The Pagan Path

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Metaphorical Jesus

Call it faith! In order to assert that Jesus the son of Mary ever walked the Earth, one must take it on faith that the few references to Jesus extant in ancient writings, such as the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, Josephus, etc., are unbiased & verifiably true. One may also finds bits & pieces of archeological evidence that a certain Man named Jesus, or Yeshua ( Joshua ) once existed, but other than that, one must simply take their word for it, since we weren't there. The Christian faith, or religion, is based wholly upon the facts, as evidenced in the Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, that, not only did the Man Jesus exist, but that He was God Incarnate, more than just a Man!

The Scriptures, as theologians have known for centuries, are full of metaphor! In the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, for instance, the Gospel accounts, interestingly enough, of just Matthew & Mark ( chapters 8 & 5, respectively ), tell a story of a herd of swine that, after a demon enters them, run headlong off a cliff & drown in the sea. Modern critical studies show that this wasn't necessarily a herd of pigs that drowned, but was actually more of a metaphor for unfaithful Israel who were swallowed up by the Sea, which itself is a well-known & accepted metaphor for the Gentiles. A metaphor is not always related as non-literally; for instance, the story of Sampson & the Lion, as related in Judges 14, is told as a factual event, but it also relates a deeper spiritual truth, that Israel according to the flesh was becoming a dead carcass herself & must die that the sweetness of the Spirit might be revealed!

Mysticism should be noted as having been practiced well before the time of Christ! Christian Mysticism, in its many different forms, of course, is based on the Revelation of Jesus the Christ: the notion that the Creator God Himself bore the Body of a Man ( Hebrews 10:5 ( Psalm 40:6 ) in order that Man might better understand his relationship to the Creator is one that is not foreign. In his famous 4th-century work, 'On the Incarnation of the Word', Athanasius made this amazing, almost heretical statement; '“God Became Man that Man Might Become God”'. In today's theological landscape, this might better be rendered as 'God became man, that man might be revealed as ( One with ) God'. Of course, such a statement would very likely land you in as much or more hot water as the previous one, but, as the case may be.......

The very notion that a Man could be God is one that ultimately got Jesus  killed! Yes, it had been prophesied throughout the Hebrew Scriptures that One would come, like Moses, that would bear the sins of His people, but it never said, in so many words, anyway, that He would be God Himself ( Isaiah 7:14 should have been a clue ). When Jesus made the claim that He was equal with the Creator God, being the Son of God, the unbelieving Jews were so enraged that they handed Him over to the Roman authorities, claiming He was a political insurrectionist. Well, things kinda went downhill from there ( you probably know the old, old story ): Jesus ended up being crucified, according to Plan, of course & was revealed as exactly who He claimed to be, the Very Son of God!

Jesus was/is the Son of God ( according to some, Jesus still inhabits His biological Body ); if one believes the Scriptures, there can be no doubt about that! As the Son of God, the unbelieving, as well as believing, Jews noted that Jesus was claiming equality with the Creator God. This was not necessarily the case, although the apostle John himself wrote, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' ( John 1:1 ). Jesus Himself never claimed to be the Creator God, though He DID claim to be the Son of God. Like most Christians today, though, the Jews of Jesus' day assumed that for a Man to make that assertion meant He claimed equality with the Creator God. But such was not the case with Jesus; He only said ( truly ) that He was the Son of God.

Metaphorically speaking, then, the historical ( Scriptural ) Jesus showed us that a Man could indeed be God! Jesus had the Holy Spirit, yes, like certain men of old ( Moses, Sampson, even Saul & then David): the prophets even had a direct connection with the Creator God. But some may insist that Jesus had more; 'He was the Second Person of the Trinity, or 'Godhead': eschatologically & Scripturally speaking, He WAS that, as far as that goes, but did He indeed ( have more )? Yes, as He said, recorded in John 8, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.', thus, in their eyes, anyway, affirming that He was indeed God in the flesh, for this was how the Creator God had introduced Himself to Moses ( Exodus 3:14 ). Jesus was 'God with us' ( Matthew 1:22 ( Isaiah 7:14 ), but He yet deferred to His Father; though He WAS the Creator God, or at least, One with Him from the Beginning, He acknowledged that He was not the Supreme Deity, but simply a Channel!

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The above prayer, of course, is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, who understood that it is by unselfishly serving others, by manifesting the Christ, that we find our salvation! Not salvation, maybe, in a strictly Scriptural sense, for that was accomplished in the 1st century A.D., but in the sense of the prayer above, that it is by metaphorically laying down our lives, that we take them up ( Matthew 10:39 ). As instruments, or channels of the Creator God, we may pray along with the Man from Assisi that we might be channels of His blessing, that we might sow Love instead of Fear, Peace instead of War. But more than that, we need to purpose in our own hearts to BE that Channel, those Instruments!

