January 05, 2018

The Attack On Christianity

When I was a kid no one dared criticize Christians. It just wasn’t done. Oh, maybe a grumble or two about the Methodists, but never, never about the Catholics. I suppose the fact that over 85% of our town was Catholic may have had something to do with it. And of course there were Priests and Nuns everywhere. Sort of keeping an eye on our behavior. It was the Nuns who taught my friends the “rule” of law.

Despite some unfortunate lapses, America was a moral nation. The people of our town had a genuine respect for the message of Christianity. It brought us together in times of grief, united our resolve to persevere against tyranny, guided our acts of compassion, and encouraged our generosity. After all, friendship, love and truth are better than animosity, hatred and dishonesty.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Americans who love their country are dismayed by the decline of Christian Theology as the metaphysical foundation of our culture. Christian Theology, as distinct from religions or the institutions of Christianity, is a positive, constructive, ethical, and benevolent philosophy. Although we humans and our religious institutions frequently fail to live up to the standards of Christian Theology, those standards provide us with the basis for the highest possible spiritual, intellectual and emotional self-realization. They also provide the philosophical foundation for public life and the conduct of a moral government.

Over the past year Americans have been exposed to the negative, destructive, immoral, and vindictive theology of communism, socialism and liberalism. These ideologies share a pathological contempt for Christianity and Christians that is frequently expressed in patronizing comments. Not only is the viral anti-Christian agenda obvious, it is frequently linked to anti-American propaganda and racist anti-white hatred. Who is perpetrating this divisive campaign? Russia? China? North Korea? Iran? ISIS? The list of possible villains is unfortunately quite long. The Internet gives ideological hatred international access to social media, blogs, and news sites. All too many misguided Americans are ready to echo belittling commentary. Illiterate repetition is especially strong among the young. Mainstream media personalities perpetuate divisive commentary because it generates corporate revenue, raises their profile, and supports their ideological hostility.

But wait. Doesn’t this rejection of Christian Doctrine encourage the pursuit of pervasive corruption, absolute power and unlimited greed?

It does.

Any effort to install a global government controlled by a select few must necessarily rest on a philosophical foundation that supports the ultimate goal: an international socialist fascist state. Liberalism serves that purpose quite well. Think Orwell’s Oceania; a world of perpetual war, oppressive government surveillance and public manipulation. In order to achieve this goal, all opposing theologies and philosophies must be killed and buried so they no longer offer an alternative to the preferred theology of socialist liberalism. That specifically includes Christianity and its silly Christian Theology.

 Christianity must be eliminated because Christian Theology is philosophically opposed to the mindless politically correct mantra repeated by the submissive serfs of a socialist fascist state.

But wait. Even atheists and agnostics should be alarmed.  The concept of personal freedom is embedded in Christian Theology. So too are the concepts of personal accomplishment, personal responsibility, personal independence, moral behavior, social equality, and love... ah yes... love. Do we really want these taken away from us by a corrupt, oppressive, malicious, self-serving government that teaches our children to act like biological robots?

Is welfare becoming the new serfdom?

There is a certain cultural irony here. The globalists are more likely to achieve their objectives if they espouse Christian Theology, rather than oppose it. The economic and social health of a global culture is more likely to work if the participants have a positive self-motivated outlook, rather than a negative resentful response to oppressive government regulation. But I digress.

Yes. Christianity and Christian Theology are under attack. And while I believe the institutions of Christianity are due for the refreshing exhilaration of a 21st century reformation, and Christian Theology needs to be characterized in 21st century terms, the underlying philosophy is essential to virtuous behavior and spiritual tranquility.

Not convinced Christian Theology is under attack? Reject my alarm? Do your own research. Do an Internet search using the terms “anti-Christian”. Or read the random selection of items in the Reference section that follows.


