Are Catholics Christians?

While walking from St. Luke’s the other day, some out-of-staters pulled up in their car and asked excitedly, “Where is … Continued

While walking from St. Luke’s the other day, some out-of-staters pulled up in their car and asked excitedly, “Where is the Christian Church?” “You’re right here in front of one.” I replied, expecting clarification with the name of a specific denomination. Instead, I heard this: “No, that is a Catholic Church, we are looking for a Christian one.”

Should we start saying “Catholics and Christians” to replace our traditional formulation of “Catholics and Protestants”? No, I say! This new classification denies us Catholics our identity as Christians. Now Catholics ARE Christians, no matter the current fad. Still, we Catholics should pay attention to the undercurrents here. It may be something of a quixotic quest, but I always confront this careless use of words. Whether intentional or not on the part of a speaker, it is an expression of anti-Catholic bigotry. We need to stop it in any way we can.

I understand why Protestants feel uncomfortable with their traditional label. “We are not ‘protesting’ anything anymore!” they say. “We are just following the Gospel as Christians.” This is perfectly good logic that finds acceptance in Catholic America. I object only when this term is used as a way to exclude Catholics from the same discipleship. We also deserve the name as “Christians.” If you read the documents of the II Vatican Council, you will also see that the label “Christian” is more common than “Catholic.” No one has grounds to deny Catholics our Christian identity.

Admittedly, history is often unfair in the way it imposes names upon people and movements. “Roman Catholic” began as an insult to the Christians who remained faithful to the pope at the time of the Reformation. Later, there were “English Catholics” who saw themselves as MORE faithful to our religion because they refused to give undue powers to the Bishop of Rome. Instead, they entrusted guidance in matters of dogma to the congress of all the bishops – hence the name “Episcopalian” derived from the bible’s Greek word for bishop, “epi-scopos.” Those called “Lutherans” may have followed the theology of Martin Luther, but they considered themselves more truly Christian on that account, not members of a new religion. The same applies to Calvinists, Wesleyans and Mennonites – Christians all, although with a historically defined theological interpretation of Christianity. Other Christian groups are defined not by “founders” but by approaches or a specific teaching; hence, we get Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Congregationalists and the like. There also are groups like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Jehovah’s Witnesses whose theology has teachings about Jesus that some find quirky. I would say that all followers of Christ deserve to be called Christian until their practice proves they are not.

Catholics are taught to respect and include as Christians our “separated brothers and sisters.” While we hold that our beliefs are more in accord with Christ’s teachings (Why else would any one stay Catholic?), we do not see other Christians as destined for Hell. Unfortunately, that feeling is not always reciprocated. Among those who call themselves “Evangelicals” or “Pentecostals,” some (not all) consider Catholics to be reprobates condemned by God. This is what preachers like John Hagee have promoted against Catholicism, made all the more visible by the media that tried to import religion into political campaigns. Catholics don’t have to belong to one or other political side to take offense at the repetition of such bigotry.

I suspect that Mainline Protestant denominations no longer carry such animus against Catholicism, and we often work together just as “Christians.” Most of us believe there is so much of God’s work to be done that we should not postpone working together just to satisfy doctrinal formulations. However, ecumenical yearning is no excuse for tolerating insults from those who hate Catholicism. Confront them whenever they deny us our identity as Christians. In my experience, this becomes a moment to enlighten the uninformed. When told of how offensive these words are, some cease and desist from such categorizations. Speaking the truth, however, can also confront those who will spitefully insist that we Catholics are condemned to Hell. Denouncing their bigotry is not to be avoided just because they don’t like it. Remember how Jesus confronted the false religionists of His day? We Catholics are Christians because we imitate Our Lord, even when we confront bigots.

  • paul c

    Dr. S-A:CCNL: It is disappointing that you continue to print the same diatribe in thread after thread without ever justifying your statements. You repeat other people’s opinions on the validity of the Gospel accounts like they are factual, when in fact neither you nor they can defend them. This is intellectually dishonest.

  • Anonymous

    CCNL is a closet Jew. But unfortunately he is not allowed to call himself a Jew because he is not Middle Eastern and born into a Jewish family going back two thousand years or more.Too bad.

  • Anonymous

    The politically motivated religious rivalry between the British monarch and the Pope in Rome has been kept alive long after the events associated with them have become obsolete.That is one important source of anti-Catholic feeling.Break away denominations from the Church of England seem to inherit the anti-Catholic feeling without being conscious of its political origin.Ignorance about the Catholic Church and its teachings is at the root of most anti-Catholic feeling.

  • Anonymous

    There is absolutely no need for Catholics to be on the defensive and try to placate non-Catholics or try to convince them that Catholics are Christians.Catholics should be known by their fruits. The anti-Catholic feeling of non-Catholics should be simply ignored.

  • Jihadist

    WaPo making people register to comment in On Faith is certainly not going to change the tone and thrust of discussions in On Faith. There will still be spam, there will still be unseemly posts. There will still be rude posts. There will still be idiotic posts. And substantive and productive discussion somewhere in between rants and tirades and vents against this and that.This I guarantee. CheersJihadist

  • patricksarsfield

    Folks,If anyone disputes that please explain what happened to the Organized Christian Church (Acts 15 proves that the Christian Church was not merely an “invisible church” as later Protestant apologists have claimed) over the course of the next three hundred years and then try to explain away Ignatius of Antioch’s use of the term “Catholic Church” for that Organized Christian Church in 107 AD and Irenaeus’s 180 AD acknowledgment (Adversus Haereses 3:3:2) that Christian orthodoxy consisted in agreement with that which was taught by the Bishop of Rome. So, given that the Christian Church long ante-dated Protestantism, how can Protestantism now claim a monopoly on the term christians? Only by disingenuous arguments based on their own particular interpretations of the Bible. Yet, as Irenaeus acknowledged in 180 AD before the canon of the New Testament was even agreed upon, Christian Orthodoxy depends on agreement with the teachings of the Bishop of Rome. Ipso facto, the Roman position IS the Christian position.Common sense bears this out: who left protestants in charge of the “Club of Christians”? IOW, where in the Bible does it say that the term “christian” would be the property of some sect created 1500+ years after Christ founded His Church? And which of the many protestant sects inherited the mantle to define the term “christian”? C&V for that?Finally, Stevens-Arroyo is an Hispanic and that brings to mind something I once heard. Rice and black beans are called “cristianos y moros” by some Hispanics because the beans are black (moors or moros) and the rice is white (cristianos or christians). That dish evokes the great 700 year+ struggle between the Catholics of Spain and the Moors that ended in the final conquest of Granada in 1492, some 25 years BEFORE Luther nailed his theses on the door of the Cathedral at Wittenberg. Obviously, the term “christians” applied to Catholics prior to Luther’s arrival on the scene. The idea that the name could be appropriated on an exclusive basis by protestants some 500 years later is therefore totally unsupported.

