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

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rest in Peace, Mr. Stuart

What can be said about 'Bo', as he was called by all who knew & loved him? For many years, he was a Teaching Elder at Covenant Community Church, towards the end of which, he was afflicted by something called 'IEED', or 'Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder'. For several years, Bo persevered as a TE at CCC, but his condition worsened to the point that he felt he could no longer fulfill his duties, especially when further complicated in the last several years by yet another disease that was, for the longest time, misdiagnosed & therefore, mistreated. He will be greatly missed by all those at CCC, as well by the Greater Community of all those who knew & loved this gentle man, for, to know him was to love him!

As there are many others who were more closely acquainted with Mr. Stuart, it behooves me to allow them to recount that part of his tale. I can however, tell the part that I was privileged to partake in. I migrated to Whitehall, Montana in February of 2011 in the aftermath of a failed marriage in Wyoming. As I was staying with my sister & brother-in-law, who were a part of Covenant Community Church, I too began to attend fairly regularly. I had met Bo previously, though, as I remember, rather cursorily, quite a few years earlier, when my fiancee & I had visited. To make a long story short, when I began to sit under his teaching, as well as that of his fellow Teaching Elder, Tim Martin, I was immediately struck, not just by his intellect, but by his manner of teaching. Bo had a way of teaching that not only met one at their level but brought one up to his level. Although, for the past number of years, he was not able to fulfill his duties in the pulpit, his teaching will always be remembered!

In the early afternoon hours of Wednesday, May the 15th, Sidney ( 'Bo' ) Stuart passed from this life & now rests in the arms of his Lord & Savior. As a Christian for much of his life ( again, I'm sure there are those who can recount his story more completely ), Mr. Stuart believed fervently in life after death; that after this physical husk had breathed its last & returned to the dust from which it was made, there was More, gloriously so, in fact! Though Bo never, to my knowledge anyway, talked much about this 'afterlife', or even the fact that we as human beings, are More; I know that he held this Truth in his heart of hearts. As a unique human ( individual ) being, Bo was loved for the presence he brought to Covenant Community Church, but he was loved most of all for the Presence he manifested everywhere he went. His bodily presence will be sorely missed, but we know that his spirit remains, especially with those that knew & loved him!

In His memory,
Charles Haddon Shank

P.S. I probably am not the only one, but I think his IEED ( similar to 'IED'? ) was 'catching', as I seem to suffer from a similar affliction!

Thursday, May 09, 2019

'Open Your Eyes, People!'

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is [g]good, your whole body will be full of light.
Matthew 6:22 

The context of Jesus' words above demands a first century fulfillment ( in other words, they were poignant for the Pharisaical Jews of His day ), but they also hold true today, as many of His words do, as a universal truth. The King James Version renders the Greek 'haplous' as 'single'. In the sense of 'whole', or even 'healthy', both adjectives fulfill their purpose. The singularity of the 'eye' ( Greek 'ophthalmos' ) lends credence to the notion that the Master was here referring to what is metaphorically called 'the third eye'. As a universal truth, Jesus' words remind us of our true nature & that it is with the only with the 'eyes' of the Spirit Within that we truly 'see', or know!

There is much in this world in which we live that is called 'evil'! 'Evil', though, being a fairly relative term ( for instance, what some may call 'evil' is not necessarily bad, or wicked; it just feels or seems that way to them, while on the other side of the coin, what some call 'good' may seem 'evil' to their neighbor ), is simply an adjective describing what any given person, at any given time, chooses to do. 'Evil' cannot be personified ( as 'Evil Incarnate' ), although one could well name many people in our past ( as well as in our present ) as 'evil'. However, some of these, though one might perceive them as continually making bad or 'wrong' choices, are simply guilty of being different, 'marching to a different drummer' ( 'dancing to a different tune' ), so to speak! Coming from a strictly Christian background ( as I do ), we could well say ( most do ), 'well, God ( the Bible ) says this is evil ( wrong ) & that is good ( right )!' There ARE absolutes, but are we to judge them by what some book colored by a certain ( ANE ) perception, says: should we not rather judge them ( individuals ) by 'evil is as evil does', or better yet, 'an ye harm none, do what ye will'??!

Perception, individual or cultural, has much to do with what is considered 'evil' This is not to say that there IS no such thing ( ? ), for anyone can look at a man hitting a woman, for instance & immediately condemn that man for his actions. What they didn't see, in their limited perception, however, is that he was simply defending himself; they didn't see the gun or knife that she had previously threatened him with, or even the child cowering in his shadow. Whether they arrived late on the scene, or whether their perception is colored by a certain dogma, most only 'see' what they perceive with the physical organs called 'eyes'. Many are beginning to understand, however, by 'thinking outside the box' ( or 'the book', as the case may be ) that not all is as they have been taught, so, 'bucking the system', in a manner of speaking, their perception ( if they even HAVE one ) has been altered to the point that they trust the Spirit Within more than what they see with their eyes!

It IS most definitely wrong for a man ( or woman ) to sexually abuse a child! Most often, we are used to reading about it or hearing it on the evening news from a source which is questionable at the very least. Many Americans perceive these articles ( or 'bytes' ) to be true & so start wars both inside & outside themselves. As above, though, increasingly more are noting the bias in much if not all of the major news media & have turned to alternate sources for their information. This often leads to their 'third eye' being opened, with the understanding that 'it is what it is'; all else is simply perception, at least, physically speaking. But then, there is 'knowing'.....................

In the words of that old song, 'To know, know, know you is to love, love, love you'. Okay, so maybe that's a bit out of context ( 'hand-picked cherries, anyone?' ), but the point is, to really love someone, or make any such correct judgement about any certain thing or situation, we must know ( not just perceive ) the facts. Can we 'know' by reading words in a book or listening to what others say? We can surely ascertain truth THROUGH what we read or hear, but only when it resonates with the Spirit Within. In other words, it is not (necessarily ) true just because some book or dogma says it is; the truth can only be known when the 'third eye' is activated, by the understanding of the Spirit Within!

'For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. ( I Corinthians 2:11 )'. Even our own Scriptures tell us that it is not by seeing ( perceiving ) with the physical eyes that one knows a thing ( to be true, but that it is only by the Spirit Within that true understanding, true knowledge comes. Only when we 'see' with the eye of our Spirit ( 'third eye' ) can we come to a knowledge of the truth. Anything less is simply 'perception' & we have seen what 'perception' can do. Anything from wrongful imprisonment to unjust war has been the result of false perceptions of reality.

The prophet Isaiah ( speaking of the ANE context ) was told, 'Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, a
nd return and be healed.' ( Isaiah 6:9 ) All prejudice aside, this is obviously not referring to their physical eyes & ears, but rather to the understanding of their heart, or the knowledge that only comes through the Spirit Within. Much like the world today, the prophet Isaiah had to deal with much that was called 'evil'. Also like the world we live in, the perception of the majority of people was ruled by physicality ( that's why Jesus ended up on the cross ). Lest my readers get the idea that simple perception is necessarily a bad thing; 'perception' is neither good nor bad, but like anything, it can be used for 'good' or 'evil', right or wrong.

True perception only comes through listening to 'that still, small voice'. What we see with the ( physical ) eye or hear with the ( physical ) ear may or may not be true, but by the Spirit Within, through our spiritual understanding, we may ascertain whether it is really true or whether it is simply another's perception of the truth. This, again, is not to say that truth is relative, for there IS such a thing as absolutes, but just because one perceives ( with the physical senses ) a thing to be true doesn't make it so, although, speaking of relativity, it becomes 'truth' for that individual!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, April 28, 2019

In Dreams We Soar; Final Flight?

Deothorah knew that something was different; the moment she had been waiting for had finally arrived! As she ascended through the clouds, she felt lighter than air. Something was missing, something she had previously been encumbered by. Deothorah rose higher & higher. or rather deeper & further in. She had no feelings this time, however; she knew that she was soaring, much as she had many times before, but she felt, she knew, that this time was different. In her innermost being, Deothorah knew that this was the moment she had been waiting for, even yearning for. Like previous times, when she felt, rather than heard, the comforting presence of her dragon, this time, she found that she didn't even have to visualize him; Elothar was right there below her, as before, yet somehow, he was nowhere to be seen..............................

Deothorah's Time had come! She knew that this time, she was soaring the heights, as before, but she would not be returning to the place she had previously returned to after her flights of fancy; at least, not right away. Deothorah had left behind the vehicle of physicality & was soaring to heights unknown. As she further ascended, she felt the worries & cares that had always been a nagging & unwelcome presence at the edges of her awareness simply melt away. It wasn't as if she didn't care anymore, for now, more than ever, Deothorah knew that she was pure Love. All such feelings that had tormented her during her life on Earth were gone. All feelings of Self had vanished, left behind with her earthly shroud. She was pure Spirit now, not encumbered by thoughts of separation, which involved pain. For a time, anyway, Deothorah was at Rest!

