Sunday, December 8, 2013

We Celebrate His Birth, But Miss the Point -

From "Heresy of a Curious Mind"

We Celebrate His Birth, But Miss the Point -

The Bible tells us Mary will be called blessed, but many do not call her anything at all. The majority of Protestant believers ignore Mary. It is the overcompensation to avoid the recurrence of the error. Throwing truth out with error, the baby that got tossed out in the bathwater of error this time happened to be the Mother of Jesus. I do not support an extreme elevation or veneration of Mary or of any creature for that matter, since such a view would cloud the vision of the preeminence of Christ. But, neither do I agree with the place to which most Protestant churches have resigned her.

Although it is true grace shed on someone does not indicate moral or spiritual status, it is also true God had a plan for salvation from the foundations of the world and in His plan, Mary had a place. As people of faith, Mary’s story has a deep and significant meaning for us. Grace is given without, and many times, in spite of spiritual condition. It was not Mary’s state or condition but the willingness of her decision that drew the sovereign will of God. In this vein the early fathers found something so fascinating and deeply spiritual about the story of Mary they elevated her to a venerated status. As we look closer into the story of Mary we will see she is the template and prototype of the true mystical experience. Her experience is the key and summation of the entire Christian process. In her we find our spiritual likeness, our history, and our story. In the story of Mary the mystical life is foretold.

LUKE 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things, which were told her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

LUK 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

In His grace, God chose Mary, a young woman with no obvious attributes that set her apart from hundreds of others. In her own words, she was someone who counted herself as a lowly maiden. In his power and mercy He came to her. His spirit was on her and in her and He communed with her within her heart and soul. God, being out of time and space, had a plan for creation before He created. This also includes the incarnation. Creation was created for Jesus and through Jesus. The plan for creation was completed in the mind of God before the act of creating. Therefore, Mary was in God’s plan for the birth of Jesus before creation, but because of free will she had acquiescence. It was because of her free will and the obedience that followed from it she was blessed. We cannot know why Mary was chosen and set apart. God has always used men and women who seemed common and ordinary to do great things. So it was with the mother of God. Mary, by believing the child in her was indeed sent and fathered by the Holy Spirit of God and set in her virgin body for the redemption of man, became the first Christian.

“ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

It was not through doctrine or church that they met but through a real and powerful personal communion. This is the essence of the mystical experience. God draws us and woos us to Him and in our desire to be with Him we are allowed an intimate communion with Him. In this spiritual state of togetherness with God, the Holy Spirit of God implants Christ in our spiritual wombs. Christ forms in us, grows in us, moves in us and through us until we give birth to Him through our hearts and souls and show Him to the world in our love and actions with spontaneous acts of love and serving. It is through a heart and mind that calls out to Him and declares, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Only in this can we contain God’s Spirit. Only in this will God hold us. By this alone comes the world’s greatest experience. What we do not realize in our simplicity is each time Christ is birthed in us we are experiencing the mystical equivalent of the incarnation once again. Each time we nurture Him in us and show Him forth to others, we have become Mary and the great incarnation has come upon us.

ISA 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

It is for this event that even if man had not fallen, still Christ would have come. He is the crown of mankind. He is the crowning of creation. He was destined from the foundation of creation to be the one and only avenue for the union of God and man. Such a union going far beyond any understanding communion could bring. Thus, we may commune with God but Christ lives in us, in a state that is distinct yet in union. We are Mary. Grace implants the spirit and we gestate, hopeful to give birth to Christ in us. We should not only celebrate the birth of the child, Jesus, but we should celebrate salvation, which is the spirit of God in us, as the womb of Christ on earth now.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

As a Man Thinks

From the book - "Feasting at Wisdom's Table"

1. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.
2. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
3. “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,”—in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease.
4. “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,”—in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.
5. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.
6. The world does not know that we must all come to an end here;—but those who know it, their quarrels cease at once.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

From "Heresy of a Curious Mind"

The Trinity

The Trinity, the doctrine that many hold so dear, is never mentioned in the Bible, and was not discussed nor considered by the early church. The doctrine was crafted in a political effort to unite the church in order that it might be more easily ruled and controlled.

Adolf von Harnack (May 7, 1851–June 10, 1930), a German theologian and prominent church historian, affirms that the early church view of Jesus was as Messiah, and after his resurrection he was ‘raised to the right hand of God’ but not considered as God. (See Mark 16:19). This was the baseline view by the church in the first century. From this point of view, an evolution of infiltration began that would culminate in the doctrine of the trinity.