  • Thinking out loud

    Just the name, Catholic, means Universal.As a result, beliefs were taken from pre-christian greek, pagan as well as christian sources and wrapped in a veneer of religion. A simple test is just to check out the source of essentially all the “Christian ” holidays. How could an organization which supported the crusades, the spanish inqusition and played such a prominent role in politics for centuries be considered christian? Didn’t Jesus say his kingdom was not part of this world? No, the Catholic church represents the broad and spacious road of Matthew chapter 7, especially verses 21-23

  • Farnaz

    Anon:”CCNL is a closet Jew. But unfortunately he is not allowed to call himself a Jew because he is not Middle Eastern and born into a Jewish family going back two thousand years or more.”No Jew is he, I assure you. He could certainly call himself one if he converted, but first he’d have to know something about Judaism. Nope, he’s one of your C-type persons, I’m happy to say for us J people. Do the best you can for him, Dear Anon.You may take some small comfort in this: A noble soul, the Episcopalian blogger, Arminius, believes that the first two letters of CCNL’s acronym stand for “Concerned Croissant.” If that is the case, you Christian type people can breather easy, since Concerned is now in the immortal hands of Pastry.Farnaz

  • Arminius

    Farnaz,Actually, it’s usually ‘Confused Croissant’… and I can’t really think that he is a Christian. You are right, though, no Jew is he. But he is definitely a bigot.

  • Farnaz

    Arminius,Please forgive me. “Confused Croissant,” it is. If in fact he adheres to Muffinism (a Muffinist) then he is in the immortal hands of Pastry, and C persons need not worry.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Forgive Arminius and Farnaz, the prophet of gloom and doom, as both are entrenched under a Wiccan spell of enforced confusion and melancholy. Tis that Coven of Eleven who has cast said spell.

  • paul c

    Thinking out Loud:Let me give you a little background so you can at least understand the Catholic faith a little better. We believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. It is one because of the unity of its members, It is holy because it comes from Jesus Christ. It is Catholic because it is open to all. It is apostolic because the faith was handed down to us through the Apostles.Its most sacred holidays are Easter (celebrating jesus’s resurection); Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birth; Pentecost, celebrating the start of the Catholic church with the gift of the Holy Spirit; Ascension Day, celebrating Jesus return to heaven. We also celebrate days in honor of the various saints, including Mary, Mother of God and of course All Saints day.The beliefs of the Church are summarized in the Apostles Creed:This is explained line by line in great deal in the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, which can easily be found online. (just google it)Don’t be so quick to dismiss the Catholic Church as non-Christian. In fact, all Christian churches are actually spin-offs from the Catholic Church. As for the Church being involved in politics, of course it is. That is necessary to protect the interest of the innocent among us and to provide moral direction. This does not make it any less Christian. I’m not sure what denomination you are, but if you are part of the evangelical movement, you are most certainly involved in politics.

  • patricksarsfield

    Folks,”Just the name, Catholic, means Universal. As a result, beliefs were taken from pre-christian greek, pagan as well as christian sources and wrapped in a veneer of religion.”Universal did not mean that. It actually meant the “comprised of all [christians] wherever located.” “Thinking’s” explanation is a non-sequitur because the beliefs adopted by christians do not depend on the name of their church.

  • Anonymous

    Since this panelist, Prof Stevens-Arroyo has been writing partisan political essays critical of the Catholic Church – its doctrines and hierarchy, it is *vitally important to check them out from original sources* before taking the panelist’s personal take on them as representing the views of the Catholic Church.The first point of reference should be the Vatican website which gives the official positions of the Catholic Church . Enter your topic along with the word Vatican into any search engine (google is just one of them but it is good enough).The next port of call for information on official Catholic positions is the website of the Bishops’ Conference.In addition there are several good Catholic websites run by Catholic religious orders which provides deeply spiritual views based on Catholic teachings.Do check them out.Treat this blog merely as the personal opinion of the panelist.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    The New Apostles’ Creed After Proper Historical and Archeological Analyses:1. I believe in a Singularity, Creator of the Big Bang and Gib Gnab.2. And in Jesus born to Mary and Joseph.3. He lived and preached a fulfillment of the good ways and sayings of the ancients.4. By so doing, he offended the religious and political elite and therefore was tortured, crucified, died and was buried.5. His Soul resides in the spirit world (Heaven?) along with the souls/spirits of all good persons so departed. 6. Alleluia!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Governor Sarah Palin was once a Catholic. She could easily return to the Catholic Church and become part of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal that is the Catholic version of Pentecostalism.Basic info from Wikipedia”The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a movement within the Catholic Church emphasizing the release of more of the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit in a continuing and New Pentecost for all Catholics; the aim is to have the Renewal become part of the experience of all Catholics and not simply remain the experience of just one group or segment of Catholics. Worship is characterized by vibrant Masses, as well as prayer meetings featuring prophecy and sometimes glossolalia, or “speaking in tongues.” This movement is based on the belief that certain charisms (a Greek word for gifts), bestowed by the Holy Spirit, such as the abilities to speak in tongues and to heal (which Christians generally believe existed somehow in the early Church as described in the Bible) should still be practiced today…The Second Vatican Council stated in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium 12: It is not only through the sacraments and the ministrations of the Church that the Holy Spirit makes holy the people, leads them and enriches them with his virtues…. He also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts he makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.The movement was given a major endorsement by Léon Joseph Cardinal Suenens (1904-1996), a leading cardinal in the Catholic Church and one of four moderators of the Second Vatican Council.[3]The charismatic element of the Church is still as evident today as it was in the early days of Christianity, although the manifestations may not seem as common or dramatic as in the first few hundred years. This situation may possibly be the result of the Church’s becoming more and more established in the world. Nevertheless, the charisms as identified in Saint Paul’s writings, especially in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4:11-12, continue to exist and to build up the Church. The nine charismatic gifts considered extraordinary in character include: faith, expression of knowledge and wisdom, miracles, the gift of tongues and their interpretation, prophecy, discernment of spirits and healing (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 2003). [4] These gifts are related to the traditional seven gifts of the Holy Spirit described in Isaiah 11:1-2 (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, as listed in Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶ 1831). The nine charismatic gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are also related to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.[5] Other references to charisms in the Catechism of the Catholic Church include Sections 688, 768, 799-801, 890, 951, 1508 (charism of healing), 2035…The initial reaction to the movement by the Church hierarchy was cautiously supportive. Some initially supported it as being a harbinger of ecumenism (greater unity of Gospel witness among the different Christian traditions). It was thought that these practices would draw the Catholic Church and Protestant communities closer together in a truly spiritual ecumenism. Today, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal enjoys the strong support of the hierarchy, from the Pope to bishops of dioceses around the world, as an officially recognized ecclesial movement.Three popes have acknowledged the movement: Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI. Pope John Paul II stated that the movement was integral to the renewal of the entire Catholic Church. Both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, while acknowledging the good aspects of the movement, at the same time urge its members to maintain their link to the Catholic Church…”

