HERETIC ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

'This Land is Our Land'

Okay, so I've made political posts on this blog before, but they've all been fairly general in nature, without targeting any specific individual! This post is a bit different, directly aimed at one of the current presidential candidates, who is not technically a politician & thus is somewhat free from the corruption normally attributed to most politicians. 'The Donald', as he is 'affectionately' called, is, according to what may be called 'The American Dream', a good businessman: although I prefer the term 'shrewd', he would doubtless make a 'better' CEO of the USA, Inc.!

Donald Trump's campaign slogan, whether officially or unofficially, is his promise to 'make America great again'! First of all, 'what does he mean by that phrase?' If he means to make her 'great' again in the sense that she has always been, ( till lately ) 'great', by world conquests, meaning 'endless war' propagated by the American Empire, then 'NO THANKS!' If however, he means to 'make America great again' in the de Tocquevillian sense, then 'kudos' to him, 'BRAVO!' Unfortunately, we can be almost certain that he leans more toward the first definition ( of 'great' ).

Most Americans who will be voting for Donald Trump, including many Christians, although the latter especially are somewhat peeved by his use of the English language & certain of his 'eccentric' mannerisms, are nonetheless enamored by his promise, as outlined above. These all want to 'make America great again', but how many of them, do you suppose, have stopped to wonder if America SHOULD be made great again! Do we really want to endure the endless wars, along with death & destruction around the world, that it would cost to make America great again, in the sense of the American Empire?

Our coinage in this nation, though under fire for the last decade or so, is 'One Nation Under God': take that for what it's worth, but it at least signifies that she was formed under Christian principles, at least in word, if not in deed! The 'god' that America serves at present may be another matter, for as we all can attest to, 'god' can signify anything from money to innumerable other idols. You may have heard that the 'pledge of allegiance' is part of a socialist plot & one might wonder if the phrase in question doesn't fall under the same shadow! He who was instrumental in developing 'the pledge' although without the addition 'under God', was a Baptist minister & 'no surprise', a Socialist as well. This leads us back to the question, 'what does Trump mean by his promise to 'make America great again'?'

Alexis de Tocqueville once observed, 'America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.' To whatever extent, this nation WAS founded on Christian principles & although many of those principles, again, 'to whatever extent', are still at work in today's America. To a great extent, though, even certain of these principles have become 'skewed', while others seem to be in direct opposition. The events surrounding the founding of this nation might begin to shed light on the nature of the founding fathers. Without doubt, these men did what they did with the best of intentions, but one might wonder if a better solution than armed revolution might have been pursued. The wars that this country has been embroiled in since that terrible chain of events only bears witness to the fact that the American Empire is not a recent invention!

Without doubt, according to de Tocquevillle's observation, America WAS once a great nation! However, as the name 'America' is no longer synonymous with 'good' ( especially if you ask most Middle Easterners ), can America any longer be termed 'great', except in the sense of prowess, or physical strength. America has shown it's true colors all over the world, bullying lesser nations into accepting it's terms of 'democracy'! In some sense, one could be lead to wonder if what we now bear witness to in America & around the world is actually all that much departed from her founding 'principles'!

Is it merely nationalistic fervor that prompted 'the Donald' to utter those now famous words, or were they based upon a genuine wish to return to the 'Christian' principles this nation was founded upon? My readers must judge for themselves which is more likely, but I believe it's pretty clear where his allegiance lies! As you may have noticed, I have not even mentioned the other party's candidate ( she's really not even worth mentioning ) because, of the two choices, he IS the better; but again, my readers must decide for themselves if they can conscientiously vote for either one!

By focusing on just one candidate, I am by no means showing allegiance to either party, the donkeys OR the elephants! Salvation for this country, this 'One Nation Under God', will come in no form other than a complete turn-around of the practices of those in power, as well as those who follow them. Donald Trump wants to 'make America great again'; whatever he means by that rather ambiguous statement, we can be pretty certain that he did not refer to de Tocqueville's comment. I believe that it is possible that he could be startled by the Holy Spirit & set on the 'right' path, but that's just a little more likely than winning the lottery without buying a ticket!