There was a Bright Light ahead, a Light that could be felt, or known, rather than seen, or experienced. Deothorah knew that she was more than ( just ) coming into that Light; she WAS that Light, for now, unencumbered by her thoughts of physicality, she now knew that She had always been that Light, or at least a part of It. Though she had been aware for some Time that she was More, it was not until she finally left the bonds of physicality that all was clear to her. Her true being was Spirit & while she had & would ( again ) endure physicality for a Time, she was Home!

Home is the Source, the Source is Home! Though it's difficult to see ( for some, damn near impossible ), we, as Spirit ( beings ), are always Home! The glorious physicality that we call 'Life' is More than something to be endured, though we MUST endure it for a Time; this thing we call 'Life' is infinitely glorious & though it's not always 'a bed of roses', it is what we make it. Through the choices we make, whether we act or react, we fashion our own experience on this earthly plane. According to our actions, or else reaction to the absurdities of Life, we decide whether we will be at Home in our experience, or else surrender to our feelings of separation & anxiety!

Deothorah knew, in her heart of hearts, that she was not finished! She had learned many things from her Experience in this thing we call 'Life' & though none of that seemed to matter right now ( it wasn't even a thought! ), she knew that she would return to Life in all its Glory, to rectify the mistakes of the Past. For now, Deothorah felt more at Home, though ( except maybe in her dreams ) than she ever had while in her physical experience. There was just something about having to live between the dimensions that she had never quite been able to fully bring together. The Glorious Reality of being an inter-dimensional creature had never quite made sense to her, though now, outside the bonds of Time & Space, if the thought even occurred to her, it was clear as day that they occupied the same Space, though one was in Time, the other in what some call 'Eternity'!

For a time ( 'Eternity' ), Deothorah was free of the bonds of physicality, totally free in fact, of the shackles of Time & Space! She had entered this Time & Space a lifetime ago, unaware of many of the Mysteries of Life. Though she had leaned much in that relatively short period of Time, she knew that there was more, much More to learn & in her continued experience, she would come to realize & manifest the Glorious Reality of Inter-Dimensional Life! Deothorah was not done; she was just continuing the Cycle!

Elothar, Deothorah learned, was simply One among Many! Not all perceived Them as dragons, in fact, caught up in the worries & cares of this earthly existence, some didn't perceive them at all ( but that's another story ), but They existed to guide us in our individuality as we explored the dimensions. Though the dimensions were not, in Reality, separate; Deothorah, as most of us have been, had been taught the Illusion of Separateness, that certain things belong Here & other things belong There. It is difficult, as she experienced in her previous 'Life', to experience the Glorious Reality of Inter-Dimensional Life; but Deothorah now knew that, with the help of her 'dragon', in the next Life, she was going to soar Beyond her dreams!

Charles Haddon Shank





Thursday, April 18, 2019

The One

His parents & for that matter everyone around him, had always told Johnny, 'God has SOMEONE just for you & ONE day, you will find her!' Well, Johnny spent much of his pitiful life just waiting & sometimes looking for that ONE that he had been taught was waiting for him. One day, everything changed for him.....................yet, it remained the same...........

Johnny was alone. Oh, sure, he had friends aplenty ( sometimes it seemed like too many, he seemed so busy ), being the social butterfly he was & all, but Johnny yearned for someone to hold! Someone he could 'lay claim to', so to speak. As most, if not all men; Johnny had been taught that a wife was a possession, one that belonged to you. Well, maybe not in so many words, but the meaning was abundantly clear; once you were married, even 'just' engaged, she was YOURS & yours alone! If someone dared to infringe on your rights, i.e., take liberties with your property, you'd be well within your rights to take whatever action you deemed necessary to force them to cease & desist, even if it meant maiming or killing them!

Part of the problem, Johnny came to see, was that all his learning told him that 'Life' was wrapped up in this biology & that, once this biology was gone, so was 'Life' ( unless one believed in Life After Death ( LAD ) in some mythical 'Heaven' ). As his understanding continued to evolve, so too did his horizons widen ( infinitely so ); Johnny came to realize that there was More, More than this biology, in fact, that 'Life' in this sense, WAS wrapped up in this biology! His Life, indeed the lives of all human beings who have lived & will ever live on this globe we call 'Earth', though manifested in this biology, actually had it's Source, or Beginning ( ? ) in what many call 'Spirit'. Although these mortal bodies are the vehicles through which we accomplish our purposes, they are simply that, the means through which the Spirit manifests our desires. That was another issue Johnny had to face: he'd been taught that, though our human desires were perfectly natural, they were to be stifled, even squelched, until ( 'if?' ) the One came along.

'The One', of course, was that perfect mate that 'God' had designed just for him & kept 'waiting in the wings' ( so to speak ), for just the right time when 'He' knew you were sufficiently prepared for her. If you didn't patiently wait on 'God's' timing, you would unleash on yourself a world of trouble, he'd heard & you might even end up going to some mythical 'Hell', to boot! So, Johnny, like a good little boy, had always watched his 'Peas' & 'Cues', dutifully waiting, if impatiently sometimes, for the 'woman of God's own choosing' to be dropped in his lap. After waiting for some time & trying several 'experiments' ( failed ). Johnny came to realize that, just like Life was More than this biology, so 'the One' was More than just another biological body.

When Johnny started to question what he'd been taught & more or less dutifully obeyed for most of his life, he seemed to encounter some resistance! This resistance sometimes took the form of family members ( humanly speaking ) & sometimes, even his own mind, or Ego! As he continued to walk this 'new' path he had chosen, Johnny found that the further he walked, even though the resistance increased, substantially in fact, his Journey actually became smoother, with the realization that he did not belong to biology: rather, as a spiritual being having a human experience, his biological body belonged to him & thus was subject to his desires!

'The One' that Johnny had been searching for, waiting patiently for most of his long & lonely life, was right there, 'inside' the biology he called 'home'! As a Person, a human being, Johnny still had desires; he still, personally speaking, longed for someone to hold, someone who would cling to him alone, but, as the Spirit ( being ) that he truly was, he came to the realization that it was not simply another example of biology that he sought, nor even another Spirit ( being ), a 'soulmate', in a manner of speaking, but rather the very same Spirit that motivated the Person known popularly as 'Johnny'. It was the Spirit Within for which Johnny had been waiting, even unconsciously searching for, for the majority of his human experience!

The Spirit Within the Person known as 'Johnny' was indeed the same Spirit that motivates us all! Oh, sure, one might tell you, as they often told Johnny over & over, that it was OBVIOUSLY not the same Spirit that motivated all human beings, for why else would some do good, while others did what was evil?! Those were always interesting discussion, usually involving 'free-will' or some other form of 'gobble-de-gook', but they most often proved rather fruitless ( or so it seemed at the time ) & only served to further befuddle & even alienate his detractors. The Spirit Within, Johnny now saw, was One & the Same with the Source of All Life! It was That which formed this biology in order to accomplish the Purpose of Life. You might ask then, 'what IS the Purpose of Life?' As Johnny himself often asked ( in reply ), 'what do YOU think is the Purpose of Life?' ( So, I too will leave it up to my readers! )

'Was Johnny truly alone?' Yes, humanly speaking, at least, according to all he had been taught for most of his life, Johnny was alone; he had no one to call his own! 'Did he not still experience loneliness, the desire to have another human being of his own ( 'my own, my precious' ) 'to have & to hold, from this day forth...........'?' Sure he did! As a human being, Johnny still experienced the pangs of loss, he still had fears that, unlike everyone else he knew, he would never feel the love of another human being, expressed in a unique way, known to him alone. However, realizing as he did, that he was not just the Person known as 'Johnny'; Johnny 'shook off' these feelings & continued his Journey, relying on the Spirit Within to manifest his timely desires!

Everything HAD changed...........................

Charles Haddon Shank


Monday, April 08, 2019

The Person ( hood ) of God: Fanning the Flame

In many or most Christian circles, you're likely to hear, sooner or later, to whatever extent, reference to the 'Person' of the Holy Spirit, ( Father, Son ), AKA 'the three persons of the holy trinity'. But the question we should ask ourselves ( most don't, sadly ) is, 'can the Source of All ( Life ), a spirit-being by all reckoning ( even our own Holy Bible ) be called a 'person'? According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, the definition of a 'person' is, 'human, individual sometimes used in combination especially by those who prefer to avoid man in compounds applicable to both sexes'. So, by definition, 'God' IS one of us ( as the song goes ), a walking, talking human being! I mean, I realize that the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures seem to tell us that Man ( 'what about woman?' ) was created in the Image of God, but this is getting ridiculous! Yes, Jesus, by all accounts, was a human being, but He often referred to a 'Father in Heaven' ( a separate Being? ) as to One who, unlike us, did not have a biological Body ( ?? ). Some Christians seem to actually believe that 'Heaven' is an actual, literal ( physical? ) 'location' up in the sky ( the literal 'heavens' ), so I guess, in this instance, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine that 'God', or 'Yahweh' rather, IS a 'person'! 