TCE


References

“On Sunday, the day of the (Sutherland Springs, Texas) church massacre, cultural commentator David French tweeted, “The amount of anti-Christian hate on Twitter the same day Christians were massacred is stunning and chilling.” ... This is more than heartless and tactless. It is intentional and quite focused: Faith in God is to be mocked, in particular, Christian faith, and when Christians are slaughtered during a church service, that is the perfect time to pile on.  ... it is a natural fruit of the harsh and condescending “new atheism,” which continues to poison many hearts and minds with its venom. God is not simply to be rejected; He is to mocked and ridiculed, as are His followers. ... The hostility against us is reaching a crescendo, and things could get even uglier in the days ahead.”
- Why So Much Hatred Against Christians in America Today?  Michael Brown | Townhall.com | Posted: Nov 07, 2017

“But worship of any kind, private or public, gets religious America into serious hot water with the liberal media, which has come to mock and resent public displays of faith, or any acknowledgment of God or religion by the state. The mere suggestion that the country is in fact a Christian one is declared backward, dangerous, and heretical to the Constitution of the United States.
- S. E. Cupp: Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity

”Hillary Clinton’s campaign mocked Catholics... This was thinly veiled religious bigotry, not only against conservative Catholics, but also against evangelicals,"
- former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove commented to Megyn Kelly on "The Kelly File."

“... Christians in the U.S. are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close-minded.”
- from a report by International Christian Concern.

Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin, both Democrats, attempted to disqualify a U S. District Court nominee because she is a Christian. The Catholic Association's Legal Advisor Andrea Picciotti-Bayer said: "Amy Coney Barrett's qualifications for the federal judiciary are undisputed, but abortion industry advocates continue their smear campaign by attacking Barrett's Catholic faith. The full senate rejected their attempt to hang a "Catholics need not apply" sign outside the Senate chamber when it considers candidates to the judiciary. We applaud the Senate's rejection of anti-Catholic bigotry and confirmation of Amy Barrett's nomination to the 7th Circuit court of appeals."

The ACLU’s brief against Colorado baker Jack Phillips, a Christian, includes a dismissal of the First Amendment. Logically this case could set a precedent whereby the expression of Christian beliefs, including the display of a cross, could be banned by any Judge. "If religious freedom does not include the freedom for individuals to peacefully decline involvement in private commercial activities they find objectionable, it's a meaningless concept,"
- Robby Soave, an associate editor at Reason.com.

“America today would be unrecognizable to our founders. Our first freedom is facing a relentless onslaught from well-funded and aggressive groups and individuals who are using the courts, Congress, and the vast federal bureaucracy to suppress and limit religious freedom,...”
- Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, and Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute. - 2012

“American Christians are facing uncertain times. Our nation’s values are under assault. Religious liberty has been undermined. We live in a day when right is now wrong and wrong is now right. The vicious leftwing attack against the recent traditional marriage stance of Chick-fil-A should serve as a wakeup call to people of faith. It’s not about a chicken sandwich. It’s about religious liberty. It’s about free speech. It’s about the future of our nation.”
- Publisher's Description;  God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values, by Todd Starnes

First Liberty Institute
“UNDENIABLE: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, 2017 Edition” is an alarming compilation of more than 1,400 documented instances of hostility towards free religious exercise. It offers irrefutable evidence of this growing crisis in four key areas:

The Public Arena (government, public places, and the workplace)
Education
Religious Institutions
The U.S. Military

Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for First Liberty: “This flood is engulfing ordinary citizens who simply try to live normal lives according to their faith and conscience. It is eroding the bedrock on which stand vital American institutions such as government, education, the military, business, houses of worship, and charity. It has the potential to wash away the ground that supports our other rights, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and government by consent of the people...
...individuals and families are being hurt. The attacks you will read about ... are sweeping away small businesses. careers and ministries. Behind the legalities are tears. anguish. and the denial of basic human tolerance. compassion. and common decency. It’s time for a national rejection of politically correct cruelty based on discrimination against traditional American forms of faith.”
- First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in America with the exclusive mission of protecting religious freedom for all our citizens.

Liberal Hollywood types have declared an all-out war on Christianity.
From Townhall.com | 12/15/2017 | Showtime Vs. Christianity | Brent Bozell

(Edited) The Hollywood Foreign Press Association Golden Globe Awards nominations have been announced. Two nominations went to Showtime's program called "SMILF," which stands for "Single Mother I'd Like to F---." Obviously, the executives of (CBS-owned) Showtime also designed it to nudge people to click on it because they know it's going to be dirty, or as the critics call it, "a raw, honest look at the life of a 20-something single mom." Frankie Shaw insists, "If it offends you, don't watch."
One of the dominant themes is the character having suffered sexual abuse by her father when she was a child. Another is a serious loathing of religion, specifically Christianity....  in the fourth episode, when Bridgette's mother, Tutu, suggests a prayer to the Virgin Mary. "Mothers cannot be virgins," lectures Bridgette. "Mary was forced to have that baby. ... Matthew and Luke and whoever did some stuff to her and then called it an angel baby. ... Now we're all stuck praying to this 'angel baby.'"
In other words, Mary was raped by the Gospel writers, and Jesus was just an illegitimate result worthy of no one's adoration.

