The Pagan Path

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Blessed Union of Souls

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 5:23

'I just want to be held!' Well, no; that's not quite true, is it? As members of the Body of Christ, or Christians ( little Christs ), we have no 'wants' ( Psalm 23:1 ). As pneumataphoric human beings, though, even though we know that we ARE held ( John 10:28 & 29 ), we still have that inexorable & often inexpressible need for human companionship, that human touch! To be human is to feel: emotions are built into this biological structure; our brains, which might be called our Link with Divinity, are pre-programmed, you might say, to respond to certain sensations with appropriate reactions. For whatever reason & to whatever extent, we have re-programmed ourselves to stifle these emotions, particularly when it comes to those of a sensual or even sexual nature. Scripture DOES remind us that there IS a time & place for everything ( good ) under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 3 ), so, without doubt, there ARE times & places where we should let these emotions flow, but there is also a time & place when we should check them, or rein them in!

When the apostle Paul penned, or dictated rather, his first letter to the Church at Thessolonika, his concern was not the Church in the 21st century, although that was most definitely in the Mind of the One who Inspired him; no, Paul's benediction was aimed at the Church in the 1st century, the one Who was enduring persecution at the hands of the Judaizers. We, however, may understand Paul as viewing, as all or most good Hebrews did, our biological composition as three distinct parts, 'spirit, soul, and body'. This, by the way, is one of the 'strong' points of Trinitarian doctrine. Covenant Creation, or the notion that the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2 was not that of the material universe, but simply a record of the Creator's introduction of Covenant to the Creation, clearly shows us that we are comprised of at least two parts, our biological bodies & the 'breathe of life' ( Genesis 2:7 ), or that Divine Essence which gave us Life!

According to Scripture, marriage was ordained by the Creator as that mysterious union by which a man & woman become 'one flesh' ( Genesis 2:18-25 ); indeed, echoing this account, Solomon, king of Israel wrote, 'Two [ are ] better than one' ( Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 ). Whatever 'one flesh' might be construed as meaning, it is obviously metaphorical; those joined in union are STILL two separate & distinct human beings! A marriage is not only the joining of two human beings toward one purpose, one goal; it is, more importantly the blessed union of two souls, the merging of two distinct spiritual beings into one!

It might well be said that Moses was imbued with the same Spirit as Jesus; indeed, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, we read examples of those prophets of old that were inspired by the Divine & thus accomplished things that no mere mortal could have! In other words even, it could as truly be said that these prophets of old possessed the 'spirit' of their predecessors ( II Kings 2:15 ( Luke 1:17 ), having the same strength of will & purpose. In much the same way, metaphorically speaking, it is said that husband & wife become 'one flesh'; they come together in their separate biologies in order to accomplish one purpose, to meet one ultimate goal.

The Spirit of Life, that which empowers us all to live in Blessed Communion with the Divine ( though sadly, not all do ), was given that day in the Scriptural Garden of Eden, not as a token of biological life ( that already existed ), but of spiritual life, awareness, if you will, of the Creator & the blessedness of right relationship with Him. The apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia that the marriage of a man & woman was simply a picture of the Blessed Union of Christ ( the Creator God ) & His Church; as such, any biological union should mirror what has come to be called 'The Marriage of Heaven & Earth'. The sensual aspects of biological marriage should most definitely be preserved as they were ordained, but of utmost importance is the spiritual nature of marriage!

Human emotion is an important, integral & inseparable part of our makeup! Even though we are spiritual beings having a human, or biological experience, it is not just from our biology that these feelings come. Our brains, our Link to the Divine, if you will, are so integrated with our biology that we can motivate our several members to do things that are out of the ordinary, even 'supernatural'. We are told from early on that we should not let our emotions reign over us & while this is very true, the reaction by many Christians is to stifle them altogether, an overreaction, one might say. The wisdom of reining in one's emotions is without doubt; in order to enjoy the full blessings of marriage, we must exercise good judgment in the flow of our emotions & their immediate results, the actions which they stir up!

The need for the sensual is more evident in some than it is in others! For whatever reason, some have re-programmed themselves to such a point that they are able to exist without its comforts, others are able ( publicly, anyway ) to so completely stifle these emotions in order ( as they claim ) to better serve their God. Bad experience or 'spiritual' flagellation has caused or enabled many people to almost bypass their emotions, especially when it comes to the sensual, but from the Beginning, it was not so; when the Creator breathed into His Creation the Breath of Life, he endowed us with emotions & called His Creation 'good'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, November 14, 2016

'An Acceptable Time', Politically Speaking

'It's Time For a Change!'