  • Anonymous

    CCNL has made some remarkably wonderful arguments supporting the anti-abortion position.Hats off to CCNL for that!

  • Anonymous

    Keep up the great work supporting an anti-abortion position CCNL!Your persistence in this regard is truly appreciated, especially since you do not post lists but give a rational response to the pro-abortion arguments put forward.The battle to change minds and hearts is sure to be long and hard. Your kind of determination and persistence is highly valued.

  • Anonymous

    Consider the utter hypocrisy of some of the positions of the “sophisticated” pro-abortionists.China implements a one-child-only policy because of population explosion and the vast majority of its population is desperately poor. But it is considered a great violation of human rights because it concerns the rights of the woman who would like to have more than one child. Not because it involves killing the unborn.India legalized abortion for the same reason – overpopulation and extreme poverty of the majority of its population. Being a democracy abortion is not forced, but strongly recommended and large scale ongoing public education on Family Planning has been implemented, including availability of contraceptives and free abortion for those who go to government hospitals. One of the methods strongly recommended is sterilization after the birth of the THIRD child. It is merely recommended, not forced on anyone.Both China and India have serious socio-economic issues to deal with because the vast majority of its large population lives in desperate poverty.In India, due to social customs and burden on families of female children (expenses related to marriage: dowry and other customs even after marriage), some (a miniscule number) choose to kill their girl children – aborting them when the gender is known or rarely through infanticide.The very ones who claim abortion is a right, are horrified when they hear of abortion for gender selection due to social customs that lead to extra financial burden.How do they explain their double standards?How does a “clump of cells” suddenly have more value if abortion is chosen by women in another culture for reasons they do not approve of?How does abortion for reason of sexual promiscuity and convenience become a “right”, but entirely wrong when chosen for gender selection due to real financial burdens placed on the family of female children due to social customs they can do nothing about?One abortion due to gender selection makes it to the front pages of international newspapers, but millions of abortions for reasons of convenience, as routinely happens in rich countries, abortion practiced as a philosophy of “right”, does not.Public discussions against abortion should highlight such aspects.

  • Anonymous

    Due to advanced technology, fetal malformations are detected early in rich countries. Ninety percent of such babies are aborted routinely. It is even considered “immoral” to carry such a baby to term, so the ten percent women who choose to give birth to their children are treated almost with disdain. Consider the recent reaction to Senator Palin’s decision to carry her baby with Down’s Syndrome to term.Aborting fetuses with congenital malformations or diseases, which seriously impairs the chances of the quality of life of the child if born, is termed “mercy killing.”Yet aborting a child for gender selection by people in poor countries is considered atrocious by the very same people who would condemn someone like Governor Palin for NOT aborting her child, someone who could well afford to look after her own child.What exactly is one to call killing a healthy child by a healthy mother living in a rich country (the US being the richest and most powerful country in the world) or a mother who lives in a poor/developing country and is well to do?

  • Anonymous

    It is interesting how pro-abortionists portray pregnancy like a life threatening disease to the woman ONLY if she DOESN’T want to carry the child to term.

  • Anonymous

    ALL living things in the universe – animals and plants – reproduce. It is just as natural as natural death.So where does this logic of reproduction as disease come from?

  • Anonymous

    All statistics, published by The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), Planned Parenthood, Naral et al., by any organization with a stated objective of advocating unlimited access to abortion services, must be compared with an independent source of such figures for greater credibility.From the link provided in previous post:REASONS FOR ABORTIONS: COMPILED ESTIMATESrape 0.3 % (0.1-0.6 %)incest 0.03 % (

    physical life of mother 0.2 % (0.1-0.3 %)physical health of mother 1.0 % (0.1-3 %)fetal health 0.5 % (0.1-1.0 %)mental health of mother depends on definition”personal choice” – 98% (78-99%)–too young/immature/not ready for responsibility 32%–economic 25% (21-28%)–to avoid adjusting life 16%–mother single or in poor relationship 12-13%–enough children already 4-8% Quantifying cases involving the “mental health” of the mother is difficult due to the highly subjective use of this term (as demonstrated by the wide range in percentage of abortions reported for this reason). It is likely that the number of cases involving clinical mental illness falls towards the low end of the range given above.These official state statistics suggest that the commonly cited AGI figures for the “hard cases” are high, perhaps by a factor of three. In any case, however, there appears to be consensus that the hard cases–rape, incest, life/health of mother or baby–are a very small fraction of cases. They are arguably a poor premise for formulating general public policy regarding abortion. At the other extreme, AGI’s surveys of 1987 and 2004 (as well as the detailed statistics from Minnesota) suggest that a significant fraction of abortions are done by mothers who have the means to care for a child but do not want their lives inconvenienced. This is an example of the consequences of the current extreme policy in the United States regarding abortion.——– Wm. Robert Johnston.

  • Anonymous

    It is noteworthy that the panelist, Professor Stevens-Arroyo, who has repeatedly criticized the Catholic Church and American Catholic Bishops for their opposition to abortion, on this blog, has NOT posted a response to this week’s question of the moderators:John McCain and Sarah Palin say it’s time to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Do you agree? What is the right moral choice?