The entire article can be seen here:
https://townhall.com/columnists/brentbozell/2017/12/15/showtime-vs-christianity-n2422671

See also:
Religious Liberty Is Eroding in Canada. Here’s What Americans Should Learn.
- https://amac.us/religious-liberty-eroding-canada-heres-americans-learn/
Open Doors - https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/
Christian Post - https://www.christianpost.com
The Religion of Peace - https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/attacks/christian-attacks.aspx
Church in Need - https://www.churchinneed.org/christian-persecution-reaches-historic-levels/
World Net Daily - http://www.wnd.com/2015/02/committed-christian-obamas-religious-history-unmasked/
Attack on Christianity - David M. Howard: http://deepriverbooks.com/books/attack-on-christianity/
World Net Daily - http://www.wnd.com/2017/01/u-s-on-list-of-christian-persecuting-nations/
Wonder where hostility to Christianity is surging? http://www.wnd.com/2012/08/wonder-where-hostility-to-christianity-is-surging/ The assessment is not exhaustive, but presents “over 600 incidents of religious attacks and hostility in the United States – most of which occurred within the past 10 years,”....
Family Research Council - A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military:  - http://www.frc.org/clearpresentdanger2
National Review - http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452964/europe-christianity-non-believers-cultural-identity-crisis-immigration-assimilation
National Review - http://www.nationalreview.com/article/449789/post-christian-americas-superstitious-intolerant-reality
Christianity.com - http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/political-and-social-issues/are-christians-in-america-under-attack.html
“ERADICATE: Blotting Out God in America: Understanding, Combatting, and Overcoming the Anti-Christian Agenda, Apathy in the Church, and the Decline of Morality in Culture”
- Paperback – September 17, 2012 - by David Fiorazo 

Books by atheists
The God Delusion; Richard Dawkins
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything; Christopher Hitchens
Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments … ; Armin Navabi
All That's Wrong with the Bible: Contradictions, Absurdities, and More; Jonah David Conner
Christianity No Longer Makes Sense; Evan Davids
God's Gravediggers: Why no Deity Exists; Raymond Bradley

And finally....
A belief in God is irrational; religion has inflicted grievous harm on society; the Old Testament tyrant is obsessed with sex; religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children. Religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.

Question: Is this paragraph a statement of hatred or love?

And which do you prefer?
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December 09, 2017

When Was Jesus Born?


It is amazing.  Curious.  Jesus is one of the most important humans ever to walk on the face of our planet, yet nobody seems to have had the presence of mind to write down the dates of his birth, ministry or death. Although there are many historical and Biblical references to his life and work, there are only vague references to tell us when these events occurred.

It is therefore impossible to establish accurate dates for the birth, ministry and death of either John the Baptist or Jesus. Biblical references are subject to interpretation, and the Roman historian Flavius Josephus – who does mention both men in his texts – may have been more interested in the narrative he was writing than accurate historical information. Most scholars believe John and Jesus were born sometime between 6 and 4 B.C. (Before Christ, Before the Christian era). It would appear John was born sometime in March or April. Jesus was born about six months later in September or October. Other dates are possible. John started his ministry between 26 and 28 A.D. (Anno Domini, in the Year of Our Lord). Jesus began his ministry between 27 and 28 A.D. John was imprisoned in the spring, and beheaded in August, of 28 or 29 A.D. Jesus was crucified in 29 or 30 A.D. Christian traditions favor 30 A.D.  It should be noted the popular date of birth we observe for Jesus, December 25, was established by the Catholic Church in 336 A.D. (Julian calendar) in order to replace a pagan Roman holiday (Saturnalia) with a Christian holiday. Ironically, this is also the date when Romans gave tributes to the Sun God. Another interesting irony: it is possible Jesus was actually conceived on December 25, 6 B.C.