Bernard Lonergan, a Roman Catholic priest and Bible scholar, explains that the educated Christians of the early centuries believed in a single, supreme God. This was the same basic view as held by the Jewish believers of the time.

As for the Holy Spirit, McGiffert tells us that early Christians considered the Holy Spirit “not as a separate entity, but simply as the divine power, working in the world and particularly in the church.” It is the power or will of God working in the world.

Durant articulated the evolution of early Christianity when he said: “In Christ and Peter, Christianity was Jewish; in Paul it became half Greek; in Catholicism it became half Roman” (Caesar 579).

The Christian church has always been in turmoil. In the days of the Apostles the church was far from unified. Throughout his book “Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity”, the German New Testament scholar, and early Church historian, Walter Bauer, explores the fact that Gnosticism influenced many early Christians forming heresies here and there throughout the budding Christendom.

In his work ‘The Greek Fathers”, James Marshall Campbell, a Greek professor, explains that the fear of Gnosticism was prevalent in the early church. Sects of Gnosticism varied in their Greek influence but the seeds were primarily of Greek origin and carried within it the mythos and theosophy of Plato and the Greeks that divided the universe into opposing realms of matter and spirit. In this world-view the body was a prison for the captive spirit like that of the “iron maiden” torture device of years to come.

The late Professor Arthur Cushman McGiffert interprets some of the early Christian fathers as believing Gnosticism to be “identical to” in all intents and purposes with Greek polytheism. Gnosticism had a mixed influence on the early Christian writers, sending them in various directions in their Christology. That these philosophies of the Greek, Romans, and Gnostics affected Christianity is a historical fact.

What did these philosophers teach about God? In Plato’s Timeus, ‘The Supreme Reality appears in the trinitarian form of the Good, the Intelligence, and the World-Soul’. Laing attributes elaborate trinitarian theories to the Neoplatonists, and considers Neoplatonic ideas as ‘one of the operative factors in the development of Christian theology’. One of the questions posed in the book is simply, “ What is real in Christianity.” What would Christianity be if we were to find and eliminate most outside influences?

Durant ties in philosophy with Christianity when he states that the second century Alexandrian Church, from which both Clement and Origen came, ‘wedded Christianity to Greek philosophy’; and finally, Durant writes of the famed pagan philosopher, Plotinus, that ‘Christianity accepted nearly every line of him...’

As the apostles died, various writers undertook the task of defending Christianity against the persecutions of the pagans. The problem was that they were so tainted due to education and environment that some of the defenders did more harm than good.

The most famous of these Apologists was Justin Martyr (c.107-166). He was born a pagan, became a pagan philosopher, then a Christian. He believed that Christianity and Greek philosophy were related. As for the Trinity, McGiffert asserts, “Justin insisted that Christ came from God; he did not identify him with God.” Justin’s God was “a transcendent being, who could not possibly come into contact with the world of men and things.” The Church was divided by Gnosticism, enticed by philosophy, and corrupted by paganism, but there were geographic divisions also, with East and West differing greatly.

As a reminder, sects of Gnosticism were differing combinations of Christianity and the Greek teachings, most centering around those of Plato. To the Gnostic Christians the material world and the spiritual world were very much at odds and could not coexist. Due to the increasing influence of Platoism and Gnosticism, the relationship between spirit and flesh as viewed by the church was shifting quickly. The body, once viewed as the vehicle and temple of the spirit and inseparable from it, was now viewed as a flesh prison for the spirit and opposed in nature to it. These views would turn the dancing and joyous Jewish celebration of life into repression and sorrow.

Changes would echo through time in various forms, ending in the stoicism of the sexual abstinence of priests and finally the self-flagellation of some monks. (Self-flagellation seems to have taken root in the dark ages during the plague when monks thought it would appease God if they punished themselves by beating themselves with whips.) In the early church the changes would be seen in the struggle to articulate the relationship between the various forms of the newly emerging Godhead. The Father was a spirit. The Holy Ghost was obviously a spirit, since it was the will of God who was pure spirit. It was the existence of Jesus and His position and state within the spiritual and material worlds that gives pause within the various sects of the early church.

The Eastern Church, centered in Alexandria, Egypt, and the Western Church, centered in Rome, Italy, grew in divergence. The Eastern Church was inquisitive and had an environment of free thought as a reflection of the surrounding Greek culture. The theological development of the East is best represented in Clement and Origen.