  • Anonymous

    If Roe Goes, Our State Will Be Worse Than You Think By Linda HirshmanThe Washington PostIn the 1980s, when abortion was severely limited in then-West Germany, border guards sometimes required German women returning from foreign trips to undergo vaginal examinations to make sure that they hadn’t illegally terminated a pregnancy while they were abroad. According to news stories and other accounts, the guards would stop young women and ask them about drugs, then look for evidence of abortion, such as sanitary pads or nightgowns, in their cars, and eventually force them to undergo a medical examination — as West German law empowered them to do…___________________________________________”According to NEWS STORIES…”It IS a STORY, a complete lie! West Germany in the 1980s was just like any other West European country. In fact West Germans guarded, and still guard, their freedoms very zealously precisely because it was taken away during the Nazi era.Be warned about the credibility of the rest of the article which has reported such nonsense as a fact.The rest of the article is about as convincing as the nuclear mushroom cloud of Saddam Hussein poised over the US, in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Those of us who knew better and trusted the reports of the Atomic Energy Agency and other reliable reports, objected to the violation of International law.All this hype about what would happen to American women if Roe vs Wade were overturned, is ridiculous at best and macabre at worst. The “worst” that can happen is that a few more thousand healthy babies would get to LIVE and not have their little unnamed, un-mourned bodies, disposed off in garbage bags in abortion clinics.

  • Anonymous

    The three religious groups against abortion are (medical doctors from those groups are also mostly unwilling to perform abortions):Orthodox Jews—————————On Faith panelists seem to reflect the same pattern in their responses.This panelist, Prof Stevens-Arroyo reflects his political position.

  • Anonymous

    Medical science supports the views of the religious groups which have always opposed abortion based on their intuitive spiritual knowledge and wisdom, their interpretation of Scripture and observation of natural law, namely that human beings grow in stages in the womb, and remains a human being created in the image and likeness of God right from the beginning.

  • Anonymous

    The Constitutional Court of Germany considers the human embryo/fetus as a developing human with a right to be protected by law. Abortion has been merely granted the status of a non-punishable offense when certain criteria are fulfilled. So there is no constitutional right to abortion.

  • Anonymous

    If Roe Goes, Our State Will Be Worse Than You ThinkBy Linda HirshmanThe Washington PostIn the 1980s, when abortion was severely limited in then-West Germany, border guards sometimes required German women returning from foreign trips to undergo vaginal examinations to make sure that they hadn’t illegally terminated a pregnancy while they were abroad. According to news stories and other accounts, the guards would stop young women and ask them about drugs, then look for evidence of abortion, such as sanitary pads or nightgowns, in their cars, and eventually force them to undergo a medical examination — as West German law empowered them to do…________________________________________________Unless West German law in the 1980s required that every woman leaving Germany undergo vaginal examination as ?confirmation of pregnancy how could a vaginal examination on their return be proof they had gone abroad for termination of pregnancy? Look for proof of abortion in a sanitary pad or nightgowns at a border crossing???????????Could it be that the guards were really looking for hidden drugs on suspicion, after asking them about drugs?

  • spiderman2

    Christianity is this :1. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.2. For by grace are ye saved thru faith. It is a gift of God and is not obtained thru rituals like infant baptism, communion, confirmation, etc.Catholicism does not believe the above statements and it is only right NOT TO BRAND THEM AS CHRISTIANS.CATHOLICISM IS NOT CHRISTIANITY. That’s a fact and not it’s intended as an insult.

  • paul c

    Spiderman2 and CCNL:Spiderman: You are wrong in saying that Catholics don’t recognize the Holy Spirit (the basis of beig born again) and that the Catholic church doesn’t recognize the role of Faith in salvation. The difference between your belief and ours, if there is any difference at all in this matter, is you believe that words are sufficient to demonstrate faith, while we believe along with the Lord and St. James, that you need to demonstrate your faith through actions. This is different than what you are refencing in St. Paul, where he was attacking the notion that you could be justified without Faith simply by following the Mosaic laws. We also agree that Faith is necessary for Salvation.Your statement that Catholics are not Christian demonstrates ignorance of the nature and history of Catholicism as well as denial of the origin of your own faith.CCNL: Its sad that you have lost faith, but to be fair, you need to stop posting other people’s unsupported opinions as facts. Be intellectually honest. Either substantiate them or stop copying them.

  • Arminius

    Spidey is wrong as usual.Christianity is this:Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength;Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

  • Arminius

    Paul C,I admire your determination, but you are truly tilting at windmills. Spidey walks in the darkness of his hatred, and CCNL is welded into his cage of ignorance. Many, including I, have tried to reach them, only to run into the same tired and false arguments. I am Episcopal, but hold that you Roman Catholics are true Christians. (Nota bene, I have problems with a bunch of your beliefs, but that is not a problem here.)

  • Anonymous

    A most recent textbook of human embryology (suggestion: a standard textbook, The Developing Human by Moore and Persaud) is all it takes to make a scientific case against abortion.It would be educational to find out how the German Constitutional Court made its case based on the article: The dignity of a human being shall not be violated. Medical science provides empirical proof that the human embryo/fetus is a developing human being and the time spent in the womb is merely one phase of its life.”Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (spermatozoon) from a male. Cell division, cell migration, programmed cell death, differentiation, growth and cell rearrangement transform the fertilized oocyte, a highly specialized, totipotent cell, a zygote, into a multicellular human being. Although most developmental changes occur during the embryonic and fetal periods, important changes occur during later periods of development: infancy, childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Development does not stop at birth. Important changes, in addition to growth, occur after birth.It is customary to divide human development into prenatal (before birth) and postnatal (after birth) periods. THE MOST VISIBLE ADVANCES OCCUR DURING THE THIRD TO EIGHTH WEEKS OF DEVELOPMENT. (Capitals mine, for emphasis only.) During the fetal period, differentiation and growth of tissues and organs occur. The rate of body growth increases during this period…Fetus: After the embryonic period (eight weeks) and until birth, the developing human is called a fetus. During the fetal period (ninth week to birth), differentiation and growth of tissues and organs FORMED DURING THE EMBRYONIC PERIOD (capitals mine for emphasis only) occur. These developmental changes are NOT dramatic…Trimester: Obstetricians commonly divide the 9-month period of gestation (pregnancy) into three trimesters (a period of three calendar months). THE MOST CRITICAL STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT OCCUR DURING THE FIRST TRIMESTER (THE FIRST 13 WEEKS) WHEN EMBRYONIC AND EARLY FETAL DEVELOPMENT IS OCCURRING. (Capitals mine for emphasis only.)Infancy: The earliest period of extrauterine (outside the uterus) life, roughly the first year after birth. An infant aged one month or less is called a newborn or neonate. Transition from intrauterine to extrauterine existence requires many critical changes, especially to the cardiovascular (heart and blood supply) and respiratory systems. (Mine: In the uterus the fetus is supplied with oxygen and nutrients through the mother’s blood via the umbilical cord of the fetus plugged into the mother as a detachable placenta.) If the newborn infants survive the first crucial hours after birth, their chances of living are good.——–Moore and Persaud (The Developing Human)Since the fetus is genetically equipped to live outside the womb, its lungs and blood supply (which until birth depended on the mother) makes the transition almost immediately. The newborn begins to breathe with its own lungs immediately, and the umbilical cord which is cut at birth neither causes the newborn any pain nor does it stop the newborn from taking care of its own blood supply without the help of its mother. One should simply conclude with the allegory that the fetus was holding its breath in the uterus at a time when it had neither the need nor the opportunity to breathe on its own, for genetically it was programmed to be supplied with its needs by the mother, giving its lung time enough to grow strong slowly. Remember the fetal heart begins to beat very early on – at day 22 or 23, because there is a need to derive oxygen and nutrients from the mother.A healthy human baby is a great miracle. King David expressed the appropriate awe and wonder in Psalm 139.

