Run Away!! [More religion stuff]

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This is from ArtemGr’s comment on the post addressed to him/her.

There is a difference between the essence and the act. What is essence to as is an energy to God. That is, the whole world is an act of God, His doing. To us our world has essence, to Him it is an energy, an act. You see, the One who created everything, can not be a part of that which is He created. What you’re saying, that we and the God are of the same energy, is logically unsound.

Dude! You have no idea how this cuts me to the quick! Logic is not my strong suit by any means, but this theory is one of the few things on which I’m logically sound. Here’s how I reasoned it out:

In the beginning there was God. Nothing else existed but God, and there was no beginning or end to him. He was just there, in whatever form he takes [spirit is my guess, and although I can’t really tell you what that looks like, I can feel it].

So at some point, God had a conversation with himself and decided to create the world. So he created a ‘void’ or an empty space, right? Which means that he gave himself, or our universe, depending on how you look at it, some boundaries. My guess is that either he made himself smaller than the universe, thereby giving himself limits, or he created a space within himself to contain the universe.

More than likely, he created the void within himself, and if God has a physical form that is roughly humanoid, I’m gonna say he created the void right in the heart area, ’cause I like the imagery.

So then he starts creating the universe. “Let there be Light,” and all that jazz. Now, I don’t doubt that he created it all, whether in six days or six hundred billion years matters little, you know? But my contention is that after he created the void, he created the universe within that void, and the thing he used to create it was himself, his own energy, because there wasn’t anything else around.

And because he’s God, he was able to take his own energy and form it into all sorts of interesting things, which is what we see [and don’t see] around us.

I was thinking about our molecular structure, and the molecular structure of everything in the universe. I’m sure you’re aware that on that level it’s all just energy, right? It has different densities and such, but it’s all the same stuff.

And then “AHA!” It’s energy. God created everything and used his own energy to do it. He used part of himself to make me. Am I separate from him? Yup. ‘Cause he made it that way, but I am also connected to him, and so are we all.

One more quote:

But since you say it was ambiguous, i would risk expanding by saying that what i seem to like about your writing is that it is serious but instead of being boring, it’s humorous, it’s reserved, but instead of being secretive, it’s sincere. It reminds me of an Orthodox icon: plain (austere) in stature, but soft (kind) in emotion.

What bothers me, is that there is sometimes a cynicism, which might imperceptibly change kindness into humour into satire, change austerity into indifference and contempt. But that is a possibility which i fathom more with imagination and experience than with eyes.

Thanks for clarifying.  Some of my content kind of bothers you, but overall, you like they way I write… right? 😛

You’re right, there is a cynicism sometimes.  There are days when I’m pissed off about something [if you’ve read any of the posts from when I was on steroids, you probably have seen the best of my mindless rage] or nothing, but need to vent.  This is where I do it, and sometimes it’s not pretty.

There are days when I see something in the news, or hear someone spout garbage and call it Truth and I just want to scream.  The most frustrating thing for me, is that I’ve been there and spouted the same crap, so I know that most of the time, it comes from a sincere heart [mine was].  It’s just a sincerely misguided heart,  you know?

I give Evangelicals the hardest time, because that’s what I’m most familiar with.  I’ve found other denominations and beliefs within the Christian church who are just as sincere as their Evangelical brethren, but somehow get the truth within Jesus’s message and try to live it.

It is amazing how different those people look than the ones who try to control the moral lives of people through legislation, browbeating, and ‘grass-roots’ movements.  The Christians I get most frustrated with, and the people to whom my angriest religion posts are directed, are what I consider the “Pharisees” of today.

There were a lot of Pharisees in Jesus’s day who genuinely thought that they were doing what was right, but Jesus repeatedly tore into them because they missed the point.  Many of today’s Evangelicals are doing the same thing.

I know that by venting it here I’m probably not doing much to change the situation.  I mean, how many Evangelicals have ever read this thing?  But these are things that hurt me, and since I’m at a loss as to what else to do about it right now, I vent.

Mostly, I love these people.  I want desperately to help them ‘see the light’ so to speak, and yet I know that the chances of me changing any hardcore Evangelical or Fundamentalist’s mind about, well, anything, is slim to none.