To further confuse the date issues, we should note the calculation of years and months in the Hebrew calendar does not match the calculation of these time spans in the Julian (old Christian) calendar; the Hebrew New Year may have actually started between the birth of John (in March or April) and the Birth of Jesus (in September or October); and finally, there is no year zero.

So, what can we do? In the absence of better information, we can establish a reasonable, logical, and credible time line that may, or may not, be entirely accurate, but does give us a way to lay out the events that shaped the lives of these two men. The dates are an interesting way to visualize history, but in the final analysis what matters to us is that both men existed and both men had an incredible influence on human history.

So here goes. Tradition tells us our Christian calendar starts on the date Jesus was born. That would be at the beginning of the first year A.D. (There is no year zero). But the date of his birth was accidentally miscalculated when Dionysius Exiguus developed a new calendar in the 6th century. In 525 A.D. Pope John I asked him to create a set of tables that would establish the proper dates for Easter. Dionysius invented a method called Anno Domini (A.D.) to number the years for the Julian Calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.). Dionysius renumbered the years of the Julian Calendar, using the incarnation of Jesus Christ as year 1 in the Roman numbering system. Unfortunately, Dionysius miscalculated the date Jesus was born. He apparently misunderstood how the years in the Hebrew calendar were numbered. Scholars place the birth of Jesus between 6 and 4 B.C.

According to the Hebrew calendar, Jesus may have been born after the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah in 4 B.C. For purposes of simplicity, let’s use the Gregorian calendar dates.

After considerable research of available (and often conflicting) information, we can narrow down the possible dates Jesus was born. If Jesus was born on Christmas day, as tradition tells us, it would have been 6 B.C. But Jesus was more likely born in late September or early October. That would move the date of his birth into the next year. Thus in our scenario, John was born in the month of March of 5 B.C. and Jesus was born in September or October of 5 B.C. 
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November 04, 2017

Was Jesus Married?


A Coptic Script

A very small fragment of papyrus has been verified as an authentic record of ancient Coptic belief. Scientists have extensively tested the papyrus as well as the ink used to inscribe the badly aged fragment. They have analyzed the handwriting and the grammar of the author. After careful review, it has been concluded the fragment dates back to at least the ninth to sixth century, and may date as far back as the fourth century.


Called by some the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife", the fragment contains eight mostly legible lines on the front and six barely readable lines on the back. Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King emphasized the fragment does not confirm that Jesus was married. Rather, it suggests early Egyptian Coptic Christians believed Jesus was married.


Written in the Coptic language, the text affirms that women who are mothers and wives can be Disciples of Christ. The words on the front of the fragment appear to record a conversation between Jesus and his disciples. The fourth line of the text says, "Jesus said to them, my wife." Line 5 says "... she will be able to be my disciple," while the line before the "wife" quote has Jesus saying "Mary is worthy of it" and line 7 says, “As for me, I dwell with her in order to ..."


Cultural Influences

In order to determine the probability of whether or not Jesus was ever married, we need to evaluate his activity within the cultural norms that would have influenced his life. This was a culture bound by long standing traditions and social rules. Peer pressure was a strong motivation for personal decisions, and none were stronger than those which guided personal attitudes about family, social behavior, and religion. We may be critical of the superstition and reliance on ancient law that governed social activity, but they were non-the-less the basis for personal behavior.


The Gospel of Mark, which was written more than 15 years after Christ’s crucifixion, does not mention his wife. Neither do the later Gospels of Matthew, Luke or John. Many have chosen to believe this omission proves Jesus was never married. We must remember, however, the four Gospels were written ~ 15 – ~ 80 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If the Gospels fail to mention any marriage, this omission does not necessarily prove Jesus was never married. The Gospels focus on Jesus the man and Jesus the son of God. They celebrate his birth, ministry, and resurrection.


With these thoughts in mind, let us examine the options.


