August 29, 2010 by Bill
There is a sin among a large segment of the Christian clergy that I find despicable. It is the sin of omission. It is the sin of not sharing with a congregation what you know to be true about the bible and Christianity. It is the sin of promoting what you know to be false in order to hold your job. Those graduating in religious studies from every major university in America, as well as every major theological seminary that is independent of Christian financial pressure, know certain facts to be true. They know:
- That the entire bible is saturated with common mythological themes, from the creation and flood myth, to virgin birth and resurrected hero mythology.
- That the stories of the patriarchs in the Old Testament are known as “temple legends” to enhance the history of the Hebrew people and are mostly fiction.
- That the Gospels were not written by anyone who knew Jesus personally, and are to be read only in the context of legends.
- That the “Christ” myths and formulas are direct copies of Zoroastrian and Egyptian myths adopted by the Jesus sect.
- That these facts, with others, have been known for years, and taught, by scholars who are respected internationally in major universities world wide.
Religiously educated clergy, through the sin of omission, yet continue to promote superstition. The Senior Minister of one of the largest churches in this area said to me: “Edelen, I can’t talk about those things to my congregation. I would lose so much financial support I could not keep the church open. I just play the game they want.”
A woman in my Idaho church said to me in the parking lot one day. “I don’t care what you learned in seminary…I give more money than anyone else in this church and I just want you to talk about my sweet Jesus or I am taking my money and leaving.” I said to her: “well…good bye” and with that she slapped me so hard across the face you could hear it for a mile. In Christian “love” no doubt.
August 22, 2010 by Bill
The book stores today are filled with books about “living in the NOW.” THIS IS IT. Today, this moment is all we really know. Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. There is some truth in this view. But, the problem is that memory is a house with thousands of rooms. Memories are deleted … destroyed … eroded … drowned … faded away … crowded out or allowed to stay for another day. Without memory there is no experience, which is nothing else than reiterated memory.
One of the miracles of the human mind is memory. Within one single mind, a person can fly from one decade to the next, or the past, one country to another … past to present to possible future. Memory is imagination and fantasy. It can be flooding our mind, and emotions, with precious and cherished times. To delete these or smother them could leave our lives grim and impoverished. To have these still in our minds to recover at will can make our “present”…our “now” moments, where we daily live, more enriching, more joyful, and put a smile on our faces.
I remember that little West Texas homestead of my mother’s parents where I spent all my summers through grade school and high school …and I smile as I remember my Grandpa Deaver as having white hair and a flowing, giant mustache, eating clabber and corn bread at breakfast. As his mustache filled, the clabber would start dripping back into the bowl. This brings my “now” moment into a happy focus and brightens my “now” moment into a happy smile.
It brings my “now” moment into a proud joy to remember the day at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas when the wings of a Marine Corps pilot were pinned on my chest by an Admiral wearing the Navy Cross for valor. The value of this moment in memory is immeasurably enhanced by the fact that it was given to me by men who had proven their valor in their country’s cause on many a well-fought field.
My life in the “now” moments of living my days lecturing and writing are enriched by the memory of the discipline to complete a Bachelor degree in Science and a Masters degree in Theology in graduate school followed by ten years of lecturing at the University level. The significance that gives to my present “now” days simply cannot be measured.
August 15, 2010 by Bill
“What is this thing that you white people call God?” asked a Native shaman. “You are always talking about it. It’s goddam this and goddam that, and in the name of God, and God made the world. Who is this God? You say that Coyote represents our Native God, but if I say to you that God is Coyote, you get mad at me. Why?”
Some of us are willing to take that “why” seriously. For thousands and thousands of years, humans have searched the heavens for something that we call “God.” At least 100,000 years ago, Neanderthal people stood in awe before the mysterious forces of nature. The thunder, earthquake and forest spirits animated the trees, the animals, wind and storm. Since these gods or spirits must possess supernatural power they sought to gain their favor by offering gifts and sacrifices of animals and human beings. Much later on, the gods were thought to live on sacred mountains, such as Mt. Sinai or Olympus, coming down to earth from time to time to sire children (as in Genesis).
Over the centuries, human beings created new gods to meet the changing needs of the people. And so when the Hebrew nation was engaged in much fighting, their god was a war-like god; a nationalistic, militaristic god who would help them in battle and bring them victory. But later on, when their god proved to be not nearly as powerful as their opponents’ god, they had to devise a new god to meet the new demands of the nation. This new god would become a god of mercy and compassion for these beaten “chosen” people. And so, once again, a god was created in the minds of human beings to meet the changing needs of the people.
Today, in our orthodox Christian tradition, we are still heavily laden with the debris of archaic images coming down to us from the ancient world, and any religion that stubbornly adheres to a traditional theology hopelessly at odds with the scientific findings of an enlightened age is doomed to sink into a stagnant superstition, as well as a spiritual bankruptcy.
The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote: “The most important single question facing modern human beings is this: What do you mean by God?” “All of our graven images of God are vanity,” said Isaiah in one context. And still, today, within another context, we repeat the vanity. Is it not true that we, many of us, make images in our mind of something “out there,” some “divine blur” who plays the role of a peeping Tom – watching, watching?
That most basic, most fundamental of all religious questions confronting contemporary humanity is, again, “What do you mean by God?” The answer contains perhaps the most profound difference between Zen/Taoism and orthodox Christianity. The word “God” means nothing in itself.