Clement of Alexandria (c.150-220) was trained in the “Catechetical School of Alexandria,” a place of training for Christian theologians and priests. Even though Clement was trained here, his views were influenced by Gnosticism. If one were to wish for a single focused statement explaining the Greek influence on the Christian Church, it would likely be the following by McGiffert; “Clement insists that philosophy came from God and was given to the Greeks as a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ as the law was a schoolmaster for the Hebrews.” McGiffert further states that Clement considered “God the Father revealed in the Old Testament” separate and distinct from the “Son of God incarnate in Christ,” with whom he identified the Logos.

Campbell continues this line of explanation when he says; “[with Clement the] philosophic spirit enters frankly into the service of Christian doctrine, and with it begins... the theological science of the future.” However, it was his student, Origen, who “achieved the union of Greek philosophy and Christianity.”

To sum up this bit of church history; Clement believed that just as the law was given to the Jews as a schoolmaster to bring them into the understanding that they needed a savior, philosophy was given to the Greeks to enable them to bring reason and a scientific approach to Christianity to establish its theology.

Campbell considered Origen (c.185-253) to be the founder of theology”, the greatest scholar of the early church and the greatest theologian of the East. Durant adds that “with [Origen] Christianity ceased to be only a comforting faith; it became a full-fledged philosophy, buttressed with scripture but proudly resting on reason.” However, the reason it rested on was directed and disciplined by the Greek style and content of thought. This is why in Origen the church experiences a changing view of God.

According to Pelikan”s Historical Theology, Origen was the “teacher of such orthodox stalwarts as the Cappadocian Father’s, (Cappadocian was an area stretching from Mount Taurus to the Black Sea), but also the “teacher of Arius’ and the “originator of many heresies.”” Centuries after his death, he was condemned by councils at least five times; however, both Athanasius and Eusebius had great respect for him.

Origen turned his attention to the trinity, beginning with what he called the “incomprehensible God.” He applied Stoic and Platonic philosophies in true Greek style. Origen believed the Father and Son were separate “in respect of hypostasis” (substance), but “one by harmony and concord and identity of will.” If we stop at this point and poll members of most major denominations we are likely to find this to be the understanding of the majority, for how can a God who is pure spirit be of the same substance as Jesus, who is flesh and blood? Origen then went on to claim the Son was the image of God, probably drawing on the scripture where Christ proclaimed, “If you have seen me you have seen the father.” In this he seems to contradict himself, anthropomorphizing to the point of endowing God with the limits of a human body made of a substance differing from that of which Jesus was made.

Keeping in mind that Gnosticism, as well as certain Greek philosophies, tend to divide the universe into realms of the spiritual and material, Origen, seeing those realms in opposition, maintained that there was a difference between “the God” and “God.” He attempted to explained that “the God” [God himself] was a unity to himself and not associated with the world but, “Whatever else, other than him who is called is also God, is deified by participation, by sharing in his divinity, and is more properly to be called not “the God” but simply “God”” (Quotes are mine for clarification.) With such theological hair-splitting we enter into confusion and error.

As Origen and others introduced more and more Greek influences into the Eastern Church, it became more mystical, philosophical, and at times obtuse. This line of thought brought us from the Jewish proclamation of, Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” and placed us into the first stage of the trinity by dividing God in twain. The simple and direct teaching of Christ to love God and treat others with dignity gave way to the complex, sophisticated, and often convoluted arguments as men found their self-importance in their ability to divide, and persuade.

It was Tertullian (c.160-230) who first coined the term trinitas from which we derive our English word “trinity.” Tertullian writes, “…the unity makes a trinity, placing the three in order not of quality but of sequence, different not in substance but in aspect, not in power but in manifestation.” Tertullian did not consider the Father and Son co-eternal. He considered God the creator of all. God must, therefore, pre-date everything that exists, even the first creative impulse, which would have created the pre-incarnate Christ. To clarify his belief Tertullian wrote, “There was a time when there was neither sin to make God a judge, nor a son to make God a Father.” Tertullian also rejected the idea of God and Christ being co-equal. He reasoned that God was and contains everything, thus the Son cannot contain everything. He explains, “For the Father is the whole substance, whereas the Son is something derived from it.” Another way to see his point is to say that all things are contained in or are part of God, thus Christ is in or part of God. The fullness of God could not be physically contained in Christ. (This statement flew in the face of Col. 2:9, which states that the fullness of the deity lives in Christ.) The idea of Trinitas is the beginning of the Trinitarian discussion in earnest, but it will take time to grow and develop into the full doctrine of the Trinity established under the political pressure of Constantine.