I remember what it was like to be steeped in the religious teachings of a very conservative Evangelical denomination.  I remember what it was like to believe with all my heart the things I heard, to accept the arguments that ‘unsaved’ people could never understand the things that we did because God had given them up to their depravity.

I know the beliefs about the Bible being God-breathed, in fact, I embraced them whole- heartedly for a long time.  I studied the Bible, and learned apologetics, and tried to be an Evangelist for Christ.  I was passionate, gung-ho, scream it from the rooftops in my enthusiasm.

But then I decided to look at it from a so-called ‘post-modern’ view, or from the perspective of an ‘outsider’ and I realized that a lot of what I believed was more than likely garbage, put out by men who may have been good men overall, but had control issues, and wanted to control the ‘little guy’  Much like the pharisees of Jesus’s day.

I began to look into other religions, and learned that at their core, most of them come down to the same message, which is the message of Christianity [“Love God.”  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”]

They all have a little different take on it, but it’s there.  Buddhism skips the God part, but the second half of the ten commandments are in their Five Principles almost word for word.  Hinduism has a lot of ‘little gods’ but they also believe that there is one God over all… they even have a trinity of sorts, and their ‘rules of behavior’ are almost identical to Christianity.

I’ve learned the Christian arguments of why other religions are different, and therefore ‘less’ than Christianity, but when I did my own research and looked for the similarities in the various world religions, for their core beliefs, they were all amazingly similar.

There is a vein of Truth that runs through all religions, and because of that, I realized that while the Christian story of God is pretty cool, so are the others… um, and they’re probably the same guy. They all more than likely go back to the one true source of all that is.

Well, there’s my ramble for today.  Peace out.

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About Shelbi

Work-at-home wife, mom of three kids, and caregiver for my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy. Never a dull moment, in other words. No idea how much I'll post, since I'm super busy these days, but maybe I'll get over here once in a while.

3 responses »

  1. There is an answer in the “To ArtemGr…”
    https://shelbisblog.wordpress.com/2007/06/18/to-artemgr/#comment-5414
    which i mention here because it contains a bit of an answer to this thread too.

    Let’s see. You say that god is some infinite essence which is infinitely spread in space, and that he created an emptiness, a place where he doesn’t exists, so that he might, out of his essence, create the world of ours. On that assumption you build your proof that we are of the same essence with god.

    Wouldn’t you agree, that your theory is close to the philosophy of ancient China that i mentioned earlier? While i must admit, that, when taken in abstract (separated from everything else), your theory seems logical to me, i would point, that it doesn’t talk about God at all. It talks about some large creature, which created some smaller creatures within itself. Since we talk about matter (which, as you know, is another name for energy), that means that both the creature and its sub-creations are deterministic, that there is no such thing as freedom and therefore there is no such thing as a person in the Christian sense. You see, your theory answers some philosophic curiosity about the world, but it doesn’t answers all the needs that Christianity answers. As you know, Christianity teaches that we are the image of God, and Chesterton masterfully displays how Christianity answers that very questions that are inherent to humanity. Therefore, i deem your theory is only sound if the human nature as it is is not taken into account. And when human nature *is* taken into account, your theory must step aside, as is the custom in science, to clear the space for a better theory.

    “Some of my content kind of bothers you, but overall, you like they way I write… right?”

    – No, what bothers me is not your content (and, besides, we were talking about style, which is not exactly the content), but the possibility of your style to evolve from something good into something bad. At least from my point of view. Sometimes people have a good nature, but when they make bad decisions about their faith, for example, their nature follows. That is the catch: they think they’ll remain the same. Instead their good nature is the first thing that would change. That is why it is sometimes wiser not to rise principal questions, so that the person wouldn’t turn her inclinations into a decision.

    “… There are days when I’m pissed off about something [if you’ve read any of the posts from when I was on steroids, you probably have seen the best of my mindless rage] or nothing, but need to vent. This is where I do it …”

    – Oh, I see… : )

    “The most frustrating thing for me, is that I’ve been there and spouted the same crap, so I know that most of the time, it comes from a sincere heart [mine was]. It’s just a sincerely misguided heart, you know?”