Jesus Was Never Married: Possible

Gospel references to Jesus emphasize the spiritual importance of his birth, his special relationship with God, and his knowledge of Jewish (religious) law and history (even as a 13 year old boy). Jesus is a man (the son of God in human form) who has a direct access to God through prayer. He is on a mission to spread the wisdom of God’s message. It would be easy to envision a youth spent in study and contemplation, followed by a young man’s commitment to celibacy and spiritual growth until he is ready to begin his ministry. For many, this is the pure Jesus, untouched by the rigors of manhood or the sins of sex.


But if we are honest about Jesus the man, particularly at the time he commits himself to a ministry he knows will result in his death, then this scenario fails to explain how he acquired his intense charisma and passion. He didn’t stumble around in a spiritual fog for 18 years (from age 13 to 31). Here was a man with spiritual credibility, intellectual focus, and strong emotional conviction. Jesus was a man on a mission whose charisma and warmth captivated those who knew him.


So; how and why did Jesus develop his passion and counter-culture theology?


Marriage as a Young Man: Likely

Unlike almost all of the other spiritual teachers, Jesus went out of his way to include women in his group of followers. Joanna, Susanna, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, Mary his mother, Mary Salome, and others are mentioned in the New Testament. Treating women as equals contradicted the wisdom of the prevailing culture, and on occasion was the source of some irritation among his male disciples. But where and how did Jesus learn to respect women as equals in the eyes of man and God? For that answer we must construct a likely scenario of his life as a young man.


Within ancient Jewish culture it was believed a man could achieve immortality through his children. His status in the afterlife was closely linked to the number of living descendants. Hence, it was important to have as many children as possible and to encourage them to raise families of their own. Sexual deviation was frowned upon for the simple reason it produced no children.


In this culture, during this period of time, boys were usually married by the time they were 16. There is no reason to believe Jesus would have been an exception. Biblical revelation celebrates sexual intimacy in marriage. Marriage was expected, even among religious teachers. Jesus would have been under incredible peer pressure to marry and raise a family.


Marriage to Mary Magdalene: Unlikely

There is a popular belief that Jesus met and married Mary Magdalene during his ministry. It is true he developed a very close relationship with her. Jesus met Mary of Magdala during a trip to Caesarea. Wealthy in her own right, she was attracted to Jesus because of his intense charisma, quiet grace, wonderful knowledge of the spiritual, and compassion for everyone he met. She was included within his inner circle of disciples in an age when women were seldom allowed to be students or disciples of a spiritual teacher. Mary was a courageous woman who accompanied Jesus throughout his later ministry; impressed Jesus with her spiritual insight; helped Jesus financially; was faithful even when the other disciples were afraid to support Jesus at his trial; was the first person to see him after his resurrection; and was the first to announce to all who would listen that Jesus had arisen. The fourth-century theologian Augustine called her the "Apostle to the Apostles", in recognition of her role in the life of Jesus.


But the idea that Mary Magdalene was his wife fails for at least eight reasons:


First: It was the custom of the time to refer to married women as being the wife of their husbands. If Mary had married Jesus, the Gospels would refer to her as “Mary, the wife of Jesus”. But this association has never been made in any of the texts.


Second: In one of the most emotional moments in the story of the resurrection, a grief-stricken and weeping Mary Magdalene is desperately looking for the body of Jesus. He calls out to her: “Mary”. Turning, she sees him for the first time and calls out “Rabbuni” (translated as teacher or master). She calls him by the same name used by the other disciples. If Mary had an intimate relationship with Jesus, it is likely she would have used a term of marital endearment. But she does not, indicating their relationship was one of disciple and teacher.


Third: Before he started his ministry at age 31, it would appear Jesus decided to adopt the discipline of celibacy. There is a remarkable resemblance between Christian doctrine and the Essene system of beliefs. The Essenes considered celibacy to be praiseworthy behavior of any man who wanted to be close to God. Jesus was influenced by these beliefs as he was forming the theology for his ministry. Indeed, his forty days in the wilderness may have been as a guest of the Essenes near the Dead Sea. The adoption of celibacy allowed Jesus to focus all his energy and intellect on his mission.


Fourth: Jesus was a very intelligent man. He must have known his ministry would not provide the time or environment for a successful family life. In addition, Jesus would have certainly understood his counter-culture theology would lead to a confrontation with contemporary religious and political leaders; a conflict that he was sure to lose. With no dependent family and a vow of celibacy, Jesus was free to concentrate on his mission.