The world around the early Church was changing. The Roman Empire began to crumble and Constantine came to power. He wished to unify the Empire, and although he was a pagan, living in a society of polytheists, he chose Christianity, as a vehicle to work his will. What better way to unite a nation than through the growing monotheistic faith? But Christianity was far from unified; so to unify the empire the king had to unify the faith.

In 318 A.D., controversy over the matter of the Trinity had blown up again between Arius, a deacon, and Alexander, the bishop of the church in Alexandria, Egypt. Bishop Alexander of Alexandria and his deacon, Athanasius, believed there were three persons in one god.

This time Emperor Constantine involved himself. The emperor began to send letters encouraging them to put aside what the emperor called their "trivial" disputes regarding the nature of God and the "number" of God. As a polytheist, the emperor saw the argument over the semantics of whether one worshiped a single god, three gods or "three gods in one" as trivial and inconsequential. Arius, Presbyter in Alexandria, and Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia believed in only one indivisible god. According to the concept of homo-ousion, Christ the Son was consubstantial, that is to say the Son shares the same substance with the Father. Arius and Eusebius disagreed. Arius thought the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were materially separate and different. He believed that the Father created the Son. Arius and his followers, the Arians, believed if the Son were equal to the Father, there would be more than one God. If one were to sum up the heart of the matter within the debate, it would be over the status of the Son as compared to the Father.

To exemplify the points of contention, an essay by Wright regarding Arius reports; “Arius was a senior presbyter in charge of Baucalis, one of the twelve “parishes” of Alexandria. He was a persuasive preacher, with a following of clergy and ascetics, and even circulated his teaching in popular verse and songs. Around 318 A.D., he clashed with Bishop Alexander. Arius claimed that Father alone was really God; the Son was essentially different from his father. He did not possess by nature or right any of the divine qualities of immortality, sovereignty, perfect wisdom, goodness, and purity. He did not exist before he was begotten by the father. The father produced him as a creature. Yet as the creator of the rest of creation, the son existed “apart from time before all things.” Nevertheless, he did not share in the being of God the Father and did not know him perfectly. Wright concludes that before the 3rd century the "three were separate in Christian belief and each had his or it's own status.”

The dispute became louder and more strident until it spilled over once again into the Christian community, causing division and controversy within the church body. The emperor’s plan to unify the faith in order to unify the nation was being placed in jeopardy. In 325 A.D. the church faced two serious points of strife. The date of observance of the Passover on Easter Sunday had become an issue, and the concept of the Trinity was in full debate. Serious questions were being raised as to whether the church would remain intact. Letters from Constantine failed to settle the dispute, so the emperor called the "Council of Nicea.”

Constantine chose leaders, which would represent each major division within the church and invited these bishops to join him in the seaside village of Nicea. There they formed a council, which Constantine hoped could unify the church. McGiffert tells us about the council. There were three main groups represented at this council: Eusebius of Nicomedia, who represented the Arian view of the Trinity, Alexander of Alexandria presenting the Athanasian version, and a very large party led by Eusebius of Cesarea. The Cesarea contingent was made up of those who wanted unity and peace. Their theological stance was not one so immovable and intractable that it would interfere with their desire for peace. It should be noted that Alexander of Alexandria was the bishop who was involved in the “discussion” with Arius, which began the final fray. He was so self-assured that he would not move on his idea of the Trinity. It is amazing that any man could be so self-assured about his knowledge of the mind and substance of God. It is presumption.

There is a general rule of negotiations. If you are sitting at the table with your enemies, the one who moves first loses. The moment a line is drawn or a position is articulated, it sets a limit on the discussion. If the ‘negotiation is about price, the price stated would serve only as a limit from which to work. It was the mistake of Eusebius of Nicomedia to submit the Arian creed first. This served only to set a stage from which the other groups could spring. Their creed was summarily rejected. Then the more amicable of Eusebius of Cesarea submitted their creed, known as the Cesarean baptismal creed. Now the Alexandrian group knew where both parties stood. They would use this information to institute a brilliant political maneuver. Instead of submitting a creed of their own, the Alexandrian group modified the creed from Eusebius. The changes were not substantial enough to change the deeper intent of the creed. Eusebius was compelled to sign the creed. Now two of the three parties were united and the Arians were out of the negotiations. The majority of Eastern bishops sided with Arius in that they believed Christ was the Son of God ‘neither consubstantial nor co-eternal’ with his Father, but it no longer mattered.

