Archive for Bible

Hints on Sin Dodging

Posted in belief, Bible, culture, faith, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2015 by chouck017894

Sin, the alleged estrangement from God due to transgressing God’s “known will,” is the age-old whip of faith system chieftains. The notion that some god could be directly or inadvertently offended and thus bring about disastrous consequences seemed plausible in the hostile conditions of primal forests or in the depths of gloomy caves. That trait, born of fear of the unknown, is apparently cast into the DNA of animate life as a self-preserving attribute. That natural preservation trait, unfortunately, can be mined like a vein of gold by crafty schemers.

By chapter three of Genesis, after the compressed account of Creation is dispensed with, the plot jumps rapidly into the introduction of sin with Eve nibbling fruit from the do-not-touch Tree of Knowledge. For this alleged sinful incident not only was Eve, Adam and the serpent given a death sentence, but all life forms were condemned to experience God’s continuous indulgence in vengeance! Sin was then established as a vicious circle in Genesis 4:7 with God allegedly saying to Adam and Eve’s son Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Cain, not understanding this concept of sin–perhaps because mom, Eve, had already tainted all life with “original sin,–by the very next verse (8) Cain kills his brother Abel. Now that is divine speed-plotting. But God’s earlier condemning judgment upon sin is then shown with Cain to be impulsively amendable by God’s reluctant setting a protective mark upon Cain’s head. Thus did “sin” become incorporated as the meal ticket for the CEOs of any western faith system.

The great pivotal moment in sacred “history,” according to 8th century BCE priest-interpreted accounts, hinges upon the Lord’s alleged call for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering to receive special blessings. In Jewish recognition of this momentous happening of Abraham’s unquestioning obedience is celebrated with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Abraham’s devotion is held as representative of their faith system’s especial characteristic–even though in that distant timeframe Judaism was not yet an organized faith. Not fully answered; was Isaac to be a sin offering? It is never clearly said why God would have asked for such an unmotivated act. Some have suggested that it was simply a test, but if God is omniscient (all-knowing), what could he be uncertain about? As the story is depicted, neither God nor Abraham inspire any spiritual admiration. And why would Isaac be such a spineless wimp? For some, however, Isaac is held to be the first Jewish martyr (and again, ignore that Judaism was not then an organized faith system). Functionally there can be only one purpose for this tale: since God, the personification of the Life Principle, would never condone such child abuse, the story purpose in the priest-written tale is aimed to encourage submission and obedience of all seekers to the priest-manufactured faith system.

In the later priest-written book of Leviticus (18:6-7) this priestly lust for ugly showmanship is highlighted in the supposed shifting of personal sin–allegedly with God’s okay–from the guilty party to some hapless victim. The alleged God-approved instructions read: “And he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other for Azazel.” We should note that the word “tent” was an occult reference in pre-history Creation lessons for primordial energy involvement out of which Creation is made manifest. To retain their authority the self-important priests indulged themselves in the slaughter of one goat upon the Temple altar and sent the other hapless goat into the wilds to be torn apart by predators. Or, depending on their location, the other goat was hurled by priests from a cliff to be cruelly dashed upon the jagged rocks below. The alleged reason for hurling the goat from a cliff: Azazel was said to be imprisoned beneath the mount.

Nowhere is it ever explained in Hebrew or Jewish myths why the Lord–a self-admitted jealous god–would ever sanction such a custom of equal offerings, for by presenting identical offerings it is openly admitted that Azazel was indeed considered the equal to God. Consider also that the name Azazel is said to mean “God strengthens,” so the implication seems to be that one aspect of the creative Source, active as the Life Principle, cannot be honored without the other. What this tale inadvertently reveals is that the Source-power cannot create and bring anything into existence except through a process of positive/negative energy exchange and interaction.

Even in this twenty-first century of space flights and instantaneous communications around the planet there are still Orthodox Jews who practice the bloody ritual of slaughtering hapless life (such as chickens) in an appeal to God for personal forgiveness of sin. In Los Angeles, California, for example, there are Orthodox Jews who seek to sidestep responsibility and save themselves from sin by victimizing defenseless animal life.

The Roman “fathers” and “saints” of Christianity (such as Paul, Jerome, Augustine, etc.) enthusiastically took up the sin ensnaring tactic which carries with it the submit and obey features of the faith by relating how Jesus was sacrificed for the sins of the world. On that occasion, however, God did not see any reason to substitute a ram or goat for the spectacle. The reason for such spiritual indifference? It is the claim that God so loved the world that he should allow it to sidestep responsibility for its sins by letting his “only begotten son” be sacrificed. It seems a bizarre way to teach that everyone must stand responsible for their own acts if they are ever to evolve.

Why should this surrender and torture of God’s “beloved” and “only begotten” son inspire the world with any spiritual love and trust? Such a concept hinges upon pre-Christian societies in which no rite was seen to hold more august power with the people than the sacrifice of the king or the king’s son for the redemption of the king’s people. That superstition was impressed upon Roman awareness around 60 BCE when the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem, which was then weakened due to a power struggle between the two sons of King Aristobulus. Pompey installed one son, Hyreau, as high priest and took the other brother, Antigonus (along with his sons) to Rome as displays of triumph. Eventually, however, it was Antigonus who became priest-king, and in his short reign before being taken by Marc Antony in 37 BCE, he had slain his own two sons–presumably as sacrifice for the welfare of his people.

As noted, exploiting scapegoats, as promoted in Leviticus, was often subtly upheld in Hebrew Scriptures. Unfortunately, the only thing that such alleged godly allowance of using a substitute for the guilty sets up as standard practice is for the faithful to alway seek out ways to sidestep responsibility for themselves. However, passing the blame to another provides only the illusion that such “sacrifices” will free one to fly to Heaven on a comfortable mattress of lies. As for everyone else they supposedly go to Hell.

