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


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Search For The Sacred Feminine

Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code', besides its entertainment value, is an intriguing read for some of its finer, subtler points. For the hero of the book, things get rather 'interesting' PDQ ( pretty damn quick )! Although the adventures of Robert Langdon are exciting, to say the least, it is more what is going on behind the scenes-behind closed doors-so to speak, that really captivates. The scheming of the Roman Catholic Church, though maybe largely speculation on the part of the author, is nonetheless very believable.

The traditional concept of the Virgin Birth of Jesus is a matter of almost the strictest confidence! By this is meant simply that, according to at least one of the Creeds, if one does not subscribe, most importantly, maybe, to the Virgin Birth, one cannot be called a Christian. The Scriptural, or biblical 'proof' for this Virgin Birth is questionable, to say the least, though to many Christians, it is very plain. The announcement of the birth of Isaac, for instance, in Genesis 18:10, sounds strangely similar to the announcement made to Mary in Luke 1:28-38. It is fairly well-accepted that Isaac was fathered by Abraham, physically speaking, but to suggest that the birth of Jesus was of similar ( natural ) means is almost heretical!

The Sacred, or Divine Feminine is a subject that most traditional theologians of this day & age ( up to & including the past hundred years or so, give or take a millennia ) seem almost loathe to even consider. Although, according to some accounts, the Study of the Divine Feminine disappeared, for the most part, from theology over two thousand years ago, if one pays close attention, on may notice it extant in the text of Scripture, even the Bible itself. The ascendant role of women, in particular their role as the mothers of Jesus, or Israel, is an indication of this.

The Age of Puritanism, in the opinion of this blogger, anyway, did much to pervert this most holy & pure of functions. The function in question, of course, is sexual intercourse, which was relegated by the Catholic Church at one time, as only to be entertained solely for the purposes of progenation. Biblically speaking, thanks in part to Psalm 51:5, sexual intercourse was deemed a shameful, even sinful action, redeemed only by the propagation of the race. However, this very natural & necessary function is one that was given by the Creator, not just for the purposes of propagation, but for our enjoyment as well. Studies have shown that it builds up, not only the intimacy of the two involved, both sexually & spiritually, but also has many positive effects, physiologically speaking.

It goes without saying that there is a time & place for everything; there are certain situations that would negate the positive effect of sexual intercourse, but even these, in a certain light, can be viewed as efficacious. With the advent of birth control aids, such as the condom, which is not always so efficacious, the practice of free sex for the sake of enjoyment alone saw an immediate rise, especially as witnessed by the 60s generation. The infamous 'Roe V. Wade' Supreme Court decision of 1972 further bolstered this movement, since now, even if conception occurred as a result of 'free sex', one could simply & legally discard the conceived child!

The role of the woman in the birth of new life is beyond question; if one is never born physically, biblically speaking ( John 3:6 ), it goes without saying that one cannot be reborn spiritually. Such, anyway was the argument that this blogger used to uphold. Much has occurred in the past decade or so, theologically speaking, to reform my thinking. It is now clear, to me anyway, that rather than the rebirth that Jesus speaks of, most notably in John 3, had a primary contextual reference to 1st century Israel, not so much to 21st century Americans, though a secondary meaning may certainly be applied. With that said, then, the role of women is important, not so much in the realm of child-bearing, though it certainly is that, but in the domain of intimacy, both physiologically & spiritually speaking.

While sexual intercourse should never be taken lightly, as is often the case, neither is it something to be ashamed of. Outside the Sacred Bonds of Marriage, which can be defined simply as a Covenant between two people of the opposite sex, sexual intercourse is not a wise choice for many reasons, one being that it tends to accentuate the physical needs without satisfying the spiritual. However, when spiritual intimacy occurs, the marriage is blessed, for without the spiritual, the physical will only go so far; when the spiritual occurs first, the physical need not be ever-present!

Prior to the Birth of Christianity, in many of the Pagan religions ( out of which much of what we know as Christianity sprang, by the way ), the Sacred Feminine was recognized, even worshipped & adored. To this day, as Mr. Brown alludes to in his book, some still do! As Christians, we have been taught that sexual intercourse is reserved for the marriage bed & so it is; it is the definition of marriage then, that needs reexamination! Although that may be a subject for another day; we may suffice, for now, to say that marriage, as stated earlier, is between a man & a woman, with no other involvement necessary!

Studies may show that, around the time of Second Temple Judaism, the Sacred Feminine all but disappeared from the text of Scripture, but truly, as stated earlier, there is more than enough to be found-the Song of Solomon, for instance-that gives us more than a healthy glimpse into it! Throughout the Scriptures, much like 'The Da Vinci Code', it is more what goes on behind the scenes-behind closed doors-that makes its reading so intriguing. This is not to say, necessarily, that we should haphazardly read between the lines of Scripture, so to speak, but many of it's implications are quite shocking, to say the least!

The Search for the Sacred Feminine, which is something that we all aspire to ( speaking as a man, of course ), should not be taken lightly, either! There is something missing in this world in which we live & it is something we cannot live without, either physiologically or spiritually. The importance of the Divine Feminine in what we as Christians term 'the God-head' is something that has been glossed over, in a manner of speaking for millennia, though in certain pagan religions, it is celebrated & worshipped, as it should be.

To insist on the Virgin Birth as necessary to one's salvation, then, is rendered moot! If Jesus was born in the usual way, through sexual intercourse, it does not detract from the glorious fact that He was the Son of God. In fact, Scripture seems to point to this, for in the Gospels, Jesus primarily referred to Himself as 'the Son of Man'; it was others, for the most part that ( rightly ) called Him 'the Son of God'. As a Christian, it is well-nigh useless to deny the Virgin Birth ( it could be quite harmful, in fact ), but it is not irrefutable & definitely not beyond all reasonable doubt!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spiritual Detox, Continued

'Look at it as just another stage-stop in The Journey!'

In some sense & to whatever extent, we are all in the process of spiritual detoxification. Some of my readers may not even realize it yet. I assure you, though, we are all affected in some way by it. My own personal journey has brought me from a strict determinist position, to a slightly liberalist, preteristic ( past fulfillment ) position, to where I am now, hovering somewhere between realizing & knowing. I know that there is a Creator, biblically speaking, the Great 'I AM', but I realize too that good things happen to 'bad' people & vice versa, for reasons that we can't seem to comprehend, sometimes. One question on the minds of many people today is, 'Why would a good & loving God allow such evil to exist?'; it is also the reason that many have left the fold, so to speak!

Just like any other form of detox, spiritual detox can be quite painful at times; to whatever extent & for however long, the estrangement of friends & loved ones might be one of the results. Emotional turmoil is yet another; baring questions like, 'how can I bear the Christ Within ( the ( Holy Spirit ), when, as the apostle states, 'I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but [ how ] to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will [ to do, ] I do not do; but the evil I will not [ to do, ] that I practice' ( Romans 7: 18 & 19 )?' First of all, when questions like this come to mind, we must realize that the author was writing to address a certain situation, at a specific time in history, We can however, apply this to our current situation as well, for we often find ourselves locked in battle with what might be called the 'Ego'. It is the ego that says, 'I don't care if it's right or wrong!' Also known as 'the Person', the ego says, 'this is what 'I' want; who cares what anyone else wants!' One might call such a person 'selfish'.

It goes without saying that we are all at different stages in 'the Journey: I say 'the Journey', not 'our
Journey', because even though, in a personal sense, we must each ( individually ) walk the path before us, it is really & truly the same Journey. The Journey toward Knowing. Knowing ourselves, finding our purpose in Life, the Purpose of it All, really! 'Why are we here?' 'Why must we endure evil?' 'Why do we keep making the same mistakes over & over?' 'What is the point of it all?' When we begin to realize that we shape our own destiny by the choices that we make, the struggle begins in earnest. Thoughts like, 'Is God really in control?' begin to surface. We ( personally ) are tempted to think, 'Well, if God was really in control, evil wouldn't exist!'

