Category Archives: Bible

Swimming against the tide

The Trump administration’s alternative Christianity

In recent weeks, I have become strongly motivated to become upwardly mobile. This raises theological issues.

Phil Zuckerman is a non-believer. He has no accountability to Jesus or the Scriptures. He doesn’t have to walk the Christian walk or talk the Christian talk. He doesn’t face the challenges, or have to do the work, I do as a follower of Jesus. Yet he wants to prescribe what Christianity must be.

He ascribes a certain Christianity to those who surround Donald Trump, and finds fault with it. I have no need to adopt or reject that Christianity. I have my own to practice. But it is not what Zuckerman wants to prescribe to me.

What’s wrong with Trump’s cronies? Apparently, as Zuckerman sees it, what’s wrong with them is that they’re prosperous. The love of God, as he portrays it, does not apply to prosperous people, but instead the poor. Only the poor.

So, according to the Christianity Zuckerman would prescribe for me, if I become prosperous, God won’t love me any more.

If anyone finds that he says differently from that, please advise. I welcome correction.

(Sigh.)

To walk the path to which I feel I’m called, I may need to focus on a Jesus saying Zuckerman does not cite. In fact, I have never heard any liberal cite it. Nor has it ever been cited in the chapel services at the homeless shelter where I stay; where they seem to think that all that matters is what one believes, and never what one does.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. … So let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

In other words, do praiseworthy things.

Praiseworthy actions glorify God.

If I were to become self-supporting, would that be praiseworthy?

Might my example encourage or inspire others?

Might I even teach, by example, the ways whereby one may become self-supporting?

Would that serve God?

As to the whole thrust of liberal ideology, it appears that, if I strive to do what I feel called by God to do, I’m swimming against the tide.

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Tight vs. loose: Politics and mysticism

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monday, I lived my life the whole day the way I’ve always said one should, consistent with The Way of Peace. This was an accomplishment, and has been a long time coming. At bedtime, I was so proud of myself, I fully expected to be rewarded with a pleasant dream.

That didn’t happen.

The dream I did have was all about concepts, and wasn’t pleasant. It said, “Conservatism is tight; liberalism is loose.” It said I am currently being tight. I didn’t like being told that, and I didn’t like the fact that it was so.

Not because I have anything against conservatism. Though I tend in a more liberal direction, conservatism and liberalism are both largely immaterial to me.

But I would wind up pondering a lot, Tuesday, about how I would rather be.

It came to me that liberalism is like an open palm — one is ready to give someone something, or to accept something — whereas conservatism is like a closed fist. The conservative wants to keep what she or he has, and isn’t interested in accepting any handouts.

Now, it’s not that one is right and the other wrong. In life, both are necessary. And that insight opened up a different point of view.

That explains much more than I supposed.

The Qabala says there are ten sephirot, or dimensions, through which the Life Force may express itself. Two that are normally juxtaposed are Chesed, or Loving-kindness, and Gevurah, or Severity. These correspond well to the open palm, on the one hand, and the closed fist, on the other, respectively. The question is not choosing one over the other, but holding the two in balance; for in life, we need both.

One is not right and the other wrong; instead, each one has its own “good” or light and “evil” or dark potentialities. A “dark” potentiality of Loving-kindness is permissiveness, which can lead to a complete loss of order in society. Some people keep their hands out all the time, and that’s not good. A “dark” potentiality of Severity is that one may use the closed fist to beat up on oneself or others, to engage in tyranny or extortion.

Severity pertains less to the imposition of order than to the restoration of order (Hebrew: Tikkun) after disruption occurs. Chesed will express itself in making and serving a meal — but also in making a mess. Gevurah expresses itself in washing the dishes.

And taking out trash.

And picking up litter.

It pertains to the establishment of social norms, and to encouraging people to conform to those norms. For example, pee and poop belong in the toilet bowl, not on the toilet seat or on the floor. But when I worked at City Hall, it was clear that many men haven’t learned this.

Some social norms express themselves as laws. Thus all police activity expresses Gervurah — both its use and its abuse.(*)

But a complete lack of Gervurah is equally devastating.

It is telling that the concept of accountability is controversial among black Americans. Dez Bryant’s April 2017 remarks got scant attention in the mainstream press, but lots of pushback from the only black voices America is allowed to hear.  D. L. Hughley said, “There’s no such thing as black-on-black crime.” Stephen A. Smith questioned Bryant’s blackness. The ideal of a black world without norms manifests in the murders of Carter Scott , Chanetta Powell  and Charmaine Wilson.

Chesed and Gervurah in balance would be like a parent who corrects her or his child with love. We don’t have many good models for this. The current American correctional system is not, in fact, about correction, but retaliation. Likewise, the God portrayed in the Book of Numbers in the Bible does not correct, but retaliates. But putting the toys back in the toybox does not require scolding. Putting an errant object back in its right place does not require anger. Love can be constant.