    – Yeah.
    But there is a difference. Some people are curious enough to learn past they superstitions. And then again, some people have learned to receive a supernatural guidance. But these two are complementary, really. You can’t stumble out of your superstitions if you reject the One whose energies forms your mind. And you can’t have supernatural guidance without becoming interested enough to learn, in one way or another.
    Compare that to Buddhism – there everything is an illusion, and your goal is to escape it by reaching non-existence; your first task in Buddhism would be to understand, that everything is an illusion and doesn’t worth it – that conversion is called enlightenment, and your second task would be to control your feelings and thoughts on such a perfect level, that you can make yourself stop feeling and thinking.
    That is really the two ways between which one chooses: one way is to seek the Truth, and that requires believing it exists, and another way is to seek indifference.

    “I know that by venting it here I’m probably not doing much to change the situation. I mean, how many Evangelicals have ever read this thing? But these are things that hurt me, and since I’m at a loss as to what else to do about it right now, I vent.”

    – I see.
    Well, as apostle said, “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Rom 2:24). That is, it looks as if their behavior had pushed you from Christianity. Instead of rejecting their behavior you seems to reject Christian theology and faith. Is it not so?
    Let me say, that Christianity, at least the Orthodox one, doesn’t contain a teaching that only Christians would be saved. There are doubts, but there is also a strong theological ground on which I can say that it is perfectly possible, if less likely. I myself for some time already am not concerned anymore that my father haven’t yet been baptized, so it is not only my words, but my faith, in a matter of life and death. But that doesn’t mean that a Christian can safely turn from Christianity to something else, because that would usually mean turning from God’s revealed Truth (even if misunderstood by many).
    What I mean to say, is that if you see some Christians wrong, it would be wrong, instead of doubting these Christians, to doubt their God. For you should know, that even apostle Paul was having big troubles with a party of “Christians” who were opposing him, of what you can hear echoes in II Corinthians 11, where he said about these “Christians” that “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”. And apostle John warns us: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world”.

    “I remember what it was like to believe with all my heart the things I heard, to accept the arguments that ‘unsaved’ people could never understand the things that we did because God had given them up to their depravity.”

    – You might have believed it with all your heart, not because it is so easy to be deluded in one’s heart, but on the contrary, because it have some truth about it. But it is only *some* truth, and you showed a good conscience by looking for more. A pity you had no resources to see it, as it can be seen from the “whole picture”, but there perhaps I may be of help. You see, if God’s existence or some of it’s theology could have been proved or researched by usual means, it would ruin that freedom of choice, which is the decisive thing about our relationships with God and our salvation. You see, the God Himself guards that freedom of choice of ours. He hides from us, so as not to force us into recognizing Him. So, it is indeed impossible to understand some aspects of faith before the faith itself, because otherwise it would be possible to *prove* the faith, and it would’ve ruined the human freedom.

    “But then I decided to look at it from a so-called ‘post-modern’ view, or from the perspective of an ‘outsider’ and I realized that a lot of what I believed was more than likely garbage, put out by men who may have been good men overall, but had control issues, and wanted to control the ‘little guy’ Much like the pharisees of Jesus’s day.”

    – I know that view, that is a part of what I’ve described earlier. You can interpret all these passages in either good or bad way (if you lack some good interpreting, i might help with it, but important thing is that it is perfectly possible and is more sound, as such interpretation usually explains the Bible as a whole, while all the “bad” explanation can explain it only as a lot of independent parts, and the existence of that whole-thing explanation is a curious thing in itself). It isn’t the proof that these things are bad. It’s a proof that you have a choice in the matter of faith.

    “I began to look into other religions, and learned that at their core, most of them come down to the same message, which is the message of Christianity [”Love God.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.”]”

    – It is rather “post-Christian” than a post-modern effect. To truly see these religions for what they are you should usually look carefully into their original and core doctrines, not to what they say in our modern times and on the surface. I’m assure you it’s all there – even to devil worship in Buddhism and Krishnaizm. It was different before the advent of Christianity, but now the pagan cultures are underhandedly fighting Christianity, and the best way to do this was already mentioned there – Satan masquerades as an angel of light. You should remember, that besides people, there are restless spirits, who aren’t bound by the constraints of our flesh and whose desire for evil have long turned into obsession. These spirits have our world as they domain (“principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world”), and most religions, having the goal to reach the spiritual world, are willing conductors for these forces.