The Jews of Jesus' Day were called to have faith in Jesus, just as their forefathers had exercised faith in Him whom they could not see ( Hebrews 11 ( Luke 2:25-33 ). Today, whether or not one takes it on faith that Jesus was a historical figure, we understand, as Christians especially, that the teachings He laid down in the Scriptures can be our salvation as well, but only if we practice them from a pure heart. 
Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Ways of Life & Death

We have a problem here in America! Place the blame wherever you want, but wherever you place it, you're most likely missing the heart of the issue. Many like to lay their robes at the feet of the current president, whoever he may be, or point fingers at the federal, state, or local governments, even their next-door neighbor. The issue, however, should be clear; even if you're not a Christian, with proof-texts like James 4:1, 'Where do wars and fights [ come ] from among you? Do [ they ]  not [ come ]from your [ desires for ] pleasure that war in your members?', when anyone points fingers at someone else or even somewhere else, they should know that at least three are pointing back at them!

That fateful day in 1973, the very anniversary of the day of this writing, in fact, the Supreme Court, in its finite wisdom, handed down the fateful decision in the case of Roe V. Wade that, although it may have not legalized abortion, per se, is responsible for the deaths of over 53 million babies, to date, according to LifeNews, almost 65,000 this year so far, according to But this is not the Supreme Court's fault! It is not the president's fault! We can't even lay the blame at the feet of the federal, state, or local government. If one wants to get to the heart of the issue & it's still only another symptom, one simply has to look in the mirror, so to speak! Oh sure, there's plenty of corruption in the federal to local governments, including the president & the Supreme Court, but that's the point; they're people: if some people hadn't been trying to legally murder their offspring, whether because they wanted to hide their indiscretions, or because of extenuating circumstances ( God knows; they DO exist ), then there would have been no call for the Supreme Court to make such a fateful decision!

Unfortunately, being only a symptom ( of the disease ) abortion is not the only determining factor in the current judgement: America's propensity for war, foreign war in particular, has made her a stench in the nostrils of, not only an Almighty God & Loving Father, but in the sight of the many nations we are currently occupying, are at war with, or have made war on in the past! This is not to say that America ( the powers that be ) should not defend herself, or that she should not occupy herself in rooting out evil wherever it exists, or rather, happens, just that by going above & beyond, by using the machine of war for her own selfish gain, she has become a blight to many & a pariah to others!

There may seem to be some wisdom to the notion of the 'preemptive strike', especially in this day & age. 'If we don't hit them first, they will likely hit us', or something similar, is one of the arguments you might hear. Such an argument, though, is based in fear; we fear what might happen if we don't do this or that, but we seem to forget what will most likely transpire if we DO this or that! Like war, abortion has many more results & consequences than the intended. The perpetrator may simply intend to gloss over a certain event or memory, or reduce the population of evil, but it NEVER stops there! In war, for instance, the killing of so-called 'terrorists' may seem like the only just & merciful thing to do, but in many, if not most cases, the family of the one ( or ones ) killed ( murdered ) probably won't look at it that way!

In the case of abortion ( ask just about anyone who's aborted their own flesh & blood ), there's very likely, somewhere down the road, if not immediately, going to be a host of emotional issues, maybe even, depending largely on  the skill of the performing physician ( there ARE other factors ) physical problems. One might even link our current issues with Social Security ( bankruptcy ) with abortion, due to the fact that there are now more people taking out than there are putting in. This probably can't totally be blamed on abortion, though a large part of it must rest there, but across the board, it should be obvious that many of our problems here in America, not to mention the rest of the world, stem from these two issues, both of which involve death, not life!

To bring America back around, we need a wide-spread example of what Almighty God promised Israel of old, in II Chronicles 7:14: 'If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.'  Even if one is not a Christian, one should be able to see the wisdom in turning from their wicked ways ( abortion & war barely begin to cover it )! If for no other reason than to 'Stop the Madness!', One shouldn't have to do much pondering to understand the concept of 'you reap what you sow'!

