Archive for May, 2012

Preaching God’s Conditional Love

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , on May 26, 2012 by chouck017894

Example of contemptible preaching.

Primitive and savage cultures of the ancient past were certain that the creative power which became personified as “God” had to be constantly praised and appeased (flattered) if one desired to experience favorable conditions.  That concept is also implied a startling amount of time throughout the chapters of “revealed word.”  Such a concept of I will love you only if you do such and such is not exactly a strong example of divine omniscience.  Overlooking this accidental implication of shortcomings in a divinity’s personality, the faithful then see no reason to question the assertion that God could actually hate something that he had created within his diverse and immeasurable creation.  Accepting such incongruity the blindly faithful dare not ask, Why would an omniscient being be troubled with such a colossal ego problem that requires constant flattery?  Certainly the concept of God offering his creations only conditional love—that I will love you only if you do such and such—as well as the alleged weakness of lapsing into hatred does little to inspire people to conduct themselves in a moral manner that is superior to the Creator’s.

These observations have been triggered by a recent California daily newspaper that actually printed a full sermon by a Catholic evangelist who also happens to conduct services in prisons.  Much of what was utilized in his reported sermon pivoted on verses that stressed the conditional aspect of God’s love, and of course God dumps curses on those things that God supposedly hates.  If, as the book of Genesis suggests, God can create anything by simply saying, “Let it be so,” why would that deity ever allow the continuance of things or conditions that he is said to hate?  That these downbeat characterizations attributed to the Creator/God happened to have been written by covetous priest-scribes some 2-3 thousand years ago tend to arouse suspicion in thinking persons.

Some examples from the evangelist’s newspaper sermon.  He started by utilizing what he termed “the last prophetic book of the Old Testament, Malachi.”  Not considered by this spiritual representative is the meaning locked in the Hebrew name Malachi, which means “my messenger.”  It is therefore unclear from the title of the “holy” book Malachi whether the character is actually a “prophet” as promoted, or if the name implies a description of the character’s administrative duties at the Temple.  The references to a “governor” in the text, and the revelation that the Temple was then standing at the time of the writing shows that the plotline is placed in the postexilic period, which encourages a speculation that the character dubbed Malachi was most likely involved in Temple administration.

That the book Malachi is simply another treatise written by a priest who was trying to protect his source of income is exposed in the alleged disapproval of God over the amount and quality of tithes and offering brought to “the house of the Lord.”  The Catholic evangelist then quoted the priest-author from chapter three, verse eight of Malachi, “Will a man rob God?  Yet ye have robbed me.”  Then in verse nine God allegedly said, “Ye are cursed with at curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house…”  In other words, the “messenger” wants to be sure that he kept well fed.

The newspaper sermonizer continued to cherry pick from chapter one, verses 6-7 of Malachi where it says that God held people responsible for not giving him the reverence of a father, and for offering polluted food such as blind and lame sheep.  Unexplained is why an ethereal God should need edible sustenance like some mortal.  In chapter two of Malachi, quoted by the sermonizer, God was portrayed as continuing his tirade, allegedly telling the priest-scribe (verse 16) that he hates divorce.  Then in chapter three, verse 7, the Catholic evangelist points out that God again accuses the people of robbing him of tithes and offerings.  This is considered prophecy?  But verse five is then quoted, “I will be a swift witness against sorceress, adulteress, perjurers, those who exploit wage earners, widows, the fatherless, against those who turn away an alien, because they do not fear me.”  Since this is claimed to be a prophetic book, these obvious faults of character so detested by God seem startlingly close to the characteristics and political policies indulged in today by the religious right Republicans in the USA.

At this point the sermonizer sought to explain God’s meaning to his gullible audience by again using cherry picked verses back in chapter one of this alleged prophetic book: “I have loved you, I loved Jacob.”  Huh?  The preacher refers to Genesis (book of beginnings) and the mythic account of Jacob receiving what the sermonizer calls God’s “correction;” in other words, when God’s conditional love kicked in.  But to earn it Jacob had to indulge in a wrestling match with god—or did he wrestle with an angel, or maybe it was with his own conscience—until he received his blessing (Genesis 32:22-30).  At that point in the Genesis plot Jacob allegedly became divinely transformed into Israel.