Maybe I'm just losing my faith, though................

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Eschatology of Marriage

 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
Luke 20:34-36

Traditionally speaking, the institution of marriage by the Creator of Heaven & Earth has never been questioned, at least in Christian circles! Even among the avowedly non-Christians & Pagans, though its importance is often viewed as lesser, most recognize the usefulness of following the pattern established in Scripture of one man & one woman coming together for the purpose of procreation. In this day & age, we see examples, though, ranging anywhere from two people of the opposite sex marrying merely for mutual comfort & pleasure, to two people of the same sex coming together with seemingly no regard for the origins of the institution. This is not to say that the institution of marriage should only be for the purpose of biological procreation, just that the institution is almost universally accepted as one for mutual benefit!

There has always been question in the minds of theologians & students of Scripture as to what Jesus meant when He said ' those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage'. Some who believe in a fulfilled eschatology have gone so far as to say that marriage is no longer relevant in this New Age, while others, those who believe that eschatology has yet to be fulfilled, teach that in the coming New Age, people will 'neither marry nor ( be ) given in marriage'. Both of these groups are in error, clinging to a merely physical biological representation, or interpretation of Jesus' words. Clearly, as we are presently in 'the age to come', of which He spoke, this concept has persevered into the New Age!

What then, did Jesus mean when He said that 'The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage', but that in the New Age, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; did He mean to say that the institution itself would be done away with? God forbid! There are several ways this controversial saying could be interpreted: one is that those of who Jesus was speaking, 'the sons of this age' would not make into that New Age, or 'the age to come' & thus would never marry or be given in marriage, as their predecessors were. Yet another consideration is that the concept is eschatological & thus that its import is as well!

Now, before you lump me in with those who say that, since eschatology is fulfilled, the institution of marriage has outlived its usefulness, let me assure that this is not the case; again, God forbid! Eschatology was fulfilled in the Christ, this true enough; the End came as prophesied, but that does not mean that History itself came to and end, at least not as we think of 'the end', cessation. Covenant History, which the Story of Scripture chronicles, came to its End in the first century, when the Creator divested Himself of His glory to invest Himself into His Creation. Thus the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, for which the whole Creation groaned & labored with birth pangs, was fulfilled!

In this day & age, as the world bears witness to every day, the institution of marriage, though often diverted from its original purpose & form, is alive & well on Planet Earth! Eschatologically speaking, as the apostle Paul bears witness to his letter to the Church at Ephesus ( chapter 5 ), the institution of marriage serves as a picture of Christ & the Church, or the Marriage of Heaven & Earth ( I Corinthians 15:47 ). This is not to say that Marriage, like Eschatology, is Fulfilled, though in some sense it is & really, in the same sense!

As we have seen & bear witness to every day, the institution of marriage continues! A little play on words, there, but serious, although Marriage, like Eschatology, is Fulfilled, it endures as a picture of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! Just as a physical, biological union does not end, or cease to exist, once the marriage has been cemented, so the Scriptural institution, though it was fulfilled by the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, or Christ & the Church, did not end in the first century!

The very fact that Scripture refers to the 'sons of this age', 'sons of God' & 'sons of the resurrection' should tell us, not that those who penned the Bible were sexist, though this may have been somewhat the case, but that Scripture referred to a certain person, that being the Son of God! The one to which Scripture refers is Israel, the Covenant People, or Son of God. Today, we are the 'sons of God' & 'sons of the resurrection' & thus, one might say, the on of God, corporately speaking, being the Offspring of that Marriage, which is fulfilled & being fulfilled every day, as more & more enter the Kingdom!