Fifth: Mary Magdalene’s position within the group that followed Jesus was of a devoted and worthy disciple. She appears to have been sufficiently independent financially to help fund the ministry of her teacher. The Gospels respect her intelligence as a disciple and the importance of her witness to the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That a woman could be the primary witness to these events was a radical idea, and confirms her independence as a disciple.


Sixth: Jesus treated the members of his inner circle with respect. He embraced men and women as equals. He refused to reduce the importance of a woman based on her sexuality. His love for women, and their love for him, was a primary driving force for the eventual success of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Hence women, including Mary Magdalene, surrounded him whenever he took his ministry into the countryside. They were disciples and observers, not familiar partners.


Seventh: Jesus had enemies who were looking for every chance to criticize his beliefs and activities. Nowhere do we find an accusation of sexual misconduct in his relationship with any woman. If Jesus had married Mary Magdalene, they would have found a way to find fault with his choice of a partner.


Eighth: If we accept he had been married as a young man, it is likely Jesus would have refrained from a second marriage out of respect and love from the woman who had been his marriage companion.


And a final thought. Mary Magdalene became a trusted and influential apostle within the growing Christian movement. Who was this woman whose maturity and character encouraged belief and commitment? Was she actually an older woman, perhaps recently widowed, who was seeking spiritual consolation when she met the charismatic and sympathetic Jesus? Did they connect because he understood her grief? Did she find transcendent comfort and inspiration (as so many have done) in a loving association with Jesus Christ?


From the Gospel of John:
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she said, “and we don’t know where they have put him.”


Peter and the others rush to the tomb to see for themselves, and then leave. Standing alone outside the tomb, still weeping, Mary Magdalene once again peers cautiously into the tomb.


“Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” As she said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognize him. Jesus said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.” Jesus said, “Mary!” She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbuni!”—which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to...my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.”


What Would God Want?

And of course, we must consider – what would God want?


1. God would want Jesus to be thoroughly familiar with Jewish law and religious customs. Jesus would need this knowledge if he was to defend his theology against the challenges of his critics and effectively bring God’s message to those who followed him. Both Mary and Joseph heeded God’s counsel by making sure Jesus was well versed in contemporary Jewish beliefs. By age 13, he understood the law well enough to engage in a discussion of considerable depth with temple priests in Jerusalem. This episode also reveals an independent and remarkably mature Jesus.


2. God would want Jesus to be passionate about his mission. In addition to having an intellectual understanding of theology and the law, Jesus must also have the innate ability to deliver a powerful message. If he is to minister with a voice that resonates with his contemporaries, then Jesus must live the compassion of love and experience the suffering of hatred. The obvious solution: Jesus would live and experience human life with all its joys, sorrows, triumphs, and tragedies. Jesus would acquire his credibility, and his passion, by taking his place among the men of his community. His life, and his life style, would be influenced by the cultural norms of his community.


If God is compassionate and loving, would he not want Jesus to be the same? Would he want Jesus to experience human life with all its joys, sorrows, challenges, and triumphs? One can acquire an intellectual understanding of theology through study, but in order to value the deeply emotional significance of theological concepts one must live them. This experience would round out Jesus the man and Jesus the teacher. After all, how can one teach about life if one has not experienced it?


Marriage

Following cultural norms, it is likely Jesus was married by the age of 16. Mary and Joseph would have known the girl’s parents. Perhaps they participated in the selection of a suitable companion. In any event, it was perfectly natural for Jesus to be married according to the customs of his community. But it is unlikely Jesus and his wife produced any progeny. If they had done so, the men who wrote the gospels would have mentioned them by name because children were a mark of a man’s wealth. Instead, this young couple would have been subjected to intense social pressure and belittlement when their marriage produced no progeny. One can guess Jesus drew ever closer to his beloved wife as the years went by. They both longed to have children. But they did not. Was it from this experience that Jesus developed his very strong sense of compassion for women and his love for children? Does that not seem logical?


Why Isn’t She Mentioned in the New Testament?

Since there were no children, the marriage was not important. Any revelation about a marriage would have been seen as a distraction to the main purpose of the male centric Gospels. In order for Jesus to be a symbol of spiritual purity, and the son of God, earthly details about his life must be discarded. Within this cultural environment, there is nothing unusual about Matthew’s description of Jesus, or the details of how he started his ministry. Matthew clearly wants to prove that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and does so by giving us a striking image of Jesus in vivid detail.