And it was at this point in the newspaper sermon that a divine transformation was attempted by the sermonizer by using the New Testament book of John 3:5 where it is averred that a man must be born again.  To explain this requirement the Catholic evangelist was again compelled to cherry pick, this time from the New Testament book II Corinthians 5:17, which explains that old things must pass away so all things can become new.  In the earlier chapter 1:5 of II Corinthians, God had indulged himself in a lot of self-promotion, adding in chapter two, “Give glory to my name and the curse will not come upon you…”  More curses from God?  Sermon attention then shifted back to the book of Malachi, verse 10, which he quoted, “Bring your tithes into the warehouse that there may be food in my house, prove me and I will open the windows of heaven to pore you out a blessing there won’t be room to contain…” etc.  We are expected to forget that authentic history does not support such an elaborate outpouring of blessing upon the postexilic Hebrews as “prophesied.”

Prophecy was again implied in 4:1-2 of Malachi: “For behold the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yea, all who do wickedly will be stubble and the day which is coming shall burn them up that will leave neither root nor branch.   For those who fear God’s name the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings…” Note: it does not say my son.  There is nothing offered by either the author of that text of by the sermonizer that would teach seekers how to achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Neglected by the newspaper sermonizer was the final verses of Malachi, which promise to send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  Is this alleged threat to smite the earth, supposed to be the holy method for inspiring love for god?

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Sign of the Cross

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, faith, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , on May 17, 2012 by chouck017894

In the early days of the Jesus cult movement that rose in Rome, the symbol adopted by the cult was of two arced lines that suggested the form of a fish.  This was felt to be appropriate, for the Age of Pisces had begun in 60 BCE, and the astrological significance seemed to designate for man the opening of a buoyant, more fluid expansion of spirit.  The torturous crucifixion of Jesus at some unknown date 90 years later was not, in the early years of that cult, the featured element drawn upon; the intended feature of the cult was the teachings attributed to Jesus, which taught respect for each other.  The arced lines suggesting a fish was retained until around the third century CE timeframe, at which time wily men began to heavily manipulate anxious believers (usually of the lower classes) for secular power.

The choice of those later men to concentrate on the sacrifice of a life for the good of the people was not a new proposal.  The god Adonis of the Phoenicians and Tammuz of the Babylonians, among many others, were once honored yearly for their bringing the renewal of life out of apparent nothingness.  The Babylonian mysteries used as their central symbol the mythic Tau, a simple T-form to represent Tammuz, the god (nature) who was resurrected each spring.  Those who were initiated into the mysteries were marked upon their forehead with water in the sign of the mystic Tau as a promise of new life.  So the cross symbol, or Tau, had a long-established history of the cross implying salvation of life.  There was, as well, with the cross a subliminal sexual suggestion which reinforced the implication of new life, for the vertical line intersecting the horizontal line represented the male organ of generation in union with the female.  In other words, the T-cross represented the supportive energy framework and renewal process as well as the ecstasy of that energizing exchange.

The use of the Tau-cross in many cultures, such as the Egyptian, made the acceptance of the cross tolerable to the second generation of Jesus cultists.  The Tau-cross was already in wide use as a sacred emblem throughout the ancient western world, not necessarily as an object of worship in itself but as an emblem of the power that gives forth with life.  Thus the cross was often referred to as the “tree of life,” and it was not uncommon to depict the cross with leaves and blossoms, sometimes even fruit springing from it.  In this way the sharp right angles of the stark straight-line form, which are not common in nature, was embraced and rendered productive by nature.

The early “fathers” of the Jesus cult had concentrated primarily on converting the disgruntled Jews, but as the first century closed the cult leaders began to move away from the teachings ascribed to Jesus and threw their attention upon the gross suffering, pain and death of the “savior.”  The switch in direction did not exactly veer far from the Jewish tendency to think of themselves as the world’s greatest sufferers, however.  Thus suffering became established early on as a badge of merit for the Jesus cult members, and the Roman implement of torture was thus destined to be elevated as a status symbol for soul salvation.

For early Jesus cult leaders such as Ignatius of Antioch, one of the so-called “Apostolic Fathers,” in the general timeframe c. 100-107, the promoting of the glory in suffering and pain enabled him to charge converts with fanaticism of such intensity that they actually became hateful toward everyone else’s faith.  This is a fact of history that has been consistently kept smothered down by the organized faith business.  In that fanaticism the early “Christians” thus morphed into a threat to the stability of the Roman Empire that the founders of the cult had hoped would lessen discord with the Jews!  By the second century CE mounting distrust of that cult began to disturb emperors and the public.  The fanatic cultists gloried in their assumed salvation, some even rushing into the gladiatorial arenas to be sport for the lions.