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Number Games in Holy Texts

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, prehistory, random, religion, scriptures, theology with tags , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2014 by chouck017894

In scriptural tales, when numbers were included in the texts, they invariably relayed hidden meaning to those trained in the art of sacred language. In ancient cultures, long before the rise of Judaism among the Hebrew tribes, numbers were considered to carry mystical significance. Virtually ignored by believers today is the fact that precise calculations were vital for many ancient observations and constructions which required several steps of computation which had to include and combine spherical geometry and trigonometry. As obvious as this should seem, the common opinion of the ancients has been that they understood only fundamental mathematics. Any fascination of mathematical exercise in prehistory cultures is thought to hold little implication. The number of persons such as is claimed within each of the Israelite tribes, however, do hold hidden significance for those trained in sacred language technique. Consider some other examples.

The number six, as in the six days of Creation, was regarded in ancient cultures as a balanced number, a “perfect” number, for 6 was seen as representative of Creation’s bearing principle–or the feminine aspect within Creation activity. Influenced by prehistory Creation lessons which had been given using various constellation illustrations, 6 was regarded as the first feminine number, for it represents the energy involvement out of Source which will “go forth and multiply.” In zodiac depictions we should note that the astrological sign Virgo is the sixth from Aries and tradition says Aries represents the head; also note that Virgo is the only female illustration in major zodiac signs. In the Genesis myth we are told that all Creation was whipped up in just six days. The number six was thus considered by the 8th century BCE priest-authors in Jerusalem as the number of God. And the sixth day of Creation was held as especial because man, considered as God’s highest achievement, was created on the sixth day. (The number 6, some have noted, holds the outline of a fetus in gestation.) Not so coincidently in Christian lore Jesus has credited to him as his sixth miracle his own transfiguration. This just happens to correspond to the sixth plane of energy involvement in prehistory Creation lessons which were in regard to primal energies moving into development as matter.

Interestingly, the ancient regard for the number six was eventually explained by the Greek philosopher-mathematician Pythagoras (c.582?-500 BCE). The number six was the first number among several that the followers of Pythagoras were taught as expressing the perfection upon which all that exists is anchored. It was their belief that numbers express the true nature of things. A number was regarded as “perfect” if it is equal to the sum of its proper divisors. A proper divisor is a number which divides another number exactly, and the number six, for example, equals 1+2+3. Other numbers regarded as “perfect” are 28, 496, 8128, and 33440336.

Augustine, the Christian saint, expounded upon the mathematical endowment of the number six (never mentioning Pythagoras) saying, “Six is the number perfect in itself, and not because God created all things in six days: rather the inverse is true; God created all things in six days because this number is perfect. And it would remain perfect even if the work of six days did not exist.”

Another number from prehistory Creation accounts is the number four (4). In prehistory Creation lessons the fourth stage involvement of primal elements concerned creative energy as it flowed toward manifestation as defined matter. In scriptural versions this fourth elemental energy involvement was commonly disguised with a zero added. Examples: 40 days of rain in the Noah account, the 40 years of wandering in the Moses epic, and in each case they attained their destiny after passing through four elementary energy developmental stages. This is also the coded meaning in the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead after Lazarus had “…lain in the grave four days already” (John 11). It is not accidental that there are four canonized Gospels either, each providing developmental phases of the Life Principle, personified as Jesus, who represents the universality of all life. Nor is it accidental that the supposed authors of those Gospels are symbolized with the four deliberately jumbled divisional signs from the zodiac. Matthew is signified with the Ox (Taurus), Mark is symbolized with the Lion (Leo), Luke is represents with Man (Aquarius), and John is represented with the eagle, which in Jewish astrology symbolized Scorpio. And in Christian accounts there are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelations 6:1-8), which were deliberately jumbled by color descriptions to disguise the symbolism borrowed from prehistory lessons on Creation’s elementary involvement.

In Genesis 32:14, where the dishonesty of Jacob is celebrated, other numbers convey disguised meaning. Jacob is portrayed as indulging in a schemed peace-making deal with his brother Esau from whom he had earlier stolen the “birthright” blessing of their father. As a peace-offering Jacob is portrayed as giving Esau “…two hundred she-goats and twenty-two he-goats” as a token of his good will. That number 220 happens to be the first among particular numbers which were regarded by Pythagoras to be charged with “friendly” vibrations. The reason for this respect was that certain numbers, such as 220 and 284, are each equal to the sum of the proper divisors of the other. [The proper divisors of 220 are: 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 20, 44, 55, and 110. These are numbers which divide evenly into a number, including 1, but excluding the number itself.]

We today tend to forget that many ancient cultures were highly sophisticated and were well acquainted with mathematics, medicinal, scientific, geometric, astronomical and psychological principles. The principle known in mathematics as pi is commonly thought to be of rather recent understanding. But it is interesting to note that ancient Babylonian and Egyptian mathematicians were quite familiar with the fact that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle is a constant, or what we know as pi. And they understood also that pi is no ordinary constant, for its precise value can never be known, and thus the constant holds the special status of being transcendental. This is so because not only is it a decimal that does not repeat, but neither does it terminate.

The prehistory mathematicians were well aware also of other numbers which shared the baffling properties of pi. As an example, the ratio of the diagonal to the side of a square is also a decimal that neither repeats nor ends. And a diagonal line drawn through a square results in two right triangles whose hypotenuse is the diagonal with the sides of the square which act as the sides of the two triangles. Such a diagonal division of space within a square which is symbolized in this manner is therefore mathematically equivalent to the division of light from darkness in Genesis 1:4, the division of waters from waters in Genesis 1:6, and even the provisional division as male and female in Genesis 1:27. And the ratio of two intergers[1] is calculated by a decimal which neither repeats itself nor ends, and it is this “irrational number” which can be said to be representative of God in the seemingly irrational scriptural storytelling. [1 An integer is any number or a set of positive whole numbers, such as 1, 2, 3 and zero.] Major “prophets”–Elijah for example–are portrayed as parting waters, and multiplying life essentials (bread, fish, oil, etc.), each in a one-time-only creation deal. This represents the division of energy for positive/negative exchange which makes for multiplication of creative energies.