But Evil does 'exist'; so how do we rectify this conundrum? There's a saying that seems to fit the bill; Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. 
Scripture, on the other hand, says that our Heavenly Father is 'not willing that any should perish' ( II Peter 3:9 ). Aside from the fact that Peter, like Paul earlier, was referring to a certain situation, at a specific time in history, it is said that we have free will; we can choose for ourselves to do this or that, one thing or the other. We know that, in terms of biology, anyway, many have perished since the beginning of Time, so obviously, Peter wasn't referring to mere biology here, just like Paul wasn't. Just like Jesus wasn't when He said, 'whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die' ( John 11:26 ). So, what WERE they referring to? Many people have doubtless ruminated & speculated over this in the past ( most likely still do ), but, when it comes down to it, the answer must be, 'they were referring to our true nature, that, not of the individual ( person ) but of the spiritual ( self /body )'.

Like Epicurus above, the question of whether the Creator God is a loving One, is one that many, including Christians have been asking for centuries on end. On a personal level, even as Paul was quoted earlier, we can see that it is individual choices that manifest the evil we witness in the world. Not simply our own, but the selfish, ego-driven choices that others have made from time immemorial. In making these choices, for 'good' or 'evil', people have shown themselves to be masters of their own destiny. Some have perished, in a personal, biological sense, while others have chosen to live in unity with the (spiritual ) body, knowing that all are from the Source & of the same Essence.

This Essence, whether you call it by its Christian name, or 'The Great Spirit', 'the Creator', 'Energy', or simply 'the Source', is that Divine Essence of which all things exist. It is, therefore, all good! The 'evil' enters in when people ( individuals/persons ) allow their lower ( animal ) nature, or Ego, to rule them. This is not always a bad thing, but relatively speaking, it is construed as good or evil. In other words, what one intends or accomplishes for their own good might be viewed as evil to another ( person). What is 'good' for one may not be 'good' for another; what is 'evil' to one may not be seen as 'evil' to another. The Question of Evil is another that needs reexamining!

'Then why call him God' was the question. If 'He' is truly 'Almighty', as the Scriptures say, then why does 'He' allow evil; why did 'He' give us free will, knowing as 'He' must have, that some ( many ) would use that free will to their own ( selfish ) ends, doing what was right in their own eyes. It is recorded in Scripture that Jesus Himself agreed with the Psalmist ( Psalm 82:6 ), when He said, 'You are gods' ( John 10:34 ). We are gods in the sense that we have the free will to judge for ourselves. Some have used this to their own ( individual ) advantage, while others are content to 'let it be', basking in the Glory that we ARE, as the Image of the Creator God!

Something popular these days is to run a 'detox' ( similar to a 'defrag' ), whether it involves cleaning out one's friendslist on FB or ingesting some kind of more-or-less herbal formula to flush one's system. More often than not, unfortunately, many tend to, after the painful 'flushing', even during it, because of the pain, refill their system with much of the same garbage they just got rid of, or eliminated. Spiritual detoxification often has the same effect; because it's to painful, many tend to return to wallowing in the same pit they took pains to get out of, or else they ignore the fact that it's needed because they foresee the pain it will cause.

Realizing that we ARE gods, masters of our own destiny, personally speaking & further, that we are of a spiritual, not animal, or fleshly, nature, we thus begin to understand the Nature of Evil itself! Evil is not something that some God  ( Person ) out there somewhere ('Heaven'? ) permits, or allows; it is something that WE permit, or allow! A wise man once said, 'the only thing necessary for the triumph of Evil is that good men do nothing': let that sink in! Depending, of course, on the context, one might well ask, 'are they truly good men IF they do nothing?' 'What IS a good man?!

Knowing that there is a Creator God, the Source of All Life, is half the battle, in a manner of speaking. While our spiritual nature just IS ( 'it is what it is' ), we must needs operate in the Person, even with its oft-damning Ego. What we must be careful to observe, as YHWH told Cain, the first biblically recorded murderer, 'its desire is for you, but you should rule over it'  ( Genesis 4:7b ). By ruling over our Ego, rather than letting it rule us ( our actions ), we allow ourselves to BE the Love that we ARE & begin to heal, rather than harm!

Namaste' & May it be!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

An Angry God

What if Jonathan Edwards was right? What if much of the world finds itself on the wrong end of the gun? This sure would go a long way toward explaining what has, heretofore, been unexplainable. Whether you give credence to conspiracy theories about alien abductions or not, it is hard to argue with the facts. Bad things just seem to happen to bad people more often than to good people, though it's not unheard of for bad things to happen to good people. Although much of traditional Christianity has painted a rather bleak landscape for the world at large, maybe there is something to the idea that the One who brought us biological life isn't happy with the way that certain of His/Her/Its/Their Creation has treated other members of the same Creation.

There was talk & in fact, somewhat of a hub-bub this past month, about the return of Planet X, AKA, 'Nibiru'. The theoretical 3600 year elliptical orbit of this as-yet undiscovered 'planet' has been the impetus of some conspiracy theorist's claims that the collision of this 'planet' with our Earth, at that time slightly larger & called 'Tiamat', was the biblical genesis of Life as we know it. Zecharia Sitchin is the main & most well-known proponent & progenitor of this seemingly 'outlandish' theory. If indeed this mysterious 'planet X' is out there, as ancient Sumerian texts seem to point to, according to Sitchin, then much of what we know about this marvelous universe might have a better explanation & much of what is beyond our grasp, what we can only speculate about right now, might be within our grasp: imagine that!

The Story of Genesis Creation has been rumored to reveal, first, a heavens & earth in the midst of chaos. Before we go any further, we must remember that, in the beginning [ there were ] no chapter & verse divisions. Secondly, then, Elohim ( for that is the Hebrew word used here ) brought order to this creation that was 'formless and void', thereby making it hospitable for human population. The Hebrew Scriptures then seem to make this Creator God something of a tyrant, luring His first subjects into a test that not many ( if any ) 'children' would pass, much less with flying colors. On top of that, there are numerous instances that scoffers love to quote, wherein this God, or YHWH, seems to, almost pettily, demand instant retribution for any offense. One of the more famous ( or is that 'infamous'? ) is when a member of the victorious returning Israelite army is struck down simply for touching something YHWH had said was untouchable: you can read the story in II Samuel 6.

The so-called 'New Testament', or the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, seem to present us with a kinder, gentler God. You may have heard the saying; 'the New is within the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed'; although the terms 'New' & 'Old' maybe should not be used thusly, this statement is true in that the Hebrew Scriptures do foreshadow what was written after, most notably, the Gospel of the Jewish Messiah. Whether one takes under consideration the theory put forward by some, that the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, for example, was orchestrated to relieve the Roman Emperor of his guilt, it should be clear that, from the beginning, this Jewish Messiah was promised & pre-figured in types & shadows throughout the so-called 'Old Testament', the Hebrew Scriptures.

Did Jesus calm His Father down when He came on the scene, as some have supposed, rather simplistically? The Creator God, or Elohim ( plural ) of the Hebrew Scriptures was almost undeniably blood-thirsty; just like many of the gods of the surrounding nations, this God seemed to be appeased by the shedding of innocent blood, though, unlike those other gods, He allowed for the innocent blood to come from an animal rather than a human. However, also foreshadowed in the Hebrew Scriptures ( Genesis 22 ), Jesus, as the Son of Man, fully human, yet fully God, according to the Creeds, sheds His own innocent blood to appease the justice of an angry God.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus labored to show His brethren that they had sadly miscalculated, not simply the true meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures, but the true nature of the Hebrew ( Creator ) God Himself. Even if the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures are purely metaphorical in nature, as some suggest, it must be said that, just as prophesied, the One promised from the beginning ( Genesis 3:15 ) was revealed to be the very Son of the Creator God. As the Son of God, in very fact, the Creator God Himself ( John 1:1-3 ), Jesus rose from the grave, thus drawing all men to Himself, in essence, showing them that they too could become as He was!

In the Hebrew Scriptures, Yahweh Himself proclaims, 'You are gods' ( Psalm 82:6 )! First of all, yes; in context, these words were written to the ( spiritual ) leaders of the Jewish, or Hebrew nation & secondly, Yahweh used a small 'g' rather than the large 'G' He reserved for Himself, right?! Well, actually, given the fact that 'He' used the same Hebrew 'elohiym' in both cases, I think it's safe to say the small 'g' versus large 'G' division is man-made & should therefore be put to rest.

'If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came', in the words of Jesus ( John 10:34 ), why do we find  it so hard to believe that we, like Jesus, are judges of the earth & Sons & Daughters of the Creator God in our own right: Jesus also said, don't forget, that those who followed Him would do 'greater things' ( John 14:12 )!