Constantine saw well over two-thirds of the church in one accord, at least on paper. He now began to pressure all bishops to sign. Arians refusing to sign were exiled. Constantine exiled the excommunicated Arius to Illyria. Constantine's friend Eusebius, who eventually withdrew his objection, but still wouldn't sign the statement of faith, and a neighboring bishop, Theognis, were also exiled to Gaul. Constantine would reverse his opinion about the Arian heresy, and have both exiled bishops reinstated three years later, in 328 A.D. At the same time, Arius would also be recalled from exile; but for now, it was political blackmail.

The pressure from the emperor was so great and his reactions so feared that attendees justified their signatures thusly; Apuleius, wrote "I pass over in silence… those sublime and Platonic doctrines understood by very few of the pious, and absolutely unknown to every one of the profane." "the soul is nothing worse for a little ink."

Abu Al-Hassan Al-Nadwi reported that out of the 2030 attendees, only 318 readily accepted this creed ("Al-Seerah Al-Nabawiyya", p. 306). Only after returning home did other attendees such as Eusebius of Nicomedia, Maris of Chaledon and Theognis of Nicaea summon the courage to express to Constantine in writing how much they regretted having put their signatures to the Nicene formula, "We committed an impious act, O Prince," wrote Eusebius of Nicomedia, "by subscribing to a blasphemy from fear of you."

Thus Constantine had his unified Church, which was not very unified. McGiffert asserts that Eusebius of Cesarea was not altogether satisfied with the creed because it was too close to Sabellianism (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three aspects of one God). Lonergan shows just how much of the creed Eusebius took exception to as the words were explained. “Out of the Father’s substance” was now interpreted to show that the Son is “out of the Father”, but “not part of the Father’s substance.” “Born not made” because “made” refers to all other creatures “which come into being through the Son”, and “consubstantial” really means that the Son comes out of the Father and is like him.

Lonergan goes on to explain that the language of debate on the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son has made many people think that the “Church at Nicea had abandoned the genuine Christian doctrine, which was religious through and through, in order to embrace some sort of hellenistic ontology.” Nicene dogma marked the “transition from the prophetic Oracle of Yahweh... to Catholic dogma.”

The evolution of the Trinity can be seen in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. As each of the creeds became more wordy and convoluted, the simple, pure faith of the Apostolic church became lost in a haze. Even more interesting is the fact that as the creeds became more specific (and less scriptural) the adherence to them became stricter, and the penalty for disbelief harsher.

In stark contrast, is the simple oneness of the Hebrew God. After the Council of Chalcedon in 451, debate was no longer tolerated and those opposing the Trinity were considered to commit blasphemy. Sentences ranged from mutilation to death. Christians now turned on Christians, maiming and slaughtering thousands because of this difference of belief.

The reign of Constantine marks the time of the transformation of Christianity from a religion into a political system; and though, in one sense, that system was degraded, in another it had risen above the old Greek mythology. The maxim holds true in the social as well as in the mechanical world, that, when two bodies strike, the form of both is changed. Paganism was modified by Christianity; Christianity by Paganism. In the Trinitarian controversy, the chief point in discussion was to define the position of “the Son.”

After the divisions regarding the Trinity had subsided, the church continued to narrow its tolerance and tighten its grip.

Creeds and, to a degree religions, are based on exclusivity. They seek to exclude all who do not conform to a certain set of beliefs. All others are excluded and usually punished, shunned, condemned, or killed. As people in power are inclined to do, the fist of control tightens over time. In following this pattern, creeds tend to get longer, more specific, and thus more exclusive. Points of little concern in one creed become of greater importance in the next creed, as we tend to increasingly choke on gnats.

What are the points of concern? What points should we sweat? To find out what the early church fathers thought, we could examine various Christian creeds. These are lists of basic and fundamental beliefs. Each creed was made up of statements of belief. These statements were considered points on which there must be agreement before someone could be accepted into the early church as a Christian. Departure from the basic points of faith was considered a heresy. Although the word “heresy” has taken on a tone we do not like to use today in our permissive society we should consider well the lines we should draw within our own lives beyond which beliefs or actions become unacceptable, lest we also slip into heresy.

Monday, October 7, 2013

First review on Amazon for the new book - Heresy of a Curious Mind

Ladies and Gent - Sharing links about this book would be greatly appreciated.