Persons who are prone to regard biblical tales as having been written by or dictated by God become a bit upset when the authors of holy word seem to get tripped up by principles of mathematics. The account of the resplendent temple allegedly erected by King Solomon (1 Kings 7:23), for example, falls a wee bit short in the calculations of the “molten sea”–a huge circular tank which is said to have held water for religious ceremonies. That holy holding pool is described as being “…ten cubits from one brim to the other…and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” This would mean that the value of pi is casually rounded off as three–somewhat at odds with the true value of 3.14159+. The contention presented in this tale thus exposes the fraudulent claim that direct divine wisdom was being relayed to seekers, for it is impossible to make a circle which has a diameter of ten cubits and a circumference of an even thirty.

Not surprisingly the obsession of using numbers as an indication of divine purpose was carried over by the Roman Empire authors of the New Testament as another technique aimed to attract Jewish converts. It is not exactly coincidence therefore that Jesus is depicted as having been crucified on the 6th day of the week. And there is the miracle of Jesus multiplying five loaves of bread and two fishes (Pisces) to feed followers (Matthew 14:19), which, we should remember, occurred after he had improved upon the miracle of parting waters by walking upon them. Speaking of fish consider, in the book of John 21:11 (written c. 105-106 CE), the number of fish allegedly caught by disciples at the Sea of Tiberius (better known as the Sea of Galilee) was 153. This happening is depicted as having taken place after Jesus had shown himself for the third time after his crucifixion. The peculiar number 153 in this professed happening is another which happens to be mathematically special. It is known as a triangular (three-sided) number, for it is equal to the sum of the integers from 1 to 17. In other words, if a triangle was a diagram with figures of fish, and the triangle measured 17x17x17, it would contain exactly 153 same-sized fish. Nothing miraculous here, nothing supernatural–just a mathematical exercise used in storytelling to imply their faith systems’ divine power over natural forces. From such as this we are indebted to “revealed” sacred truth.

Democracy and Spiritual Liberty Under Attack

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, history, politics, religion, Social with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2014 by chouck017894

Here we are well over a decade into the 21st century timeframe, still carrying the contaminated baggage of far-out ego-serving religious posturing that, like a recurring plague, attacked the populace of the USA at the close of the 20th century. In the United States the carriers of radical religionism swooped in upon and gained control of the once semi-reputable Republican Party in 1996, and like frenzied vampires they managed to sink their fangs into the veins of government.

Much of the current national religious pestilence in the USA today is traceable to television preachers who, early in the 1950s television entertainment technology, recognized the financial windfall that could be made by pretending to have hot wire connections with god and heaven. An early money-chasing televangelist, Pat Robertson, was hellbent on mixing personal faith with easy money and government rule. By October of 1992, having by then established a faith system empire, Robertson publicly suggested that god’s holy purpose could be achieved by grabbing political power. “We want,” he said, “as soon as possible to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996.” Indeed, televangelists across the nation were suddenly intent upon stirring up a religious war. And to make this needless conflict as self-fulfilling as possible the aggressive Christian right was pumping out reams of odious literature and preaching endlessly in the most shameless hate-inducing and fear-inducing rhetoric that they could produce. In this perverse take on the peaceful teachings credited to Jesus, the extremists were, and still are, every bit as vicious and paranoid and spiritually crude as the 2nd and 3rd century Christian cultists had been. (That is history without the religious whitewash.) The radical evangelist movement in the USA was thrown into high gear by characteristically promoting a demon-haunted view of the world, and they cultivated this mockery of spirit into a corrupt political force, all the while avoiding media scrutiny behind the government provided shield of religious equality.

From the mid 1600s timeframe of the Puritans, potential religious tyrants have yearned to impose a theocratic style government upon the North American continent. By the mid-20th century man’s technology had evolved to provide such holy pretenders with the means by which they could attract more spiritually aggressive persons into their ranks. Approaching the 21st century the Christian Right extremists in the USA then totally abandoned Jesus-advocated peace ethics and set about political hijacking. The longed for takeover of the Republican Convention in 1996 was accomplished for the most part through deceit and posturing–practically none of which was ever seriously commented upon in-depth by the news media. By that time, coincidently, many television and radio broadcasting stations had been quietly bought out by religious factions. The radical right-wingers were actually credited by radio and television commentators as being so divinely inspired. Genuine newscasters, however, feared to report on the dirty tactics which the radical religionists were using in fear that the religionists would bring charges of religious intolerance. Instead, the spineless media reported” on how well-behaved the pious pretenders were!

Kept well out of sight for the most part by the religious right schemers was their self-serving ideology and their warped vision of Jesus-salvation which they coupled with barbaric “biblical law.” Their strategy plans included the systematic disruption and eventual destruction of such things as public schooling, jury trials, and freedom of speech. And while these politically obsessed faith systems dodged any tax responsibility, they insisted that god approved the lowering of taxes, for those taxes happened to support what they sneeringly referred to as “entitlements,” which they said included Social Security, even though working citizens had paid into as government insurance for the elderly. And those who claimed to be divinely guided advocated that any such public welfare plans should be administered solely by private agencies—by which they meant their management. And they advocated the unconstitutional establishment of mandatory religious beliefs for all US citizens. In that recent 20th century timeframe the religious extremists then began a heavy campaign of propagandist tactics of vile name-calling and demonizing their opponents to suggest justification for their twisted Bible inspired actions. As noted in these postings, the Bible stories presented plenty of cut-throat examples to follow.