    “Buddhism skips the God part, but the second half of the ten commandments are in their Five Principles almost word for word.”

    – And what is the point without God? Well, let us see:
    “1. I undertake the precept to refrain from harming living creatures (killing).”
    Yeah, a lot of Buddhists afraid to kill a moth, yet a lot of they “saints” where miraculous swordsman, who killed thousands, and one of their “commandments” is “if you meet Buddha, kill him”. I did a cursory search on Internet. Here you are: http://www.globalserve.net/~sarlo/Ykillbud.htm Don’t you see, that Buddhism is not about Love, but on the contrary, as it was from the beginning, about freeing yourself from any love, about reaching full independence, that is, death, nothingness. I have a book on my shelf, “Satanism for Intelligentsia” by Kuraev, it’s about 900 pages, half of it being the curious facts about Buddhist facts and practices, including the regular human sacrifices. All of it from confirmable and modern sources. But that’s not the point. The point is that this first principle is the mockery on the Biblical commandment “do not kill”! In Bible the reason not to kill is that another being is a free person and an image of God as you are. There it is taken into absurd – of not harming any living being, whether it is a person who can be aware of herself, or a microbe. It is a mockery also, because it is unrealizable in a Christian sense: you have to kill to survive, you have to eat plants, have to accidentally eat small organisms living on these plants, and if it is acceptable to some degree to kill plants, then it is acceptable to kill humans, because the principle puts them onto the same level. This principle is thus a denial of such thing as a person. Which, again, is in perfect assent with the Buddhist goal, which is the destruction of your own person.
    “2. I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not freely given (stealing).”
    “3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.”
    “4. I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech (lying, harsh language, slander, idle chit-chat).”
    “5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness.”
    Here it looks close to the ten commandments, but again it’s impersonal, and, it have different roots. Buddhism have roots in Indian ascetics, which is a subject in itself. All this “refraining”, the very term “refraining” is an ascetic term. This is a personal perfection, which in Buddhism connected with Karma, and only in later Buddhism Karma was connected to the “right” behavior to others. In Hinduism ascetics and in earlier Buddhism it was all only a matter of personal perfection through achieved by restraining the body. The very ascetic we know Buddha was spending his years in before his second enlightenment. Compare this with “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” in Deuteronomy. Count the number of the world “love” in Deuteronomy, where it says not a single time, how Lord loves us. If Lord loves us and we are to love Him, then it is logical that for the love of Him we should love each other also. That is the message of Old Testament earliest books, and how much it differs from Indian Karmic individualism.

    “Hinduism has a lot of ‘little gods’ but they also believe that there is one God over all… they even have a trinity of sorts, and their ‘rules of behavior’ are almost identical to Christianity.”

    – Yeah, Hinduism is one of old pagan religions, and these, as apostle said somewhere, before the coming of Christ had their pedagogical significance. But still, in Hinduism texts we see the clear marks of devil-worship, and modern Hinduism is a path to self-delusion, when one is trying to achieve the “love” relationships with God the wrong way, without understanding what love is at all.

    “I’ve learned the Christian arguments of why other religions are different, and therefore ‘less’ than Christianity, but when I did my own research and looked for the similarities in the various world religions, for their core beliefs, they were all amazingly similar.”

    – All Chinese are of the same face to us.

    “There is a vein of Truth that runs through all religions, and because of that, I realized that while the Christian story of God is pretty cool, so are the others… um, and they’re probably the same guy. They all more than likely go back to the one true source of all that is.”

    – St. Clement of Alexandria wrote at large about the truths present in pagan religions, but from what you said, I gather that you are rather vague of what these truths are. Because what you give as examples of these truth is very superficial. Let me finish with a quote from G. K. Chesterton, who, i hope in good enough literary style, expands on the subject:

    88

    The things said most confidently by advanced persons to
    crowded audiences are generally those quite opposite to the fact;
    it is actually our truisms that are untrue. Here is a case.
    There is a phrase of facile liberality uttered again and again
    at ethical societies and parliaments of religion: “the religions
    of the earth differ in rites and forms, but they are the same
    in what they teach.” It is false; it is the opposite of the fact.
    The religions of the earth do not greatly differ in rites and forms;
    they do greatly differ in what they teach. It is as if a man were to say,
    “Do not be misled by the fact that the CHURCH TIMES and the FREETHINKER
    look utterly different, that one is painted on vellum and the other
    carved on marble, that one is triangular and the other hectagonal;
    read them and you will see that they say the same thing.” The truth is,
    of course, that they are alike in everything except in the fact that
    they don’t say the same thing. An atheist stockbroker in Surbiton
    looks exactly like a Swedenborgian stockbroker in Wimbledon.
    You may walk round and round them and subject them to the most personal
    and offensive study without seeing anything Swedenborgian in the hat
    or anything particularly godless in the umbrella. It is exactly
    in their souls that they are divided. So the truth is that
    the difficulty of all the creeds of the earth is not as alleged
    in this cheap maxim: that they agree in meaning, but differ in machinery.
    It is exactly the opposite. They agree in machinery; almost every
    great religion on earth works with the same external methods,
    with priests, scriptures, altars, sworn brotherhoods, special feasts.
    They agree in the mode of teaching; what they differ about is
    the thing to be taught. Pagan optimists and Eastern pessimists
    would both have temples, just as Liberals and Tories would both
    have newspapers. Creeds that exist to destroy each other
    both have scriptures, just as armies that exist to destroy each other
    both have guns.

    The great example of this alleged identity of all human religions
    is the alleged spiritual identity of Buddhism and Christianity.
    Those who adopt this theory generally avoid the ethics of most other creeds,
    except, indeed, Confucianism, which they like because it is not a creed.
    But they are cautious in their praises of Mahommedanism,
    generally confining themselves to imposing its morality only upon
    the refreshment of the lower classes. They seldom suggest the Mahommedan
    view of marriage (for which there is a great deal to be said),
    and towards Thugs and fetish worshippers their attitude may even
    be called cold. But in the case of the great religion of Gautama
    they feel sincerely a similarity.

    Students of popular science, like Mr. Blatchford, are always insisting
    that Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism.
    This is generally believed, and I believed it myself until I read
    a book giving the reasons for it. The reasons were of two kinds:
    resemblances that meant nothing because they were common to all humanity,
    and resemblances which were not resemblances at all. The author
    solemnly explained that the two creeds were alike in things in which
    all creeds are alike, or else he described them as alike in some point
    in which they are quite obviously different. Thus, as a case of
    the first class, he said that both Christ and Buddha were called
    by the divine voice coming out of the sky, as if you would expect
    the divine voice to come out of the coal-cellar. Or, again,
    it was gravely urged that these two Eastern teachers, by a
    singular coincidence, both had to do with the washing of feet.
    You might as well say that it was a remarkable coincidence that
    they both had feet to wash. And the other class of similarities
    were those which simply were not similar. Thus this reconciler
    of the two religions draws earnest attention to the fact that
    at certain religious feasts the robe of the Lama is rent in pieces
    out of respect, and the remnants highly valued. But this is
    the reverse of a resemblance, for the garments of Christ were not
    rent in pieces out of respect, but out of derision; and the remnants
    were not highly valued except for what they would fetch in the rag shops.
    It is rather like alluding to the obvious connection between
    the two ceremonies of the sword: when it taps a man’s shoulder,
    and when it cuts off his head. It is not at all similar for the man.
    These scraps of puerile pedantry would indeed matter little if it were not
    also true that the alleged philosophical resemblances are also
    of these two kinds, either proving too much or not proving anything.
    That Buddhism approves of mercy or of self-restraint is not to say
    that it is specially like Christianity; it is only to say that it is
    not utterly unlike all human existence. Buddhists disapprove
    in theory of cruelty or excess because all sane human beings
    disapprove in theory of cruelty or excess. But to say that Buddhism
    and Christianity give the same philosophy of these things is simply false.
    All humanity does agree that we are in a net of sin. Most of humanity
    agrees that there is some way out. But as to what is the way out,
    I do not think that there are two institutions in the universe
    which contradict each other so flatly as Buddhism and Christianity.