Marriage is not something to be taken lightly; it was given to men & women as a picture of something greater, something spiritual! As such, it is not something to 'enter into unawares', so to speak, but always with this in mind. The union of two bodies as one is not merely a physical manifestation, though it IS that, it is a blessed union of souls, or spirits, like the union we now enjoy with our Creator. The End of Eschatology came in the first century & with it, the End of Marriage; both were fulfilled in the first century & one might say, both are still being fulfilled, but to a greater extent!

Charles Haddon hank

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More Than Words

'Words have meaning!'; this is true enough, but without actions to back them up, they are, as Scripture says about faith, 'dead', useless! We can all attest to this fact; it's easy to say something, to make promises, but when it comes to following through on those promises, to fulfilling those words, it's often difficult or impossible. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current political landscape. Much of what we have heard from The Hill in the past years has been proven to be just that, 'words'; about as worthless and un-backed as the currency we carry!

In life, we all say things that we almost immediately regret; as soon as they leave our mouth, we wish we could suck them back in or delete them from the other person's memory!  The saying goes, 'sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me', but the truth is, 'words DO hurt us'; whether we would like to admit it or not, we DO feel pain in our spirit, which often translates to physical pain, when someone lashes out at us with words. Ego has much to do with this, both theirs & ours, but whatever the case may be, words can cause pain & are a wieldy instrument of torture!

On the other hand, words can bring much pleasure; a simple phrase, which takes all of a second or two to say, can shine a bright light into an otherwise dark & dreary day! When backed up with action, these three words can mean the difference between life & death. It has been said, 'the pen is mightier than the sword'; history attests to the veracity of these words, for many a revolution has been fomented by words like 'give me liberty or give me death'. Of course, if these words had not been backed by action, the world might look a bit different than it does today!

Words have consequences; when we, with our ego, answer another's ego, we often end up regretting those words, but as long as we do not act on these words, no real harm is done, though the words themselves, usually because of the fore-mentioned egos, may force a rift, to whatever extent, between the two parties. Words mean something; though we often regret using certain words, the very fact that those words came out of our mouths mean that they come from some deep-seated emotion! We quickly say, 'Oh, I didn't really mean that!', but as I heard a lot growing, 'you didn't NOT mean it either!' If we hadn't been ruminating, even in the recesses of our mind, on those very thoughts, the words would never have come out!

Ego is a big problem, in fact, one might say it is the very root of all evil! Ego causes us to think we are better than everybody else, ego can make us jealous of others because we see that we aren't as good as somebody else & ego can make us fight with others who don't believe the way we do; sometimes ego even leads to murder! For example, it was Cain's ego that caused him to kill his brother Abel. When we conquer our ego, which is a constant battle for most of us & begin to use words that heal, rather than words that hurt, especially when we back them up with action, the harm that we might have caused becomes even greater when pointed in the other direction!

A simple phrase such as, 'I love you' can brighten anyone's day! Love is a powerful emotion; it is deep-seated & when truly expressed, can bring almost unspeakable joy to the recipient. When a person feels loved, truly loved, it helps, as the saying goes, to 'tame the savage beast', the ego. On the other hand, when one doesn't feel the calming effects of love, that one's ego tends to take up the slack, so to speak, by boosting itself even higher, to the pint of bursting, even.  It has been said, in various ways, that 'all we need is love'; this is true, but then we come to the point where the rubber meets the road: 'what IS love?'

'God is Love', according to Scripture! Okay, so the Living God, the Creator, the Energy of which we all partake is Love; sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is & it isn't; first, we must understand the Nature of the Creator God, the Energy that makes up the universe & all it contains, then we must understand our own nature, our true nature. We ARE human beings, but primarily, we are spiritual beings, partakers of the Divine Image. Once we understand that & recognize the divinity around us, we won't be so eager to battle, to the death sometimes, those who may reflect that Image in a different way or to a different extent than we do!