First review on Amazon for the new book: This is a book that EVERYBODY ought to read! You won't agree with all of it but I guarantee it will make you think about a lot of things that you possibly have never even contemplated before. Each paragraph leads you to more information and there are references to assure you that these are just not one man's ideas. This book should be REQUIRED reading in any university or college "religious" course but it Mr. Lumpkin's sly humor (tucked in when you least expect it) that will keep you turning pages no matter what level of "formal" education you have attained. After you read it I guarantee you won't ever think of organized "religion" as you did before!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Heresy of a Curious Mind

New Book

The Heresy of a Curious Mind

The extremes to which the church and its leaders have gone in order to protect and justify various decisions regarding points of faith is fascinating, but tends to obscure the truth. Revisionist history, coercion, greed, lust, and propaganda were the order of the day when the major items of doctrine were being decided. In fact, many of those truths that we hold so dear in our Christian faith were decided, if not invented, through or because of political and financial aims, and not by theological insight. Many doctrines went well beyond what the early church held as truth. Come with us as we look behind the curtain of church history and view information through a political and scientific lens. We will carefully examine historical documents to reveal the intention of the leaders. We will consider the history and virtue of the major Christian doctrines, as well as where those beliefs have brought us in our churches and religious life today.

In the end, we must ask, "Where is God amidst all of these rules, politics, sex, and doctrines?" First, we will discover how our faith was manipulated and changed by politics, sex, and power. Then we will discover where we left God and how we may once again find the source of life and happiness.

Items discussed include: Theology, Framework Of Christianity, The Bible, The Canon of the Bible, Inerrant Scripture, The Trinity, Virgin Birth, Polygamy, Celibacy, Transubstantiation, Rapture, Apocalypse and the End of Days, Sabbath verses Sunday, Tithes and Offerings, Prayer and Faith, Magical Thinking, Original Sin, Mary: Immaculate Conception, Baptism, Predestination and Foreknowledge, The Mark of Cain, Job and the Petty God, The Schizophrenic God of the Old and New Testaments, The Development of Satan, The Axial Age, The Pinnacle of the Axial Age, Religion Addiction, Conclusion of Religion and the Beginning of Spirituality.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Mark of Cain?

Food for thought - Now Junk Food

In an interview recently wherein the interviewer wished to meet in person and take notes, I was asked what I thought of the "Mark of Cain" being the fact that he was made black.

Wait - what? Let's think two seconds about this...

The book of Adam and Eve says they came from the land of black earth. They were made from earth or mud according to the text. They were from the area of the triangle described in the Bible where three rivers meet. This is Mesopotamia. Adam and Eve were likely very dark people. Maybe very black people. So - If the "Mark of Cain" was meant to set Cain apart from other people and the people were black, if you believe it is skin tone then the Mark of Cain may have been the fact that he was White.

Do I think the mark had to do with skin color? No. But if the question is entertained at least try not to be so Euro-centric as to believe Adam and Eve had to be white European people. Judaism, and thus Christianity are Eastern religions, albeit Middle-Eastern. Let us try to control our racism in our interpretation of the texts.

The interviewer went silent and ended the conversation shortly afterwards.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Plural Marriage