You will never hear me refer to the Spirit ( Energy ) that animates every human being as 'the Third Person of the Trinity'! I won't do it! Not just because I'm not a Trinitarian ( another story for another day, perhaps ), but because that perception is based on the idea, culled from the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures, that there are three ( separate ) Persons within the so-called 'God-head'. Considering the fact that the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures seem to make the claim that they were written ( by men ) through the inspiration of 'the Holy Spirit' ( II Timothy 3:16, II Peter 1:21 ); when we read, strangely enough, only in the Greek Scriptures, of 'the Father', 'the Son' & 'the Holy Spirit', we have been taught that this proves ( 'beyond a shadow of a doubt'? ) the existence, within the 'God-head', of what is dogmatically referred to as 'the Trinity'. In the same Divine Vein, I do not deny a Holy Trinity, but that, as well, is probably best left for another story on a different day! 

In the fairly recent past, I have come face-to-face, rather blatantly, with the statement that 'God is a Person'! In fact, in one of my most recent 'discussions', one might have gathered that the 'Image of God' is actually our humanity ( biology? )! This sort of 'discussion' has rather interesting, even dangerous, implications, not least of which is, 'if the Source of All ( Life ) is simply a Glorified Human Being; then maybe the Mormons are right about us becoming Gods ( the whole 'planets' thing is a bit far-fetched ). If the Mormons are right about this, then what else are they right about? I'm not here to preach Mormonism, though, so I'll say no more on that subject, but the point is, to conceive of the Source of All ( Life ) as a Person is simply part of the human condition, as evidenced by the story of the blind (East ) Indians who attempted to describe an elephant according to the physical sense of touch. I've related this story previously, but, as each of the men had a hold of a different part of the elephant, they were all right ( in part ), but none could offer a complete description: so is humanity's conception of 'God' ( at best )!

Although the Source of All ( Life ) is most definitely NOT a human being ( Glorified or not ), it can rightly be claimed that ALL human beings have the Divinity within! To many, this claim falls flat on its face & for the many out there who do not bear the fruits of this glorious fact, one cannot really blame those who deny this Glorious Truth. However, as the case may be, there exists within us all that Divine Spark ( call it 'Spirit' or 'Animating Principle' ), which, when fervently fanned ( or not ) becomes a raging inferno which engulfs the Forest, or 'world' around us! When that Flame becomes an Inferno, imagine what dreams may come! 

To bring it all down to a precise point, you may call me 'Frank'; I will lay it all out for my readers & plainly say, 'WE ARE GOD!' There; those who wish may promptly condemn me to a 'Hell' which doesn't exist! Before I go, though, let me just say that by this startling truth, I simply mean to say that, whether it's a faith-based belief ( based on an ancient document ), or based on our human experience, every human being has their own ( unique ) conception of What & Who 'God' is. Some may even be ( rightly ) accused of creating 'God' in their own image! The point is, while the Source of All ( Life ) is NOT just some conception of humanity, as I may be accused of preaching, neither is this Source ( 'Energy' ) completely encapsulated within the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures. What we read in the Bible ( a weak translation, in many different versions ) is simply 'their' ( Hebrew & Greek ) conception of Who & What this Source looks like.

By writing thusly, I do not wish to alienate those brothers & sisters of mine who may believe somewhat differently, or even those who believe we are separated by a Great Gulf. To be abundantly clear; I write thusly ( as always ) to try to clear up some of the misconceptions that humanity has foisted upon itself for centuries, even millenia, all in the name of 'God'. Some of these misconceptions have smoothed themselves out over time, at least to the point that something positive has transpired through them, but for the most part, these errors have led to strife & division, where there should be peace & unity! Those who wish to worship the 'God' of the Bible as the Source of All ( Life ) certainly are within their rights to do so, so long as they follow this universal tenet; 'An ye harm none, do what you will'. Jesus said it this way, 'just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.'

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, April 01, 2019

Universal Truth; Crucifying the Flesh

Never mind that this phrase is archaic; never mind that it speaks directly to the situation that the apostle was treating in an Ancient Near Eastern culture, Paul's instruction applies as well today in 21st century America! So what exactly do we mean when we, as Christians, employ this very biblical phrase? To 'crucify the flesh', in the biblical sense, means to identify with Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, who gave His own Life for that of His People. While we're on the subject; there seems to be some confusion of who I refer to when I use the phrase 'His People', or 'the People of God'! In the Context of Scripture, that is, the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures, the phrase 'the People of God', the people that Jesus came to save ( from their sin, the sin of Adam ) were His own kinsmen according to the flesh, the Jews, or Israelites, which were, in essence, a mixed multitude. However, as we can see from the phrase, 'mixed multitude' ( 'which came out of Egypt' ), 'Israel' was not made up only of those who were begotten 'according to the flesh', but was inclusive of all those, both Jew & Gentile, Egyptian, Aramean & Chaldean alike, who accepted the Christ, the Hebrew God & Messiah. As such, this Jesus, although He was the Messiah to the Hebrews, also served as a sort of 'benchmark' for the rest of the world, as the Christ, setting the mark for us to follow, so that we might be the Christ to our 'world' as He was the Christ to His! Now, back to OUR story......................

In this world in which we live, we can certainly relate to the rest of the apostle's instruction, in which he writes of 'the flesh'. with 'its passions and desires'. If one were to enter into a study of the Eastern religions, such as Buddhism & the like, one would likely find much the same sort of language, instructing us to transcend ( not to ignore ) our passions & desires. Passions & desires, while completely natural ( NOT sinful, though we SHOULD take great care in their exercise ), should be nourished & indeed transcended, or 'crucified' because, while they ARE an integral part of 'us', we are more than our passions & desires & thus rather than being 'ruled'  ( to use biblical language again-Genesis 4:7 ) by them, we should rather 'rule over' them, enjoying them, instead of using them to manipulate & control!

'How then', you might ask, 'does one go about this 'crucifying the 'flesh'?'  Should we, like many who have gone before, deny our passions & desires, even to the point of mutilation, as a literal interpretation of the apostle's language might lead to? No, that would be akin to making the same mistake that Nicodemus made when he wondered if one would have to re-enter his or her mother's womb in order to be 'born again' ( John 3:4 ). To 'crucify the flesh', whether following the apostle's instruction, or adhering to a more Eastern tradition, one must simply rise above those passions & desires, realizing that they are only 'flesh' & not what truly motivates us. As Spirit, though we inhabit 'the flesh', we are NOT that 'flesh' & so must naturally use that 'flesh' ( biology ) to further spiritual awareness, rather than using our spiritual awareness to further our knowledge ( lust ) of the passions & desires of our 'flesh'!

The magickal practice of meditation can help us to transcend 'the flesh', from which come our passions & desires. By following, for example, the divine instruction found in the Hebrew Scriptures ( Psalm 46:10 ), 'Be still, and know that I [ am ] God', we become accustomed to our divine nature & rather than living for our passions & desires, we find that they instead pale in comparison to the Glory that we ARE! Now, before one accuses me of teaching that we are equal to the Source of All ( Life ), as Jesus Himself was accused of claiming, understand that while we most certainly ARE, in our divine nature, a part of that Source, we cannot, or should not, rather, teach that we ARE that Source: as I like to say, 'I didn't put that mountain there; did you?!'

We are most certainly the masters of our own destiny, but ours alone; no one else's! Only WE can 'crucify the flesh, with its passions & desires'. When we endeavor to force others, through whatever means, to 'crucify' their flesh, that is but a sign that we have yet to 'crucify' our own! It is not up to us to make sure that everyone around us follows in our footsteps: like Jesus, we must simply set an example by following in His exalted footsteps. When those around us realize the futility of following after their passions & desires, finding instead that while these are most certainly to be nourished & enjoyed, they should NEVER 'rule' us: our divine nature naturally reveals its ascendancy. I say 'our' because IT is one & the same, neither ours nor theirs!

Jesus, as the Christ, the Messiah of Israel, was most certainly the 'only begotten Son' ( John 3:16, I John 4:9 ( Hebrews 11:17? ) of God ( Hebrew 'Elohim', Greek 'Theos' )! His Father, however, is One & the same as the ( spiritual ) 'Father' that we as Christians ( 'little Christs' ) claim, so is it truly blasphemy to claim, as Jesus did, equality with that 'Father', which is, after all, simply a personification ( perception? ) of that which IS? The Source of All Life, of which we are a manifestation, or part, is the Energy of which the Universe is made & of which the Jewish Messiah came, some 2,000 years ago, to set the example, not just for the Jews & Gentiles to follow, but for the entire world to emulate. Though what some call 'centering', we may realize this our true ( divine ) nature; that we ARE to our 'world' what Jesus was to His & that although we may not perfectly ( ? ) emulate Him: knowing our true nature & thus our divine capabilities, we thus are enabled to accomplish, as He Himself said, 'greater [ works ]' ( than He did-John 14:12 ). Is this to say that, by doing thusly, we ARE greater than Jesus? By no means! We are simply Sons & Daughters of God, able to accomplish these 'greater' [works ], though certainly, the choice is up to us ( individually ) & obviously, not all choose to manifest their Divinity!