For the simple fact that words DO have meaning, we must learn the self control, the reining in of our ego, to use the right words, ultimately, to think the right thoughts! Realizing our spiritual nature helps us to learn that control, to beat our ego into submission, so to speak & thus to turn our body into an instrument of love, rather than hate, or fear, from which hate comes. Actions have consequences & when we act upon the right words, the consequences will be healing waters that flow from our inmost being, the Energy that makes us who we are!

( as usual, I speak to myself here, as much as to anybody else )

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A Positive Influence

“Tolerance of evil is not a virtue but is an evil that has permeated the very fiber of Christianity”
 John R.W. Stott

'Houston, we have a problem!' Those who will drop everything to say the 'Pledge of Allegiance, salute the flag, or otherwise show reverence to the symbols of an empire, a nation which has become almost anything but honorable, have become the status quo! Most Christians, the ones who should be leading the charge AGAINST such idolatry, have not only joined the ranks of those who do such things, but they are often leaders & avid supporters of this evil. To be sure, most of these Christians will say they are only supporting the good that comes out of this nation, but when one almost unequivocally throws their support behind those who propagate such evil, is that not an evil itself?  One may claim to uphold God's Law over man's, but to vote for the lesser of two evils, as many Christians are almost proud of doing, is to support the propagation of evil!

Many supporters of this ignominy that we call 'a democracy' like to justify the evils that the government of this nation commits by using phrases like 'the greater good', or 'preemptive strike'; These are phrases simply meant to pacify the people, basically saying, 'we have no choice'! In some sense, this is true, but only because evil itself has been allowed to prosper for so long that it seems that the only way to combat it is with more evil, killing in the name of Christ ( or Democracy, as the case may be ), spreading death & destruction across the globe, all while proclaiming their abhorrence of things like abortion, which claims far more lives than foreign wars. It's all well & good to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, but when one throws their support behind the empire of men, it should lead us to wonder if that ones allegiance is misplaced!

By this point, one might be asking him or herself, 'where's the positivity in this?' I'm glad you asked: there IS a solution to the problem & it's so simple as to be profound! Jesus, He upon whom Christianity was originally based, encapsulated the Law by saying, 'Love God' & 'love your neighbor as yourself', later adding this affirmative, 'do unto others as you would have them to unto you'. We can see, from all the death & destruction that goes on around the world, even the evil which has touched our own shores of late, that, although unintentionally & unwittingly maybe, this government, along with its constituents, IS now reaping what they've sown, with the nations of the world, the Middle East in particular, returning upon our own heads the coals that we've heaped on theirs!

In no way can we say, however, that the government of this nation does not exert ANY positive influence over its neighbors around the world: some of the things accomplished through the empire-building of these officials HAS had a positive effect, though somewhat naively, but one would be hard-pressed to prove that the evils, necessary as they might seem, perpetrated by the USA, Incorporated, are examples of loving ones neighbor. Really, to be perfectly honest, it's about as far as one can get from 'love your neighbor as yourself'!

So, what IS the Solution: with our history of violence, can we make a difference at this point in the game, simply by throwing down our arms & then throwing them up in the air, even offering them to our enemies? ( little play on words there; I'm not advocating giving our weapons to our enemies ) Yes, the Solution I'm offering here is quite simple & it applies to all of life; if we would live at peace with our neighbors, then we should live at peace with our neighbors; it's THAT simple! A wise man once said, 'if you wanna be free, be free', in other words, 'ACT LIKE IT!' It's a choice; if you wanna live at peace with your neighbor, just do it. This is not to say that we should tolerate their evil actions, but by our love & acceptance of THEM, though not their actions, we may exert such a positive influence over them that they would cease & desist from all their evil!