Today, in the early twenty-first century, slightly over two decades after the Religious Right’s takeover of the Republican Party, the United States staggers under the constant barrage of religious fixations that have contaminated and degenerated the nation’s governing bodies. Under the extreme religious right tyranny—which still is not being brought to account in the public media or by the judicial system—our once great nation has been led into the quicksand trap in which democratic spirit and moral regard for others is being systematically garroted.

The religious extremists have been indulging in an orgy that attempt to dis-embody democratic principles that have long protected private citizens’ spiritual and physical liberties. Under the ethics used by the radical religious right, the US wound up with a born-again President thrust upon them (through direct and unconstitutional interference of political processes by Republicans and Catholic dominated Supreme Court Justices). The questionable legality of that Republican “electoral victory” of 2000 was loudly asserted to be the result of “religious transformation of America.” Some strangely convenient circumstances then soon allowed this victorious party to pilot the nation into an illegal war. The Bible-led presidential “advisors,” most of whom had been draft dodgers themselves, were then hawkish in the extreme and were certain that god approved their rush to tyranny. Lying, backroom deals, deregulation of “free market,” lifting rules off Wall Street regulation, pretending there were military solutions to any diplomatic crisis, throwing increasing limitations upon the working class citizens, refusing any mannered debates of dialogue, etc., etc., revealed their open contempt for true democratic principles and exposed their open disregard for genuine citizen liberty or spiritual equality.

So how and where did democratic equal justice become effectively emasculated by the radical Right to the point that today the true democratic principles that made this nation a beacon of freedom are still being systematically attacked? Who has been held responsible and accountable for all the traitorous sabotage of democratic principles? Why has no one been investigated for: 1) all the lies and criminality that led the nation into two illegal wars?; 2) for the prisoner abuse and the authorization of cowardly torture that the religiously inspired political climate produced?; 3) for the robbing of dignity and capabilities of the working people?; 4) for the attempted destruction of the “middle class” while hypocritically trumpeting “family values”? 5) for wasting trillions of dollars in unnecessary expenditures by the Pentagon; 6) for supporting the vampires of Wall Street? 7) for permitting subsidy extortion such as by oil, coal, etc.?; 8) for pretending that corporations have private citizen rights?; 9) for driving down wages and breaking worker unions? 10) for ignoring how corporations “cook” their books?; 11) for attempted sabotage of Social Security benefits which all working people have already paid into? 12) for bringing the nation to the brink of bankruptcy to accomplish government overthrow? Etc., etc., etc.

The United States of America was founded by courageous, thoughtful, dedicated men who recognized from researching the history of the Dark Ages—the Inquisition era of European history—that governments dominated by some religious faction always turn into a nightmare of senseless misery for everyone except those in the religious hierarchy. Many Near East countries today—in this 21st century—are desperately struggling to throw off the identical type of oppressive and cruel religious/political governments as the Religious Right/Tea Party dominated Republican Party is now attempting to impose upon the United States citizens.

These Christian extremists who claim to be biblically guided obviously have their vision clouded over with power-lust, obstinacy and egotism. Perhaps these spiritually blind agitators should be provided with LARGE TYPE editions of the Christian texts they claim to represent. Then, if they would also stop their clenched fist shenanigans, browse through a few verses that are actually wise and which they apparently conveniently ignored, such as: Matthew 5:9; “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of god.” In Luke 2:14; “…peace among men of good will.” Romans 14:19; “Let us therefore pursue the things which make for peace.” 1 Peter 3:1; “…let him seek peace and pursue it.”

And finally, these spiritually confused power seekers who yearn to force their pretentious religious interpretation upon others, read Matthew 6:5; “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing…that they may be seen by men…when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father (the Creative Source personified) which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly. But when you pray, use not vain repetition, as the heathens do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Phraseology modernized.)

And if those holy pretenders would cease their chest-thumping long enough to seriously observe the universe around them they might obtain a smidgen of much-needed humility. With even a dash of true spiritual reserve they would see the proof displayed in that awesome panorama that all things are equal before that ultimate creative power. It is that equality of spirit which is reflected only in a true democracy.

Ten Commandments Really Property Rights

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, Hebrew scripture, prehistory, religion, scriptures, Social with tags , , , , on August 1, 2013 by chouck017894

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue (the ten words), are presented in two places in the Bible (Exodus 20:1-17, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21), both containing a short summary of godly demand allegedly revealed personally by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. These are known as Mosaic Laws. Strangely, those in Exodus and Deuteronomy are listed somewhat differently. Despite this, the brief list of commandments can be divided into four categories. The first three commandments (or four, depending on which faith system version) cannot be said to concern ethical, moral or even spiritual enlightenment, but lay down the “submit and obey” principles which any cult or faith system seeks to impose. Supposedly these first three (or four) commandments protect the religious followers from misusing divine power to serve personal ends. (How well these actually safeguard the misuse of divine power in political practice is periodically demonstrated by fanatics who belligerently post these commandments in courthouses and government buildings in attempts to force their particular religious convictions upon everyone else.)

In short, the first three (or four) commandments of the ten provide absolutely nothing to elevate any personal spiritual relationship with the creative Source: it is all about “I am the boss, and don’t you forget it.” This just happens, coincidently of course, to establish a power base for the go-betweens who (selflessly, of course) place themselves in service to the big boss. God will brook no rivalry and allows no divided loyalty. These opening commandments may therefore be considered to be the property rights for the priest-class, which leave the remaining commandments open for priestly interpretation of what the big boss wants (even though their interpretations often run counter to the stated commandments).