Title: Polygamy: Polygyny, Polyandry, and Polyamory
Author: Daniel Young, Sarah Young, and Kate Young
Publisher: Fifth Estate (
Genre: Non-fiction
Year Published: 2013
Number of Pages: 218
Binding: Trade paperback
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 9781936533367
Price: $19.95 ($14.96 at
Reviewed by Jeffrey Needle for the Association for Mormon Letters
Okay, true confessions time.  I happened to glance at Fifth Estate's
home page a few weeks ago and came away shaking my head, wondering how
this publisher had escaped my notice until now.  Click on the Religion
and Theology tab under books and you'll see what I mean.  Although not
an LDS publisher, herein may be found a veritable treasure trove of
arcane and wonderful subjects.  I was mesmerized as I surveyed this
publisher's offerings.
Contacting the owner, Joseph Lumpkin, I discovered a very fine fellow
who was excited about having AML cover his offerings.  I was
delighted!  I quickly assigned several titles to our qualified
reviewers, but kept "Polygamy" to read for myself.
Now, the surname of the authors (Young) might lead some to think that
they are descendants of Brigham.  But this does not appear to be the
case.  The authors attend evangelical Christian churches, but have
found the plural marriage idea to be both workable and worthy of
closer attention.  Let's see how well they've done.
The first two pages had me hooked.  Something I didn't know -- "The
fastest growing population practicing polygamous marriages is not
related to or based on religion.  They are secular polygamists." (p.
8)  Startling!  At least to me.  Although I know several practitioners
of plural marriage, been in their homes and enjoyed meeting them
(including leadership of the Apostolic United Brethren), I don't think
I've ever met a "secular polygamist."  How does this work?  What is
their rationale for the practice?
Next comes a helpful summary of the various terms used in conjunction
with plural marriage -- see the book's title.  The terms are sometimes
used interchangeably, and so I appreciated the authors' nice summation
of the terminology.  The idea of "group marriage" as mentioned here
can be unsettling, but it appears to be something of a growing
movement in an America that seems to be distancing itself from
"traditional marriage" -- whatever that means!
Next is a brief look at marriage practices across the world religious
spectrum.  Fascinating stuff here.  Polygamy in Judaism?  In Buddhism?
 How does it work?  The authors offer up some fascinating insights
into attitudes different religious traditions have had toward the
An extensive section follows that looks at how various poly-families
work.  What are the dynamics of such relationships?  How do the
families function in society?  Gender roles play a big part here.
Studies done by anthropologists, and others cited in "Psychology
Today" and other behavioral science journals, are cited here to show
that researchers in the soft sciences have expressed interest in this
subject, creating some very interesting data on observed interplay
within these families.  My oh my!
In just over two short pages, the subject of sex within poly homes is
explored.  I don't suppose there are any real rules here, but certain
norms seem to have evolved over the years.  I'm guessing this can get
pretty edgy at times.
What follows is a glimpse at the logistics of poly-households.  How do
finances work?  How does one spouse share his/her time among the
families?  How do they function within the larger society, a society
that is not sympathetic to their lifestyle?  Having spent time with
polygamous families, I know the children are often uncomfortable with
having to hide their family structure from their friends.  Fear of
discovery leads many to live virtually double lives.  Very difficult
path, in my opinion.
A brief discussion of "Downfalls and Traps - The Undoing" looks at how
the whole enterprise can be spoiled from within.  Financial and
emotional independence are essential if the relationship will survive,
the authors insist.  These few pages are a virtual how-to guide for
those contemplating entering such a relationship.
How do different states view the subject of cohabitation?  The authors
offer a helpful guide, state by state, to their rules and regulations.
I'm a bit ashamed of myself at this point, but the final section of
the book was the most enjoyable.  I suspect it appeals a bit to the
voyeur in each of us.  Titled "Celibacy," it offers a perfectly
delightful view of the role sex has played in the history of the
Church (particularly Catholicism, and its somewhat spotted record when
it comes to randy Popes!).  Here we have a virtual rogues gallery of
Church leaders whose baser instincts left a trail of disappointed
partners and troubled offspring.  The authors even offer a list of
Popes who left behind progeny, calling into question the entire issue
of celibacy in the Roman Catholic priesthood.
Whenever I review a title from a publisher new to us, I like to make
some comments about the physical appearance of the book.  In this
case, the volume appears to be well constructed, and should last many
years.  No cheap paper or binding, as far as I can see.  The body text
of the book has lines spaced further apart than what is normal.  At
first, it was a bit disconcerting, but I soon acclimated myself to the
My only real critical comment has to do with what seems to be a lack
of professional editing.  This is not unusual for small press titles.
I wish it were the practice of such enterprises to have a professional
editor have a look at a manuscript before going to press.  To a
grammar nazi like myself, this can be a distraction.  But, in the end,
it didn't distract me from the fascinating discussion in this book.
"Polygamy" by Young, Young and Young is, in my view, a valuable
addition to the considerable corpus of literature on the subject of
plural marriage.  So many solid historical treatments of the subject
have come our way, and each makes its own significant contribution to
the discussion.  Scott Compton's "In Sacred Loneliness" and Kofford
Books' important 3-volume series "Joseph Smith's Polygamy" -- these
come to mind as deep, detailed studies.
Our current volume is different.  It gives audiences, both religious
and secular, a chance to peek inside the world of polygamous marriage,
presenting it in simple, clear prose that informs and, at times,
amuses.  In my view, the authors, and the publisher, have done the
public a great service by bringing this little book to life.
I think readers will enjoy this volume.  While the typesetting and
editing problems can be a distraction, in the end, there is a
tremendous payoff for the determined reader.  My thanks to the
publisher for making this review possible.
Jeffrey Needle
Association for Mormon Letters

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Publication Date: May 9, 2013

