said that whole “not the size that matters but how you use it” thing to me. Not exactly what a guy wants to hear after a moment like that.

Now, looking back I see it as a compliment… although my ego sure as hell would still rather have been told that I was both the biggest and the best. Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter much now anyway. I don’t even have sex anymore. And no, it’s not “for life’ or anything like that. I just decided a few years ago that I was being a slut and promised myself that I would not have sex again unless I fell in love, and I just haven’t fallen in love.

Now back to the church service.

I was stopped several times by people, greeted I guess, and all of them just only talked to me about how big the church was. Asking me if I was intimidated at how big the church was, impressed at how big it was, or how awesome it was to find/have a church so big. Little did they know, that for starters… I have seen bigger. And more importantly, I have seen much, much smaller who knew how to “use it” and impressed me far greater. I’ve experienced God in a circle of three in a home prayer group. I have had visions and experiences sitting on a cold floor of a rented gym with a Buddhist Master. I have seen the poor be generous and the ugly beautiful.

No, size won’t impress me. I have nothing against size or big screen tv’s and operation budgets that would feed a third-world country… but that is not what is going to make me think that you have any bit more of your act together than I do.

Now I didn’t talk to these people enough to know what kinds of lifestyles they lived, their personal integrity, walk and what kind of a difference their church made in giving back to the poor and charity, but I did stay to listen to their preaching and that I can judge. I can judge their theology and based off that I knew pretty clear that this was just not a good place for me.

The theme of the sermon was supposed to be on Self Deception. Note the words “self deception”. But the text used was on Matthew 7. That whole “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” passage.

So let’s break it down. There was worship, your typical emotionally charged songs talking strangely about God’s love and mercy and his insatiable blood lust that must be appeased before he condemns us all to death. Then, the funny skit, announcements, and then appealing to people to give more money to various programs. Now comes the sermon — your standard “I have a theme that I want to work and I’m going to now pick through the bible to come up with a passage I can use that will kind of fit it” kind of deal. You start off with a funny, personal story, to warm the crowd up; much like my size of my penis story but much more G or PG rated.

As for the sermon itself… the scripture used was both out of content and not a theology that I can agree with. The first part is not that debatable, while the second is a topic of debate that has been in the church since it’s beginnings.

Now his point in the sermon what that self deception was bad, and that there were certain Christians in their church who were under the false impression that they were doing good as Christians, but that Jesus never really “knew them”. He even took it so far as to say that this not only applies to people who are not “saved” and think they are by being “good people” but this also applies to actual Christians who just are not close enough to Jesus that he REALLY knows them well. For both of these people the end result is the same (in his opinion) — that you get cast into a lake of fire.

Now as heartwarming as this sermon is, I must point a few things out that I think are a bit off. First, Matthew 7 is a warning to false teachers and false prophets, and Jesus is talking about condemning them. There is no “self deception” here, since he is warning the false teachers as to how if they deceive people they will be punished. The scripture used here was taken out of context and for this reason alone the message should be considered null and void.

My second disagreement is a difference in actual theology, and is open for debate. I personally can’t see where in the Christian scriptures there is enough proof to support the theory that someone who was “saved” can then become “un-saved” and go to hell. I have seen enough scripture to sway me more towards the “once saved always saved” school of thought, but please understand that what was being preached here was neither of these options. What was being preached here was some weird middle ground where a person is/was honestly “saved” but just didn’t do good enough after their salvation to get “really close” to Jesus, and so they go to hell anyway. Now where is that exactly in the Bible? I studied theology and there isn’t even a name for that particular theological stance… namely because it’s kinda outrageous.

I left that night laughing to myself about Christian theology in general. How primitive it actually is, how despite all the new sound systems and flashing lights, it still really is such a primitive practice. We gather and form a group and incite ourselves with drum beats and repetitious chants to induce some kind of a spiritual state, and hopefully call down the presence of a god. We then get to hear of a great god who is gentle, kind and loves us with all of his heart. It is a great love that is both pure and overwhelming, and nothing is greater than this love… nothing except this gods insatiable demand for vengeance, blood sacrifice, and a desire to send us all to a fiery grave. Seriously, which is greater? The love or the blood lust? Because if the love were greater then why would the blood sacrifice have to be fulfilled before the love can show? It is only because the blood is the greater of the two.