But if Jesus was married, then what happened to her? Did she pass away from disease or accident? Possible; these were tough times. That would certainly explain the passion with which Jesus launched his ministry. The loss of his beloved wife after a marriage that produced no children would have been emotionally devastating. It could have been the event that sparked his search for spiritual union with God.


On the other hand, is it possible she is “the disciple whom Jesus loved?” mentioned six times in John? Tradition says this disciple was male and the reference may have been to John himself. But the references appear confused. Could it have been his wife? Of all the Gospels, does John (or whoever wrote the Gospel of John) have the best understanding of Jesus the man and the meaning of his message?


Many questions: we can only contemplate possible answers.

October 08, 2017

About the Spiritual Universe

We live in a bipolar Cosmos. Therefore, if there is a physical universe, then there must also be its opposite: a not-physical universe.

We really don’t know much about the majority of our astrophysical reality. Our known physical universe consists of matter (both visible and not visible), and energy (both detectable and inferred). As we have discovered, the familiar stuff we can see (or directly detect) is only a small percentage of what actually exists in our physical universe. Our physical universe apparently consists of ~5% visible (or directly detectable) matter, ~27% dark matter and ~68% dark energy. Dark matter and energy are currently inferred (but not directly detectable) realities.

We know even less about the not-physical universe. But it would appear to be reasonable to characterize it as a universe that is primarily composed of energy (in various forms). Since energy can become matter and have mass, we can expect the not-physical universe to also include matter and mass, although perhaps in unfamiliar forms. In other words, both universes have multiple forms of energy and matter. However, in contrast to our physical universe - where our perception of physical reality dominates awareness and consciousness – in the not-physical universe cosmic energy dominates awareness and consciousness. If matter (both visible and dark) constitutes ~32% of our physical universe, it should logically be a far smaller component of the not-physical universe.

These two complimentary realities co-exist in the Cosmos. One is physical. One is spiritual. There is a boundary between them where the physical dimension intersects with the spiritual (or conscious) dimension of the Cosmos. We have been given clues about the nature of this intersection by the scientific observations (and theories) of quantum mechanics. Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2 suggests a mechanism exists for transformation (or transcendence) from one dimension to the other. In order to distinguish our physical universe from the not physical universe, we can refer to the conscious spiritual dimension as the Spiritual Universe.

Both dimensions are all around us. We humans have trained ourselves to identify the evidence of the physical universe through our five physical senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. As demonstrated by mystics and those who have experienced near death experiences, we humans are able to experience the presence of spiritual consciousness with our sixth sense (core consciousness) when we seek to become one with the energy that flows throughout the Cosmos.

The Spiritual Universe exists in a plane that is parallel with our physical universe. It is the source of existential conscious thought, and the location of spiritual intelligence. Death, meditation, and sudden mental stress may give us an opportunity to experience the consciousness, existence and reality of the Spiritual Dimension. We drift into another space and time. People who are very ill may have the sensation of floating back and forth between physical and spiritual reality. For them, the boundary that separates the physical universe from the Spiritual Universe becomes transparent. Physically, they are in this universe. Spiritually, they are somewhere else.

Ron
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August 31, 2017

Believe In Myself

Jesus gave us two commandments about love.


The first one encourages us to love God without reservation. It reveals a loving relationship between us and the Holy Spirit is both possible and desirable. If we ignore this commandment, we abandon our chance to enter God’s Kingdom (the Spiritual Universe).


The second commandment encourages us to love others with the same sensitivity and empathy we have for ourselves. It assumes we are able to take a thoughtful view of our interpersonal relationships. People with a healthy outlook on life will not choose to hurt themselves either physically or emotionally. We are expected to project this same caring attitude in our personal relations with others. It does not matter whether our contact is casual and brief (as with a stranger we meet on the street), or the result of a long term relationship (as in marriage), God wants us to love others as we would want others to love us. Our failure to obey this commandment is often the source of inexcusable sorrow, friction and hatred.


The more we try to follow these two commandments, the closer we come to creating social paradise. The further away we move from these two commandments, the greater the risk of creating a living hell here on earth.