By the late first century CE, Jesus cult centers were beginning to spread across Italy, then to Greece, Asia Minor and North Africa.  It should be noted, however, that in Rome and the Asiatic provinces as late as 222 CE the favored symbol of the Jesus cult was still that of two arced lines in the likeness of a fish.  It is related by Tertullian (230 CE, Latin ecclesiastical writer, De Corona Militis) that the place of worship at Carthage was “infected” with the Pagan symbol—meaning the Crux Ansata, the sign of life.  The cross emblem first used by cult members in Egypt thus had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged crucifixion of the cult’s central figure.  Gradually the Crux Ansata was shorn of its handle to become the simple Tau cross, and in that form it was first employed on the sepulchers of cult members.  What this means is that the Tau cross symbol professed a belief in a continuance of life, not a gross reminder of a savior’s torture and death allegedly endured for the sake of cult-member salvation.

But the fish emblem was a difficult image to stamp out, and even in 361 CE, Jesus was still being referred to as “Ichthys,” Greek, meaning “fish.”  A fact that has been ignored is that in the Talmud the rabbinical Messiah is called Dag, the fish.  The representation as fish was therefore from much older Pagan wisdom and represented the Life Principle within the primal “waters” (energies) of Creation.  This wisdom was worldwide.  The Hindus, for example, symbolized the first Avatar of Vishnu as half-fish, half man; the Greeks honored Phoebus, their fish/man; the Chaldeans adored their fish/man Oannes (Ea or En-ki) who dwelt in the nether sea.  In all these cultures their fish-associated gods represented the Life Principle within Creation’s activity.  The Jesus cult, however, labored to disassociate their savior figure from Pagan teachings of scientific principles of Creation in favor of a corporate-like faith system in which they held CEO status.

The use of the cross in the later Pauline-type “Christian” observances seem, as noted, to have first appeared in the early Egyptian sect, spreading into the Egyptian regions and back to Rome.  The Jesus cult gradually took over the cross as it own, and just as the Vestal Virgins of Pagan Rome wore crosses suspended from their necklaces, so too did that custom arise among the cult members.  Later in time this became a required ornament of the Catholic priests and nuns. The simple fish emblem was certainly more in keeping with the early teachings credited to Jesus, and by Gospel account Jesus chose simple fishermen as his first apostles.  And Jesus is credited with feeding the multitude with two fishes (the sign of Pisces) and five loaves of bread.  In Matthew 12:40 Jesus likens himself to the fish-man Jonah when foretelling his exit from mortal existence.  Tellingly, to this day the pope wears the Fishermen’s Ring, not a ring depicting a crucifix.  This seems to suggest that the “fathers” of the developing church chose to identify with harsher interpretations of “gospels” that, like Hebrew scriptures, were rich in judgment passing and apocalyptic threats.  Thus the peace-suggestive fish emblem was replaced by a material-minded priesthood with the symbol of the Roman implement of torture and death.  However, that harsh image of god’s “only begotten son” sent to agonize upon the cross could also inflict upon the subconscious mind of believers a suggestion of godly indifference.

Of all emblems used for the highly organized religions of the world, the cross emblem selected to designate Christian belief is a form that is not found in nature, nor is such rigidity representative of the lavish diversity of matter and life forms that are found throughout creation.

Jesus and Roman Empire Documents

Posted in Atheist, belief, Christianity, faith, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , on May 7, 2012 by chouck017894

There was no lack of dedicated writers and historians in the Roman Empire at the time when Jesus is said to have lived.  In fact that is probably one of the most distinguished and documented periods in western man’s history.  It is logical, therefore, that genuine historians and literary commentators in that timeframe would help clear up any uncertainties that Gospels may present.  It is certain that any reports of a wonder-working savior in the Jewish populated region of the empire would have been of prime interest to any culture representatives of the empire.  Listed here are ten historians and writers who were of, or near the timeframe when the events of Jesus’ life are said to have occurred.

Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (4 BCE-65 CE), Roman statesman, philosopher and playwright, born in Spain, educated in Rome, and tutor to the youthful Nero.  He is credited with inspiring the moderation of Nero’s first five years of rule.  One of the most eminent writers in Latin literature.  With such credentials it seems unlikely that he would never have incorporated events of such a miraculous man into a dramatic play.  Perhaps that lack is because there were already various mystery-cult passion plays with similar plotlines in existence.  Seneca died by commanded suicide in 65  following participation in an insurgent plot, known in history as the Pisonian conspiracy, against Nero’s detrimental rule.

Livy, Titus Livius (59 BCE – 17 CE)  A Roman historian who sought to produce in his 142 books a lifelike and moving representation of the empire and time in which he lived.  But Livy never recorded any information on some miraculous star over a Palestinian region, nor of a virgin birth of a demigod.  If he heard of these things at all, he recognized them for what they were; mythology, not history.

Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (55?-117 CE)  The last twenty years of Tacitus’ life, from 97 on, were devoted chiefly to historical writings.  The great strength of Tacitus as a historian lies in his psychological perception and character portrayals.  His focus was more on the men who were active within some eventful time than in the event itself.  It is this writing strength that makes it peculiar that Tacitus never gave any space to some Jewish wonder-worker named Jesus.  (Tacitus was friend of Pliny the Younger, q.v.)

Plutarch (46-120 CE)  A Greek biographer and essayist who resided in Rome for a while during the reign of the emperor Vespasian (from 69 to 79).  In more than eighty essays Tacitus included treatises on subjects of ethics and religion, but strangely he had nothing to say concerning any spiritual leader named Jesus who followers spoke of as Christ.

Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius, 23-79 CE)  Roman statesman, soldier, author of numerous historical and scientific works, and a genuine contemporary of Jesus, yet Pliny never mentioned the man Jesus.  This is odd: as a soldier of rank and renown he would be seriously interested in any potential center of disruption in the empire that such a man might inspire.

Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, 62-113 CE)  He took the name of his adoptive father, Pliny the Elder.  Roman statesman, orator and master of the epistolary  style of writing.  There is an eerie correlation between Pliny’s letter writing style and the epistles of Paul given in the New Testament.  In his writings, Pliny the Younger never referred to any divine founder of some Christ cult, but commented only on their beliefs.  Oddly, Pliny never indicated that he even knew of the self-proclaimed apostle of Jesus named Paul either, although both had supposedly traveled in the same regions of the empire.

Philo Judaeus (late first century BCE and early first century CE)  A Jewish-Hellenist philosopher; he  had received a comprehensive education in Greek literature, especially the teachings of the Pythagoreans, Plato, and the Stoics.  Philo regarded the divinity of the Jewish law as the basis and test of true philosophy, so any rumor of the birth of a divine Jewish man would have reached him.  He provides no hint of any such awareness.  If any man in this list should certainly mention Jesus, it would be Philo; he was Jewish and he lived before and after this alleged Jewish wonder-worker.

Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenalis, c. 55-128 CE)  Roman satirist.  Having once been poor, his satires often skewered the rich and sympathized with the impoverished.  During the reign of Domitian (81-96), he described the conditions of life that existed in Rome.  Nowhere in his writings did he ever mention a gentle teacher named Jesus who was said to have blessed the poor, nor did he write of any injustices or impoverishment of “Christians” in Rome.

Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis, first century CE)  Roman poet, writer of satiric epigrams.  He went to Rome Around 64 CE, and through his writings earned the favor and patronage of the Emperors Titus and Domitian.  His later epigrams, in twelve books, covered a great variety of subjects, so it is surprising that he never referred to Jesus’ miracles in his works.  This is especially noteworthy since his epigrams are a valuable source of information on the manners, morals and beliefs in the empire between the reigns of Nero and Trajan.

Epictetus (real name unknown, active in the first century CE.)  A freed Greek slave proficient in Stoic philosophy who went on to teach philosophy at Rome until the year 90.  His doctrines are preserved in two works which show that his primary concern was the problem of man’s morals and principles.  His teaching was that all men have moral weaknesses, so each person must strive to be tolerant of each other.  It is strange, therefore, that in his works he did not make use of the similar teachings attributed to Jesus if there was wide knowledge of such a divine man.

All these men were intellects and well-informed on vital concerns of the empire in their day.  The fact is that there is not a single legitimate reference to Jesus, historical or secular, that dates from the first century CE.  There is, however, one exception known as Flavius Josephus, who is claimed to have been born in the year 37 in Jerusalem.  In a work attributed to Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, it is implied that a son of God named Jesus the Christ was crucified.  One thing is certain; if Josephus, supposedly a faithful Jew, wrote this in the timeframe of the alleged happenings, he would have quickly met death by stoning.  The book credited to Josephus is not accepted today as legitimate by serious students or theologians.  It is a forgery by some second century Jesus-cult activist.

Practicing Religious Chauvinism

Posted in Atheist, faith, random, religion with tags , , , , on May 1, 2012 by chouck017894

The investigative office of the Roman Catholic Church, which was known in the Dark Ages of history as the Inquisition, has recently reinvigorated its investigation of women in its ranks (nuns) who, the men who are comfortable in priest dresses declare, are infected with “radical feminism.”  The male-run Inquisition office is totally convinced that Jesus told them two thousand years ago all that they ever needed to know about women’s spiritual quality and all that is necessary to know about the complexity of feminine physiology.  After all, Jesus ran around only with the guys, so he knew all about such things.