    Even when I thought, with most other well-informed,
    though unscholarly, people, that Buddhism and Christianity were alike,
    there was one thing about them that always perplexed me; I mean
    the startling difference in their type of religious art. I do not mean
    in its technical style of representation, but in the things that
    it was manifestly meant to represent. No two ideals could be
    more opposite than a Christian saint in a Gothic cathedral and
    a Buddhist saint in a Chinese temple. The opposition exists
    at every point; but perhaps the shortest statement of it is that
    the Buddhist saint always has his eyes shut, while the Christian saint
    always has them very wide open. The Buddhist saint has a sleek and
    harmonious body, but his eyes are heavy and sealed with sleep.
    The mediaeval saint’s body is wasted to its crazy bones, but his eyes
    are frightfully alive. There cannot be any real community of spirit
    between forces that produced symbols so different as that.
    Granted that both images are extravagances, are perversions of
    the pure creed, it must be a real divergence which could produce
    such opposite extravagances. The Buddhist is looking with
    a peculiar intentness inwards. The Christian is staring with
    a frantic intentness outwards. If we follow that clue steadily
    we shall find some interesting things.

    A short time ago Mrs. Besant, in an interesting essay,
    announced that there was only one religion in the world, that all faiths
    were only versions or perversions of it, and that she was quite prepared
    to say what it was. According to Mrs. Besant this universal Church
    is simply the universal self. It is the doctrine that we are really
    all one person; that there are no real walls of individuality
    between man and man. If I may put it so, she does not tell us
    to love our neighbours; she tells us to be our neighbours.
    That is Mrs. Besant’s thoughtful and suggestive description of
    the religion in which all men must find themselves in agreement.
    And I never heard of any suggestion in my life with which I more
    violently disagree. I want to love my neighbour not because he is I,
    but precisely because he is not I. I want to adore the world,
    not as one likes a looking-glass, because it is one’s self,
    but as one loves a woman, because she is entirely different.
    If souls are separate love is possible. If souls are united love is
    obviously impossible. A man may be said loosely to love himself,
    but he can hardly fall in love with himself, or, if he does,
    it must be a monotonous courtship. If the world is full of real selves,
    they can be really unselfish selves. But upon Mrs. Besant’s principle
    the whole cosmos is only one enormously selfish person.

    It is just here that Buddhism is on the side of modern pantheism
    and immanence. And it is just here that Christianity is on the side
    of humanity and liberty and love. Love desires personality;
    therefore love desires division. It is the instinct of Christianity
    to be glad that God has broken the universe into little pieces,
    because they are living pieces. It is her instinct to say
    “little children love one another” rather than to tell one large person
    to love himself. This is the intellectual abyss between Buddhism and
    Christianity; that for the Buddhist or Theosophist personality is
    the fall of man, for the Christian it is the purpose of God,
    the whole point of his cosmic idea. The world-soul of the Theosophists
    asks man to love it only in order that man may throw himself into it.
    But the divine centre of Christianity actually threw man out of it
    in order that he might love it. The oriental deity is like a giant
    who should have lost his leg or hand and be always seeking to find it;
    but the Christian power is like some giant who in a strange generosity
    should cut off his right hand, so that it might of its own accord
    shake hands with him. We come back to the same tireless note
    touching the nature of Christianity; all modern philosophies
    are chains which connect and fetter; Christianity is a sword
    which separates and sets free. No other philosophy makes God
    actually rejoice in the separation of the universe into living souls.
    But according to orthodox Christianity this separation between
    God and man is sacred, because this is eternal. That a man may love God
    it is necessary that there should be not only a God to be loved,
    but a man to love him. All those vague theosophical minds
    for whom the universe is an immense melting-pot are exactly the minds
    which shrink instinctively from that earthquake saying of our Gospels,
    which declare that the Son of God came not with peace but with
    a sundering sword. The saying rings entirely true even considered
    as what it obviously is; the statement that any man who preaches real love
    is bound to beget hate. It is as true of democratic fraternity
    as a divine love; sham love ends in compromise and common philosophy;
    but real love has always ended in bloodshed. Yet there is another
    and yet more awful truth behind the obvious meaning of this utterance
    of our Lord. According to Himself the Son was a sword separating
    brother and brother that they should for an aeon hate each other.
    But the Father also was a sword, which in the black beginning
    separated brother and brother, so that they should love each other at last.