Not all biblically based faith systems, as noted, follow the same sequence, but the commandment that is most often placed after God’s self promotion is “Honor thy father and mother.” This is indeed a moral responsibility, but equally correct this commandment is a property right. for it protects the elderly when they may no longer be of any economical value to a society. (This places the religious rights’ domination of the Republican Party since 1996 in an awkward position, considering their constant push to destroy Social Security.) All the commandments, most of which are stated in negative “thou shalt not” form, are not strictly a system of heavenly righteousness as is routinely implied but concern matter-life property rights. The commandment “Thou shalt not kill, for example, is an affirmation of the sanctity (personal possession) of life: to take that right-to-life from any person for any reason is against social stability. How loyally this Thou shalt not kill commandment was observed is displayed in the priest-written book of Leviticus which lists twenty-some ways to kill those whom the priests judged did not follow the commandments!

Next is the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” commandment, the sole purpose of which is in regard to men’s property rights, for in priest-written sacred word, woman is assessed as merely the property of man. As in the holy story of Lot, man is free to sell, rent or loan out his daughters and he may use his wife however pleases him. Adultery is thus but a variation of the next commandment which declares “Thou shalt not steal” another man’s property.

The last two holy commandments are actually more in regard to one’s social and/or public reputation which could inflict negative consequences and damage the personal property rights of others—the personal treasure known as integrity (a quality of personhood virtually unknown among religious fanatics and politicians). Thus in bearing false witness (#9) another person’s honor (their personal property of integrity) is soiled which can easily ruin one’s life and property in a community. And “Thou shalt not covet” (#10) is to crave (and probably strive for) something which rightfully belongs to someone else.

Things to consider:
There is very little attention given in textbooks regarding any human cultures prior to around 2500 BCE. This has long been standard practice despite the fact that artifacts, archaeological sites and biological evidence confirms the existence of human cultures dating back at least one million years. Little noted in textbooks is the fact that in the timeframe c.2600 BCE a ruler of Sumer, named Urukagina, found so much immoral activity in his kingdom that he found it necessary to crack down on it. A long inscription by this ruler is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and it was founded on a virtuous sense of freedom, equality and justice. A few of the injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use by supervisors of their power to take the best of everything for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; and the practice of monopolistic groups to impose unbearable prices on the general public. Sound familiar?

Approximately 875 years later (c.1758 BCE) Hammurabi ascended the throne of Babylonia. History, surprisingly, does record that he was responsible for the codification of Babylonian laws and edicts, which were displayed on a stele for the public to see. Hammurabi depicted himself as receiving the code from the god Shamash. The code was strictly a civil code which contained 282 paragraphs covering such things as legal procedures and penalties for unjust accusations, false testimony, and injustice done by judges, etc. Other laws were based on equal retaliation–the eye for an eye approach which later became the suggested “law” practice in the priest-written book Leviticus.

Moses is speculated to have received the Ten Commandments around 1540-30 BCE, and thereafter the Decalogue is said to have served as the fundamental laws of the Hebrews. The Ten Commandments which Moses allegedly received directly from God functioned as a severely condensed version of those earlier rulers. It was the cunning act of dressing those laws in sacred scripture which subtly implied that they were enforced by divine power and which provided their endurance.

Curious Circumstances Regarding Jesus’ Trial

Posted in belief, Bible, Christianity, faith, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by chouck017894

There are a considerable number of questionable things in the accepted New Testament versions of Jesus’ ministry and the alleged events of his final days, especially the account of his blasphemy trial which was allegedly presided over by Pontius Pilate.  Pilate was indeed the Prefect of the Roman provinces of Judea, Samaria and Idumaea from c. 29 to 36 CE, having been appointed by Emperor Tiberius.  And yes, he was endowed with the power of supreme judge.  But it is highly improbable that the trial of Jesus’ alleged “treason” trial would have been conducted as portrayed in the crafted texts. 

There is the fact that the Prefect, a Roman governor who was not particularly sympathetic to the religious convictions or spiritual pride of the Jews, would have personally interrogated some gentle rebel of that faith.  The Roman jails held many other felons who merited more serious attention, and in addition it would have been the duty of the Prefect’s subordinates to interrogate the common-law violators.  Remember that Jesus was, for the most part, known only as a wandering preacher, and not yet renowned as someone bearing the exalted caliber of “Christ.”  (That designation originated in the Greek community of Antioch before the timeframe set as Jesus’ birth, which would not have been respected by Jews.)  Also, in cases which related to religious matters, the seriousness of an accused Jew’s offence was determined by the Sanhedrin–the Jewish supreme council and tribunal.  The Sanhedrin is portrayed as having found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, but that council did not have the power to sentence him with death.  Jesus was then allegedly brought before Pilate (Mark 15:5, Matthew 27:1-14, Luke 23:17, and John 18:29-38–all of which sustained several rewrites).

Pilate is portrayed rightfully as having refused to approve the judgment of death without Roman style investigation, and here again this duty would have been carried out by underlings.  This cautionary procedure purportedly inspired the Jewish priests to invent other charges against Jesus which allegedly led Pilate to interview Jesus privately.  On the surface this sounds reasonable, but nothing is ever conveyed how this interview with a jailbird could have occurred.  Jesus is said to have spoken Aramaic, and Pontius Pilate may have known some Hebrew, but his native language was Latin.  Did Jesus carry the omniscient gene of his divine father and thus understand everything about everything?  According to John’s Gospel, Pilate conversed with Jesus without need of an interpretor.  Curious.