  • Anonymous

    “Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia would consider overturning Roe — and not for moral reasons, but because they believe it was based on a flawed reading of the Constitution.”—- David Gibson. Abortion’s Foes — on Both Sides of the Aisle, The Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2008.

  • Anonymous

    Professor Anthony Stevens-Arroyo: “Some Catholics — including bishops — oppose laws to curtail abortions. I still haven’t figured out the logic of telling Catholics that abortion is a grave sin and then denying support to proposed legislation that would shrink the scope of abortion, especially since current U.S. laws permit abortion and a vote against change amounts to support for the status quo.”____________________________________________What about overturning Roe vs Wade? That is the question for this week Professor. Please present American Catholics with your answer.

  • paticksarsfield

    Folks,”Catholicism does not believe the above statements and it is only right NOT TO BRAND THEM AS CHRISTIANS. CATHOLICISM IS NOT CHRISTIANITY. That’s a fact and not it’s intended as an insult.”Who appointed Spiderman to the role of guardian of the term “christian”? Where in the Bible was this role conferred on Spiderman? Can Spiderman show biblical C&V conferring that role on himself? Or is Spiderman not a believer in the absurd Protestant Dogma of Sola Scriptura when it comes to his authority??

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paul C, Paul C, Paul C,And your opinions/conclusions are based on four basically unknown semi-fiction writers from the first and second century CE and one well-known prude from the same time period. They were not eye witnesses, did not reference their “biographies” and did not have access to all the historical documents basically fudging and embellishing the story of a simple preacher man to turn him into some sort of poor man’s diety to compete with the Greek and Roman dieties. But then again you believe in “pretty/ugly, wingie, flying, fictional thingies” aka angels and satans i.e. demons of the demented and also fortune telling. Reading the following documents will hopefully change your opinion/conclusions:1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm — the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the titles of their over 100 books on the subject. 2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–”The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament.”5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias 9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.10. 7. The Gnostic Jesus 11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission 12. The Jesus Database- newer site: 13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist: 14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus: 16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/17. Diseases in the Bible: 19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity: 20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians: 23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php24. JD Crossan’s scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separted into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf25. JD Crossan’s conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years: 26. Common Sayings from Thomas’s Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by title with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection? 29. NT and beyond time line: 30. St. Paul’s Time line with discussion of important events: 31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan’s books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx’s words of wisdom as found in his books.33. The books of the following other On Faith panelists: Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.34. Father Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.35. Luke Timothy Johnson’s book The Real Jesus,

  • Anonymous

    CCNL, another attack of posting “The List?”The magic you prescribed for Farnaz/PP might help you too. Get well soon!

  • Anonymous

    This essay, asking whether Catholics are Christians, at this time of the election cycle when a Catholic has been nominated as a VP candidate, is merely red herring for it seems to seek to sidestep the important question of the week about overturning Roe vs Wade.

  • Anonymous

    Abortion as a constitutional right of the woman (US) vs legal abortion as non-punishable offense when certain criteria is fulfilled (Germany) does seem to make considerable difference in the number of abortions. Social benefits seems to play a role in reducing abortions as the statistics from France and UK would suggest.It is not clear whether Germany has fewer abortions because of better social benefits or stricter criteria for abortion or both.

  • paul c

    CCNL:Mark, probably the young man described in Mark’s Gospel, who ran away from the Garden of Gethsemane naked. That would certainly make him an eyewitness. Also a companion of both Paul and Peter, from whom he certainly got eyewitness accounts.Luke: not an eyewitness but a companion of the Apostles and an educated man (a physician) who took great pains to report the story accurately. he was clearly an eyewitness to many of the Accounts in Acts.John, one of the 12 apostles, certainly an eywitness. He clearly identifies himself at the end of this GospelYou are also disregarding the witness of the Epistle writer’s, all but Paul whoe were clearly eyewitnesses. Paul , as you well know, is a very special, very credible case because he was personally persecuting the Church until he saw the risen Christ in a vision on the road to Damascus. There is nothing in these men’s profiles that would suggest that they are liars. And if they were making this up, do you think that they would have taken it to the point of martyrdom. It’s one thing to allow yourself to be martyred for something you truly believe. Its another altogether to die for something you know to be a lie. What would be the motivation fot that?Its unfortunate that the only authors you are willing to read are ones that deny Jesus’ divinity as the starting point for their research and assume that anything that prooves othewise is false and not to be considered. That’s why you think that all the new testament authors are liars. Because that’s the only way you can justify your position.

  • Angela

    Mr. Anthony Stevens-Arroyo,Let me ask you if God’s word is always true? Also, here a quote from the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (you should know this). Canon XXIV “If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God trhough good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cuase of the increase thereof: let him be anathema (accursed). Now let me ask you a question: does this creed not say that: Jesus payment which is justification (it is finished by the Cross) was not enough but good works must be added and if those who don’t believe this, let them be accursed. This is another gospel and not the Gospel of Christ and this is one of the creeds of the Catholic Church. Also, we are to study the Holy Bible and not tenants of fallen man. God will hold all accountable who water down or trample the Blood of the Lamb: in closing, communion is in remembrance of Christ and for what He did on the cross, not a mystical, soul-saving experience; it’s an ordinance; NOTHING MORE. MR. STEVENS-ARROYO —REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND….