    This is the meaning of that almost insane happiness in the eyes
    of the mediaeval saint in the picture. This is the meaning of
    the sealed eyes of the superb Buddhist image. The Christian saint
    is happy because he has verily been cut off from the world;
    he is separate from things and is staring at them in astonishment.
    But why should the Buddhist saint be astonished at things?
    –since there is really only one thing, and that being impersonal
    can hardly be astonished at itself. There have been many pantheist poems
    suggesting wonder, but no really successful ones. The pantheist
    cannot wonder, for he cannot praise God or praise anything as really
    distinct from himself. Our immediate business here, however,
    is with the effect of this Christian admiration (which strikes outwards,
    towards a deity distinct from the worshipper) upon the general need
    for ethical activity and social reform. And surely its effect
    is sufficiently obvious. There is no real possibility of
    getting out of pantheism, any special impulse to moral action.
    For pantheism implies in its nature that one thing is as good as another;
    whereas action implies in its nature that one thing is greatly preferable
    to another. Swinburne in the high summer of his scepticism tried
    in vain to wrestle with this difficulty. In “Songs before Sunrise,”
    written under the inspiration of Garibaldi and the revolt of Italy
    he proclaimed the newer religion and the purer God which should wither up
    all the priests of the world:

    “What doest thou now
    Looking Godward to cry
    I am I, thou art thou,
    I am low, thou art high,
    I am thou that thou seekest to find him, find thou but thyself,
    thou art I.”

    Of which the immediate and evident deduction is that
    tyrants are as much the sons of God as Garibaldis; and that
    King Bomba of Naples having, with the utmost success, “found himself”
    is identical with the ultimate good in all things. The truth is
    that the western energy that dethrones tyrants has been directly due
    to the western theology that says “I am I, thou art thou.”
    The same spiritual separation which looked up and saw a good king
    in the universe looked up and saw a bad king in Naples.
    The worshippers of Bomba’s god dethroned Bomba. The worshippers
    of Swinburne’s god have covered Asia for centuries and have never
    dethroned a tyrant. The Indian saint may reasonably shut his eyes
    because he is looking at that which is I and Thou and We and They and It.
    It is a rational occupation: but it is not true in theory and not true
    in fact that it helps the Indian to keep an eye on Lord Curzon.
    That external vigilance which has always been the mark of Christianity
    (the command that we should WATCH and pray) has expressed itself
    both in typical western orthodoxy and in typical western politics:
    but both depend on the idea of a divinity transcendent,
    different from ourselves, a deity that disappears. Certainly the most
    sagacious creeds may suggest that we should pursue God into deeper and
    deeper rings of the labyrinth of our own ego. But only we of Christendom
    have said that we should hunt God like an eagle upon the mountains:
    and we have killed all monsters in the chase.

    Here again, therefore, we find that in so far as we value democracy
    and the self-renewing energies of the west, we are much more likely
    to find them in the old theology than the new. If we want reform,
    we must adhere to orthodoxy: especially in this matter (so much disputed
    in the counsels of Mr. R.J.Campbell), the matter of insisting on
    the immanent or the transcendent deity. By insisting specially
    on the immanence of God we get introspection, self-isolation, quietism,
    social indifference–Tibet. By insisting specially on the transcendence
    of God we get wonder, curiosity, moral and political adventure,
    righteous indignation–Christendom. Insisting that God is inside man,
    man is always inside himself. By insisting that God transcends man,
    man has transcended himself.

  2. I spent all my childhood in orphanages but never experienced anything as horrific as those poor children in Baghdad. About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

    Peace Be with You
    Micky

  3. Micky,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I have a very close friend whose childhood experiences were similarly horrible, and she, too, knows that without Jesus, she would not be the person she is today.

    I know that I rant a lot about Christians [specifically, the Church in America] and I sound like I don’t believe that Jesus is all that special, but believe me when I say that I know Jesus was a real person, and that he was unique in history.

    I’m still a believer in Jesus, it’s what his followers [again, the US is the only place where I have experience in knowing Christians, and they, in large part, look a lot like the Pharisees of Jesus’s day] have made of his religion that drives me nuts.

    I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your story. You helped remind me that my issue isn’t with Jesus, but with Christians who are hypocrites.

    I can see that your pain, your healing from that pain, and your faith are sincere, and I don’t doubt for a minute that what you experienced was real.

    Thank you again for stopping by. I hope you’ll come by again sometime.

    Shelbi

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