So, according to theory, notably, Zecharia Sitchin's, we are likely the product of some kind of genetic engineering: whether or not this is true, or even conscionable; it is clear that this marvelous biology was created & not just created, but designed by an intelligence beyond our human understanding! Even if the Creator God used lesser gods like the Anunnaki to engineer us, though that does seem rather far-fetched to most of us, would that really detract from the glorious fact that we were created thus? Because we are the products of Intelligent Design, we should know to treat others with the respect they deserve! Unfortunately, we do not, so the earth itself rumbles with her displeasure. Wars & rumors of wars have been almost a matter of fact on this planet for thousands of years. Still, we do not learn our lesson & so must keep repeating the same mistakes over & over again, seemingly, till we drive them into our thick skulls!

A Great Awakening is occurring as we speak! No, actually, maybe 'awareness' is a better way to put it; yes, more & more people are becoming aware, realizing that we have been bamboozled by centuries of religious indoctrination. Though we shouldn't discard all that we have learned through religion ( lest we 'throw out the baby with the bathwater' ), we are learning that much of what we have been taught as 'Gospel' is not, but is in fact, mere 'doctrines of men'.

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Manifestation of the Person

'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.'

In this life, on this earth, this mortal dimension, we operate through the person, there's just no escaping this glorious, though often laborious fact! How we choose to operate IN the person, though, usually determines the outcome. I say 'usually', because, without fail, there ARE those who make the choice to operate totally in the person & thus make choices that might not be favorable in the outcome, at least not immediately. Here again, however, the ball returns to our court, almost without exception, for WE still have a choice as to how we face that difficulty. When we rule over our person though, it becomes no difficulty at all, but simply another chance to prove our mettle, to refine our silver & gold, if you will!

We are not the Source, but we are One with it; therefore we are pure Love, just as the Source is Pure Love! By 'Pure Love', biblically speaking, I mean simply that the Creator God, the Source of all that IS, as our Heavenly Father, like any good father, cares for His children, His Creation. He loves them to such an extent, that though He is not willing that any should perish, He is willing to let them touch the hot stove in order that they may learn for themselves that it hurts like hell! In other words, speaking personally, we have been given the free will to act according to the nature of our humanity, or according to our true nature, which is a Son of God, simply a necessary part of the Whole, or the One.

The choices we all face in this human existence often seem to force us to do things we would not normally do. Let's say that a tree falls on our house while we are away & a neighbor, one operating totally in the person, decides that since the door is ajar, he or she should accept the open & obvious invitation, pillaging whatever is being offered. We return sometime later to find that several of our possessions are missing & the door is wide open. What do we do? We have a good idea of the person or persons responsible. Do we immediately call the cops in, or even worse, take it upon ourselves to seek vengeance?

Operating totally in the person, we might be tempted to at least call the cops, letting them respond to this dastardly act, or we could immediately blow our top, run fumingly next door, or wherever we know the perpetrator lives & by force, if necessary, extract our goods, leaving a bloody pulp that will  wish they had never touched our precious possessions! Another scenario is that we would calmly & collectively seek out this individual, whoever he or she might be & calmly negotiate the safe return of said personal goods, if we even want them back. This scenario, however, is much less likely!

Understanding that we are Love personified makes all the difference in the world! 'When life hands you lemons', it is said, 'make lemonade'. In other words, as we can all attest to, in one way or another, our choices determine our existence. Whether it's a tree falling on our house, getting mugged one night outside the movie theater, or death in the family; how we react to any & I mean ANY given situation, proves to any outside observer our inner peace or turmoil ( re. 'confusion' ). We may choose to make lemonade, letting whatever might seeks to trouble us slide away like water off a duck's back, or we may choose to let it become a seed of dissension within us, allowing it to disrupt our relatively peaceful existence.

There can be no doubt that we are in this biology, for good or evil! However, as we have seen & bear witness to on a daily basis, when we dwell in the Source, as the Source dwells in our biological bodies, the choice, if indeed there is a choice, remains clear & constant. Love is ALL! Anything else is simply Illusion. O sure, it seems real enough & surely, in some sense it is, but when we are operating  from the True Self, or from the Source, everything seems fade into the foreground & we realize that the reality is not what happens to the person, the Reality is our Self, who we truly ARE!

The Love that remains, the Love that we ARE, is hard to explain; there truly ARE no words! In this biology, we may choose to exhibit ( manifest ) that Love or not, but the fact remains, in all its glory, that we ARE Love. The Creator God, the Source of all that IS, bore us in His/Her Image; we have no choice but to be who we ARE. However, as we've seen, we  can choose to remain ignorant of our Being, or stifle it through the exercise of our Person, to the extent that the Person, rather than the Self, or Being, seems to be the Reality. Returning to the Source clears the cobwebs of confusion, though & allows the Pure, Healing Light of Love to shine in & through us!

Operating THROUGH the Person is inescapable; in fact, it is an absolute necessity! In order to shine our Light in this world, we must take full advantage of this biology; we must prove, through our choices, that we ARE who we ARE. In Reality, you might say there's no choice about it, for if we simply allow ourselves to BE, we WILL BE! To simply BE, one must, as the Scriptures say, 'Be still'. This is harder than it sounds. To simply 'let it go', as seems a popular mantra today, is really not as easy as it sounds: on the other hand, though, it IS! To simply 'let it go', one must realize, first of all, WHO they really are & secondly, that it's ALL good; whatever happens in this life, in this existence, doesn't REALLY change ANYTHING: what matters is WHO we ARE; once we have that straight, the rest will fall into line!

But don't believe me, for God's sake; just DO it & see what dreams may come!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Voice of the Serpent

You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
Genesis 3:4 & 5

So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."
Genesis 4:6 & 7

Especially in this Day & Age with the sometimes questionable wonders of Technology, it is difficult to prove beyond all shadow of a doubt to anybody, even oneself, that there IS no supernaturally evil spirit-being named Satan. Scripture DOES say, 'your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' ( I Peter 5:8 ), but firstly ( lets make no bones about it ), Peter DID say, 'the devil', not 'Satan'. This may seem like small potatoes, nut I'm pretty sure if he had meant 'Satan', he would have said that. Secondly, Peter was accustomed to using metaphor & allegory to describe certain people or situations, for example, the only other place in the Greek Scriptures where we hear of someone ( or group of someones ) is when Jesus said ( to the Pharisees ), 'you devour widows’ houses' ( Matthew 23:14 ) Thirdly, while it is true that there is no doubt a certain spirit of wickedness behind all that is wrong in the world today, in fact, the same spirit of wickedness that the apostle warned against, it is by no means clear that this spirit is invested in one personification of evil, the mythical fallen angel we like to call Satan! 

Some may be led to wonder, 'if there's no 'Satan' to make us do bad things, maybe there's no 'God' to make us ( want to ) do good things'. In other words, if we can't say 'the devil made me do it', anymore, then maybe instead of looking to the heavens for assistance in doing good, we should just make the choice to do rightly, not wrongly, one thing rather than the other. This is not to say that our Heavenly Father does not hear our prayers or even that we shouldn't communicate with Him on a regular basis, just that we have the ability within us to choose one or the other, like Cain above. We can rule over our emotions, our Ego, or we can allow them to rule over us, in essence, to control our actions.

In the mythical & highly metaphorical Story of the Garden of Eden, the Fall of Adam & Eve  in particular, we read about a 'serpent', wiser than all the ( other ) animals, who tempted mankind with Divinity, or the ability to judge, or choose for themselves between right & wrong. As the Story goes, of course, A & E choose wrongly, to disobey the Creator God. The Story of Israel then follows this pattern, with good & bad decisions being made, thus revealing to us within the pages of Scripture a sort of comedy of errors.

Dante's 'Divine Comedy' is allegorical, as you can read in this Wikipedia article, of 'the soul's journey towards God', As you read  this poem, whether or not you agree with Dante's obvious Catholic leanings,  it is obvious that Dante' himself understood that it is through the choices we make that we wind up in  'Heaven' or 'Hell'. One can even understood this human existence as a sort of 'Purgatory', though rather than viewing as a preparation for 'Heaven' or 'Hell', we might rather see it as a purging experience, not in preparation for 'Heaven', but as 'Fit Vessels for the Master', or 'Heaven' itself!