But what is love of self?


People with a healthy outlook on life will not choose to hurt themselves either physically or emotionally. We have a positive and constructive attitude that exists within us and is the basis of how we interact with others. Personal contentment with the person we see in the mirror enables compassion, generosity, thoughtful (selfless) behavior, and loving relationships. Self-confidence helps us to transcend personal challenges and the debilitating effects of fear. We are encouraged to discover and pursue a passion. We are free to experience humor, laughter and joy.


To love one-self is to love life. Live it authentically.


TCE
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July 22, 2017

Why Was Jesus Crucified?


Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, who was the fifth prefect (governor) of the Roman province of Judea (or Judaea) from A.D. 26 – A. D. 36. There are several reasons for his crucifixion:


1.       Jesus often ignored Jewish customs. The Sadducees, and to a lesser extent the Pharisees, were generally skeptical, or outright hostile, to the message and actions of Jesus Christ. Many would have considered it heresy because it did not exactly match their concept of Jewish custom and (religious) law. There were also many zealots who took it upon themselves to sanction, or even kill, anyone who dared to violate Jewish religious tradition. Thus when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, the adulation he received would have thoroughly annoyed his opposition. Many wanted to end his activity.

2.       When Jesus disrupted the money changers in the Temple, he seriously offended the people of Jerusalem. Many of them depended on Passover for income, selling food, sacrificial animals and birds, religious items, and other goods and services to visiting pilgrims. For seven or more days the Gentiles Courtyard in the Temple Mount resembled a giant bazaar. Disrupting the money changers, who were mostly low level priests, world have been construed by rumor as an attack on all the vendors.

3.       Jesus frequently used the phrase “Kingdom of God” in his ministry. For him, it was a reference to what we would call heaven. But this phrase would have offended the Romans because it was commonly used as a code phrase that meant the restoration of God’s rule over Israel. Such action would have required kicking the Romans out of Israel and was a direct challenge to their authority. Pilot would have known Jesus was using this phrase long before he arrived in Jerusalem. The basis for a confrontation between Jesus and the Romans was already in place.

4.       When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a road covered with Palm branches, it was a high moment of triumph for both the pilgrims and the people of Jerusalem. It was fully expected Jesus would use his powers to kick the Romans out of the city. It was assumed if Jesus had the power to heal, he must also be able to use his power to bring about a military (or political) victory over the hated Romans. When it became clear Jesus had no intention of being a military (or political) leader (by Wednesday afternoon), the people quickly became disillusioned, and then rebellious.

5.       During Passover, the influx of thousands of pilgrims into Jerusalem often inflamed emotions. Outbreaks of violence occurred. The Sadducees feared Jesus would stir up the mob, and possibly cause a riot, with his talk of restoring the Kingdom of God. Since Caliphas, the High Priest was personally responsible to Pilot for maintaining the peace, Jesus presented him with an unwelcome challenge to his authority and responsibility. He would have been very motivated to have Jesus arrested for promoting rebellion and sedition.


Consistent with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, there were two trials as described in my novel "Am I Your Son?". It is unlikely either Caliphas, or his Father-in-Law Annas, were particularly concerned about breaking Jewish law or customs in order to have their way. Since Passover ended at Sundown on Thursday evening, a trial Thursday night would have been in violation of Preparation Day (considered a minor abuse of the law), but not of Passover (which to the Pilgrims would have had a greater significance). In addition, since Passover ended Thursday evening, most of the Pilgrims would have been in the process of leaving Jerusalem Friday morning. That gave Caliphas more control over a predominately Jerusalem population when he wanted to incite anger against Jesus on Friday.

Pilot would have regarded Jesus and his disciples as non-violent dissenters. Roman authorities normally dispensed with groups of non-violent dissenters by killing their leader. Hence while it is likely Caliphas would have liked to eliminate the apostles, he did not have a sufficient reason to justify their death. Pilot would have believed the elimination of Jesus would prevent any further challenge to Roman authority by those who followed him. As a consequence, his desire to find and punish the apostles quickly declined. Within weeks, Pilot was so busy with other matters, he likely ignored the apostles. Although the rise of Christianity irritated the priests in Jerusalem, and to a lesser extent the Sadducees, it was of little concern to Pilot.