Now this god of love and blood out of his love does not want to have to kill us all, but must be appeased so he demands blood sacrifice. We tried animals, but that just wasn’t strong enough to appease his wrath, and killing people was out of the question since that was listed as one of his sins he hates us for anyway. So what are we to do?

Finally an answer comes! We must kill a god in oder to finally appease god. The trick is though, that this god already made it quite clear that there is only one god… so I guess we are screwed on that one. But wait! Now there is a second god, his “son” which was hiding in the wings all these thousands of years that he just forgot to mention. He will come down to earth and we can sacrifice him, eat his flesh and drink his blood and all will be well. Phew! What a relief.

If in today’s day-and-age we found a bunch of aboriginal people dancing around in grass skirts and worshiping this kind of a religious system we laugh at their supposed ignorance and unsophisticated beliefs. Who knows, maybe one day some more intelligent people will come to see us all and make some kind of a documentary on our primitive beliefs and practices we just can’t seem to shake the hold off of?

Or is it the opposite? Is all religion following some basic theme or pattern that we just seem to choose to ignore? We dress it up and put a new face on it every century tow, but all-in-all… here we are, still covering in front of some great Spirit, trying to call it down, appease it, gain its favor, and come to some kind of peace of mind in this crazy world.

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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Everyone is a Philosopher

Everyone is a philosopher, albeit some are doing quite poor in the endeavor. If you find the first line a bit hard to swallow, then maybe you can at least agree with me that everyone has their own personal philosophy of life; some guiding rules, preconceived notions or expectations that govern their actions, and reactions to things in life.

So, I guess that my stating that “Everyone has a philosophy” would be easier to agree with, but I am still of the opinion that we play a much more active role in it than that. Maybe we just like to feel like victims when our lives and actions are so out of control? If you own personal philosophy is in a mess, then I’d assume that it would be much nicer to be able to point the finger to another source to blame for its authorship.

About two weeks ago I was in conversation with a young professor, who was pretty adamant in their profession of disdain for all studies of philosophy or religion… especially my own. Their main argument was that it was a waste of time, that forming and shaping a own personal philosophy or belief system held no benefit, and that it just got in the way of their own ideal of just accepting everything as it comes without further thought or consideration.

Which is funny, because that is her philosophy; however unshaped or unrefined, but philosophy none the less.

But, if no matter what, you are going to live by some kind of philosophy of life, would you not want it to be the one of your conscious choice? A good one, well thought out, decided upon, and even one that is slightly above you for which to strive for?

If not, then your philosophy is going to be based one other things, such as:

  • How you were raised at home
  • Society, culture, and media
  • Purely reactionary, especially to traumatic events in your life

In the case of the lady I was speaking to, who held that she had no philosophy, her philosophy was shaped strongly instead by her family, upbringing, and traumas.

She stated that she was spoiled and bad with money, never denying herself any material item or worldly pleasure because her wealthy parents always got her what she desired without question. Her philosophy on marriage was based solely on that of her parents, and of her failed marriage in the past. Her concept of self worth was based on media, and her goals were based on what her peers around her accepted or condemned.

My point is, that if you do not control and shape your philosophy, it will not stop you from forming one… it will just simply be a very poor one.

Would you rather not take the rightful responsibility for it, and yourself, and choose how you would like it to be? Make it an educated, hopefully positive one, which guides and governs your life on a foreword path?

Maybe that takes the security blanket away of being able to say that you are selfish…because X happened to you, you steal because, you lie because, you are lazy because, you cheat because, because, because, because. But isn’t there liberation in becoming the master of oneself? And if you are going to have a philosophy regardless, why not take the time and effort to make it a good one?

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For more heresy please join me on my new blog at www.evolitionist.com

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