The brouhaha kept in constant agitation of late from the male-only hierarchy in the Vatican, especially in regard to the 57,000 American nuns, has been that these sisters of logic, shall we call them, are deemed as opening the church to serious scandal for being “incompatible with religious life!”  Why?  Because the bulk of these women happen to see the intelligence in religious institutions providing their employees with insurance coverage, but that insurance would also happen to cover birth control.  Oh my!  Responsible breeding!  Jesus said nothing in favor of that, and so the Vatican says, “…do only what Jesus (allegedly) told us to do…” in our orphanages, schools and hospitals.

Numerous sisters have found only frustration in this constricted approach to human need.  Indeed some have even dared to express a need to “move beyond the Church,” and dare to point out that Jesus did mandate that impartial consideration and intelligent treatment must be freely extended toward the unfortunate.  To the Vatican male-only club, however, they see it as their duty to indict the sisters for their silence on the abortion concern which accompanies the insurance coverage.  Forgotten, apparently, are the long centuries of brotherly silence over brotherly indiscretions that should have been faced morally by the Church.

The male-only club of “investigators” thus choose to see “a rejection of faith” in the nun’s suggestion of moving beyond the church.  The alleged “rejection of faith” is trumpeted as being “…also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life.”  How conveniently these self-appointed male-only judges forget that even the beloved Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) thought that it was time to “…throw open the windows of the church and let some fresh air in.”  That wise advice obviously flew over the Vatican like a lead balloon.

Since burning people at the stake is frowned upon nowadays, the Vatican board of Inquisition has been instructed to force a reform upon the representative arm of the nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religion (LCWR).  No one is more vindictive than a bunch of spiteful priests, and they are still bent out of shape over a 1979 run-in with the LCWR.  In that episode Sister Theresa Kane, R.S.M. presented Pope John Paul II with a plea for the inclusion of women in all ministries of the church, including the ordination of women.  That offended priestly egos.  So, in priestly assessment of the stand by the sisters of logic in regard to their support of the 2010 health reform that would provide insurance coverage for employees, the Vatican pouted aloud that “This (the former 1979 affair) public refusal (regarding male-only ordination and silence on abortion) has never been corrected.”  In other words, it was a guy-gang call for holy payback.

So all stops are being pulled out by the Vatican male-only hierarchy to force a full-scale overhaul on the nun’s umbrella group.  The rumble out of the Vatican took form as a reprimand for making public statements which allegedly “…disagrees with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.”  Really?  Authentic teachers of faith and morals?  Maybe a few former altar boys would like to comment on that.  Still their excellencies insist that they have “…a mandate given by the Lord to Simon Peter as the rock on which He founded his church.”  But didn’t Jesus, who never married, hang out and travel around the country with a ragtag gang of guys, and didn’t some of those married boys just up and take off with Jesus and leave their families behind?

Well, that’s another story.  Closer to today, in 2009, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which was dreamed up by the Vatican, conducted a “doctrinal assessment” of the LCWR to assess the “tenor and doctrinal content” in the various addresses that had been given in the LCWR organization’s annual assemblies from 2001 to that date.  Thus three years later in April 2012 that investigative panel determined that the “tenor and doctrinal content” had been radical.  Thus it appointed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain as Archbishop Delegate with the mandate to oversee adjustments to the LCWR’s statutes, programs and affiliations to make it conform more closely, as determined by an all-male panel, to “the teachings and discipline of the Church.”

The mandate of the Archbishop Delegate includes the following points:    1) Revision of the LCWR Statutes, and those revised Statutes are to be submitted to the male-only Holy See for approval.  2) The scope of the LCWR plans and programs have to fulfill its mission in accord with the male-only controlled church teachings and discipline, which include: a] the withdrawal from circulation the Systems Thinking Handbook pending revision by male-only judgment; b] programs for future Superiors and “Formators” of the LCWR must be reformatted; c] speakers and presenters at major programs of the LCWR are to be subject to approval by the male Delegate.  3) New LCWR programs must be created that are judged (by a male-only board) to provide “a deepened understanding of the Church’s doctrine of faith.”  4) Liturgical and text “norms” must be reviewed and must include, for example, “that the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours will have a place of priority in the LCWR programs and events.  5) Affiliated organizations such as Network and Resource Center for Religious Life are to be reviewed by male-only controllers.

This is nothing more than chauvinism at its lowest spiritual level.  You can almost hear Satan chuckling.  After all, he has more former priests, bishops, popes and that ilk shoveling coal for him in his domain of hell than there are similar former church officials plucking away at harp strings in heaven.