Following the Story of his parent's Fall, or failure, Cain faced his own test, in which, because of his prevailing attitude, he, like his parents before him, failed miserably..His Story may be read as an allegory of the choices that we all face in life. When faced with whatever situation life may through at us, we can listen to our Ego, which says ( selfishly ), 'I'll do to him like he ( or she ) did to me', or we can listen to our Higher Self & treat others like we want to be treated, realizing that there is no other, that we are ALL the Image of God; thus by loving our neighbor as ourself, we are acknowledge that our neighbor IS ourself, that we are One!

Through the choices that we make, we show ourselves to be the masters of our own destiny, whether for good or evil, as the 'gods' ( Psalm 82:6 ( John 10:34 ) that Scripture itself says we are, or our own worst 'adversary'. By bowing to our Ego, by letting our emotions or feelings determine our actions ( reactions ), we become a 'devil' in the truest sense of the word. By seeking our Higher Self, though, not listening to The Voice of the Serpent, or the Ego & controlling our emotions rather than letting them control us, we show ourselves to be 'gods'!

In this sense, then & only in this sense, 'Satan is Alive & Well on Planet Earth'! As the spirit of adversity, the Ego sometimes seems to reign supreme, especially if you watch the news. The Story of the Day, though, with the recent disasters in Houston, the Caribbean & even the Keys of Florida, we are hearing, bad news, yes, but good news as well, of people overcoming their own personal feelings & coming to the aid of their fellow man. This lends hope to the future, as people love their neighbor simply because they need it!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Calming the Storm

For the second time this month, a major hurricane has blown through the Caribbean Sea, devastating much of what we know as the Virgin Islands. First was Irma, with wind-speeds reaching almost Category Six ( 185+ mph ), then a bit later, Maria showed up, not quite as savagely, but still fairly destructive. Of course, the Virgin Islands were not the only islands affected by these storms, including Jose, but the Virgin Islands, in particular the island of St. Thomas, are perhaps closest to my heart & the hearts of certain of my readers, for you see, I have family down there. You may have heard that at least one of the British Virgin Isles was almost totally decimated. The Island of Puerto Rico suffered major damage to its power grid, leaving its 3.5 million inhabitants without power. Whether or not my readers have family down there, it is safe to say our heart goes out to all involved!

If one remembers Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 made landfall, most notably, in what is called by some, 'Sin City', or New Orleans, Louisiana, one might also remember that, in certain circles, it was murmured, if not blatantly broadcasted, that it was the judgment of God! Whether it was the just judgment of a jealous God or not, Christians & non-Christians alike came together to aid in the relief effort, helping both to clean up & rebuild. Much the same is happening in the Caribbean, though maybe not quite to the same scale, at least not yet. Say what you will, then, about 'natural disasters, such as these, one thing about them, they seem to make barriers fade away, at least for the time being & by showing them what's truly important, bringing people together in a mutual cause.

At times like this, it's difficult to remain calm, especially if one's in the midst of the storm, but even if you're thousands of miles away from the epicenter. Of course. as Christians especially, we know that our God & Father holds each of us in the Palm of His Hand. However, we also know this doesn't mean that our body, not to mention, material possessions, won't be battered by the storm or suffer damage, to whatever extent. The prayers of the faithful, especially in times like this, seem to erupt, with fervent pleas to keep so & so safe from harm. When so & so remains safe, having weathered the storm, the prayers turn to joyous shouts of praise to a God that answers prayer. Such is not always the case, however, for in certain other storms of life, such as cancer or some other disease, those same fervent prayers seem to go unanswered!

'Why', one may well ask, 'does a just & loving God help some & allow others to be overcome by their own personal storm?' Does the one who succumbs to whatever malady afflicts him or her not deserve to live, or did the prayer simply not have the necessary faith behind it? Maybe it WAS the Will of God for that person to suffer harm! Maybe He allowed it to happen in order to bring people together in a relief effort, people who might not ordinarily give each other the time of day. On the other hand, though, maybe it's up to us to make sure the bodies we have been given stand the test of time & weather the storms of life. The Creator God imbued us with the wisdom, again, to whatever extent, to stay out of the path of danger or weather the storms of life. Sometimes, yes, it IS unavoidable, such as finding oneself & loved ones in the eye of the storm, as it were, but even then, with the means at our disposal, we can ensure a better chance of survival than if we simply did nothing but fall on our knees, wringing our hands & hearts as if we did not possess the wherewithal to protect ourselves!

This is not to say that prayer is useless! The Creator God is our Father & when His Children beseech Him, like any father, He hears our prayers. He has, however, endowed us with a certain power of our own, not separate from His Power, one must understand, but still one which enables us to choose our own destiny! 'Will we stand or fall; will we weather this storm, or will we be engulfed by it?' While much of the storms that pass our way are, as far as we can tell, unavoidable, others land squarely within the realm of personal choice. Certain decisions we make, as opposed to others, may place us more or less in the path of danger. Even in the path of the storm, certain choices we make might determine our relative safety in the midst of that storm. When faced with such gale-force winds & rains, the difference between living or dying might be as simple as taking the precaution of 'battening down the hatches'. On the other hand, though, it might not matter how tight we 'batten' them, the storm may prevail. After all, though the storms of life may kill this body, they can do nothing against our true selves!

Though my readers may agree, to some extent, that we have a soul, or spirit, some may have a difficult time in understanding that we are not our body! Much importance has been placed upon this biology & for good reason; however, we are more than this biology. The importance of our physicality, in the grand scheme of things especially, cannot be denied; though without the indomitable spirit, it will not survive. The Strength of our Spirit may determine whether our biology weathers the storms of life or not, but one thing is sure, even if this physicality fails the test, we will persevere!

Everything happens for a reason; as the saying goes, 'when God closes a window, He opens a door'. We hate to think of our time on this planet being cut short, but, whether due to personal carelessness or  to the nature of the storm, though our physical body may not weather the storm, our Spirit, of the same Essence as the Spirit of Life, will go on. What happens after, what dreams may come, so to speak, may be up in the air. but one thing is sure, life will go on!

Having friends or family in the path of these storms, whether it be a hurricane or a fire, as is one of the dangers in Montana, where my biology currently resides, it is difficult to hear of their troubles & not share their concerns, even their worries. However, we know that, in whatever form, the storms of life will come to test our mettle & not just the mettle of this biology; the Strength of our Spirit will be tested as well, for without the Spirit, there IS no biological life!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Meaning of Life, Continued

'Life begins at conception!'

Or does it?

First, one might question, 'what is life?' The pro-life mantra quoted above seems to be predicated on the assumption that life is biological existence. If life is more than biological existence, though, which most would probably admit to, however grudgingly, does this life begin when the spirit enters the body, or does it exist before the spirit enters the body? When does the spirit come to be? On the other end of the spectrum, what happens to the spirit when biological life ceases? Does life cease, or does the spirit persevere? Many questions could doubtless be asked when it comes to the nature of life itself, but maybe the most nagging one, staring us all in the face, is, 'if we are more than this body, why do we focus so much on this physical existence; why do we cling to this biology so fervently?'

A long time ago, I was asked what the meaning of life was. Being steeped in religiosity as I was at the time, I responded simply with, 'Jesus is the meaning of life!' Looking back on that statement, some twenty or twenty-five years ago, I can still say that, though I have come to realize that there is more to it than I thought at the time! Jesus, as the Son of God, was raised to the Life of the Spirit, which we all can now share, through the realization of the Christ, or Chrism Within.

'Life goes on!' Most times, when this, or a similar statement is uttered, the speaker is most likely thinking that though it has ceased for one individual, it perseveres for another, or others. While this is true in a sense, that ones biological life, or existence in the body they inhabited up until that time is over, whether one believes in reincarnation or not, life continues on for that one, either in the Spirit, or in a new body. By 'a new body', I simply mean another ( biological ) manifestation of the Spirit Within, that Divine Spark that moves us all.

It is without question that we are more than this biology! Whether one goes to Scripture to prove this or not ( which I have previously done ), it cannot be denied that there is a Spirit that controls our every movement. This Spirit Within enables us to choose. Depending on our choice, we may observe which nature has control, if only for the moment. If we choose rightly, according to the Spirit Within, then we may know that we are acting from our True Nature, which is from Above, our Higher Self & if we choose wrongly, which we often do, we perceive that we are acting from our base, or animal nature, that which is from Below, our lower self. For instance, most often when we instinctively react to what we perceive as wrong-doing ( usually against our self ), we end up perpetuating the wrong-doing. However, when we act out of love, rather than waiting for the other to act, it is evident that we have, through whatever means & to whatever extent, realized our True Nature & are acting from it!