Our 'land' ( US ) CAN be healed; we CAN get back to where we should be, as a light to the nations! However, the 'right' president, congressmen ( or women ), senators or judges will NOT do the trick ( though they may help ): it's going to take a full-scale assault on the minds & hearts of Americans to even get the ball rolling! To really make a change, quoting Michael Jackson, we must start with 'The Man in the Mirror'. BE the change you want to see in America & the ball will start rolling. The progress may seem slow at first, in fact, the ball may seem to roll back on your own head, but sooner or later, the effects of your actions will spread!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, January 19, 2018

Commmunion With the Divine

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8

I AM a Christian, personally speaking: I very likely will always be so! As such, I still communicate with our Heavenly Father, I still commune with what is called Scripturally, 'the Body of Christ' ( a title, not a name-more correctly, 'the Body of the Christ' ). Maybe unfamiliar to most, though I daresay this term will become more popular in the near future, 'omnism' is basically the idea, or fact that no religion has a handle on Truth, but that all religions contain Truth ( my interpretation ). The Christian religion, for instance, being the basis for the culture most of us were brought up in, seems to give the clearest image of the Creator God, but by no means is it the only one: there are more ancient religious text than even the Hebrew Scriptures that are available to show those with an open mind & heart a different, but similar image, or picture!

The question 'What IS communion with God?' is one that bears other questions; 'what is communion?': 'what/who is God?' To answer the latter question first, a little clarity might be in order! If by 'God' is meant the Christian God, or the Creator God of Scripture, then this description, while not wrong, barely begins to cover the Truth. If by 'God' is meant the Source of all, Divine Energy, even the Universe, One not definable by any religion, though all religions have tried, then we begin to understand that, though all these different religions, culturally speaking, have noted varying aspects, as they perceive them, of this Source, or Divine Energy. An ancient parable from the Far East ( as I remember it ) describes it almost perfectly; four blind Indians came upon an elephant & each one had his description: one grabbed the tail, thus describing the elephant as short but sinuous, while another latched onto the elephant's ear, saying that an elephant must be wide but narrow ( thin ): yet another wrapped his arms around one of the elephant's legs, claiming that an elephant must be very stout, while the last one found the elephant's trunk, declaring, like the first, that an elephant was a sinuous creature, but that they were very long instead. None of these descriptions were wrong, necessarily, they all were just different perceptions, different aspects. Religion is simply man's finite attempt to define the Infinite!

Communion, then, becomes a bigger question than most Christians might admit to, or even acknowledge! Is communion simply the practice, as we have traditional perceived it, of observing the ancient ( 2,000 year old? ) ritual of the bread & wine, as representing what Scripture terms 'the Body of Christ' ( Luke 22:14-19, et al ), or is it something more? It could be well said that communion is simply the interaction of the corporate Body of Christ, Scripturally speaking. While this is true enough, could it, should it not be said that we only scratch the surface?

Simply put, according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 'communion' is defined as 'an act or instance of sharing'. 'The Communion of the Body of Christ', then, according to Christian usage, is a sharing in the Life of Christ, or God. The bread & wine, true enough, signify the Body & Blood of Jesus, the New Covenant, but does this ritual alone define 'communion'? It should go without saying that it does not! 

Communion, most of us can agree, is much more than just the ancient ritual of the bread & wine, whether observed daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Communion is something, whether we admit it or not, acknowledge it or not, that we all observe on a daily basis. This can mean anything from 'Communion with Nature' to 'Communion with God' ( ? ). Communion, in this sense, then, knows no bounds, especially the bounds of religion. In this respect, Communion is akin to the One Christians call 'God'!

The Source of all Life, then, we can all agree, cannot be defined by mere humanity! There is no book written, no script over produced that can either define or contain the great I AM. Like the iceberg, humanity has only ever scratched the surface, so to speak, when it comes to describing the One that Scripture calls 'the Almighty'. Like the Indian Parable above, all religions have sought to describe this Source & though all, in some semblance, have touched upon the Truth, none have a complete, or perfect definition, because the cultures from which these religions have been engendered have always varied when it comes to their experience of the Divine. 

Since the Christian God, though veritable enough, is only one aspect, our perception of the Divine Source of All Life, can we really & truly say that unless one acknowledges the Christian God as THE definition of Life, that one has no Life in them?! Scripturally speaking, this is exactly what we have taught & been taught for thousands of years! Indeed, covenantally speaking as well, this is what we have deduced from them. But as we have seen, 'God' cannot be defined by a book, much less the doctrines of men. Sure, one might say, 'the Holy Spirit, according to Scripture, told these men of old what to write'; true enough, there is much universal truth ( applicable to ALL humanity ) in Scripture, but even so, since they ( the Scriptures ) were written to an Ancient Near Eastern people, the original audience were the primary receptors of its promises. 