Now where have we heard THAT before?!

But seriously, for the past 8 years, we have been experiencing a lot of 'change'! The 'winds of change' have been blowing for some time now & the defeat that the mainstream media just experienced is just one indication that much-needed change is on the horizon. The mainstream media has tried from the get-go & is still trying to cast Donald Trump, the new president-elect of the USA, Inc., in a bad light. Cries of 'racist', 'bigot' & 'womanizer' ( 'where have we heard THAT before?' ) are rife across the news media today! To some extent, these cries may be fairly well-founded, but like it or not, ready or not, here comes 'the Donald' & if he is able to keep his promises, some of that much-needed change!

'Let's make America great again': anyone with an ounce of sense should jump right on that! It was Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman, who after observing the inner & outer workings of this fledgling nation for a time, said, 'America is great because she is good; if she ceases to be good, then she will cease being great'. A truer statement was never made, yet it seems like, in today's political landscape, to be 'great' means to be stronger than everyone else, not necessarily to be 'good', or 'right'! To be 'good', or 'great', again, one might argue, America, or more correctly, the USA, Inc., needs to stop embroiling the young men & women of this nation in needless, even useless foreign wars, protect our own borders & stop trying to build an empire, focusing rather on the sanctity of life, taking personal responsibility for its own actions!

Change will not be easy: yes, it IS much-needed, but the biggest change needed in this nation, one which it would seem we are seeing the fruits of, is a change in the hearts & minds of her people! The very fact that enough people saw past the obvious bias of the mainstream media & cast their vote for 'a racist bigot' anyway, tells this blogger that people are waking up to the fact that the wool has been pulled over their eyes for quite some time. While some are using the recent events as an excuse to loot & riot, destroying private property & persecuting those who dared to vote in opposition to the status quo, the mainstream media are still reeling from the defeat they experienced at the hands of 'we the people'!

This year's election will probably be remembered as the most momentous in recent history ( give or take, at least a hundred years )! It remains to be seen if the changes 'the Donald' has promised will ever see the light of day, but if half of them do, the next four years should be a very interesting time indeed! In order for this to happen, the American people, those who decided to ignore the media hype & vote against the status quo, must continue along the path which they have begun to tread. ''We will not go willingly into the night' must be their cry; 'enough is enough'! The day may come when Donald Trump will be on the receiving end of the fight against tyranny, maybe sooner rather than later, but for now, the American people, the majority anyway, have made clear their choice!

America may become great again, hopefully in the 'de Tocquevillian sense', but it will not without a great change in the tides! Arguably, America is still a 'great' nation, though mostly, if not wholly, in the sense that she is, simply put, 'a democratic bully'. Wars, for the past century or more, have been fought on foreign soil to 'make the world safe for democracy'! Seems a bit presumptuous, does it not? As a relatively fledgling nation, America, or the corporate entity known as the USA, Inc., has been forcing other nations & peoples to acknowledge that 'our way is best', treading on the fact that these cultures, for better or worse, have existed, without our help ( ? ) for hundreds, even thousands of years! This is not to say that our interference does not have its 'good' aspects, or intentions, but much of what this entity has accomplished over there is anything but 'good'!

The question must be as, as well, 'can a nation that has legalized child-murder ( AKA, abortion ) truly be called 'good', or 'great'? The answer to this question, not to mention questions concerning other similar atrocities, should be a resounding 'No!, even 'Hell no!'

After 50-60 million legalized deaths of the innocent over the 40-odd years since that famous decision handed down by the Supreme Court, still nothing has been done by the U.S. Government to stem the tide! There is much blood on the hands of, not only many of the people of this nations, but of the Corporation that most of them belong to!

In the next four to eight years, there lies before 'us' maybe the greatest opportunity we have witnessed for some time to implement a great change in the tides of this nation! If, as above, Donald Trump stays true to his stated convictions, or better yet, along with many others in this nation of fools, experiences a change of heart, for the good, then we will see America become great again.

Donald Trump, though maybe not the perfect choice to lead this nation out of the morass, cesspool really, that 'she' has become engulfed in & enamored of, has set out on a path that may end up pulling this once-great country, or nation, 'up by her own bootstraps', so to speak. As a leader of men & called 'the most powerful man in the word, the President of this Corporation has the ability, the responsibility, even, to lead this nation back to the right path, a Path in which child-murder will no longer be allowed & a host of other atrocities will no longer be countenamced!