Our True Nature, like the True Nature of Life itself, is Spiritual! Any motion of this biological machine, however involuntary we may perceive it as being, must begin in our Spirit, or it will not happen, for it is the Spirit that gives Life.  Some may choose to disagree over the veracity of the former statement, but none, Scripturally speaking, can disagree with the latter! One must choose, whether consciously or unconsciously, with the Higher or lower mind, to do this or that, one thing or the other, before any action can be manifested by the physical body.

Put simply, Love is the meaning of Life! Our actions, when motivated by Love, come from our True Nature, which, like the Creator God's, IS Love. One may act in kind, for good or evil, but this is simply a reaction; when one acts in love, no matter the action of the other, this is truly our Higher Nature shining through! This biology is the manifestation of the Spirit Within; if we allow our lower, animal nature, to control our actions, then our biology will be subjected to many forms of dis-ease, but ( this is a hard pill to swallow ) when our Higher Nature, our True Self, dictates what we do or say, then we will find that our physical bodies will be relieved of much if not all that seems to plague them! As is said a lot in this world, 'easier said than done', but when we do act from our Higher Consciousness, we do find ourselves feeling a lot better; this wellness then manifests in our physical bodies.

Scripture tells us that when our biological body dies, it returns to the substance of which it was formed & 'the spirit will return to God who gave it' ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ). Whether one believes this or not, it is unclear what happens after this. Does the Spirit remain in a disembodied state, in 'the Glory Cloud', so to speak, or are we given a second chance to right the wrongs we have done in the past? Is it possible that, as spirit beings having a physical experience, we are allowed ( to infinity? ) more than one chance to live in this biology, to learn to act according to the Love that we ARE, rather than reacting according to our animal nature, instinctively doing what our base human nature tells us is right?

Religion, at least the prominent Western ones ( even some Near Eastern ones ) tells us that we have but one life to live, then it's off to one or the other 'place', Heaven or Hell, for all of Eternity. Though there are many who persevere in this belief, we know that this is not so, that both Heaven & Hell, at least as classically described, are but states of existence. One chooses, whether consciously or unconsciously, to live in either state of existence, for both are here & now!

In conclusion then, to act from the Higher Mind, the Spirit Within, is simply to BE; reacting to the other ( person ) is to be controlled by our lower mind, our base ( animal ) nature. Realizing that we are of the same Essence as our neighbor, we know that, despite our differences in physiology & psychology, we are ultimately One & the Same. In this sense then, we might well be observed to act in Love towards ourselves when we cease reacting toward others! Is this not what Jesus had in mind when He said, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' ( Matthew 19:19 ( Leviticus 19:18 )?

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, September 08, 2017

Spiritual Detox

For the longest time, the Catholic Church taught that the Earth was flat, then Galileo came along & turned the world on its edge, so to speak! Now, thanks to Science & Technology, it's widely accepted that the earth is a globe, moving in a rotation around a central Sun. It was also accepted as fact that the Earth was at the center of the universe & that everything revolved around it.

Where did these crazy ideas come from & why would the Church ( Catholic ) teach them as dogma? Strangely enough, even today, some people read the Bible & perceive these outlandish notions as well! As to why this was taught so dogmatically for centuries, my readers may judge for themselves, but one might wonder if it had to do with controlling the masses. If the Earth is flat, as was largely thought in Columbus' day, fear of falling off the edge of the Earth might keep explorers from going too far. If everything revolved around us, or the Earth, then that might, again, instill fear of outside influence, fear that we might not be as important in the grand scheme of things as we'd like to think!

The very idea that the universal destruction language of Scripture, especially from the Revelation, might not be speaking of the destruction of the universe is ridiculous to many, but to some others, it is beyond clear that those Scriptures were speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem & the Temple in AD70. The end of the reign of terror, or, 'ministry of death', as the apostle Paul called it ( II Corinthians 3:7 ), was, according to a relatively 'new' paradigm, what is in view in the Scriptures. If the Scriptures were written merely about the Beginning & End of an era, then what have we to fear? Falling into the hands of an Angry God doesn't quite have the same effect, now does it?!

The Plan of Salvation, as laid out most notably in the apostle's Letter to the Romans, is another doctrine that has been weakened by this paradigm-shift! Since 'preterism' ( the belief that all prophecy in Scripture was fulfilled in the 1st century ) has been gaining in popularity over the past few decades, many adherents have noted that this 'Plan' also referred to the redemption of that certain priesthood, not to humanity as a whole. Paradigm-shifts like this have been going on for centuries , but disturbing the well-established 'Plan of Salvation', veering off 'the Romans Road', so to to speak, may be the most severe!

The Salvation of individuals has been the most active mission of the Church ( Catholic ) for centuries. It has spurred world-wide evangelism & has been much of the impetus behind denominationalism, because, well, 'those guys just don't have it right!' The idea that people are headed for either 'Heaven' or 'Hell' has influenced many, out of fear instilled by sermons such as Jonathan Edwards' 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God', to join the Church & fill their coffers so they could go to the right 'place' when their physical bodies ceased to function.

The Gnostics, who taught that, put simply, we are spirit beings having a physical experience, were condemned as heretics & their teachings were largely down-played by the Catholic Church.One example that I noted in the Wikipedia article ( see 'Historical Jesus' ) on Gnosticism was that the Gnostic Gospels tended to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven, here & now, while the canonical Gospels focused on the end times. What better way to instill fear & assert control than by telling the ignorant masses that the world was going to end soon & they had better join the Catholic Church or end up in fiery torments for Eternity?

Much unnecessary pain & suffering has been caused over the past number of centuries, even millenia, because of dogma like this! Fear is a great instigator & through it, the huddled masses were kept under control for many years, although, as we have noted previously, in the past few decades, this chain of iron has begun to unravel, allowing its former captives to break free, further exploring the Creation & most importantly, the Relationship between Creator & Creation. Fear of what may happen has caused many to go to war over differences of doctrine, or belief. The Inquisition & the Crusades may be the most famous ( or is that 'infamous'? ) examples of what may result from the propagation of this fear.

In much of the Church today, we may note that this impetus is in full force, though, thank God, it is ever weakening! The latest exodus from the Church is an indication of this. With the fear of going to 'Hell' when you die taken out of the way, one is freed to focus on living in the Kingdom ( here & now ), rather than preparing souls for the after-life. In like manner, with no fear of falling off the edge of the world, Columbus opened the channel for us to inhabit the land where we now live. Although Galileo was persecuted for his daring explorations, it is now a matter of fact that he was right. All these advances saw their greatest manifestation in the natural world, but they began, as all paradigm shifts must, with a sort of spiritual detoxification, wherein one begins to see that all is not as was previously thought, but that much, if not all that the Catholic Church dogmatically taught, can & must be re-examined, if not completely discarded!

As we continue this spiritual detoxification process today, it is manifestly clear that, due largely to the fact that we have been so indoctrinated, much pain & suffering is to come. This pain & suffering,. though, is necessary. As it is written, 'No pain, no gain'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sarah's Destiny

After half a century, she should've been used to it! Still, though, this time when it happened, Sarah felt the same thing she had when it first occurred to her. She'd felt a sense of destiny when she became aware & even though she'd felt it many times before, when the celebration of her twenty-fifth year in this incarnation came around, the same feeling came over her, a feeling of complete & utter peace, with just the slightest bit of apprehension.

Jim & Sharon were still her housemates, because, unlike some parents, Sarah's were not the sort that would push their child out the door on or before their 18th birthday. Plus, as we all know, Sarah was special. No, not 'special ed'! From day one, Sarah had proved to the world that she was special, first, by how alert & aware she was, then soon after, manifesting an unusually fast adaption to this brave new world, vocalizing with an impressively large vocabulary, well before she learned to walk ( that followed soon thereafter )! For all that most people knew, Sarah was a Weatherbey, but for those who had known her mother, she was Destiny all over again!

The Weatherbeys were pretty used to having Sarah around now, with her 'special' abilities. The fact that she had never been a 'normal' child had followed Sarah into the normally rebellious teens & then, into adulthood. Of course, most observers would probably note that she was a functioning adult way before she even hit puberty! Then again, Jim & Sharon weren't your 'normal' parents, either; they believed that, rather than acting out, Sarah was just voicing her frustration, so instead of cracking the whip; laying down the law, so to speak, they treated her, not as a petulant child that needed strict discipline, but as a fellow human being who just wanted to be heard. And listen they did!