Having established, then, though not beyond all reasonable doubt, maybe, that the Christian God is not the one & only image of God, we press on to communion  with the Source of All Life, who has been described by humanity in a variety of different ways! Communion, as we have also established, is simply a sharing, a sharing of intimacy, spiritual or otherwise. So really, Communion with God cannot be defined by religion alone, be it Christianity or not. Communion, like its Creator, is so much more than any religion, as defined by humanity, or some 2,000 year old ritual involving bread & wine ( Body & Blood ), though, it could be argued, it IS just that, since we all, in our humanity, ARE made up of Body & Blood!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Essence of Love & Life

Even the most hardened criminal can love! Shocking, maybe, but it's true. It's hard to deny, admittedly, that there are some people out there who are seemingly beyond help, that even if you show them mercy, you will receive none in return; in fact, one might say that the only merciful thing to do is the world a favor & rid it of this evil, one person at a time. But, is anyone really beyond help or hope? Take a biblical example, for instance; the apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus. You may or may not believe the Story of Scripture, but if you do, you're probably familiar with the story recorded in Acts 9:1-30. the apostle, who was a Pharisee named Saul at the time, was on the road to Damascus where he planned to arrest, maybe even kill any who claimed to follow the teachings of Jesus the Christ. Luke records that, 'suddenly a light shone around him from heaven' & Saul almost immediately did a 180 ( complete turnaround )!

It is said that, in the beginning, 'the Lord God formed man [ of ] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being' ( Genesis 2:7 ): whether one reads this passage as speaking of the literal creation of the first human being on Planet Earth, or whether one acknowledges that a covenant creation is in view here, this should be seen as a Universal Truth, that the Creator God took of His own Spirit ( Essence ), thus animating the creature He had formed. A closer look at the Hebrew phraseology used here in the very first part of the Book of Beginnings will reveal that this Adam was not merely the first human on Planet Earth, but simply the Vehicle through whom the Creator God chose to reveal the Life of His Creation. As the Son of God, Adam & Eve were the proto-Christ, if you will, the beginning of the Revelation of the Christ, the Son of God!

'God is love' ( I John 4:8 ): this should be noted as one of the many universal truths of Scripture as well! Being that the Creator of all, as revealed, not only in the Hebrew Scriptures, but in other ancient texts from that part of the world, in particular, the Far East, is the very Essence of Love; are we really assuming too much when we say that we too, apart from our created humanity, being of the same Essence, are pure Love as well? We propose that it is not too much of a stretch to acknowledge that we are, ultimately of the same Essence as the Creator God & are thus, at heart, One with Him!

While many or most might immediately recoil at the statement just given, it is, when one clears their mind of those pesky religious cobwebs, that one cannot help but realize that it is true! We are human beings, yes, for so we were created, but we are so much more; Just as we saw earlier, in Genesis, the Creator God formed the man, then breathed into him the Spirit of Life. Now, admittedly, as we also testified to, the first parts of Genesis are not so much about the material creation, although they speak to that as well; they are primarily about a covenant creation, in particular, the priestly nation of Israel ( with which the current nation/state of Israel has NOTHING to do, Scripturally speaking! ).

Although Israel of old, which we read about in the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures, ultimately failed in their mission, as a majority anyway, to evangelize the world, or spread the good news of what some call the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, that good news has continued to spread, in one form or another, across the globe! It can be argued, though many have rejected the notion, even from Scripture, that Heaven, or the Creator God's realm & Earth, or the material realm, have been married, or put another way, have met & kissed. Humanity dwells, as places like II Kings 6:17 reveal, alongside this heavenly realm, or dimension & in reality, we dwell in both realms at once, though some have become deadened to this glorious fact!

That many, whether through religious indoctrination or whatever, have hardened their hearts & minds to the fact that we are dwelling in Realms of Glory does not change the fact! As Christians, we have been taught that unless one believes a certain way, that one has no hope of dwelling with the Creator God. In fact, many passages of Scripture have indicated this to orthodox Christians for centuries. As indicated earlier, however, the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as other ancient texts, reveal how the Creator God opened His Realm of Glory to humanity, not so that we could go there when our humanity perished, but so that we could, in Essence, dwell there now!

When we say that we are One with the Creator God & that we are of the same Essence, we do not assume that we are the Creator God, that we are the One who set the Universe ( multi-verse? ) in motion! We are simply of the same Essence & thus Creators ourselves, though on a much smaller scale. We are limited by our humanity & though this is often frustrating to us, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Many of our limitations are self-imposed, as well, for whatever reason. Much of the reason for our limitations is our own free will; we have the free-will to choose, humanly speaking, to do this or that, one thing or the other. Our choices then determine, to a great extent, whether we experience the joys of heaven or the terrors of hell on earth!