Namaste',
Charles Haddon Shank




Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Prayers of the Gods

Our[a] Father [b]in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
[c]Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
[dBut deliver us from the evil one.
Luke 11:2-4

The Gospel of Mark, or rather, Mark's version of the Gospel Story, i.e., the latter part of the life of Jesus, although it does contain certain constituent elements ( Mark 11:25 & 26, et al  ) of the prayer known popularly as 'The Lord's Prayer' does not contain any semblance of the 'model' prayer itself!  As can be seen through even a cursory examination of the only other extant example of this prayer ( Matthew 6:9-13 ), it either adds to or subtracts from the version that Luke recounts in his 'Gospel', at least, as far as we can tell in our much-varied translations of the Bible. This is not to say we should disregard these words of Jesus, even insofar as they are recorded by these two 'Gospel' writers, for there are good & universal principals therein, but, as this 'model prayer' is not even recorded by Mark, the oldest 'Gospel' according to most biblical scholars, it is safe to say that it is very likely a later, though relatively good addition. In other words, these may not be Jesus' words at all, but simply some scribes ( which includes Matthew & Luke )!

The subject of 'prayer' is actually one of some controversy! Any good Christian worth his or her salt will glorify 'the power of prayer'. 'Prayer works', they might say; 'just have faith', they'll probably tell you. Does prayer work? Well, depending on what one means by such a bold statement, yes, it 'works'! Does it move the Hand of 'God'? Well, there again, such a question rests in one's understanding of what is meant by 'the Hand of God'! Previously, in the 'pages' of this blog, you may have read something to the effect that 'we ARE the Hand of God'; it is through us, it is through the ministration of the mundane ( most often ) that prayers are fulfilled. For example, we may pray 'give us this day.............' & the food may magickally appear before us, but most often, it is because somebody put it there! We pray 'forgive us our debts.................' but unless the one we have we have 'sinned' against tell us & shows by his or her actions that they have forgiven us, there is absolutely no proof of any forgiveness & we are left high & dry. The proof, you might say, is 'in the pudding', not just words in some book!

As we've also noted previously in this blog, the Psalmist ( Psalm 82:6 ) wrote, 'You [ are ] [e]gods' ( elohim ), a statement which Jesus seems to have no problem employing in John's 'Gospel'!  'Original audience' & 'covenant context' aside, it is safe to say that, biblically speaking, every Christian, at least, is a 'god': whether or not one ascribes a capital 'G' to this statement, there is no denying the fact that the same word used to identify the Hebrew God of Creation ( Genesis 1:1 ) is also used to describe His People, the Judges of Israel! ( I'm pretty sure that the original languages didn't employ a certain symbol denoting whether it was a capital or lower-case 'g' ) The point is, that although we certainly can't discount what many would call 'supernatural operation', it should be fairly evident that prayer is usually most effective when witnessed by other people, whether it be doctors or farmers. Whether it be through audible means ( hearing ) or by 'supernatural operations', it is abundantly clear that the fulfillment of prayer is most often, if not always accomplished through human, though Divine, intervention!

Charles Haddon Shank

 

Sunday, March 03, 2019

The Sharist Continues

Something was different; she could feel it in her soft & pliable bones! Already aware, the one who would later be known as Jocelyn felt cocooned in a pleasantly warm liquid. As she freely moved her appendages within her cocoon, she could faintly hear voices, voices of those she loved & that she knew loved her. Phrases like, 'she's kicking; here, feel that?' were almost rather absorbed, or felt, instead of heard, especially in the way we usually think of hearing. Jocelyn continued to grow within the warm environment that she had woken up in & at the appointed time, emerged from its enveloping comfort & greeted those who were awaiting her arrival with Joy!

Jocelyn's Mother & Father ( we'll call them Bill & Marie ) were fairly young when they began their Journey together. In fact, truth be told, Jocelyn was the main reason they had gotten married. With the way of the world being what it is, the teenagers that would become her Parents had gotten together the night of Junior prom. 'Everybody's doing it!' was a popular phrase going around & since so many others were determined to lose their 'flower' that night, Bill & Marie had an experience that they would never forget!

When Bill first learned that Marie was pregnant, he wanted her to get rid of the evidence! 'We're too young to have a baby!' was his response. Marie had similar thoughts herself, but the more she meditated on the thought of this new biology they had created, purposefully or not, the more she yearned to see it develop. Bill took a bit longer to become convinced, but when he finally began to realize the wonder of it all, he accepted their responsibility with all his mind, soul & strength. Though they were younger then many, Jocelyn would begin her Journey with two of the most loving caretakers that one could ask for!

By no means perfect, these two young lovers, though they tried to do everything 'right', had not grown up with the best examples either, so when their bundle of Joy finally emerged from her cocoon in all her Glory, immediately, they got a dreadful feeling that all was not 'right' with her world! She was beautiful, don't get me wrong & as far as the untrained eye could tell, very nearly 'perfect'. Her concerned parents, however, couldn't squelch the sense of foreboding that hovered at the edge of their consciousness. She seemed to be responsive in every way that was considered 'normal', however, so they did their best to shrug it off, especially since the attending doctors & nurses hadn't seemed to notice anything amiss.

Fast-forwarding several years, after Jocelyn had found her 'legs', so to speak, her loving parents began to notice that, though she seemed to be developing fairly 'normally', their growing bundle of Joy seemed to be taking a bit longer than most of the other children! Jocelyn seemed to be having trouble keeping up with the other children, especially when it came to physical activities. In fact, she seemed content to stick to herself quite a bit, in her formative years, though later in her relatively short life, she would prove to be quite a blessing to those who knew & loved her!

To know Jocelyn was to love her! One would be hard-pressed to find a more loving, caring & sharing young lady. Having finally arrived at what is often called 'the age of accountability', Jocelyn, having become 'aware' at an earlier age than most, had blossomed into quite the lovely young lady, though smaller, on average, than most twelve year-olds. She treated everyone with kindness, even those very few who were unkind to her. On top of her body's slower-than-usual development, Jocelyn seemed to be having a bit of a hard time with ambulation. Although she could get where she was going ( most of the time, anyway ) without too much difficulty, her body's deficiency became more noticeable with the passing years!

While in the womb, in her formative months, Jocelyn's body had been exposed to several foreign substances, substances which Bill & Marie, young & immature themselves, had ignorantly immersed themselves in. Not having had the necessary upbringing, they were ignorant of the fact that such substances are wisely avoided, especially when pregnant. As a result, though Jocelyn turned out, for all intents & purposes, 'perfect', her 'shell' had not developed to a 'normal' extent. She had an increasing difficulty getting around & after a time, it seemed she would almost rather keep to herself rather than be around others who had no problems with their movements. Some, at first, took this hesitation to be shyness, or even that Jocelyn didn't like people, but once they got to know her, Jocelyn quickly became one of their favorites ( to most of them, anyway ). No more was Jocelyn on the outside looking in, as it were; though she was not always the center of attention, she was now included in many of the activities that she had missed out on before. Having come to know & love her, her growing circle of friends were more than willing to slow down their own activities so that they could partake in the Joy that was her!

The body that Jocelyn had incarnated those relatively short few years ago was starting to rapidly wear down! The deficiencies that had begun to manifest in her early childhood were now becoming much cause for alarm! After being 'poked & prodded' by numerous doctors & nurses for what seemed like years, Jocelyn was finally sent home with the prognosis that she might not be around much longer. Both Bill & Marie were devastated, even though they dimly understood what their little bundle of Joy had taught them about the true blessings of life, over the years. They understood, though & this was where much of the pain set in, that the deformities in their daughter's young & failing body were due to their own ignorance & immaturity. They would do better next time, having been blessed, for a little while, to such an extent!

Jocelyn, though relatively young, had matured much faster than her biology! As her body rapidly deteriorated, she seemed to grow even faster in maturity. She accepted the fact, even though she was aware how hard it was on everyone else, especially her parents, that she would not inhabit this body for much longer. She knew that her time was near, but she also knew, in her spirit, that she had one more Gift to impart to her 'world'............................

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Glory of the Lord & Lady

 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:26 & 27


Whether one views them as our first parents ( in other words, 'the first human beings' ) or simply the first covenant people the biblical Adam & Eve served as a Divine Example of 'as above, so below'. Their relationship was designed to mirror that within what many call 'the God-head'. As we read the biblical Story, we find that, though they were created good ( some say 'perfect' ), something called 'sin' entered the mix & corrupted 'God's' 'good' ( Genesis 1:31 ) Creation. This in itself brings up some interesting & rather uncomfortable questions, but, as this is not my purpose in writing, I will leave that in the capable hands of my readers ( if they so choose ) & we will explore this route no further! The purpose of this blogpost is to show that, in the words of a good friend of mine, 'God is not a bachelor!' As Man was not made to be alone ( Genesis 2:18, Ecclesiastes 4:8-11 ), neither is 'God' alone. The word 'Trinity' is not to be found in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures, although most Christians say that the concept clearly is. However one chooses to read or interpret it though, according to the very beginning words of the Hebrew Scriptures, the word translated 'God' is plural in tense, indicating that this ''elohiym' was not alone in 'His' work!