Evil cannot be justified by claiming 'the greater good'; evil is evil, no matter the supposed outcome: Christians especially know better than to say 'let us do evil that good may come'! No good will ever come from propagating evil, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential; it always has come back to bite America in the ass & it always will, unless she repents of her evil, idolatrous ways. Only by removing our allegiance from such an evil empire & giving it wholly & only to the One who gives us breath, can we ever hope to leave behind the morass that we've created!

We can never vote evil out; for one thing, it's too ensconced, it's held onto the seat of power for far too long & it must be destroyed! I'm becoming more & more convinced, along with others, that the only way to get rid of this evil is to nip it in the bud & start over. Politics as usual is not going to do anything for this nation except more of the same: one might hope for salvation though one of our current choices, but this, besides being almost laughable, were it not so sad, will never happen. Salvation for the people of this nation, as for that of our neighbors, will only come through adherence to the Laws of Nature & Nature's God!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Faith of the Son of God

It's been a silent one for years, but the question of whether it is our faith or the faith of our Heavenly Father that saves or saved us has been a matter of debate for years! Passages like Ephesians 2:8 & 9 seem to be at the heart of the issue, engendering questions like, 'is Paul saying that our faith is not of ourselves, or is he simply saying that GRACE is a gift of God?' Christians, conservatively speaking, have been taught for centuries that they are ( still? ) totally depraved & there is no way in hell that they could, on their own, exercise the faith required for salvation. This whole argument is rendered somewhat moot by the fact that the object of the Messiah's Advent, scripturally speaking, was Israel under that first covenant. This is not to say that this Grace no longer exists or is necessary, just that the apostle's words were written for & had the greatest meaning to the original recipients of his letter.

Jesus WAS, according to Scripture, the only begotten Son of God! As the Son of God, He was, or is, according to the creeds, 'of one essence with the Father': this is without doubt! Just like you & I, Jesus, the Son of Man, as Scripture also calls Him, was without doubt a normal human being, as far as that goes. Although He, also according to Scripture, bore possibly more pain & suffering than most human beings could withstand, eventually His body succumbed to the abuse & stopped functioning, finally assuming room temperature. That He rose again, also without doubt, proves that He wasn't merely human: by the Power of the Highest, the Energy of which we all partake, His Resurrection is celebrated among Christians as the Crowning & Pivotal event that changed our spiritual landscape forever!

For the past several years, I have been toying ( rather seriously ) with the notion that, beyond eschatology, we, as the Body of Christ, or simply Followers of Christ, corporately speaking, are the Son of God! This notion, in the past year or so, is further strengthened by the notion, fairly radical among most Christians, that we are spirits having a human experience. Pagans & Stoics have believed this for ages, interestingly enough! If we are actually spirit beings inhabiting custom-made bodies of the biological order, we might ask ourselves if we are all that different from Jesus Himself. In fact, one might go so far ( shudders ) as to wonder if we are all that far separated from the One that some call 'The Source', 'Energy', 'The Creator', even 'Our Heavenly Father!

This is not to say, though some will go that far, that we are our own creators, though in some sense that is true: to whatever extent, we do create our own lives through the choices we make, both good & bad! There is One Creator, a Divinely Intelligent Being, One who brought into being the universe & all it contains; however, this One Supreme Being is of the same Essence, the same Energy that empowers humanity. Scripturally speaking, most if not all Christians would beg to differ with me at this point because they clearly ( ? ) indicate that only those who place their faith in Jesus as the Son of God can rightly be called sons ( notice the difference between 'Son of God' & 'sons of God'? ) of God. This is very defensible from Scripture & doubtless has application today, though it would seem that, in this day & age, many Pagans are truer disciples of Jesus than those who call themselves Christians!

Though there are those who deny it still, the Resurrection of Jesus is clearly laid out in the pages of Scripture. The Messiah of Israel was a man, yes, but obviously, not a mere human being; there was Something in Him that enabled Him to rise, in the self-same Body, from the Grave, from Hell, if you will. We, the disciples of Jesus, or as Scripture metaphorically calls us, the Body of Christ, have inherited His ministry, which, although it was fulfilled as regards eschatology, is ongoing & calls us all into that Higher Calling of which you have heard many speak!