  • paul C

    CCNL:Nothing in your Post explains the rationale for discarding the Gospel of John. All it says (and you can look back at what you wrote) is that some Scholars reject it as an account of the historical Jesus. The scholars that reject the Gospel of John being factual and by an eyewitness do so because it serves their purpose of denying the Divinity of Jesus Christ. They do so because if John is credible, there is no way to deny that Jesus is the Son of God. Come back to me when you have an actual reason to reject it, other than its existence contradicts your thesis.

  • Thomas Baum

    ANGELAYou wrote, ” God will hold all accountable who water down or trample the Blood of the Lamb: in closing, communion is in remembrance of Christ and for what He did on the cross, not a mystical, soul-saving experience; it’s an ordinance; NOTHING MORE. MR. STEVENS-ARROYO —REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND”I am not sure what you mean by “in remembrance” but if you mean that it is not the Body and Blood of Jesus then you are wrong.I happen to know that it is because the Holy Spirit revealed it to me, also in the bible, Jesus, flat out says, “This is My Body” and This is My Blood”, He did not say that It was symbolic or anything of the sort.Jesus also said that there was work to be done, did He not?Sounds to me like Jesus is still working thru us if we make ourself available or else why would He say that there is work to be done?God chooses who He chooses, like It says, “Many are called, few are chosen”, It is God’s Plan and His Plan will come to Fruition in due time, God’s Time.God’s Plan is for everyone to be with Him in His Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth, on the seventh day, but as Jesus told us night is coming which happens to be the night of the sixth day.As It says, “The captives shall be released and the dead shall rise” and this shall come to be.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paul, Paul, Paul,You really need to talk to your pastor and any Catholic professors of theology and/or religious history about the authors of the NT . After that, get back to us. You might also want to consult with that “pretty, wingie, talking, thingie” on your right shoulder.

  • patricksarsfield

    Folks,”Jesus payment which is justification (it is finished by the Cross) was not enough but good works must be added and if those who don’t believe this, let them be accursed. This is another gospel and not the Gospel of Christ and this is one of the creeds of the Catholic Church.”Another Gospel? WRONG: The Good Book says: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)In truth, Good works are not necessary if a person dies immediately after being baptized and without further sinning or right after Confession, without further sinning. If though aperson continues to sin after becoming a Christian that person is not getting afree pass to Heaven . As the Lord God of the Universe said in no uncertain terms:And when forgiveness is required, the sinner must also himself have done the good work of forgiveness himself. As Jesus said: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15).This is the REAL Gospel of Jesus Christ, not that cheap grace “gospel” peddled by protestant ministerial entrepreneurs. It’s no wonder protestants do peddle such a gospel. Think about it: become a protestant and you don’t need to live inb accordance with God’s commandments; you can keep on sinning because all your future sins are forgiven too.

  • Thomas Baum

    CONCERNED THE CHRISTIAN NOW LIBERATEDI would rather listen to God rather than people even tho it was not in words that the Holy Spirit revealed this to me.Isn’t it something how the bible says about things being revealed to the little ones whereas the “wise and learned” just don’t get it.Is it any different now, then it was at the time of Jesus?You wrote, “And many historical Jesus exegetes after reading all the documents, scriptural and non-scriptural, from the time period of Jesus and soon after have concluded that the historical Jesus did not say “This is my Body/Blood” i.e. Matt 26: 26-27.”Except for this just being their opinion, how could they possibly come up with this and say that it is a fact, I wasn’t there and they weren’t there but I was present when the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus so I happen to believe that He did say what the bible says that He said.By the way, there are other places where He talks about the Eucharist being His Body and Blood not just where He actually instituted the sacrament and also He did this before He died on the cross which should be something to think about since He extended the invitation to “Come follow Me”, don’t you think?We are called to be “Good Friday” people, is it any wonder that the apostles said many times, these are hard sayings?God’s Plan is for ALL to be with Him in His Kingsom, the new heavens and the new earth, and the seventh day shall arrive in due time, God’s Time, but just as Jesus told us, “Night is coming”.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • paul c