In today's 'world', especially in our Western culture, it would NOT be 'kosher' for a woman, as the biblical Sarah did, to call ones husband 'lord' ( I Peter 3:6 ). According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, the primary definition of the term 'lord' is 'one having power and authority over others'. It is really an archaic term, probably most familiar in terms of the Old English titles of 'Lord' & 'Lady'. Even here in America, as lately as the 1950s, the terms 'lord of the manor' & 'lady of the house' were fairly well-used. In fact, the wife of the sitting president of the U.S.A. is still called 'the First Lady'. Being a ( former ) British colony, we here in these United States of America need to understand that these terms came to us from our British heritage, which originated in their understanding & thus translation ( ? ) of the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures. In the Ancient Near East, where women ( according to our Western understanding, anyway ) were viewed as little more than 'chattel' ( this tradition continues up to this day in many or most Near Eastern countries ), it would have been 'proper' ( in that context ) for Sarah ( or 'Sarai' ) to call Abraham ( or 'Abram' ) 'lord'. However, even according to Scriptural tradition, the 'New Covenant' brought many 'changes', one being that 'the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [ does ]. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife [ does ].' ( I Corinthians 7:4 )

Science tells us, using different terminology maybe, that, before a person is born, as the fetus is being formed in the womb, it is neither male nor female, but in some sense both, although closer toward what we know as the female end of the spectrum. As the fetus develops, chromosomes play their part, being probably the deciding factor in whether the baby will be swaddled in blue or pink clothes. Whatever the case may be ( I'm not a scientist OR a biologist ), the point is that, as in the beginning, according to the Hebrew Scripture, 'God' made them 'male and female'! Man, at least, before the chromosomes do their little dance, is not just a male, but is comprised of both male & female! Human beings comprise both male & female, even if one doesn't take the Hebrew Scriptures at face value. Because what occurs on earth mirrors what happens in the heavens, especially in an esoteric & meta-physical sense, it only goes to figure that the so-called 'God-head' is comprised of both male & female aspects as well!

We all know at least one man ( or boy ) that seems to have almost more female than male attributes, especially when it comes to the emotions. On the other hand, although the term 'tomboy' is not as popular as it used to be, some women ( or girls ) seem to act more like men than women ( that in itself would probably be regarded as a 'sexist statement' ). However one chooses to rectify it in his or her own mind, it simply stands to reason that we are all made up of the same impulses ( energy )! Like I said, I'm not a scientist, so I'm only guessing, but I would imagine that we, individually, simply manifest those impulses differently. When it comes to the human biological structure ( anatomy ), though, it is difficult to aver that this wonder we know & love came to be by accident, or by any means other than an Intelligent Designer!

The Psalmist of the Hebrew Scriptures wrote, 'I am fearfully [ and ] wonderfully made' ( Psalm 139:14 ): this should be regarded as one of the many universal truths of the Bible! Cultural differences aside, it cannot be argued that this amazing piece of work, this ancient marvel, one might say, could not have just 'happened', by chance, as it were! As wonderful, though, as is the human anatomy, almost as amazing is how corrupted it can become, even disfigured to whatever extent, through the many & varied stressors that we load upon it. This is not to say simply that we, individually have corrupted these fine pieces of 'machinery' through our own doing; no, it happens as a result of many, many generations of abuse & misuse: outside influences may not be discounted either, although, again, it is always up to us, as to how we face these exterior stressors!

Science has made great leaps towards god-hood in the last number of decades! Men & women, not being satisfied just to change their sexual preference, have, through the wonders of Science, been able to change their sexual designation, at least to some extent! As far as I've seen, though, no man has ever been fitted with a womb & though they've probably figured out how to fit a woman with a penis, with plastic surgery to remove her breasts ( they can probably even remove a man's penis & make it look like a vagina ); I highly doubt that any of these unnaturally assigned parts work like they were designed to!  Biology aside, then, it is easy to change ones sexual preference, though infinitely more difficult to actually BE other than what you were designed to BE, humanly speaking. Emotions change like the weather, however, so there are many factors which may influence how one manifests his or her feelings, in other words, whether one acts like society expects a man or woman, boy or girl to act.

Societal changes & cultural 'norms' aside, we know one thing for sure; whatever sort of biological 'shell' we incarnated, it is that 'shell' in which we were meant to carry out a certain purpose in this world in which we live!  Whether one wants to attribute this to our Higher Self, or a Higher Power ( ? ) such as the God of the Bible, we can be certain that this body that we inhabit was chosen from the beginning to serve a Higher Purpose! Again, though, this is not to say that men are supposed to act in a certain way, while women are designated for a different purpose ( like 'child-bearing' );society & culture have dictated how things 'should be', for time immemorial, but speaking of 'change', people are beginning to see the idiocy of it all & living, not as society or even their own biology dictates, but as Common Sense tells them they should. We are now in an Age where we can, if we so choose, move past the age-old cultural norms & decide to act in whichever way serves both mankind & ourselves best, no matter whether society dictates that men should act this way & women should act that way!

There are numerous resources available today, especially in this technological age, that point to the fact, not just of a plurality ( 'Trinity'? ) in the 'God-head', but that, just as the 'God' of the Bible created them 'male and female', so the One who set the worlds to spinning is also comprised of both male & female aspects! Many people, for many reasons & centuries have endeavored to hide this startling but surprisingly natural & comfortable truth, but for as many centuries, the truth has always been out there, though persecuted to the death.

Adam & Eve were the First Lord & Lady, according to the Hebrew Scriptures! Other cultures may have similar Stories, but for whatever reason, this is the Story that the majority of Westerners have chosen to pattern their lives after, to whatever extent. According to our Bible ( our Western interpretation of an Ancient Near Eastern piece of literature ), Adam was [ 'the son' ] of God ( Luke 3:38 ), so the question could rightly be asked here, 'If we are the natural offspring of the Creator, as the text seems to indicate, then is it outside the realm of possibility to assume, if for that glorious fact alone, that we are Divine by Nature?' Not only is it possible; we as human beings, whether we choose to manifest It for good or evil, DO carry Divinity Within! I encourage my readers today; choose to manifest that Divinity in the way which best serves humanity & that includes YOU!!!!

Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, February 09, 2019

The Temple of Creation

 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
John the Revelator ( Revelation 21:22 )

A Temple without an Image is just a temple, but with an Image of the God or Goddess, it becomes a most Holy Place! So, you might say, according to many Christian, even 'secular' scholars, before the creation of man in 'the Image of God' ( Genesis 1:26 ), 'The earth was without form, and void'. According to this literal interpretation, 'God', or Elohim, 'created' humankind in order to posit 'His' own Image in 'His' Creation. Of course, according to the Story; this Image became corrupted when the Enemy of God ( a former Creation himself ( or 'itself' ) tempted this 'Image' to rebel against their Creator. In this interpretation of the Story, the Temple of the Earth still bore the Image of God, though it had been degraded, in a manner of speaking. It was not until the 'God' of the Hebrews had given the Ultimate Sacrifice, that the Image returned to Its former Glory & the Temple once more shone!

More & more scholars have come to the understanding, however, that the early chapters of Genesis ( in particular ) do not describe the beginning of Life as we know it; on the contrary, according to this view, the Hebrew Scriptures tell us a covenantal Story, a story of the Covenant that the Hebrew 'God' made with 'His' Creation, those He had formed in His own Image. Thus, according to some, the Story has itself been corrupted, most would say, because of the aforementioned 'understanding'; according to others, it has been corrupted by the traditional ( literal ) interpretation. Those who teach that the nature of the Story we read in the pages of the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures is covenantal rather than universal are often termed 'preterists'. Not all who have adopted this moniker, however, believe that Genesis 1 & 2 describe the formation of a Covenant & conversely, neither do all who believe that Adam was simply the progenitor of what the Bible calls 'the sons of God' teach that all has been fulfilled, as the term 'preterist' implies!

To say that the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures hold no truths for humanity today would be a grave mistake! There ARE many universal truths, or principles in Scripture! The words of Jesus, though often sadly misinterpreted, are one example. Quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures, He enforced the notion that we should love our 'neighbor' as we love ourselves. While some interpret the term 'neighbor' differently than others, it is universally accepted, among Christians, anyway, that we should observe this practice. Many who do not call themselves Christians, the more spiritual types, have adopted this Way of Life as well, recognizing the Divinity, or Image of God, in all humanity!