The Love that we are is not always the love that we show! When we choose not to just BE the Love that we are, but instead let our mind/ego work its spells on us, we often forget the example of Love that Jesus showed us in the Scriptures. While He did bring upon His covenant people their deservedly adverse judgement, according to their own Scriptures, He forgave them even for rejecting & crucifying Him as their Messiah. Jesus did not condemn those that sinned against Him, rather He forgave them & healed them!

Though the Hebrew Scriptures hold many universal truths, we must understand that they ARE the Hebrew Scriptures; they contain a revelation of the Creator God, but we must understand that they are not THE revelation of the Creator God! There are other, more ancient texts, from other cultures even, though maybe mainly in the East, that reveal the Divine as well. We must remember too, that we, in Essence, are a revelation of the Divine. We do not always show it to the best of our ability, through the choices that we make, but every time we show Love, however weakly, we give a glimpse of that Divinity!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Myths, Lies & Half-Truths

In what may be termed one of the universal truths of Scripture, Jesus said, 'The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!' There has been a tendency, in times past & even in the present time, to view this amazing statement as speaking of this biology, as if what we place before our physical eyes dims our light, allowing the darkness to overtake, or overcome us. 'If we can just stay away temptation, maybe then our light will shine true!' There is some truth to this statement, but unfortunately, it is not the whole truth ( 'so help me God' )!

'As long as we abide in partial darkness, we will continue to be conquered.'

So long as there are those who refuse to shine the Light, there will be Darkness! Thomas Aquinas made the statement above at a time in history when, it may be argued, the darkness was more prevalent than in our day. Born into what some have called 'The Dark Age' of history, he seems to have understood that as long as we accept the darkness & allow it to exist alongside our Light, we will never truly overcome it, but rather, will be overcome by it. The notion that Jesus Himself, personally & biologically speaking, will someday ( in the future ) make His appearance to rescue us from the mess we have made of things is one aspect of this kind of thinking. Like the majority of Jews in Jesus' day, most Christians seem to have adopted a political Messiah, One who will lead us to true liberty, not realizing that true liberty is not political at all. True liberty is the spiritual understanding that we are, by our very nature, free & by nature, free to choose. However, when we choose to subjugate others in darkness, our liberty manifests as political rather than true!

Merely political liberty, such as many think to enjoy today, is a false liberty in which the elite enjoy a kind of freedom that denies freedom & liberty to others. Personal freedom, whether applied to a single or collective entity, unless it extends to the whole, is a false freedom, for it offers certain 'rights' to one group, while denying those same rights to another. The nature of those rights, like our own nature, is spiritual & granted by the Universal Laws of Nature & Nature's God! To deny those rights to some, while 'granting' them to others is to exercise political ( false ) liberty, one in which conquest will always be the name of the game. In order for us to enjoy true freedom, or liberty, the same rights must be extended to all, in accordance with Universal Law.

Universal Law is defined in part by statements such as quoted earlier, that universal truth of Scripture given by Jesus, who was Israel's Messiah. While not all abide in that Truth, those who do ( abide in Truth ) enjoy True Liberty, not the false liberty that comes from political coercion, the false liberty that extends only to those who embrace a certain political belief, or dogma. Therefore, politically speaking, we will always, as Thomas Aquinas prophesied, experience conquest: we will never be truly free, or experience True Liberty, until we all embrace the Light that we are, as well as following that Universal Law!

The notion that Jesus, as the Son of God, will one day return to restore Order is a political one! Most, if not all Christians will readily acknowledge that, spiritually speaking, the Creator of all is currently on the throne, while still looking for a physical manifestation of this glorious truth. It is true enough that any spiritual truth will find its manifestation in this physicality, but partial darkness hinders these from realizing that we ( collectively ) ARE that Manifestation! Humanity, as a whole, is the vehicle through which the Creator God has chosen to shine the Light of True Freedom. but we were also given the free will to choose for ourselves whether we would selfishly ( politically ) confine some to prison, while allowing others merely a shadow of true freedom, or whether we would so shine our Light that ALL might enjoy the True Freedom that comes only from Above!

In conclusion, then, we must understand that no contract, political or otherwise, will bring about True Freedom! The half-truths of politics, especially those practiced in this day & age, will never allow the Light to truly shine, because while some may enjoy a glimpse of the Light, a mere shadow, so to speak, others must remain in the darkness of ignorance. Because of this ignorance, willful or otherwise, the Darkness is made manifest, but when, through the Spirit, one realizes their true nature, then the Light becomes manifest & through the manifestation of that Light ( which IS ), the Darkness will become null & void; indeed, it will cease to exist!

Charles Haddon Shank