May we, as a nation, turn our hearts, minds & actions back to loving our neighbor as ourselves & treating others as we would have them treat us!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Exaltation of Women

And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on [ My ] menservants and on [ My ] maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Joel 2:28 & 29 

Ask any good Bible-believing Fundamentalist Christian & they will most likely, maybe even fiercely tell you that 'women do not belong in the pulpit; much less in the guise of pastor or preacher!'  Even many Christians who aren't so 'conservative' are quick to rely on the apostle Paul's words in I Timothy 2:12, 'And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence' My purpose here is not to render a discourse on what the apostle meant by these seemingly plain, but mus-understood instructions, but simply to remind my readers that his words were directed at a certain individual, during a certain period of time & in a certain place. In other letters, Paul also said things like, 'The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [ does ]'& 'likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife [ does]'.

In certain cultures around the world, particularly those of Eastern descent, but even, to some extent, those living in the West, women are still relegated to a slightly less elevated stature than men of the male persuasion! The Hebrew Scriptures are somewhat to blame for this, but mostly, I believe, because of a misinterpretation of them. I have written previously on the 'evils' of 'A Focus on the Physical': this problem, I believe, falls under that umbrella as well, because of the focus on women as child-bearers. Really, men shoulder as much responsibility because they not only share in the act of procreation, they share much of the pain in child-bearing & birth; after the birth, the REAL struggle then begins, although fraught with blessing; that of rearing the child. In Matthew's record of the Gospel, he names five notable, though questionable, women in the lineage of Jesus; Sarah, for instance, though traditionally one of the first mothers of Israel, indeed one might say, the Queen Mother of Israel, bears not even a mention!

In one of his famous 'Jew & Gentile' statements, the apostle Paul also wrote, 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.' ( Galatians 3:28 ) I do not believe that Paul meant that there was no longer any distinction between men & women; he simply meant that it did not matter if you were not an Israelite by birth. or a man or a woman by birth. One was accepted by faith & according to Promise. 'Why, according to that famous promise in Genesis 3:15, was it 'the Seed of the woman' that would crush the serpent's head; was not Jesus called 'the Son of Man' as well?' This point, about the siring of Jesus, has been one of contention among modern scholars for probably hundreds of years, so whether Jesus meant by saying 'Son of Man' in a metaphorical sense, or whether His fathering had a more natural explanation, women have really always, at least in word, enjoyed a rather exalted position!

In the greatest sense, one might say, women have been set free by the New Covenant; hell, we have ALL been set free, right? This is not to say that, at one time, men WERE better than women, although they DID enjoy a higher status; women have ALWAYS been on equal footing before the Living God, but since the Exultation of Mary, women have enjoyed a higher status than they had previously known. Even in this nation, as well as most Western nations, women DO enjoy a more elevated position than in many Eastern ones. The distinctions, biologically speaking, between men & women are obvious; both are very well-fitted, in most cases, for the duties they were assigned, but when it comes to their exalted position in the King of the Living God, they are equals!

In Mary's exultation & subsequent exaltation, she became one of the most famous women ever! Though not a great figure, like Sampson or David, Mary is known world-wide as being the mother of Jesus, who in reality, was the Creator Himself ( ? ). Western culture, though it holds women in higher esteem, maybe, than some Eastern cultures, yet, for whatever reason, tends to place men more than women in positions of authority. While it is true that most men, or at least some men more naturally assume & fulfill this role, there are many women who are no less capable, even compatible for such positions. In ancient times, even in Near Eastern culture, the Roman/Greek world, to be exact, most women enjoyed a status slightly lower than, possibly equal to that of a slave; in the modern Near East, some might argue, it's not much better, but in the West, where the Gospel has had a more evident impact, women enjoy a status almost equal to that of men, though they still must traditionally turn to men as their 'head'!

In his letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote mot famously, 'Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord' ( Ephesians 5:22 ), but previously, he told them to submit to one another ( 21 )! In the same vein, the apostle Peter told his readers to submit to each other ( I Peter 5:5 ). Women ARE to submit to their husbands, but husbands are to submit to their wives as well! Yes, Scripture says that, as the Christ ( Jesus ) is the Head of the Church, so men are the head of their wife, of their family. Traditionally, men have enjoyed 'the final say', husbandly prerogative', the 'head' of the table & so on & so forth: yes, it's Scriptural, but is it right? With our continually evolving understanding of the Story of Israel, especially in the Light of the New Covenant, can/should we continue to hold with such reverence these views of women that we have practiced for ages?

Charles Haddon Shank