The greeting 'Namaste' is how many make known to 'others' that they recognize this universal truth, that all bear 'the Image of God'. ( Yes, ALL bear this 'Image' within themselves, though sadly, in some it is nearly unrecognizable ) The word is of Sanskrit origin & simply means ( in other words ), 'the Divine in me acknowledges the Divine in you'. Though this phrase is most often used, probably, by Buddhists or those of the Hindu or other Eastern religions, it would also go well with Christianity, though, most likely because of its Eastern origins, it is not employed among most Christians, especially those of the Western Orthodox, or Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church, of course is simply the universal ( religious ) term for 'the Body of Christ'. This phrase comes from the Bible, which is the Western interpretation of the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures. 'The Christ', in turn, simply means 'the Anointed, or Sent One' ( this is where the term 'chrism' comes from ); this was the title given to Jesus, who. according to the Greek Scriptures, was born to 'save His people from their sin' ( Matthew 1:21 ) As the Son of God, or 'God Incarnate' ( 'God with us' ) - Matthew 1:23 ), Jesus WAS the Christ, Anointed of God to free His people from slavery to sin. Because we all bear 'the Image of God', however, we ALL have the potential to become 'the Christ', or rather, to recognize & manifest 'the Christ Within' & free our people, our 'world' ( of influence ) from its slavery!

As my readers may have surmised, 'preterist' or 'preterism' has become a fairly broad term. There are different 'degrees', ranging anywhere from 'it's all fulfilled' to 'it's mostly fulfilled', with some going as far as to say the Scriptures applied to Israel Only, while others say that the Church simply replaced Israel ( both interpretations are faulty, though one might rightly say they both have their points ). As the case may be, though, 'preterism', while it is a closer, though still Western, interpretation of this Ancient Near Eastern piece of literature, fails in that it continues to define 'the People of God' as 'Those who have [a]made a covenant with Me  ( Elohim ) by sacrifice' ( Psalm 50:5 ) 'The People of God' cannot be defined as ONLY those who acknowledge the Hebrew 'God', or the 'God' of the Bible, just as 'God' or the Source of All Life cannot be defined by the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Bible, alone!

The fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures can be found in what we call 'the Greek New Testament'! While, from our Western point of view & thus from our human ( personal ) standpoint, it certainly does NOT seem to have been fulfilled in the first century, especially all that stuff about 'a new creation', to truly understand, as most, if not all Christians will readily acknowledge, that we are 'the Temple of the Holy Spirit', we must first realize the gravity of that statement: since the ( Holy ) Spirit dwells within us ( thus WE are the Temple ), yet the Greek New Testament ( Bible ) says that 'the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple', does that mean there are TWO Temples?!

Obviously, there is only ONE Temple & that is where 'the Image of God' resides! ( this is where it gets 'dicey' ) So, since there is only ONE Temple & THAT'S 'God' & US; where does that leave US: are WE 'God'?! Assuredly NOT, you might quickly respond! No, we are NOT the Source of All Life, though we DO bear the Divine Image ( what Christians call 'the Image of God' )! Contrary to what most Christians seem to believe, though, it is not only 'those who accept Jesus into their hearts' that bear this 'Image': all humanity bears the Divine Image; however not all bring that Image to the surface ( manifest ). In fact, one may well note; all Creation bears 'the Divine Image', for everything has in it a 'spirit' of some sort, being made of the same 'building blocks' of the Universe.

In terms that we, as Westerners in particular, are familiar with, a temple is a man-made structure, built as a shrine to a particular God or Goddess. Jesus, in what we call 'the Greek New Testament', spoke of a 'temple..................................................made without hands' ( Mark 14:58 ( II Corinthians 5:1 ); in other words, made, not by human hands, but by 'God'. It is this Temple in which we ALL reside, as the express Image of Divinity, yet again WE are this 'Temple', for we all bear within us that Divine Image!

Charles Haddon Shank


Caddeucus; the Divine Serpent

Monday, February 04, 2019

Thrillled to Healing

Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
Luke 7:50 

Here we go again, getting all mystical, playing with the occult & flirting with blasphemy! As you can plainly see above, though; these are not MY words: they are the words of Jesus, the Son of 'God', according to Luke's version of the Gospel. What if these words were true today, though, in a universal sense & we could actually save ourselves, simply by believing? ( that's a rhetorical question, by the way ) You are encouraged to read the entire story in Luke, of which the quote above is the very last statement, for it brings Jesus' words into much-needed context. The woman in question, presumably a prostitute by profession, is healed, forgiven of her 'sin' because of her faith, bolstered by her love in action. Although this story, like many if not all such, in the four Gospels, may be accounted little more than a parable of Israel, it also bears Universal Truth in that it shows ( if read with an open mind & heart ) that our inner state most often determines our outer!

While many fear to tread the plains of mysticism & esoterica, one does not need to delve very deep to realize the truth of this statement; 'As above, so below'! This is actually a very deep & comprehensive, yet simple statement, ranging from the highest 'heaven' ( sky ) to the earth below & humanity on Earth. This is not to say that every illness that any individual human being has ever experienced can be attributed directly to their spiritual state: much of the illnesses & dis-ease that modern humanity now suffers from is the product, or result of generations of abuse & neglect, 'the sins of our fathers ( ancestors )', if you will. In terms of humanity, though, there is abundant evidence that our ailments very often have a direct link to the thoughts we think. Now, again, this is not to say that every form of dis-ease is curable, simply by improving our thought processes. However, it can be shown that, just by improving our demeanor, we can improve our health, if only our mental health. Improving mental health, in turn, most often leads to improved bodily ( biological ) health!

When Jesus spoke those words of healing & forgiveness to the 'sinner' who dared to present herself to the Son of Man; do you think that she was 'healed' of her affliction ( some scholars teach that this was the same woman  of Mark 16:9 & Luke 8:2 ) because of the Strength & Comfort of His words? We know that words have the power to heal, as well as the power to harm. For example, any parent can bear witness to the power of a word spoken in haste to a little child. Most often, a word spoken in haste, whether it be to a child or an adult, is almost instantly regretted when the speaker sees the harm that has been done, but sadly, those words cannot be withdrawn; the resulting damage can only be healed by carefully chosen words, followed by action, though it usually doesn't hurt if the healing action precedes the words!

The Power of the Mind cannot be denied! Not only does every action we carry out, whether for good or evil, begin in our mind ( consciously or unconsciously ), there have been studies done which seem to prove the power of one's mind over the actions of others! While concepts like this may reside in the realm of science fiction currently, it would not be a stretch, if one approached the subject carefully ( with an open mind & heart ), to say that this concept is not only not a new one; the reality has lingered just beneath the surface of what we call 'reality' for time immemorial!

Most Christians readily proclaim that the 'God' of the Bible simply spoke the Universe into existence, that Jesus simply spoke the words, 'Your sins are forgiven' & it was so; why then, do we find it hard to believe that our words, our thoughts, might have a similar power?! As we have seen & many can attest to, our words DO have a very similar power! When someone transgresses against us personally, though it may not not have have been what we call a 'sin'( against 'God' ); if/when we forgive that person of his or her transgression ( 'sin' ), is not that person forgiven? If by our words we can make another person become physically ill ( at dis-ease ), does it not make sense that we can heal that dis-ease as well? This is not to say either, that like the Jesus of the Bible, we can cast out 'demons' or heal any infirmity, including death, although, with a careful search, one may find evidence to the contrary!

CAN we heal ourselves?! There is much 'evidence' out there to say that, 'yes, we can'! One might find that some of this 'evidence' is greatly exaggerated, while others is down-right 'fairy-tales', but one thing we can be sure of, there is more to it than superstition. Like the Bible itself, or any other example of religious literature, one must read between the lines, so to speak, to ascertain the Universal Truths therein. Jesus, yes, forgave the woman ( Israel ) her sins, but then told her that it was her faith that had saved her: if only we could grasp the true import of His words, 'what dreams may come'?!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Love of God: the Family of God

What does the phrase 'God is Love' mean to you? Two obvious questions might immediately surface in your mind here; 'Who IS God?' & 'What IS Love?' Both of these queries have been confronted in this blog, at least, in a manner of speaking, but, assuming that not everyone has read those posts or garnered those bits of information; let us entertain both questions for a bit. First of all, 'Who is God?' Well, presuming that one is a Christian, the answer should be obvious, especially if one is at all familiar with the Bible, in particular, I John 4:8. The fore-mentioned phrase come directly from this passage. According to the Bible, of course then, 'God' is the God of the Hebrews, the same 'God' ( Elohim ) that created man in His own Image. Now, to one who is not a Christian, the term 'God' may have a slightly different connotation; for instance, our American bank-notes, both paper & coinage, ( still ) sport the phrase, 'In God We Trust'. While the majority of Americans ( 75-80% ? ) may claim to be Christian; by their lifestyles, it is fairly clear that their 'God' looks more like their family, their job, their position, or just plain 'the Almighty Dollar', rather than the God of the Bible. This is not to say that these things are any less important, in the grand scheme of things, than the 'God' of the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures; the point is, everyone has at least a slightly different perception of Who, or even What, this Being ( if you can even name It that ) is that we are so used to calling 'God'. Though those of Islamic faith call It 'Allah' & see 'Him' in a slightly different light than the 'God' of the Hebrews; does that make 'Him' any less 'God' ( to the Muslim ) than the 'God' of the Christian faith; the Jewish faith?