According to John, the Jewish conspirators had led Jesus to the judgment hall but would not enter the Roman facility for fear of being defiled and thus rendered unqualified to partake of Passover.  Pilate obliged them and went outside to ask what accusations they made against Jesus.  Not particularly impressed with the Jews’ claim, Pilate told them to judge Jesus according to their own law, to which the Jews replied that it was unlawful for them to put any man to death (John 18:31).  At this point Pilate allegedly went back into the judgment hall and conversed with Jesus (without an interpretor), asking Jesus pointedly “Art thou the King of the Jews?”  Jesus never said yes exactly, and he didn’t say no; he said only that “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Pilate apparently just shrugged, saying, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) and went back outside to tell the accusers, “I find in him no fault at all.”

The situation then became a bit more muddled with Pilate saying to the Jews (verse 39), “But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at Passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?”  Verse 40 continues, Then cried they all again saying, Not this man, but Barabbas.  (We will ignore here that the name Barabbas means son of the father, which could be applied to the only begotten son of God.)  The chapter concludes saying, Now Barabbas was a robber.  Chapter 19 begins by saying that “Pilate therefore took Jesus and sourged him.”  Are we to believe that a Roman governor would personally scourge a jailbird?  For what offense?  Pilate had found no fault in Jesus.  The crime of Jesus is the allegation of treason, but it was not treason or blasphemy in the eyes of Roman law, so Pilate said simply, “Behold the man.”  To which the chief priests and officers allegedly cried out “Crucify him, crucify him.”  And Pilate is said to have replied to the malicious priests, “Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.”  In Matthew 27:19 Pilate is quoted as saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”

Now we get into even murkier territory.  Pilate had already announced that he found no fault in Jesus, and so the resposibility of a death sentence was passed back to the Jews.  But—and this is an important but—crucifixion was not a killing techique among the Jews; for the crime of blasphemy Jesus would have been, by Leviticus law, stoned to death.  Pilate sought to release Jesus (John 19:12), but for the Christian authors to get the crucifixion angle to work Pilate was pictured as being maneuvered by the priests who taunted Pilate saying, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; (to) maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”  This is pathetic story plotting: even if Jesus claimed to be a king, he would not have been seriously considered in Rome to be any threat to imperial authority.  On the other hand the Christian cult desperately needed a messiah capable of resurrecting without too much physical damage.  And so Jesus was, by Gospel accounts, nailed to a cross–allegedly by the order of Pontius Pilate.

Another weakness in this crucifixion plotline is that the disgraced victims–Jews or not–were rarely permitted to be taken down for burial as is described for Jesus.  Customarily victims were left upon the cross to the mercy of dogs and wild beasts, for the crosses upon which victims were impaled were not the high silhoettes that Christian artists love to glorify; the Roman instrument of slow murder was rarely more than eight feet tall once it was anchored in the ground in an upright position.  The remains of the executed victims were, in due course, dumped into a mass grave.

There is an interesting footnote to Pontius Pilate’s alleged role in condemning Jesus to death by crucifixion.  Back in the nineteenth century the records of Pilate’s court were still in existence, and a distinguished scholar-educator (rabbi) Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900), was able to study those records in a search of evidence of Jesus’ famous blasphemy trial.  Rabbi Wise could find absolutely nothing concerning such a trial. 

 

Book of Revelation’s Bumpy History

Posted in belief, faith, random, religion with tags , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by chouck017894

The late appearance of the New Testament book of The Revelation upon the Christian scene, penned c. 135-137, followed closely upon the occurrence of the Jewish insurrection in Jerusalem under Ben Cocheba (132-135 CE).  It was a Jewish insurrection which spread to Cyrene, Egypt, Cyprus and Mesopotamia.  With this NT book’s late appearance there is presented an inexplicable psychological change in the character of Jesus from a mild and peaceful teacher (as in Mark and Matthew) into the harsh judgmental figure of Revelation.  Missing in the new book was any attempt to attract or convert Jews to the emergent Jesus cult; the narrow focus was set upon the organization of a new Jerusalem, a situation that is picturesquely achieved at the end of the lumbering tale (Revelation 21:10).  There is strong but veiled anti-Jewish anger expressed in this tale written during Roman Empire times, and it is revealed in the contention that it is a new Jerusalem that is to be purified and lowered from Heaven, not Rome; the Jews were not to be saved as far as the author was concerned.  Add to this that the work is addressed to a definite group of seven new churches, all in the Roman province of Asia.

It is also worth noting that the description of the new Jerusalem asserts that it is to have a wall surrounding it with twelve gates—three each along the north, east, south and west.  As in Hebrew Scripture tales, where the number twelve is a prime clue in the story, it is a covert way of referring to the zodiac, as are numerous other descriptions in Revelation.  And clearly the symbolism used, such as the number seven, happens to be common in all Creation myths; so in this imagined re-creation of Jerusalem there are 7 angels, 7 horns, 7 stars, 7 seals, 7 vials, 7 plagues, 7 candlesticks, 7 churches, 7 spirits before the throne, and the great beast with 7 heads.  These references to the number seven are not unique to the book of Revelation, for the very same numerical symbols are to be found in the book of Ezekiel, chapter four.  Another example of zodiac plundering is found in Revelation in the opening of chapter four where the throne is beheld; “…and one sat upon the throne..”  The one allegedly seen sitting upon the throne is said to have the look “…of a jasper and a sardine stone, and there was a rainbow round about the throne in sight like unto an emerald.”  The mention of these stones—jasper, sardine stone and emerald—happen to be the gemstone symbols for Pisces, Gemini and Cancer.*  This type of borrowing continues through the book.  (*Prehistory teachings used these three constellations as illustrations on lessons of Creation: with Pisces was taught Creative Consciousness; Gemini taught Mental Matter; and Cancer taught about Astral Matter.  Modern science has other definitions for these energies.)