While all human beings are, by nature, spirits having a human experience, there are those who have squelched their spiritual nature! Many have all but smothered it & are merely human beings, others have in fact lost their spirit & are hardly more than drones eking out an existence with only two certainties in view, 'death & taxes'. Some, though, are coming out of their stupor & realizing that, in fact, we are more than our humanity. Christianity may rightfully claim responsibility ( in part ) for this awakening, though they themselves, for the most part, put an unhealthy focus on the biological aspect of Life, but ultimately, it is the Spirit Within, that Energy that consumes us all, that awakens us to our true nature!

'Begotten of the Father before all worlds', is simply one line from one of the Christian creeds. According to Scripture, the Son, or the pre-incarnate Jesus, was with the Father as the Creator at the Creation. However, with the Advent of Fulfilled Eschatology, our own understanding of these passages may evolve. for example, since Fulfilled Eschatology naturally points back to a localized, particular Creation event, should we understand John, in His Gospel, as saying, as I believe, that the 1st, 2nd & 3rd Persons ( ? ) of the Trinity were simply an eschatological phenomenon, specially constructed for Israel's transition period. In other words, was John, as well as other writers of Scripture, merely using constructs with which his readers would be familiar to mark the Creator's introduction into His Creation?

Speaking of Scripture, how often did Jesus tell those He healed, in other words maybe, that their faith had saved them? Was it truly their own faith that saved them? Did Jesus grant them immediate healing simply because they believed in His Power to do so? Again, we must look at the context, especially historical, of these events; when Jesus healed these people of their physical maladies, what was at the heart of the healing? It was their sin, indicative of the sin of His People, that Jesus often mentioned as having been forgiven in order for their physical maladies to be cured. This was not always the case, but as you read the Story of Israel, you may notice that many of the diseases & maladies that the prophets, Jesus & the apostles were faced with were indicative of the Sin of Israel!

Our Faith, expressed by Truth In Living, does save us! We are creators in that the choices we make determine our existence, to whatever extent, on this biological plane. On the spiritual plane, the choices we make also determine our relationship with the Creator, with the Energy that fills every living being, human & otherwise. Life is all about choices & depending on how we choose to spend our existence in this biology, we may or may not enjoy our life in the spiritual plane. If we choose to embrace our spiritual nature, we will note that spirit in those around us, even mere ( ? ) animals & so our actions in this biological plane will be affected in a positive manner.

The Grace of God, as enumerated in Scripture, is a free Gift! In the context of Scripture, it was a Gift for Israel, though this, again, is not to say that Grace no longer exists. While we must understand that the apostle's words were eschatologically based, being written for the instruction & comfort of their original audience, these instructions benefit us as well, though we simply reap the benefits of the Grace that Israel received, through Fulfilled Eschatology.

The Eschatology of Israel, finding its Fulfillment in Jesus, wrought a change in our spiritual landscape, which depending on our choices, will make itself apparent in this biological plane! The same Spirit which once showed Grace to Israel now shows Grace through us. We now engender that Faith that saved Israel & through the expression of that Faith, we can save the world!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Revelation of Divinity

What if I told you that the Story of Israel told in Scripture was not the only Revelation of the Creator to His Creation? To most Christians, the idea that our Heavenly Father might have made His Presence known to any other people, in any other form, is almost unthinkable! However, that is just the concept that this blogpost will explore, though maybe not in-depth.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, though rife with examples of what we would construe as tall tales, also includes a flood account: numerous creation accounts have been revealed from ancient & existing civilizations, leading some to believe, to whatever extent, that the biblical, or scriptural account, supports or is supported by theses ANE ( Ancient Near East ) accounts.Although most or all of these accounts might be classified as myth, as with all myths, we can say certainly that they contain, or are based on, some truth, however great or small. 