Okay, so 'What is Love?' While the term 'God' may cover a wide spectrum, surely 'Love' is an easy one! Sorry, but no; Love, while like 'God', is what IT is, It also has come to mean many different things to many different people. Most popularly, it would seem, 'Love' is no more than a feeling, probably more akin to 'lust'. To others, in particular those of the Christian persuasion, 'Love' is more of an active proposition, wherein one chooses to do this instead of that, treating their fellow human beings as they themselves would like to be treated. Even the Christian Bible, though, seems to divide 'Love' into several ( or so ) different categories: 'agapaō', 'thelō'& 'phileō'.  Love, however, is more than a proposition, an idea that one might formulate in their mind; Love is in fact infinitely more than any ( one ) Being: Love is what we ARE! As human beings, one might be hard-pressed to agree with this statement, but it is not so much as human beings that we manifest this state of Being; it is by transcending our humanity, going Beyond it, so to speak, that we find this glorious Reality. Yes' 'God' IS Love & so are WE!

How do we, as human beings, experience 'the Love of God out-poured'? That, again, should be fairly plain; it is through 'His' People that we experience 'Love'! When we pray (to 'God' ) for this or that, it is usually, if not always through some human intervention that our wishes/needs are met, assuming we ask in the right spirit. This is not to say that 'God' does not not act supernaturally ( on our behalf ), but more often than not, the reason that the 'prayer of a righteous man avails much' is that other righteous men & women hear that prayer, whether directly or indirectly ( through the Spirit Within/Holy Spirit ) & do all within their power to meet that need/wish, out of Love, not just because of an affinity for that individual, but because they are themselves Love!

In order to understand this Glorious Fact, that we are, in Essence, Love, we must transcend our humanity; not that we become something more than human, but by realizing that we already ARE more than just human beings! We are primarily spirit beings inhabiting biological bodies, or 'shells' if you will. 'What you see' is in some sense what you get, for what you see IS what we, in our individuality, manifest, but when we choose to 'let it be', rather than striving with our Higher Self, our True Self, or Nature ( spirit beings ), we manifest Love. Even the Christian Scriptures say, 'everyone who loves is born of God and knows God'!

Yes, 'God is love'; It's that simple! Then again, it can mean different things to different people. Not that this changes the Glorious Fact ( as we've seen ), for both the terms 'God' & 'Love' are what they are, no matter what meaning or identity we strive to attach to them.In fact of the matter, one might well say that 'God' & 'Love' are interchangeable terms, as in, 'God is Love' & 'Love is God'! So, in a manner of speaking, does one have to acknowledge the 'God' ( Elohim ) of the Bible in order to rightly love one's self or their neighbor? You be the judge, but it's pretty clear that, while not all who don't acknowledge the Christian 'God' do not manifest Love, neither do all who acknowledge the Christian God manifest Love! Can a Muslim manifest Love? Again, you be the judge, but if a Muslim DOES manifest Love, does that not mean he or she is born of 'God' ( Child of God )? Whether a person chooses to manifest the Love that he or she IS, or not, does not change the Glorious Fact of what they ARE. Sadly, many in  our sordid past & present have chosen not to manifest that Love & the world has suffered many unnecessary horrors because of it. Only when we understand that we are More than this humanity will we begin to consistently manifest the Love we truly are!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

'The Truth Will Set You Free'; Universal Truth

According to John 18:38, Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea at the time, asked a soon-to-be-crucified Jesus this bewildering question, 'What is truth?' Jesus never answered him. Why did Jesus not answer  Pilate's question? Was it simply because 'as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth' ( Isaiah 53:7 )? Was Jesus reminding Pilate ( without a word ) that he already knew the truth, that he had no need for Jesus to tell him? Or was it something even deeper? Pilate's profoundly simple question continues to be a thorn in the side for theologians today!Is Truth absolute? Absolutely! Does one person's view, or even the majority's view decide what that Truth is? How about a book? One argument you may have heard is that the Church has taught the Truth for 2,000 years; 'really?! What branch ( denomination? )? That being the case; can we KNOW what Truth is?

To give Jesus' words a bit of context; 'Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' ( John 8:31 &  32 ). ( interesting that these 'red-letter' words are ONLY recorded in John's Gospel ) Right there it is! Jesus told THEM ( Jews in the first century ) that they would know the Truth, which in turn would make THEM free! Now, I'm by no means saying that we today, in 21st-century cannot know the Truth & be made free; we most certainly can! But Jesus' words to the Jews that day told them that the truth of the Gospel ( about Him ) would make them free, free from the chains of  ( the ) sin & death ( of Adam ). The Ultimate Sacrifice that Jesus made for His People ( the Jews ), not long after He made this statement proved to them that they had in truth been set free from those chains!

In some sense of the word, it IS our knowledge of the Truth ( or, in their case, their knowledge of it ) that sets us free, but in the greatest sense, it is the Truth itself! We are often imprisoned within our own mind ( as they were-'How could a Man be God?' ), but when we allow our Higher Self to overcome our Mind & realize that the Truth, like 'God' Himself, is what It is, not our view, or perception of It, we are thus freed from that prison ( much as they were ). Since one's views ( there are manifold different ones out there ) do not determine what Truth is, we no longer have to defend the Truth! Think of all the wars that we might have bypassed if we had just taken this truth to heart! Some might argue that it is necessary to defend Truth, for as we read in John 17:17 ( b ), 'Your word is truth' Here, Jesus was asking His Father ( 'God' ) to set apart His followers through the Truth. For the Jews, Jesus WAS God's Word ( John 1:1 )! 

This is NOT to say that it was ONLY for the Jews that Jesus was God's Word, though in some sense one might note that Jesus WAS ( primarily ) God's Word to the Jews! As the Jewish Messiah, as we've noted previously in this blog, Jesus came to save HIS people from THEIR sin ( Matthew 1:21 ). The fact that Jesus was, or represented, Truth, which, like 'God', does not change, tells us that even today, in the 21st century, people are still being set free ( 'free your mind' ) by knowledge, or acknowledgement, of the Truth. Was Jesus the ONLY representative of Truth that ever lived on this earth? Like Jesus' response to Pilate, I'll let my readers make up their own mind ( if they so desire ). Whatever one person believes, it's bound to be different from what someone else believes. Who's right? Again, is one view ( of the Truth ) right simply because the Majority believe it to be so? Because a Book says so? Whose interpretation is true? Do we believe what somebody else, even our own mind, says is Truth, or do we calm ( our mind? ) & KNOW that 'God' IS? NOT what we think, or perceive 'God' or Truth to be, but what 'God' or Truth IS!

So, how do we KNOW Truth; as Pilate asked Jesus, 'What is Truth?' Inquiring minds STILL want to know; 'why did Jesus NOT answer Pilate's question?! Common sense tells us that it was NOT simply to fulfill a prophecy ( though it surely did that )! Like 'God', we may KNOW Truth by being still, by calming our minds, by realizing that it is NOT our perception of the Truth that makes it so. It is not even someone else's perception of IT that makes it so, even though they wrote it in a certain book millenia ago. The book in question, of course, is what we know as the Holy Bible, which has been translated, mistranslated & re-translated over the centuries! Which version do we trust? Which version is true? Some say 'This version is the ONLY true one', while others, though they might prefer one version over another, acknowledge that Truth lies within ALL versions. So; who/what do we believe, concerning Truth? Do we believe what our mind tells us is true, or do we trust our gut? Why do we not rather just KNOW ( within ourselves ) that Truth, like 'God', is what It is & stop fighting among ourselves about whose perception of Truth ( 'God' ) is correct?

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Witness

Joe was a regular guy, but there was nothing 'average' about him! Joe got along with everybody. When I say 'everybody', I mean EVERYBODY..............no exceptions. Of course, he had his likes & dislikes; there were those he got along with better than others, personally speaking, but when it came to being friendly, Joe certainly had no peers! Now, don't get me wrong; if Joe didn't like someone, he made no 'bones' about it, but even those who didn't quite make the cut received nothing but kindness from his capable hand. There were certain people whose energies jived better with his than others, so there were some that clearly were his preference & so received the majority of his attention, but even those who crossed paths with Joe were blessed with his empathy & loving, sharing attitude!

When everybody else was concerned with being a 'mover & shaker', what most people identified as 'success', Joe was happy to just 'let it be'! Now, again; don't get me wrong, Joe was no 'slouch' when it came to the business world: while he was no billionaire ( not even a millionaire ), by the age of 40, Joe had become a very wealthy man. He didn't have much concern for money, so he didn't have to worry about where his next meal was coming from, but the main body of his great wealth consisted of his plethora of friends. Even those who may not have liked him, for whatever reason, had a healthy respect for him & so, in their business dealings with him ( at least ), treated him in kind, with all fairness & equity.

