The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Jolly Old Soul

Nathaniel Cole was a king!

No, maybe he didn't have the rule of any certain country, or even a people, but he sure felt like a king, at least most of the time! You see, Nat's father had blessed him with a great inheritance & though this great inheritance did not necessarily entail what might be called tangibles, he had found Eternity in his soul, or spirit. While this Gift is, by itself of immeasureable worth, it also made itself manifest in his daily life, where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, as actions worthy of a king in the service of another, Greater King!

There was a time when men & women had been used to treating one another as mere petty thieves & murderers: it was common at this time for one to use another to vault him or herself into a relatively loftier position. Into this scene entered One through whose very Presence caused these petty thieves & murderers to make a complete turnaround, to repent of their former ways & to begin to see each other, not as launchpads or rugs, but as fellow souls, spiritual beings who, although maybe not on the same stage of the Journey, were nevertheless striving to walk the same Path, that towards a Oneness with the Creation, with Life itself!

The world to which this Savior was revealed was an ancient one; in fact, this world was so foreign to that in which Nat grew up, that many or most of his peers did not really understand the depth of what this One had truly accomplished! Though the Story of what He had done for this ancient world had been told & retold many times & in many different ways over the years since His Appearance, the import of what this One had rendered for that ancient, foreign world had not been fully realized, even in our hero's day. Although the Salvation this One had wrought was full & final in this world as well as that ancient one, there were many in this current world that did not yet understand the full significance & glorious implications of that Salvation for this world!

Such was the world in which Nathaniel lived! In the not-so-distant past, his world had suffered much sorrow at the hands of petty thieves & murderers, those who had failed to see, or had not yet come to the realization that all life was sacred, that men & women were not here to be used & abused for their own selfish purposes, but were rather to be symbiotically loved through the Spirit that inhabited them. The world to which the Savior first appeared, as told in this peculiar Story was not really all that dissimilar to this one; both worlds had those ( this one still does ) those who like to use & abuse their fellow men & women to advance their own careers, but both generated those enlightened ones who had that still, small voice inside them, the beginnings of Awareness that whispered to their spirit that Peace that is Beyond!

Men & women still use & abuse each other for personal aggrandizement, this is evident, but as more & more people, like Nathaniel, awake to their True Nature, to their True Potential, the Journeys of so many that had been once thought so different will be revealed as different steps in the same Path! Although there will always be those who will mistreat their fellows, because they have been so hardened to any good spiritual influence, many even that were previously thought to be too hard will, through the ministrations of men & women like Nathaniel & his wife, be softened to the point where they cannot but realize the glorious fact of their relationship with all living things!

Nat WAS a King! Though he would probably never experience many of what are called 'the finer things' of life, he had everything that mattered. His wife loved him & treated him like a king; he fathered a quiver-full of children who, like himself, were fully aware of their exalted position. The world in which they lived was fraught with danger, largely due to the fact that so many had not yet awakened & some others who would likely never awake, but it also offered a glorious world of opportunity, a wonderful world in which the Spirit of Life was revered, as it should be!

Nathaniel Cole, as many of us have been, had been blessed mightily by his gracious father! He was not recognized as a king by most of his peers, because for one thing, he surely didn't act like any in their experience. You see, like his Father, Nathaniel was not a King over many Subjects, but rather a King among Kings, a King of Kings, if you will. He did not Lord it over his fellows as many kings do & have done. He not only realized the sanctity of life & help it in His Healing Hands, He was that very Spirit of Life!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

'This Land is Our Land'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Eschatology of Marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Haddon hank

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More Than Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A Positive Influence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Haddon Shank