When, on the 18th celebration of her current life, Sarah had decided to get a tattoo, instead of blowing up at her because she didn't get their permission, Jim & Sharon simply accepted the fact that Sarah was expressing herself in an artistic manner. When she told them that she made sure the inks were all natural & that no chemicals had been used, they were all the more accepting, relieved & proud of this niece who had become their precious daughter. Asked why she didn't say anything to them before taking the leap, Sarah simply replied, 'I knew you'd be okay with it!'

Another time that Sarah's sometimes precocious bent had surfaced was a bit earlier when she had decided to try to find her father's parents. Christopher's parents had barely known about their granddaughter before she disappeared from their lives, so when Sarah voiced her intention to travel across the country to find them, even though she was barely in the 8th year of this life, Jim & Sharon listened to their young daughter. Plans immediately began to manifest, plans which involved Sharon taking a short vacation, during which she & Sarah would endeavor to locate Christopher's parents.

Finding them was no easy task, for, as far as that went, he & Destiny had borne similar stories. Sarah & Sharon eventually found them on their last day before they were to fly back. Although the reunion went well, Chris' parents were unsure quite what to think of this little adult in a child's body, although they couldn't help but love her at first sight. After they had gotten to know her, however, they felt like they had been given a second chance to get to know their son's wife. Bill & Donna had never been very happy about their son marrying this tattooed 'wild-child' from back East & when Chris had announced his intentions to them, they were very quick to voice that unhappiness. One might say indeed that they forced Chris & Destiny to elope!

Sarah was not what might be called 'the perfect child'; she did her own thing, even when it flew in the face of convention & tradition! She was precocious & honestly, how could you say 'no' to that sweet face with the ever-smiling eyes? Jim sure had his hands full when Sarah hit puberty! No, not in trying to protect his daughter from the proposed ravages of every young boy or man she might encounter; he found himself in almost full-time employment protecting them from her! Although Sarah knew how to protect her physical body well enough, it was her astounding mental capacity & ability that flummoxed any erstwhile suitor.

So when Bill & Donna showed up on their doorstep on the eve of Sarah's 25th celebration, Jim & Sharon were pleasantly surprised & extremely happy for their daughter. Sarah's grandparents were actually quite nice, having recovered quite nicely from the shock of meeting their 'special' granddaughter all those years ago. Sarah was ecstatic to greet them, they being the only grandparents she had ever known, so though they hiccuped for a split second when they saw this 'wild-child' with her tattoos ( you can't stop at just one! ), they embraced heartily & gladly.

Being the kind of parents they were, Jim & Sharon offered up their spare bedroom to Bill & Donna, who though they had already set themselves up in a motel, gladly accepted the opportunity to get to know their precious granddaughter better. Sarah ended up doing most of the talking, which was fine with her, because she had plenty to say. For much of their late-night sessions, which often spilled into the wee hours of the morning, Bill & Donna were content to sit back, listening & watching in pure astonishment at the exploits of their amazing granddaughter.

Sarah had never felt more sure of anything in her life! When Bill & Donna finally made ready for their departure, they, as well as Jim & Sharon were floored as Sarah announced her plans to join them on their journey. 'You knew this day was coming!' Sarah told them through her own tears. 'Yes', her parents said, almost in unison, 'but not so soon, or so far away!' 'It'll be a new vacation spot', she laughingly threw behind her as she bounded up the stairs to gather her own, already-prepared luggage.


Do we have but one life to live, or might we have numerous chances? Some might say that this is it & when this biology perishes, we'll spend Eternity in some far off Bliss, but what if we can have that Bliss right now? We all make choices & while it may often seem that those choices are irrevocable, there's always a second chance, if only we're willing to take it. Second chances are always there for the taking, as long as others are willing to give them, but even when it seems there's not a ghost of a chance, one seems to come shining through!

Destiny's Saga will go on, as does all life, though it will most certainly be a different path than 'normal'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, August 27, 2017

'O My Goddess!' : The Divine Feminine

Azna-Mother Goddess

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. 
The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, 
“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”[c]
Luke 1:26-29

According to the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 127:3, 'children [ are ] a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb [ is ] a reward
'. While this is abundantly clear, the glaring fact of the matter is that, without women, there would be no children! For that matter, the same could be said of men, as well, but this blogpost is about 'the divine feminine', not 'the divine masculine'. As important as are the roles of both in the formation of children in the womb, the Mother bears the greater glory, perhaps, for though without the Seed there would be no conception & thus no birth, the woman alone has a Womb to carry the Child, which is essential in its formation.

Before we progress any further, we should clarify that this biology only serves to house humanity! This is not to say, as some have accused, that, as the Gnostics said, 'the body is a prison for the soul'., for though we know that the Divine Spark, which is present in each one of the Creator's 'children', is our true nature, this biology serves as the Creator's Hands & Feet, so to speak. When children, male or female, are born into this world, therefore, it should be clear that those physical bodies are only the manifestation of the Spirit Within.

The most famous & glorified Mother, Scripturally speaking, which is accepted by most, if not all Christians, is Mary the Mother of Jesus. As the Story goes ( read the first chapters of Matthew & Luke here ), Mary conceived as a virgin, without being intimate with a man. The Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin Mary, as the Story goes & She conceived within Her Womb the Christ-Child. Having written on this subject before, we will go no further here than to say that it is entirely possible for a Spirit being to impregnate a human female. That being said; Mary is henceforth venerated for Her role in bringing to bear Jesus, whom we acknowledge was the God-man, the Word made flesh.

Since ancient times & even in some cultures today, Goddesses are worshiped in their various roles 
( anything from the Goddess of Fertility to the Goddess of War ): every ancient culture, even Western ( Pagan ) ones, had their varied Gods & Goddesses. These Deities, while based in fact, were simply different aspects of what these cultures perceived. We may liken it to the story of four blind ( East ) Indians describing an elephant. Each felt a different part of the animal, so thus, each one had a different perception of what an elephant is. This Story resonates with ours, for though our perceptions may differ, yet there is One Creator God & it is Him ( or Her ) that we worship with our bodies.

It was said by Jesus Himself, quoting the Psalmist ( Psalm 82:6 ), 'You [ are ] gods,[b] and all of you [ are ] children of the Most High': this has been a matter of some contention, with most Christians simply saying things like, 'well, we may be gods, but we are not Gods ( like the capitol letter is reserved for the Creator God alone ), but for some reason, the Hebrew word transliterated ''elohiym' is used in both cases, for mere men & for the Creator God.  In context, these men that the Psalmist declared 'gods' were the judges of Israel, but are we not all judges? Do we not all judge for ourselves, whether we lean upon some book or not, what is right & what is wrong? As Jesus said next, in response to the Pharisees' charge, 'If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?' ( John 10:35 & 36 ) In much the same way, we, as Spirit beings, of One Essence with the Creator God, are sent into this world to inhabit this biology, to be His Hands & Feet!

The Gnostics, whatever may be said for or against them, were not all right, but neither were they all wrong! That we are Spirit Beings, of One Essence with the Spirit who is the Creator God, they had right, but that those Spirits, or that Spirit, maybe more correctly, is trapped, against its will, in this biology does not resonate very well with what we know, or at least, think we know. One aspect of Gnosticism that resonates well is the old maxim, 'know thyself'. It is in knowing ourselves that we are able to evolve, or adapt to pretty much any given situation!

The many different aspects of the Creator God were well-observed by the ancient Pagans, though they were attributed, for the most part, to individual Gods & Goddesses. In the Ancient Near East, as well as in the Far East, the case was pretty much the same, with tribal gods ruling the day. The Creator God, according to the History of Israel, which we read in our modern Bibles, was revealed to His Creation through the unfolding of said history, yet there are Stories told & written more ancient then Israel. All these Stories, though they differ in the telling because of the various cultures, yet venerate the women, usually one woman in particular, as the Goddess who brought the Savior into the world of men!

The Sacred Womb, though not the only necessity in child-bearing, is perhaps the most basic. Not being a scientist by any means, I cannot say with any real authority what all transpires in a woman's body as she bears the child for those 9 months, but safe to say that with the Womb, or the Divine Feminine, the Seed would not get very far!