    CCNL: from the Catholic encyclopedia:The writings of Loisy and their rationalistic prototypes, especially those of the German critics, have influenced many later exegetes, who while wishing to maintain the Catholic standpoint in general, concede only a very limited measure of historical genuineness to the Fourth Gospel. Among this class are included those who acknowledge as historical the main outlines of the Evangelist’s narrative, but see in many individual portions only symbolical embellishments. Others hold with H. J. Holtzmann that we must recognize in the Gospel a mixture of the subjective, theological speculations of the author and the objective, personal recollections of his intercourse with Christ, without any possibility of our distinguishing by sure criteria these different elements. That such a hypothesis precludes any further question as to the historical genuineness of the Johannine narrative, is evident, and is indeed candidly admitted by the representatives of these views. On examining the grounds for this denial or limitation of the historical genuineness of John we find that they are drawn by the critics almost exclusively from the relation of the Fourth Gospel to the Synoptic narrative. On comparison three points of contrast are discovered: (1) with respect to the events which are related; (2) in regard to the mode of presentation; and (3) in the doctrine which is contained in the narrative. (1) The events related As regards the events related, the great contrast between John and the Synoptists in the choice and arrangement of materials is especially accentuated. The latter show us the Saviour almost exclusively in Galilee, labouring among the common people: John, on the other hand, devotes himself chiefly to chronicling Christ’s work in Judea, and His conflicts with the Sanhedrists at Jerusalem. An easy solution of this first difficulty is found in the special circumstances attending the composition of the Fourth Gospel. John may – in fact must – have assumed that the Synoptic narrative was known to his readers at the end of the first century. The interest and spiritual needs of these readers demanded primarily that he supplement the evangelical story in such a manner as to lead to a deeper knowledge of the Person and Divinity of the Saviour, against which the first heresies of Cerinthus, the Ebionites, and the Nicolaites were being already disseminated in Christian communities. But it was chiefly in His discussions with the Scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem that Christ had spoken of His Person and Divinity. In his Gospel, therefore John made it his primary purpose to set down the sublime teachings of Our Saviour, to safeguard the Faith of the Christians against the attacks of the heretics. When we come to consider the individual events in the narrative, three points in particular are brought forward: the duration of Christ’s public ministry extends in the Fourth Gospel over at least two years, probably indeed over three years, and some months. However, the Synoptic account of the public life of Jesus can by no means be confined within the narrow space of one year, as some modern critics contend. The three earliest Evangelists also suppose the space of at least two years and some months. As regards the mode of presentation, it is especially insisted that the great sublimity of the Fourth Gospel is difficult to reconcile with the homely simplicity of the Synoptics. This objection, however, entirely disregards the great differences in the circumstances under which the Gospels were written. For the Christians of the third generation in Asia living in the midst of flourishing schools, the Fourth Evangelist was forced to adopt an entirely different style from that employed by his predecessors in writing for the newly-converted Jews and pagans of the earlier period. Another difficulty raised is the fact that the peculiar Johannine style is found not only in the narrative portions of the Gospel, but also in the discourses of Jesus and in the words of the Baptist and other personages. But we must remember that all the discourses and colloquies had to be translated from Aramaic into Greek, and in this process received from the author their distinctive unity of style. Besides in the Gospel, the intention is by no means to give a verbatim report of every sentence and expression of a discourse, a sermon, or a disputation. The leading ideas alone are set forth in exact accordance with the sense, and, in this manner, also, they come to reflect the style of the Evangelist. Finally, the disciple surely received from his Master many of the distinctive metaphors and expressions which imprint on the Gospel its peculiar character. (3) The doctrinal content The difference in doctrinal content lies only in the external forms and does not extend to the truths themselves. A satisfactory explanation of the dogmatic character of John’s narrative, as compared with the stress laid on the moral side of the discourses of Jesus by the Synoptists, is to be found in the character of his first readers, to which reference has already been repeatedly made. To the same cause, also, must be ascribed the further difference between the Gospels namely, why John makes his teaching centre around the Person of Jesus, while the Synoptics bring into relief rather the Kingdom of God. At the end of the first century there was no need for the Evangelist to repeat the lessons concerning the Kingdom of Heaven, already amply treated by his predecessors. His was the especial task to emphasize, in opposition to the heretics, the fundamental truth of the Divinity of the Founder of this Kingdom, and by chronicling those words and works of the Redeemer in which He Himself had revealed the majesty of His glory, to lead the faithful to a more profound knowledge of this truth. It is superfluous to say that in the teaching itself, especially regarding the Person of the Redeemer, there is not the slightest contradiction between John and the Synoptists. The critics themselves have to admit that even in the Synoptic Gospels Christ, when He speaks of His relations with the Father, assumes the solemn “Johannine” mode of speech. It will be sufficient to recall the impressive words: “And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22). (4) Positive Evidence for the Historical Genuineness of the Gospel The reasons urged against the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel are devoid of all conclusive force. On the other hand, its genuineness is vouched for by the whole character of the narrative. From the very beginning the events are portrayed with the precision of an eyewitness; the most minute subsidiary circumstances are mentioned; not the least suggestion can be found that the author had any other object in mind than the chronicling of the strict historical truth. A perusal of the passages describing the call of the first disciples (i, 35-51), the Marriage at Cana (ii, 1-11), the conversation with the Samaritan woman (iv, 3-42), the healing of the man born blind (ix, 1-41), the raising of Lazarus (xi, 1-47), is sufficient to convince one that such a chronicle must necessarily lead the readers into error, if the events which are described be otherwise than true in the historical sense. To this must be added the express assertion made repeatedly by the Evangelist that he speaks the truth and claims for his words unqualified belief (19:35; 20:30 sq.; 21:24; 1 John 1:1-4). To reject these assurances is to label the Evangelist a worthless impostor, and to make of his Gospel an unsolvable historical and psychological enigma. And finally, the verdict of the entire Christian past has certainly a distinct claim to consideration in this question, since the Fourth Gospel has always been unhesitatingly accepted as one of the chief and historically credible sources of our knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ. With entire justice, therefore, have the contrary views been condemned in clauses 16-18 of the Decree “Lamentabili” (3 July, 1907) and in the Decree of the Biblical Commission of 29 May, 1907.

  • Anonymous

    For different forms of spirituality within the Catholic Church, visit the various websites run by Catholic religious orders.E.g.BenedictinesFor good work the Catholic Church does, check out Catholic schools, universities, hospitals, various charities like orphanages etc.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paul C, Paul C, Paul C,Copying and pasting from an outdated copy of the Catholic Encyclopedia is not something you want to do. Again buy Father Raymond Brown’ book, talk to your pastor and ask some Catholic theology/religous history professors about the real authors of the mostly fictional NT and get back to us. online version of the Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: – 1911; Volume 12: – 1911; Volume 13: – 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Thomas, Confidant of the Holy Spirit, Believer in “Pretty Wingie Thingies”, Moses of the NT, Good Friday Person, Baum:Again make sure you invite CNN to your next seance.