Myths, we must understand, are not necessarily untrue. As we have seen, while they may seem to be quite far-fetched to us, especially in our Western mind-set & they are obviously elaborate, myths are at least based in fact, to whatever extent. Mythical creatures, for instance, the gryphon, among other mythical creatures, was a combination of a couple different species. There may have been differing reasons for these combinations, but one reason, we may freely speculate, was to metaphorically represent a certain deity or king, even queen. The different creation stories, or myths, then, we must realize, are colored by metaphor as well, being told in such a way as to present certain truths in a unique literary & apocalyptic way.

Divinity is a funny thing ( not 'funny', as in 'ha-ha' ); there are certain situations, even foods that we describe as 'divine'! We even view certain people in our lives as having a touch of divinity. Scripture records Jesus as saying with the Psalmist, 'You are gods' ( John 10:34 ( Psalm 82:6 ); if Jesus called us 'gods', or 'mighty ones', may we not say, with a degree of certainty, that we are 'divine'? This is not to say that we ARE deity, as is the Creator, our Heavenly Father, though we ARE of the same Essence, just that, BEING of the same Essence, we are, in that sense, Divinity ourselves & gods, or judges, in our own respect!

In context, the Psalmist's words might be better understood as referring to Israel under that first covenant, but I believe that we may also take it as 'Gospel' today, in the 21st century! Being Judges of the Earth, having been given the liberty & ability, freedom, really, to judge for ourselves, we are, in that sense, gods ourselves with a sense of the Divine. Our Essence, being that of the Creator, is Infinite, though limited by our Biology  & in that sense finite. However, as we ourselves realize this true nature, though not everyone is at the same Stage in their Journey, we begin to realize our divinity & that it will take us higher up & farther in than humankind ever dreamed was possible!

To truly understand the Story of Scripture, as well as any other example of ANE literature, we must realize that it IS very heavy with metaphor! Much of what we have understood Scripture to say for centuries must be reexamined now, with that fact in mind. To be sure, Scripture, as we have understood it for millenia, has revealed much Truth to us, though our Western mindset has also projected meaning onto its pages that just aren't there! The myths that we all grew up reading, Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, British, etc., all pointed to certain truths, though maybe with more or less of an agenda & though the Story of Scripture tells us of the One True God & His special Creation, Israel, many modern scholars posit it as myth, right along with the rest!

Along with Memphite Theology, the Atrahasis, Babylonian & Enuma Elish Creation Epics, as well as others, no doubt; the biblical Story of Creation, rather than falling into the category of mere legend ( ? ), is instead strengthened & corroborated by these other creation stories. The Genesis Creation account that we read in Scripture is therefore NOT so much a record of the creation of the material universe, although that truth may be found there; it is a record of the Creator God's formation of a special Land/Nation/People through which to gradually & eventually reveal Himself to His Creation. In much the same way as these myths, the Story of Scripture is laden with metaphor in order to tell this elaborate Story in a way that was familiar to the original audience, the people of the Ancient Near East.

That the Living God of Scripture created the universe & all it contains, though disputed by some, is without doubt in the mind of this blogger! The Creation account found in the first chapters of Genesis, as well as throughout Scripture are a record of a Spiritual Creation, if you will, rather than a material one. Christians have been taught for centuries that the Creator God began His material Creation, humanly speaking, with Adam & Eve, but even common sense reminds us of the innate problems with such a stance. Understanding the Biblical Genesis as a Spiritual Creation account rather than a material one meshes much better with both biblical & extra-biblical writings!


Charles Haddon Shank

'Fear Not, For I AM With You!': Faith or Fear?

''Fear is the mind-killer!' - Frank Herbert - 'Litany Against Fear'

Fear, or the Ego, is a uniquely human disability! It can be debilitating even, to the point of rendering one immobile. Much of what we know & either love or hate as Organized Religion is based in Fear; the fear of going to 'hell' if we believe, say, or do the wrong thing, the fear of what others may think or do if we don't follow the crowd, the fear of displeasing an already angry God..............