Children surely are a blessing from the Lord of Heaven! It is through them our name is perpetuated; they carry on the work that we've begun, much as we ourselves carry on the work that Jesus the Christ began. Through the same Spirit that enabled Him, along with the Divine Feminine, these mortal bodies are enabled to greater works than He did!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dis-Ease & the Breakdown of Society

Right now, in this nation of ours, arguably the biggest news story is one coming from my home-state of Virginia. Very near to the heart of Virginia, Charlottesville has been rocked of late by the proposed removal of a statue or statures commemorating the venerable but horrifying history of these United States, but the South in particular. I will freely acknowledge that I have not done my research. I do not know the extent of the damage that has been done ( maybe still going on ), nor do I know any particulars. Nor do I really care to know! This is not to say that the deaths ( on either side ) does not concern me, or that the wanton violence does not disturb me in the least. As far as I'm concerned & I will say no more ( about Charlottesville ), it only goes to prove that violence, no matter how 'righteous' the cause, only breeds more violence!

In any society where human beings are involved, 'we're gonna have a problem'; it's inescapable! this one wants that & the other wants this. Recent events bare ample witness to this fact, but it's not only in recent history that we have noted this. Ever since the inception of our beloved nation, there have been battles waged, whether actually or metaphorically, in the bedrooms, boardrooms & on the battlefields of this great country. Some will say that all this fighting & warring was necessary, 'for the greater good', one might say, but was it really? If, rather than armed rebellion against England, the men & women who birthed this nation had decided to peacefully protest, even though they lost their livelihoods, even their lives, in the process, maybe we would not be experiencing the levels of violence we are currently bearing witness to & have witnessed in the past 200+ years!

Fear Factor is the biggest business in this nation of ours! Whether it's politics or religion, it just makes sense; if you want to control a populace, Fear is your greatest weapon. How do you think Hitler was able to trample all over those touted six million Jews with only a ( relatively ) few soldiers? Fear is the root cause of much hatred, anxiety & indecision. In our minds, we might, when faced with a decision, a judgment call, in other words, immediately rehearse all the possible scenarios our decision might engender & so we may end up doing the wrong thing or nothing at all, simply out of fear of the unknown.

Fear controls the masses! Medically speaking, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest in the world. Much dis-ease is caused by this industry; for example, when the doctor says that one has a certain disease/problem, most people, especially when the so-called 'cure' costs more than they have or can afford, will immediately begin stressing about their situation, which only makes it worse ( 'stress is a killer') & their dis-ease actually becomes worse than it was before.

Along with this problem is the food that we eat. It's almost impossible to truly eat healthy anymore, or at least that's what 'they' want you to think! Either ( again ) there's not enough money to eat healthy all the time, or because 'we just don't have the time or resources'. Because many people don't eat as healthily as they should, this problem intermingles with that of the medical industry, which ultimately rests in the lap of the federal government. The federal government, which is in bed with the pharmaceutical industry, through the USDA & related agencies has, by law ( 'fear', again ) dictated what foods are & aren't healthy, or safe, for the general population to consume.

The government of this nation, which is supposed to be 'of the people, by the people, for the people', seems to have become 'of the weak ( poor ), by the strong ( rich ), for the few ( elite )'! Fear of what might happen if we don't follow the letter of the law has caused much dis-ease as well, among the general populace. This dis-ease, on top of what has already been mentioned, makes this a truly dis-ease-ridden society!

One might wonder at this point, whether there is any way out from under this burden: well, as they say, 'there is a balm in Gilead'! Depending on ones background, maybe, this iconic statement might be taken literally, as in the golden oil produced by the pineal & pituatary glands, or metaphorically, as speaking of the help that comes from Above, from the Christian God, from Enlightenment through Buddha or some other Spiritual Guide.

'Know thyself', a Delphic maxim from ancient times, speaks well to this situation. If more people truly knew themselves, we would not be in the predicament in which we find ourselves! However, because people are taught to fear ( death, taxes, 'fear itself' ) from birth, most have not come to the realization of who they truly are. Our dis-eases largely result, first, from the fact that most are ignorant of what is & is not good for their biological body. The second reason there is so much dis-ease in the world is that many have not yet awakened to the fact that we are not our biology, but merely residents of it. Dis-ease ultimately comes from, is manifested by, our innermost being, our True Self, our Spirit. It is almost incomprehensible to think that simply by healing our innermost being, we could manifest a perfectly healthy biological body, but did not Jesus tell many of His patients, 'your faith has made you well' & 'whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive'?

Fear of the unknown ( ourselves ) causes much unnecessary distress. If more men & women truly knew themselves & thus others, there would be much less war & oppression throughout the world! We can only complete this process within ourselves, for, as another well-known maxim states, 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him ( or her ) drink'. Self-awareness is something we can only do for ourselves; as Morpheus said in the late 90s movie 'The Matrix', 'I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it'. All we can do is be ourselves, educate as we can & BE the Change we wish to see in this world!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Fall as the Story of Israel

And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:9

This is not, or at least, should not be, unfamiliar territory. The Story of the Fall of Adam, repeated throughout Scripture, in one way or another, is very recognizable as one of the themes of the Story of Israel. The History of Israel is plagued with spots, like leprosy, that became a blot, rather than a blessing to the nations. A blot, I say, though it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for through it, through Israel's several captivities ( Exile ) the Gospel, the Good News of the Creator's Love for His Creation, was spread throughout the known world. 

Why did the Creator God even plant the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the Garden, when He should have known, in His omniscience, that Adam & Eve wouldn't be able to keep their hands off of it?' Questions like this have engendered Calvinist & Hyper-Calvinist notions that the Creator God was testing His Creation by placing such a temptation before them. 'Knowing they would disobey Him, the argument might be presented, 'He did this so that He could send His Son to save them from their sin'. This might engender other questions though; questions like, 'why go through all that? Why not just make them perfect in the first place so Jesus didn't have to die? In fact, why not just send Jesus in the first place?'

The fact is, the idea of a talking snake has never set quite right. Sure, there are other stories of animals becoming verbose in Scripture ( well, one other, anyway-Balaam's donkey-Numbers 22 ), but this is not something that is easy for us, especially with our Western mindset, to visualize. With the advent of the Saturday morning cartoon, animals talking with human voices has become a more or less familiar concept, though & so the notion of a snake or donkey talking does not seem so much of a stretch, especially when combined with the constructs that they were, for that time, possessed by a different spirit, whether good or evil. 

The Nature of the Story of Israel, especially when approached from its Ancient Near Eastern context, should be noted as that of literature; a literal history, maybe, relating actual events, but in a way that reveals a deeper spiritual meaning. Take, for instance, the notion that many Christians still cling to; that of a global flood: was the Great Flood of Noah's Day one that covered every square inch of planet earth as a casual reading of certain Scriptures seems to indicate, or was the Author telling the Story in such a way, along with the unbelievable Story of the Ark, to cast forth a Revelation of the Son of God, He who would save the world ( John 3:16 ) from their sin ( ignorance ). The internal & external evidence, when approached with a ready mind, point rather to a localized flood ( if indeed it happened at all, at least as we understand it ), though, at that time, global in its scope!

'If the Great Flood never occurred, to say nothing of Adam's Fall ( complete with the talking snake ), then how can we be sure that the Story of Jesus' Humble Birth was an actual event?' The Virgin Birth might well be subjected to the same kind of scrutiny, for even though we can imagine the mere possibility of a Spirit Being impregnating a human being ( Genesis 6 ), we also know that it usually takes sperm to fertilize an egg. This is not to say that the Story, as we understand it, is complete bunk, but it is safe to say that it is, at least, indicative of something greater.

The Fall of Adam, when viewed with the vision that hindsight affords, is an obvious metaphor for the larger Story of Israel! Though rife with dissonance, the arguments against Adam as the first Israelite have convinced many of their validity. As with the Great Flood & other Scriptural accounts, the notion that these events were anything but literal occurrences seems ridiculous to most Christians. Covenant Creation, along with its forbear, Covenant Eschatology, has been gaining ascendancy in the past few years. The relatively new idea has surfaced within the past decade or so that Adam was not the first human being to inhabit planet earth, but that he was simply the first covenant man, the first Son of God, representative of Israel.