Among consenting adults, family should be a matter of choice and the configuration thereof should be the choice of the family members. There are between 50,000 and 100,000 families in the U.S. living in polygamy today. Recently, these numbers began to climb rapidly as certain Christian, Islamic, and secular groups seek ways to live according to their convictions, in spite of federal and state laws. The growth is accelerating at a surprising rate. Yet, there are few resources and little information to help those seeking happiness in this way of life. This book is a primer for those wishing to seek fulfillment outside the confines of monogamy. As people search for and find their own happiness, the population practicing polygamy will soon grow large enough to have a voice loud enough to change the laws of the land from within. Polygamy may be the next movement in the search for individual freedom and happiness. Polygamy: The act of having more than one spouse. A husband having more than one wife or wife having more than one husband is called polygamy. Polygamy is a general term and exists in three specific forms: polygyny, polyandry, and polyamory. Polygyny: When a man has multiple simultaneous wives, the state is specifically called polygyny. You will also hear the term, “Plural Marriage” or “Celestial Marriage” used by the FLDS church when one husband has several wives. Polyandry: When a woman has multiple simultaneous husbands it is specifically called polyandry. Polyamory: Group marriage, where the family unit consists of multiple husbands and multiple wives, is specifically called polyamory. This book will look at polygamy, its forms, functions, history, logistics, strengths and pitfalls.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter and the Resurrection - The Meaning

Jesus reduced all the teachings of the Old Testament down to two simple statements. He took the mountain of over 600 laws the Jews of his time were struggling to follow and replaced the burden with two laws.

Love others
Love God

The concept cuts to the heart of all religions, all laws, rules, and commandments.
His teachings of love and forgiveness sum up the spirit inside him.
On the outside, and to the casual practitioner or follower, Easter is the celebration of resurrection of Jesus. To the more mystical believer Easter is about finding and resurrecting the Christ Spirit within each of us.

Love, forgive, and be free. Bring to life that spirit, which awaits within.

Listen to my interview with Max and Friends about Easter and the Resurrection on L.A. Talk Radio by clicking the link.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Malachy Prophecies and the Chruch

My extensive video interview regarding the prophecies of Saint Malachy and the resignation of the pope is now up. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Threshing Floor TV Channel

The Threshing Floor TV now has a channel devoted to my interviews with them.

Whatch or Listen by clicking the link below -

Or go directly to Threshing Floor TV by clicking the link below -

Monday, March 4, 2013


There are now many new videos available, free of charge, at the URL below.  Enjoy!

Click here for Video Interviews

Click here for audio interviews

Watchers, Nephilim, Angels
Origins of Evil
Book of Jubilees
Book of Jasher
Sacred Feminine
Forbidden Books of the Bible
Lost Books of the Bible
and many more

Although it is much easier to view the interviews through I have included the URLs to most of the audio and video interviews below.
a href="
a href="

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Resigns - Does the Prophecy of St. Malachy Begin Today?

Pope Resigns - Does the Prophecy of St. Malachy Begin Today?

From the Daily Beast:
I'm not a practicing Catholic, so I try very hard not to have opinions on the internal politics of the Vatican.  But the Pope's announcement this morning that he would resign seems worth commenting on, because it was a good decision, and a worthy one.  The Pope recognized that he was too frail to continue performing his duties as the spiritual leader of his church, and he stepped down so that the Church could elect someone who can.  (End Quote).

The following is from "The Prophecy Of Saint Malachy - 
The Soon Coming End of Days" ( Available at  or on Amazon at )

"The events of 1978 saw the death of Pope Paul VI, the election and unexpected death of John Paul I, and finally the election of John Paul II. Three Popes in one year propelled the world like a runaway train toward the conclusion of a prophecy given by St. Malachy in 1139. The prophecy lists 112 Popes. The last Pope would take the seat of Saint Peter and the world would fall into anarchy.  John Paul II was the 110th Pope.  The Pope ruling the Holy See today is Benedict XVI, the 111th Pope, and according to the prophecy, the last Pope to rule an intact church and functioning world. The next Pope will not be the Vicar of Christ. He will be the enemy of the church, usurper of the throne and he will be called “Peter of Rome.”

The ominous prophecy has echoed through the centuries for over 870 years:

In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis civitas septicollis diruetur,
& Judex tremêdus judicabit populum suum. Finis.

(In extreme persecution, the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter the Roman, who will feed the sheep through many tribulations, at the term (end) of which the city of seven hills (Rome) will be destroyed, and the formidable Judge will judge his people.)

Saint Malachy’s prophecy foretells the succession of Roman Catholic Popes from Celestine II [1143 AD] to John Paul II's successor, Saint Benedict XVI, who sits in the Chair of Saint Peter today. Malachy wrote that he was describing the pontiffs from Celestine II " the end of the world."  At the end of the world, Malachy declared that Rome will be destroyed and God will judge his people. Was Malachy a prophet or madman?"

Now, with the resignation of Benedict XVI, we will see the last pope take the throne. Malachy's prophecy is at an end. Will this be Peter of Rome, the pope foretold by the prophecy?