Ego, the root problem from which many Emotions like Fear come, seems to be fairly central to the human psyche & though many are plagued by this evil their whole lives, some seem to have totally bypassed this emotion or at least have been able to conquer, or overcome this Root of All Kinds of Evil!

Scripture tells us that Jesus told His disciples, 'do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do' ( Luke 12:4 ) In context, He was comforting them concerning the coming Great Tribulation, but even today, we can find much consolation in this Word, knowing that we cannot die. This physicality will most certainly, sooner or later, pass away, whether it is killed or dies of 'natural' causes, but we ourselves, being spiritual beings, will never perish!

The apostle John, in the latter part of his first letter ( I John 4:18 ), wrote, 'There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment'. Earlier in this beautiful passage, John told his audience, the original recipients, that the love of God had been perfected in them. Perfect love, we must understand, is not love without fear, but rather, love that casts out fear, in other words, destroy it, overcomes it, so that we may conquer our fear & love as we have been given. In the same vein, or manner of speaking, is bravery: bravery doesn't mean one has no fears; bravery is simply pushing through that fear, triumphing over it & doing what must be done!

When we are faced with an obstacle, two choices present themselves; we can believe that, through whatever Strength lies Within us, we will leap over that wall, or hurdle, or we can doubt our ability to overcome any obstacle & in so doing, fail before we even begin!

A certain wise man once said something like, 'we have nothing to fear but fear itself': why then, do we fear? Well, one of the biggest reasons is that we learn to do so! Any swim teacher can tell you that the best time to teach someone how to swim is when they're young, even a baby. This is not the only reason, but mostly, it's because they have less fear, fewer ( if any ) inhibitions; inhibitions like, 'what will happen if I can't..........................?', even, 'I CAN'T do this; I'm not coordinated enough, I'm not...................!' Hatred, which is inextricably linked to Fear, is for instance, a learned emotion. One is not born with hatred in their heart; like Fear in a baby or child learning how to swim, or even make his or her way through life, one must be taught to hate!

Whether Hate becomes an issue because of Fear of the unknown ( or the known ), Fear of differences ( jealousy? ), or just insecurity; hatred is a direct result of Fear! As we have witnessed, one must be taught to hate; we are not incarnated, or born, into this world with a natural hatred for another. We must either bear witness ourselves to the pain that surrounds us, or learn from the reactions of others how to deal with it. We then must make a choice as to how we ourselves will deal with the pain. Too often, our choices are determined by this unnatural fear, but we can, through the strength of the Spirit Within, overcome that Fear & choose to Love, rather than to allow our emotions to be controlled by Fear!

The greatest obstacle that any human being must overcome is Fear! The different emotions that  are caused by Fear are almost indescribable, but we must learn to overcome our fears, to surmount them, if we are ever to get anywhere in this, if we are ever to do anything of import.

Having Faith, whether in some Higher Power or our own Energy, enables us to see Beyond Ego, to realize that we are more than simple human beings: we are freed from our biological body, so to speak, to explore what is our spiritual nature, our true nature! The Ego torments us with Fear, fear of not being good enough, fear of not being normal. fear of being our own person. Moving past the emotions caused by these fears frees us to simply be ourselves, our true spiritual selves.

Much of our Fear is based on the fact of Biology! Much as Mary clung to the Body of Jesus in the Garden, we tend to cling to our biological existence as of the utmost importance. This is not to say that this biological life we have been granted is unimportant, but when we understand that Life is so much more than this Biology, it's like a breath of fresh air; windows & doors that had previously been closed, if we even realized they were there, will be opened to us & with our fears behind us, along with our ego, we can walk, even soar bravely through the opening, into the More that is Beyond!

Charles Haddon Shank