Whether or not the mythical serpent that tempted our first 'parents' in the Garden was possessed by 'Satan',another mythical creature, or whether the Story of the Fall was imagined to put the greater Story of Israel in terms they could better understand, it should be obvious that its not as simple as a talking snake & a forbidden fruit! We may simply understand it as an apocalypse, a revelation if you will, of the Story of Israel. Is it only that? Is it simply a metaphorical re-telling ( or is that 'pre-telling'? ) of a much greater spiritual truth? To focus overmuch on such questions is to miss the point & sadly, wars, both real & metaphorical, have been fought over less!

If only the Creator God had not planted that damn tree ( the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil ) alongside the Tree of Life! What was He thinking?! If Adam had not sinned, Jesus wouldn't have had to die, right!? The idea of our Heavenly Father as a vindictive, petty sort of God is most likely due in part to ancient pagan myths & thus are the Hebrew Scriptures so colored, but the notion of the Creator God sacrificing His Son, like Abraham almost did-Genesis 22:1-19, has always rankled. 

Like the metaphor of the Shepherd & the Sheep, though, the Ancient Near Eastern Culture with which Scripture is interwoven was a culture ( still is ) of bloodshed. We are all familiar with the apostle's words in Hebrews 9:22, 'without shedding of blood there is no remission': why cannot sin be forgiven WITHOUT taking life? In our culture, especially the modern Western mindset, this may seem strange, but in the culture from which the Scriptures came, there was nothing strange about it; it was a way of life! Long before Israel came on the scene, in fact, sacrificing human beings even, not just animals, was not unheard of, as a way in which to appease the gods.

Israel was the Creator God's Son, His Lamb, who was fattened ( in the beginning ) to serve as a sacrificial offering, for a pleasing aroma ( Genesis 8:21 ). This was a metaphorical sacrifice, but it had & has real-world consequences: look at the apostle's words recorded in Romans 12:1; 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [ which is ] your reasonable service'. The Greater Spiritual Truth to which all the blood-sacrifices of that first covenant pointed was the metaphorical sacrifice of our lives to the Cause of the Christ!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Garden as Metaphor

 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
Genesis 2:8

I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

 Amos 9:15 

It is well-known, or should be, anyway, that from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells the Story of Israel, along with the downfall of many as well as the exaltation of a few, but what if the creation stories, including the Beginning of what is known as the Garden of Eden, were not so much literal as literary? In other words, they weren't actually places or occurrences, but were simply literary devices, common to that place & time, to convey a certain Story, the Story of Israel!

You may have heard that a better interpretation of the Hebrew phrase 'בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָֽרֶץ׃', or, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth', goes something like this, 'in the summit, Elohim fattened the heavens and the earth'. Why the translators didn't use this translation rather than saying 'created', probably has something to do with historical & or religious bias, but really, the answer is neither here nor there. The Hebrew word translated 'created', according to Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon, means literally 'to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting'. This fact, in itself, would be enough to point to these words as more of the creation of a covenant rather than the formation of material things.

'If we can't read the Garden Story as actual, literal history, then who's to say that the rest of the Bible Stories are?' Among others, this is one question that might be offered up when someone puts forth the idea that maybe we're not looking at the text from the right angle. Maybe if we read this Ancient Near Eastern text from the point of view of the Ancient Near Eastern culture instead of from our Western point of view & Western culture, we would gain a better understanding of this text & others like it.

The Story of the Great Flood is another narrative that plays tricks with our Western minds! When we read the Story of Noah's Ark from a purely Western perspective, we tend to see the Flood as literally having covered the tallest mountains on earth-a good 30,000 feet-which doesn't really match up with the biblical narrative. One could get into some major disagreements ( arguments ) here, but that's not what this is all about; what it's all about is, as the apostle Peter made clear ( I Peter 3:18-22, II Peter 2:5 ), that the Ark of Noah's day was a picture of the Salvation that the Christ brought.

Geologists & historians, for centuries, have toyed with the notion of an actual, literal place, the location of the fabled Garden of Eden.  The Garden has been placed anywhere from the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley to the Persian Gulf Delta. Answers in Genesis, among others in the same boat, seem to have settled the issue by claiming that we might never know because of Flood Geology, which posits a global flood that changed the course of history. All this is quite interesting, but again, beside the point! Whether the Flood was global or local, it pictured the destruction of the enemies of God & through the Ark, the Salvation of the Israel of God.

Since the Story of Scripture is the Story of Israel, it only makes sense that all the stories in the Scriptures are ultimately about Israel, both their salvation & destruction. Even the Story of Daniel in the Lion's Den is about Israel & their salvation from the enemies of God. The same could be said of Sampson's interesting encounter with a lion-obvious metaphor there. The Flood Account is simply a metaphor for the destruction of the enemies of God & through the Ark, the salvation of the Israel of God.

The apostle Peter again makes clear in his second letter ( II Peter 3:5-7 ) that the same creation ( 'heavens and earth' ) which perished by a flood in Noah's Day would again be decimated in the New Noah's Day, this time by fire! By 'the New Noah', I of course mean Jesus, who was the Great Antitype of all those Old Covenant types. Jesus, in His Olivet Discourse ( Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13 ) makes some obvious allusions as well, to the Flood. In verse 37 of Matthew 24, we read 'But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be'. Luke 21:35 records Jesus as saying that, like the Flood, 'it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth'. These words of Jesus, when read from our Western point of view, seem to point to both a global flood as well as a global destruction by fire, but it should be noted that, just as the first Moses wrote of the Creation & Weeding-out of Israel in the first book of the Bible, so the New Moses ( the Last Moses ) referred to the Recreation & Final Weeding-out of Israel in His Final Revelation.

The Story of the Fall is echoed numerous times throughout the sordid history of Israel, leading up to the Assyrian Captivity & the final one, under the Romans, the one Jesus was born into. Exile from the Garden, for Adam & Eve, was simply a foreboding of the Exile that Israel found herself in throughout her history. Is this to say that there never was a Garden of God, a Great Flood, that Daniel never spent the night in a lion's den & that Sampson never had that fabled encounter with a lion? No; the Garden, the Flood & these incidents with lions could have all taken place, but it is just as likely that they are literary devices used to tell the tale of Israel in pictures, so to speak!

The location of the Garden of Eden is really a moot point then, as it merely points to the Story of Israel who, from four camps in the wilderness, then into the Promised Land ( also metaphorical, though literal as well ), were to become a River of Living Water to liven all of God's Creation. The Garden of Eden is a metaphor for what the Israel of God would become in the Latter Days, as witnessed by John in the Revelation ( 21:1 & 2 ).

Much time & money has been spent in trying to prove that the Garden actually existed, money that could better have been spent elsewhere, such as doing what Jesus did, in caring for the poor & needy! If they had spent all that time & money in spreading/sharing the True Gospel of Jesus the Christ, maybe we would be living in a more Edenic world! However, since they thought better to 'prove' themselves right, we have warring factions among those who claim to be followers of the Christ! If only people would take note that it IS all about the Christ & not about some fabled Garden with a talking snake; it's not about whether the Cataclysm of Noah's day was local or global & it sure isn't about lions who had just eaten.

What if all those Bible Stories that we loved to hear in Sunday School never really happened ( at least, not like our Western ears hear them )? Would that necessarily make a difference when it comes to the Christ? If the Garden of Eden never really existed, per se, does that mean that Jesus Himself was simply a metaphor? Since it all pointed to Jesus & ultimately, to the Christ Within, we can safely say that Jesus was not 'simply' a metaphor!

If indeed the word 'bara'' might just as well, or better, be translated 'fattened', the picture of Israel as the Christ makes good sense, for was not Jesus 'an offering and a sacrifice' ( Ephesians 5:2 )? As followers of the Christ, in fact, as little Christs ourselves, did not the apostle Paul say we should offer our bodies as a 'living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God' ( Romans 12:1 ). We are, whether one follows the biblical Story or not, on this good earth, not to pursue the American Dream, nor to make as much money for our children's inheritance before this biology fails, even; we are here to live in symbiosis, not as an island unto ourselves, but in covenant, in community with each other, sharing the Life & Love that we have been given, that we in fact ARE!

Again, does it really matter all that much if the Garden really existed, especially as the biblical witness attests to? No, not really! The fact that it's merely metaphor does not detract at all from the Story of Scripture & in actuality, strengthens it, if anything. The Garden is really a metaphor for the human heart, the innermost being, with the choice between two trees. Will we continue to eat of the Tree of Life & live forever, or will we partake of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil & die? It's your choice; choose wisely!

Charles Haddon Shank