March 28, 2010 by Bill
For the next two Sundays, in this Easter season, we are going to be buried in Jesus talk and fantasy. For balance it is good to keep it all in perspective. The words of many of the world’s most respected and distinguished scholars come back to me. Their words can sharpen our mind/brain and save us from drowning in clichés and childish religious pablum.
SOREN KIERKEGAARD…known as the “Great Dane,” is still studied in every major university and theological seminary that is independent of Christian financial support. Kierkegaard put it about as bluntly as it can be said: “Gangs of swindlers have taken forcible possession of the firm of Jesus Christ and have done a flourishing business under the name of Christianity. The whole thing is what is known in criminal cases as forgery. And if you doubt me, my friend, all you have to do is read the Gospels about Jesus. The Jesus of the Gospels must be changed and altered drastically to fit the Jesus of official Christianity. The typical sermon about this Jesus is not only pure twaddle, but worse than that, total dishonesty. Christianity is played every Sunday. Artists in dramatic robes and costumes make their appearance in artistic buildings and now, dramatically play Christianity, or in short, play comedy.” So wrote Soren Kierkegaard, who is recognized as the father of Christian existentialism.
ALBERT SCHWEITZER…whose “Quest of the Historical Jesus” is still recognized as the classic of biblical studies, wrote this: “Jesus claimed none of the things that the church has claimed for him.” When asked by Norman Cousins “do you think anyone has ever lived who was as good as Jesus?” Schweitzer replied “Millions.”
DR. HARVEY COX…former Dean of the Theological Seminary, Harvard University, wrote “the clergy have abused, distorted, and twisted the story of Jesus for centuries.”
WILL DURANT…in his monumental 12 volume “History of Civilization”: “Paul created a theology about the man, Jesus, a man that he did not even know, 50 or more years after the death of Jesus, with complete disregard for even the sayings attributed to Jesus. Jesus got lost in the metaphysical fog of Paul’s brain.” Read more
March 21, 2010 by Bill
I close my eyes, put my memory in rewind, and am once again experiencing a moment that transcends language. I was sitting in front of a glorious wood burning fire in a cabin by Redfish Lake in the magnificent Sawtooth mountains of Idaho. It was early morning, my favorite time of the day. I was reading “The Labyrinth of Solitude” by the Nobel Laureate in Literature, Octavio Paz. When I finished this exquisite closing paragraph, my eyes were moist.
“Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide awake. But this wide awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason. When we emerge, perhaps we will realize that we have been dreaming with our eyes open, and that the dreams of reason are intolerable. And then, perhaps, we will begin to dream once more with our eyes closed.”
Behind my closed eyes a dream did begin to take shape. My dream saw the religions of “the book,” the bible, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, evolving toward a higher consciousness. It is these religions of the book that have historically produced the vast majority of the violence in our world, from Moses to the Crusades, Henry VIII, Salem and Kosovo, the West Bank and the Gaza strip, along with Northern Ireland. In modern Europe, Serbian leaders have killed people en masse to safeguard what they call “holy places.” In “Mein Kampf” Hitler wrote that “I am completely convinced that I am acting as the agent of God by killing Jews. I am doing the work of the Lord Jesus. I am now a Catholic and will always remain so.” Hitler was never excommunicated and Mein Kampf was never banned by the church.
It is religion that has produced the vast majority of violence in the world, historically. Those countries without religion, even in our own time, are the least violent.
Western Christianity has now degenerated into hundreds of squabbling, fighting, creeds, denominations and sects, into “mazes of nightmares.” Churches in Europe are empty. Cathedrals are for tourists. Church attendance in America continues, year after year, to go down drastically.
In my dream I saw this phallic imperialism of the last 2,000 years coming to an end. I saw the three religions of the book in the throes of their own Ghost Dance. Our “dreams of reason have been intolerable,” and perhaps, yes, just perhaps we are in the birthing period of a slow evolution toward a rediscovery of the sacred that could lead us out of the “mazes of nightmares.” Read more
March 14, 2010 by Bill
There has been a dance of the human spirit through millions of years of evolution. An anthropomorphic supernatural “being,” or “god” was a part of that dance in more primitive and superstitious times, but the dance goes on evolving past these archaic images. There is the reality of a Mystery at work in evolution. It is the “something unknown doing we know not what” of Nobel physicist Eddington’s statement. To simply stand before this Mystery in wonder, astonishment and awe leaves us free to join the dance of spirit toward a more refined consciousness.
“Will you…won’t you…will you…won’t you…will you join the dance?” is still the question today even as it was in “Alice in Wonderland.” But, to join the dance in this evolution of consciousness, it is mandatory that we let go of the past and become contemporary with ourselves and the world we live in. The inability to “let go” of archaic beliefs, no matter how cherished they have been, and the inability to give up pride and prejudice is the beginning of the countdown to death, either individually or collectively.
“At the still point of the turning world…there is only the dance,” wrote T.S. Eliot. To live fully in joy and daily celebration we must abandon ourselves to the dance of existence. Life is a dance, and the dance goes on with or without us. Life is in session…are you present?
Today, physicists are telling us that their understanding of “reality,” the nature and activity of the universe, is bringing us closer and closer to the cosmology of the Eastern religions. We are a part of a cosmic dance and all is One. Physicists assure us now that rocks and flowers dance with the dance of life. Trees dance to the wind. Salmon and trout and porpoise dance and leap with a ballet of grace and rhythm. Atoms and plants dance to intricate laws. There is no line between the sacred and profane, the supernatural and the natural, the divine and human. Everything, ALL, is natural, sacred and divine.
A Dead Sea scroll records a disciple asking Jesus, “Master, how can we get into the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus answers this way: “Follow the birds…the beasts…the fish…and they will lead you in.”
“Will you…won’t you…will you…won’t you…will you join the dance?” Before we can join the dance, it is just mandatory that first we become what and who we truly are. “This above all…to thine own self be true.” (Hamlet) The courage it takes to be true “to thine own self” is enormous. We have pressure from all sides to be everything other than our true selves. Pressure is constant from family…peers…friends…society…relatives, for us to be what they want us to be, or to do whatever it is they want us to do. The pressures from society can keep us divorced from ourselves for our entire lives. There is no music and no dance until we live true to ourselves. Read more