Joe had been brought up to treat others as he himself would like to be treated, so when he entered the 'real' world at about the age of 18, soon after graduating, he began to put into practice what he had learned. Things didn't always go well for our 'hero' ( for that's really what he was ), especially at first, for many with whom Joe came in contact were not used to such kindness, having been hardened by a cruel, cruel world, where it was usually 'dog eat dog' & 'every man for himself'. 'It's a jungle out there' was a phrase that he heard quite often, particularly as he neared the end of his formal schooling, I say 'formal' because, while Joe had spent the obligatory 6-8 hours a day sitting in front of a chalkboard, his 'schooling' consisted of much more than that; his busy social calendar was the envy of his peers, for Joe believed that while the currency of the day ( money ) was important for such mundane things as keeping a roof over one's head & putting food on the table, the most important 'commodity' of all was friends, those one could count on to hold you up when you were about to fall, that would, if & when neccessary, give you the proverbial shirt off their own back to make sure you were okay!

Things had not always been so rosy for our intrepid hero! Especially toward the beginning of his rather interesting 'career', Joe fell on hard times quite often, but thanks to his truest friends, he had never lacked either a roof over his head or food on the table. Both the roof & the food had sometimes given him an excuse to grumble, for, especially in his early years, Joe was not immune to the human condition & sometimes gave way to the hardships that beset him. Overall, though, he was able to implement the teaching that he knew in his heart of hearts to be true, so Joe was able to take even his deepest, darkest failures & turned them into the greatest, most enlightening successes!

Having already been through several such 'narrow escapes', at age 21, Joe had just embarked on a new business venture, one that promised to bring great success! Like his previous ventures, this one brought him into contact with a slightly different 'breed' of people than he had been used to dealing with.  In his previous ventures, Joe had never encountered such varying levels of unkindness! It was as if these people went out of their way to be nasty! Much as he tried ( never did stop, either ) to treat these people like he would like to be treated himself, these people, for the most part, didn't seem to be phased. Even so, it was not unusual, after Joe had moved on to bigger & better things, for these people to remember his fairness in dealing & to seek his counsel when their own dealings went south.

As an example of 'how to deal', Joe was a prime one! Even those who had treated him unfairly ( to say the least ) were now groveling at his door, begging, like dogs at a holiday feast, for Joe to throw them even the scraps of his great wisdom. Though he did not view himself as possessing this 'great wisdom', Joe happily shared what 'nuggets' he had accrued over his short career. Even though he had accrued much of his 'wisdom' through the unkind practices of the very people who now 'fawned' at his door, he would not turn them away, for Joe knew in his heart of hearts that they had only treated him thus though fear & ignorance, both of which they had inherited through generations upon generations of lies & propaganda!

Joe had been taught, from a very early age, 'the Golden Rule'! Though he did his best to implement this principle throughout his illustrious career, he had always been nagged by the gentle suggestion that there was more to it & indeed there was, infinitely so, in fact! The notion of treating others as we would like to be treated is a noble endeavor, but Joe soon realized in the varied processes of his Journey that this was simply the outward manifestation of an inward reality, or realization: there truly are no others! This is not to say that we are all the same, personally speaking, for we all have different jobs to do while we inhabit these biological shells, but in our inmost beings, we all comprise One Great Spirit. It is this astonishing fact that Joe came to realize & thus enjoyed the greatest success in all his dealings in this 'cruel, cruel world'!

If only we could all learn to live like Joe & just 'let it be'! When we stop trying to make everything go our way, stop judging people as good or bad, right or wrong & just accept them for who they are ( in their heart of hearts ), dealing fairly with all, even when it's not returned in kind & showing kindness even when the general perception is that it's undeserved, even if it seems to be unwanted. Joe learned that it's those who are the most unkind that need kindness the most. Though they may never seem to be affected by our kindness, the seed that we planted will have its effect, sooner or later!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Pagan Roots of Christiamity

If an open-minded person were to do a fairly cursory search for 'proof' that the modern version of what we know as 'Christianity' had its genesis in Pagan religious practices, they would find that the way we do 'church', complete with many of its trappings, including such practices as the sermon & even the special garb that some pastors wear, was practiced very similarly by Pagans long before biblical Christianity took form. At least, if you believe half of what you read on the internet! I, personally, tend to take it with a grain of proverbial salt, but still, I wouldn't disregard it entirely. Much of what is available today, at our fingertips, quite literally, reveals the fruit of countless hours of painstaking research, so while I'll readily acknowledge that one must often sift through layers of prejudice & propaganda, the Truth is out there, whatever form it may take!

'Why does it matter?' One may rightly wonder what real good it does to bring up the past, whether or not one finds for him or herself that much, if not most, of what we Christians do every Sunday as a matter of fact has its roots, not in the Greek Scriptures, but in something far more ancient? 'If what we do on Sundays has Pagan origins, does that necessarily mean that we should discontinue those practices?' For example; it's fairly well-accepted, though not well-received in certain circles, that the Christmas celebration has its roots in Paganism. Does that mean we should not join with countless others in celebrating the Coming of the Light? ( For those of my readers who were not aware of this fact, the birth of Jesus is celebrated on the late date it is, in order to coincide with the Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year & signals the Coming of the Light, when the days ( daylight hours ) begin to lengthen ) Just because the Christmas Tree is rooted firmly in the soil of Pagan tradition ( Yule ), are we being un-Christlike because we enjoy its festooned branches around this time of year? Should we ( could we? ) change the date for our celebration of the birth of the Christ-child? Jesus, according to much research, was more rightly born in the Fall, anyway, at the time of harvest, in August or September.

The word 'Pagan' does not inherently denote 'wrong'! Although a 'Pagan' could not ( technically ) be called a 'Christian' & in that sense is perceived by most, if not all Christians, to be 'wrong', even to be equated ( ignorantly ) with a 'heathen'. The word 'Pagan', in its simple meaning, refers to one who dwells in the country. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the etymology would go something like this; Pagans were those, back in the day, who lived far enough away from the bigger cities & towns that they were undisturbed by the influx of Roman Catholicism when it first reared its ugly head ( yes, I said it! ) As such, they retained the faith of their fathers & were thus distinguished from those who accepted this new religion. In modern times, much as in ancient days, just because one adhered to the Old Ways, rather than accepting the new way of doing things, that one, depending on the person, of course. was not necessarily wrong, just different!

The 'God' of Christianity, according to the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures, is 'the One, True God'! In the same sense though, a Muslim would probably tell you that 'Allah' is 'the One, True God' & Mohammad is His prophet ( Jesus was also JUST a prophet ). Is one ( religion ) right while the other is wrong? Or are they both simply perceptions of the One that IS? Not to repeat myself over-much, sounding like a broken record, but why are we basing our faith on the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures rather than the Q'ran? Why not on the Scriptures of the Ancient Far East, as opposed to the Ancient Near East? To explore the manifold reasons 'Why?' would take far more research  & space than I have time ( or patience ) for, although there might need to be a blogpost on that subject in the future, maybe even a book. Suffice it to say, therefore, that the differences are largely cultural!

Again, a 'Pagan', just because he or she does not follow the tenets of 'Christianity', is not necessarily a bad person, or even 'wrong'. When a person, no matter what religion ( if any ) he or she follows, does what is right, how can you rightly say they are wrong? It should be obvious that it is not what one believes that makes the person, but what one does! Beliefs DO matter, insofar as one practices what he or she professes to 'believe', but it should also be clear as day that, what one practices IS what they truly believe, no matter what they profess! Pagan beliefs do not the person make; if however, whether Christian, Pagan, or Muslim ( even one of those Far Eastern religions ), one practices what is wrong, then that person's religion IS wrong. 'What IS 'wrong'?', you ask; well, put simply, 'wrong' is to take away another person's right, whether it's the right to life, right to property, or right to liberty & happiness. Much more could be said on this subject too, but maybe that's for a future post as well!

So, 'why DOES it matter that modern Christianity is rooted in Paganism?' Does it make a difference in how Christians practice their religion? Well, yes & no; as far as how the origins of Christianity have affected how many Christians tend to view 'Paganism' itself ( or really, anyone who is not 'Christian' ), it sure as hell DOES matter, but insofar as Pagans simply have a different ( some might say 'better' ) perception of 'the One that IS', it does not, or should not. Paganism does not worship a different 'God' than Christianity, it simply acknowledges 'the One that IS' in Its myriad forms. For that matter, not unlike the Far Eastern  religions, it also recognizes the 'God Within' each & every one of us!

Is Christianity simply an improvement on Paganism? One might well proffer that suggestion, though that is questionable at the very least! For one thing, as a religion, Paganism does not incorporate 'a' holy book ( as our 'Holy Bible' ): rather, Paganism observes a living 'Holy Book' ( some call Her 'Mother Earth' ) & Paganism, rather than being an institutionalized ( organized? ) religion like Christianity, it is more just a way of life, though, like Christianity, it does have its peculiar rites & liturgies. Another way in which it could be said that Christianity is NOT an improvement on Paganism is the purposeful omission of the Divine Feminine! However, She cannot be totally hidden from sight, but upon careful examination, can be glimpsed in the One the Roman Catholics call 'Mary, the Mother of God'!

Charles Haddon Shank