Much of the symbolism used in Revelation happens to be common to Apocalyptic tradition of the timeframe in which it was written, and doubtlessly parts of the text were also drawn from ancient Babylonian and/or Persian mythology.  The Apocryphal vision presented in Revelation was likely also inspired by the old Hebrew tales of Moses (tales which were not canonically approved).  In the non-canonized Moses-related tale it tells of a “war in heaven” which was allegedly fought between angels and Satan’s horde over the possession of the deceased Moses’ physical body.  These elements of Revelation made the text a divisive work from its inception, with many finding its style and brutal scenes as starkly out of character with the earlier books of Gospel which depicted a gentle Jesus.

The “mark,” “name,” or “number” which supposedly will indicate the unworthy beings as referred to in Revelation, asserts that the mark will be received and viewable “in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (Revelation 13:16, 14:9, 20:4).  But nowhere does it say that either the name or number is received as being the mark, which may be interpreted that all three refer to one and the same thing.  So in this scare-the-hell out of believers harangue, those who receive this identification “…shall drink of the wine of the wrath of god, and be tormented  with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and the presence of the Lamb” (Revelation 14:9-11).  The horror tactic continues through chapter 20, which noticeably contradicts the message of god’s love and mercy which Jesus allegedly brought to the world.

So where did the idea of marking victims for eternal damnation come from?  From Hebrew scriptures, where else?  Remember the priest-composed Genesis, 4:5 where the Lord is said to have placed a mark upon Cain “…lest any finding him should kill him”?  And there is Ezekiel 9:4-6 where the Lord “…revealed to the “prophet” that there was to be “…set a mark upon the foreheads..” of those to be spared the Lord’s wrath.  In that account anyone who did not bear the mark were to be destroyed: “Slay utterly the old and young, both maids and little children, and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.” (Verse 6)  These “values” were completely reversed by the author of Revelation, but he kept the old-fashioned fear tactics for keeping the “sheep” in line.

Unfortunately, by the time of “saint” Irenaeus (flourished 170-190), the book The Revelation began to be presented as the prophecy of God’s intention for the world, or as his plan for the church.  The third century theologian, “saint” Dionysius of Alexandria (c. 260) said of Revelation, “Even if I do not understand, I yet conceive some deeper sense to lie in the words.  Not measuring and judging these things by private reasoning but giving the chief right to faith, I have supposed it to be too high to be comprehended by me.”  But not all Christian cult theologians were so willing to abandon rationality and struck the book from their canon.

And so the debates continued.  By 340 the Christian Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis (Constantia) of the Island of Cyprus, reinstated the book for use.  But then  in 375 the Bishop of Nazianzen, in SW Cappadocia, struck the book from his canon.  And in 380 Bishop Philastrius, bishop of Brescia (Lombardy, Italy) omitted Revelation from his canon.  Even “saint” Jerome (about 390) expressed doubt about the book being attributed to John the presbyter.  Even later reformers such as Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1431) were doubtful of the book’s authenticity.  In general many of those who attribute the fourth Gospel to have been written by “saint” John, judged that Revelation, because of its style, could not have been written by him.

The message presented in the Judgment Day tale is defined by local color that was found in the Roman Empire of the timeframe in which it was composed, and references to contemporary events and social issues clearly indicate that it was meant for its own age.  Without doubt the author was strongly connected to the Christian cult circles that had been recently established in the Roman province of Asia, but his broader purpose was to send forth a message of intimidation and warning to insurgent Jews that Christ would soon manifest and cleanse the world (the Roman world) of unbelievers.

Time has shown (well over 2000 years) that the things allegedly foretold in Revelation are not applicable to the technological world we know today; its imagery simply is not relevant, and more importantly it holds no applicable spiritual value.

Development of Church Franchising

Posted in belief, Christianity, faith, Hebrew scripture, history, random, religion with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by chouck017894

In the timeframe in which Jesus is alleged to have brought god’s means of redemption to the Roman world, there was no word for the institutional type gathering places which we today speak of as churches.  There were gathering places, of course, where people could share esoteric mysteries and spiritual tutoring, but these places generally were not used exclusively for a rigidly controlled “faith” purpose.  The closest thing known to what we today call a church would have been in the Greek word ecclesia, a term which referred to a group of citizens “called out” and assembled for political purposes.  Loosely the word ecclesia may be interpreted as meaning “assembly” or “gathering.”

The translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy II (285-246 BCE) were commissioned to accommodate Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria.  That translation, known as the Septuagint, consequently became the version consulted by most early Christians.  Therefore, when quotes are made from the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament, they were commonly taken from the Septuagint version.  This tended to serve as the status measure for early Christian theologians.  In the Septuagint translation the word synagogue, denoting a place of assembly, was translated with the Greek word ecclesia.

Thus we have received through third century BCE translations of that Greek word the nuance that now implies an explicit holy association in words such as ecclesiastic, used to identify a clergyman or  priest; ecclesiastical, which pertains to a church, especially an organized institution; and ecclesiasticism, which implies principles, practices and activities of an institutionalized faith system.  From this usage there even evolved a body of contentions called Ecclesiasticus, a book of the Apocrypha, which is also called “Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach.

And then there is also ecclesiology, which refers to the study of the Christian Church as an institution, and the same word can also be used to identify ecclesiastical art, especially in relation to the architecture and/or decorations of churches.  Without question the most negative use of is the word ecclesiolatry, which refers to the worship of the church itself—the excessive devotion to principles and traditions mandated by man-formulated, self-serving faith systems—i.e. the customary indulgence of fundamentalists.

It was noted in a previous post, Puzzles of Faith (March 2009), that it is curious that the hierarchical setups and franchising organization for religious instruction such as are in fashion today were not proposed anywhere in Gospels.  At that time there were temples–buildings that were built by man, but they were regarded as housing facilities for some divine presence, with the structure used as a purified accommodation for a particular god or goddess.  Such structures were not designed with seating arrangements for seeker to sit and listen to priests pontificate, although priests supervised such places.