That’s how I want to be.

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(*)(The auric color of Gevurah is blue, which is why police wear blue uniforms. The color of compassion is green, so the Green Party is so named. But green is also the color of envy.)

 

 

Gimme

Proverbs 30:15: “The leech has two daughters. Their names are ‘Gimme’ and ‘Gimme.’”

———— ♦ ————

Saturday 05/12/12, 3:00 p.m. — I tired today of strangers asking me for things when I was on smoke breaks out in front of the library.

Other homeless guys have talked with me about this in the past, expressing similar frustrations.

People talk about “What goes around comes around,” but when it comes to this stuff, I don’t see it. In my years in the ’hood (Barclay area, 2006-2011) I got the definite impression that it’s always the exact same individuals asking, asking, asking, and the “blessing” never gets passed on, nor do they ever give back.

They’ll bleed you dry.
Continue reading Gimme

R.I.P. Joe Stocks

Monday, May 8, 2017

Church member Joe Stocks died suddenly Saturday. Natural causes.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” That’s the kind of man Joe was. All kinds of men and women glorify God because of Joe’s good works.

All kinds.

Continue reading R.I.P. Joe Stocks

The wrongest verse in the Bible

Proverbs 3:5-6:

5Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Continue reading The wrongest verse in the Bible

How can Jesus possibly be wrong?

In a recent post, I said, if Jesus did teach thus-and-so, he was wrong.

That’s an extreme position for someone who calls himself a Christian.

And some may be alarmed at the total rejection of Biblical “inspiration” it implies.

There are quite a few wrong things in the Christian Bible.

For the moment, I’ll pass over those I find in the “Old Testament.”

Particularly from a series of threads done by Sophiee at Messiah Truth about “365 Prophecies of Jesus,” it has become clear to me that nearly all of the “Old Testament” quotations in the book of Hebrews are misapplied.

Yes, it can shake one’s confidence in what one thought one believed.

Secrets of the Dead Sea scrolls

The real secret:  There aren’t any.

Christmas day, when I sat down in the shower line at the shelter where I stay, Comet was showing the last 15 minutes or so of a movie.  The din in the room normally precludes hearing any dialogue, but a momentary dip allowed me to hear this:  one man told another on the phone, “The missing gospel has been found.”

There followed a long sequence of a woman writhing and screaming on a bed, while blood flowed from her hands, feet and scalp.  This was interspersed with black-and-white scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion.  The bedroom was engulfed in flames.

The next scene was of a man digging in the floor of a church while a nearby statue of the Virgin wept blood.

The movie concluded with three stills of white text on a black background.

The first still read to this effect:

In 1945, near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, a scroll was found buried in the sand.  It began with the words, “These are the secret teachings of Jesus Christ.”

The scroll can say whatever it likes.

The second still read to this effect:

Known as “The Gospel of Thomas,” scholars the world over have agreed that this scroll contains the closest thing we have to the actual words of the historical Jesus.

It’s highly debatable that there’s any such consensus.

The third still read to this effect:

Even so, the Vatican refuses to recognize this text, and has gone so far as to call it heresy.

The Vatican is free to choose what it does and does not believe.

No horror movie will persuade me about the Gospel of Thomas.
Continue reading Secrets of the Dead Sea scrolls

Forgiving the cosmos

For years, I’ve had a special sensitivity to reports of child abuse.

This one may give you nightmares for the rest of your life.

victoria-martensVictoria Martens

According to the police report, on her 10th birthday, the mother’s boyfriend and his female cousin injected this little girl with drugs “to calm her down.”  They proceeded to strangle, torture, rape and dismember her.

While her mother looked on.

Where is God, or what is God, when such an event can occur?

Continue reading Forgiving the cosmos

Jesus’ outrageous parables

(Originally posted 10/11/13.  Transcribed from an e-mail I sent my mother 24 August 2010.)

Jesus said any number of things in large part, at least, for shock value.

Their outrageousness is easily lost on 21st Century students, for two reasons.  First, we have heard or read these things so many times that any shock value they might have at first had for us — when we first heard them, say, perhaps at age 4 or age 5 — has long since worn off.  We’re not likely to remember it, and also not likely to give the opinions of our 4- or 5-year-old selves, the credit they, in this case, deserve.

Second, by virtue of “respect for authority,” for centuries students of Chrstianity have trained themselves to ignore, deny or suppress any outrage they might feel at anything The Teacher says.  Instead, one expects oneself and all one’s fellow students, approvingly, to “tip my hat … take a bow … smile and grin …”[*]

[*]The Who, “We Won’t Get Fooled Again.”


“BLESSÈD ARE YOU POOR.”
Continue reading Jesus’ outrageous parables