Curiously, in the first written “Gospel,” the book of Mark (which is now placed second in the NT lineup), Jesus was not portrayed as instructing Peter to establish his “church.”  Nor was the institution of a “church” ever mentioned until the later rewrites of Matthew, and then term “church” is used only two times.  In fact, it was not until Paul (a name Romanized from Saul) burst upon the scene (he is traditionally accepted as having lived c. 3-68 CE) that the term church developed, and even then there was no implication that a church was to serve in the role of a hierarchical institution.  Paul’s use of the term “church” was generalized, for he commonly spoke only of local gatherings of supporters that congregated independently in various regions, so it was not exactly a framework for a franchised faith system business.

A number of factors contributed to the gradual development of such an institutionalized method for promoting the business of faith. The nearest to any divine interpretations of the word “Christ” seems to have developed from the 300 BCE Greek Gnostics who recognized and honored the universal “Logos” or “Word,” which they revered and spoke of as the Chrestos.  The “Logos” or “Word” referred to the underlying cosmic principle, regarded in ancient Greek philosophy as the source of universal orderliness and intelligibility.  From the reverence of the Chrestos this esoteric group referred to themselves as Chrestianoi.   It was in a later timeframe that the term “Christians” was first used in the Greek-built city of Antioch, a Gnostic center, to distinguish the disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:25:26).  As a consequence, Antioch became recognized as the “mother-city of Gentile Christianity” (Acts 11:19-30; 12:1-3; 14:26; 15:30).

This makes for some confusion.  In Christian tradition Peter is the declared “rock” of the Christian institutionalized structure which arose in Rome, although the earliest Jesus cult members in that city referred to themselves simply as “brethren.”  Curiously, this “rock” of the Christian faith system was first known as Simon (or as Simeon, in Acts 15:12) in the first Gospels of Mark and Matthew.  Interestingly, prior to and in this same early first century timeframe there was in Rome a highly revered interpreter of Pagan  esoteric wisdom who was widely identified by the letters PTR, which may be loosely translated as signifying “grand interpreter.”  This was a title of reverence which was widely known within Rome and therefore the title was much too valuable to discard in laying down the foundation for a hierarchical faith system in the second century CE.  Thus by around the late second century CE, when copies of copies of the earlier Gospels were being produced (revised), the assertion was then “documented” that Jesus had renamed Simon as Peter, which use the PTR letters signifying the Pagan interpreter of esoteric wisdom to play upon the Latin word for “rock.”  (More on PTR in Christianity and the PTR Factor, March 2012.)

Simon may be correctly designated from the books of Mark and Matthew as having been “the apostle of the circumcision,” for he is portrayed in these two Gospels as adamant in following strict Jewish customs.  This makes it more than just awkward to place that staunch Jewish personality in the “impure” city of Rome and having apostatized from his Jewish obligations to serve Jesus as first bishop of a gentile church.

Oddly, Paul never actually spoke of Simon-Peter as though he was the “rock” upon which all seekers should look to as the  keystone of faith.  Indeed, Paul spoke several times of the heresy being preached, which was a rather disrespectful accusation since some of the twelve apostles who allegedly had known Jesus personally would still have been alive and preaching in that same timeframe.

Nonetheless, it was the self-appointed cult activist Paul who took possession of the reins of the ill-defined Jesus movement by formulating the language and systematizing the doctrines that would later be utilized as the foundation of Christian theology.  But the full application of his theological methodology did not immediately gain endorsement.  That approval developed gradually (evolved) and was made to pivot upon the four revised Gospels and the Pauline correspondence.  It was in that adapted form of Gospels, which was compiled near the middle of the second century, that was consulted by the expanding Jesus-cult affiliates.  (The cultists were not yet called “Christians” even then, despite what is taught as church history.)  Only then, around 140 CE, did the idea of formulating a canonical authority of Gospel become a serious concern, an idea which may have been inspired by a man named Marcion, a Gnostic from Sinope (in Turkey), who arrived in Rome around 140 CE.

Four years after arriving in Rome, Marcion grew frustrated with the direction of the developing Christian doctrine which would become defined as Catholic.  His Gnostic view of things was not favorably received by the “church” fathers, although they had eagerly received his generous monetary contributions.  Thus Marcion founded his own sect, which grew rapidly.  Marcion rejected the Old Testament, assessing the Creator-god of the Hebrew Scriptures as the Demiurge, the author of suffering.  This, he theorized, meant that Jesus could not have been the Messiah promised by that god, for the Christ (the Gnostic Chrestos) expressed light and love, which Marcion did not perceive as expressed in nature or in the Hebrew scriptures.  Marcion also rejected the concept of resurrection of the physical body.  He rejected as well the concept of marriage, theorizing that it was less than loving to increase the race of man to be subjected to the ruthless whims of the creator of matter.

The Marcionite sect flourished, becoming second only to the developing Catholic theological form, and for that reason the  process of canonizing basic texts as the New Testament was undertaken.  There was as well in this timeframe an economic decline within the Roman Empire, and the edgy Christian faction sought to lure converts with the promise of the “bread of life.”  The Marcionites continued to thrive until around the fourth century, when they became absorbed into the Manichaeans (named after the Persian sage Manes).  The chief opponent of the Manichaeans was Augustine (353-430), who just happened to have been a Manichaean disciple for nine years before converting to Christian ideology.  This undoubtedly explains some of “saint” Augustine’s hang-ups regarding sex.

Like any business, the goal of any faith system is to attract as many customers as possible.  The product in all faith systems is pretty much the same—the alleged special access to a higher power.  But the essential appeal for a lasting franchise faith system rests in how the product is advertised and displayed to enchant a consumer’s ego.