  • Anonymous

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NASA extended the mission of the busy Phoenix lander on Monday, saying it will operate until it dies in the cold, dark Martian winter.THE DUST ON THE SURFACE OF MARS RESEMBLES THAT OF SEA WATERThese twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:THESE TWELVE JESUS SENT FORTHI am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.I AM DEBTOR BOTH TO THE GREEKS, AND TO THE BARBARIANSTo ancient astrologers the planets represented the will of the gods and their direct influence upon human affairs. To modern astrologers the planets represent basic drives or impulses in the human psyche. These drives express themselves a) with different qualities through the twelve signs of the zodiac, and b) in different spheres of life through the twelve houses. How the planets manifest themselves also depends on the aspects (or angles) that they form with each other in the sky as seen from Earth.THE TWELVE SIGNS OF THE ZODIACRomulus (c. 771 BC–c. 717 BC) and Remus (c. 771 BC–c. 753 BC) are the traditional founders of Rome, appearing in Roman mythology as the twin sons of the priestess Rhea Silvia, fathered by the god of war, Mars. According to the tradition recorded as history by Plutarch and Livy, Romulus served as the first King of Rome.the twin sons of the priestess Rhea Silvia, fathered by THE GOD OF WAR, MARS.The evening star they called Hesperos (Latinized Hesperus) (Ἓσπερος, the “star of the evening”), but by Hellenistic times, they realized the two were the same planet. Hesperos would be translated into Latin as Vesper and Phosphoros as Lucifer (“Light Bearer”), a poetic term later used to refer to the fallen angel cast out of heaven. The Romans would later name the planet in honor of their goddess of love, Venus, whereas the Greeks used the name of her Greek counterpart, AphroditePHOSPHOROS AS LUCIFER (“LIGHT BEARER”), a poetic term later used to refer to the fallen angel cast out of heavenSaying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, honour, and glory, and blessing.WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN TO RECEIVE POWER AND RICHESAnd there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew THE BROTHER OF GOLIATH THE GITTITE, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.“AND THERE WAS YET A BATTLE IN GATH”The Egyptian god Ptah is given the title dū gitti ‘Lord of Gath’ in a prism from Lachish which has on its opposite face the name of Amenhotep II (c. 1435–1420 BCE) The title dū gitti is also found in Serābitṭ text 353. Cross (1973, p. 19) points out that Ptah is often called the lord (or one) of eternity and thinks it may be this identification of Ēl with Ptah that lead to the epithet ’olam ‘eternal’ being applied to Ēl so early and so consistently.THE EGYPTIAN GOD PTAH IS GIVEN THE TITLE DŪ GITTI ‘LORD OF GATH’In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and also of the moon.Diana was the goddess of the huntPluto was the Roman god of the underworld, known in Latin as Tertius, the counterpart of the Greek Hades. He was originally the Roman god of certain metals and, because these materials are mined, he also took on the role of god of the underworld. The Greek word for wealth is Πλοῦτος (Plοutos) and it is believed that the Romans derived Pluto from the Greek because these metals, jewels and other riches lie under the Earth.PLUTO WAS THE ROMAN GOD OF THE UNDERWORLDAmorite inscriptions from Zinčirli refer to numerous gods, sometimes by name, sometimes by title, especially by such titles as ilabrat ‘god of the people’(?), il abīka ‘god of your father’, il abīni ‘god of our father’ and so forth. Various family gods are recorded, divine names listed as belong to a particular family or clan, sometimes by title and sometimes by name, including the name Il ‘god’. In Amorite personal names the most common divine elements are Il (‘God’), Hadad/Adad, and Dagan. It is likely that Il is also very often the god called in Akkadian texts Amurru or Il Amurru.especially by such titles as ilabrat ‘god of the people’(?), il abīka ‘GOD OF YOUR FATHER’, il abīni ‘GOD OF OUR FATHER’ and so forth.The word El was found at the top of a list of gods as the Ancient of Gods or the Father of all Gods, in the ruins of the Royal Library of the Ebla civilization, in the archaeological site of Tell Mardikh in Syria dated to 2300 BC. He may have been a desert god at some point, as the myths say that he had two wives and built a sanctuary with them and his new children in the desert. El had fathered many gods, but most important were Hadad, Yam and Mot, each of whom has similar attributes to the Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon or Ophion and Hades or Thanatos respectively. Ancient Greek mythographers identified El with CronusEl had fathered many gods, but most important were Hadad, Yam and Mot, each of whom has similar attributes to the Greek gods Zeus, POSEIDON or Ophion and HADES or Thanatos respectivelyA bilingual inscription from Palmyra (KAI. 11, p. 43) dated to the first century equates Ēl-Creator-of-the-Earth with the Greek god Poseidon. Going back to the eighth century BCE the bilingual inscription at Karatepe in the Taurus Mountains equates Ēl-Creator-of-the-Earth to Luwian hieroglyphs read as da-a-ś, this being the Luwian form of the name of the Babylonian water god Ea, lord of the abyss of water under the earth.the TAURUS Mountains equates Ēl-Creator-of-the-Earth to Luwian hieroglyphs read as da-a-ś, this being the Luwian form of the name of THE BABYLONIAN WATER GOD EA, LORD OF THE ABYSS OF WATER UNDER THE EARTH.The Egyptian god Ptah is given the title dū gitti ‘Lord of Gath’ in a prism from Lachish which has on its opposite face the name of Amenhotep II (c. 1435–1420 BCE) The title dū gitti is also found in Serābitṭ text 353. Cross (1973, p. 19) points out that Ptah is often called the lord (or one) of eternity and thinks it may be this identification of Ēl with Ptah that lead to the epithet ’olam ‘eternal’ being applied to Ēl so early and so consistently.THE EGYPTIAN GOD PTAH IS GIVEN THE TITLE DŪ GITTI ‘LORD OF GATH’And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew THE BROTHER OF GOLIATH THE GITTITE, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.“THE BROTHER OF GOLIATH THE GITTITE”In Roman mythology the sun was represented by Apollo, the god of light.

  • Anonymous

    CCNL, you are a closet Jew, who is not permitted to call himself a Jew.You are not a Christian, leave alone a Catholic. Why not admit that in your posts? Why do you pose as the expert on Christianity and Catholicism when you are not a Christian or Catholic?You have been as competent in explaining Christianity and Catholicism as some zealous anti-Christian Muslims on this forum.

  • Anonymous

    CCNL, with you posting your lists and Harold posting his selection of Scripture, there is sure to be a good market for super fast “mice!”

  • Anonymous

    Once again, for reliable information on the stand of the Catholic Church, visit the Vatican and Bishops’ Conference websites. Links provided in earlier posts. Alternatively just google the terms.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Reality 101 Continued:Said synopses are simply the shortened conclusions of many contemporary exegetes on religion. e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg, Pagels and Fredriksen, four members of the On Faith panel of experts. See http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html for biographies of these experts and a list of their books.

  • Anonymous

    CCNL:Reality 707The biography of Jesus Christ as described in the Gospels is much better than the biographies of the “experts” you listed. For anyone who is being presented with what is being claimed as empirical proof, it is somewhat hard to believe that a few academics have “proof” what Jesus COULDN’T have said two thousand years after the incidents took place; that the opinion of a few academics based merely on assumptions should override those who wrote the Gospels, men who claimed they were eye witnesses.Either one believes Jesus is the Christ, or one doesn’t. If the Gospels are not convincing enough, they should for another religion that suits them better. Christianity does not punish anyone for leaving. So you are welcome to give up Christianity. Just let people know you are not a Christian anymore. That is only fair.

  • Anonymous

    From the thread of Rev Mohler:forgetthis:…September 29, 2008 10:58 AM

  • Anonymous

    These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:“THESE TWELVE JESUS SENT FORTH”“Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death”“Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night”Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.“Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death”In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.“Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night”Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.

  • Anonymous

    And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.Lord, even THE DEVILS ARE SUBJECT UNTO US THROUGH THY NAME.BEHOLD, I COME AS A THIEF. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and THEY SEE HIS SHAME.Then were THERE TWO THIEVES CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, one on the right hand, and another on the left.But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.Saying, DID NOT WE STRAITLY COMMAND YOU THAT YE SHOULD NOT TEACH IN THIS NAME? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.Whose end is destruction, WHOSE GOD IS THEIR BELLY, and WHOSE GLORY IS IN THEIR SHAME, who mind earthly thingsWherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,Lord, even THE DEVILS ARE SUBJECT UNTO US THROUGH THY NAME.BEHOLD, I COME AS A THIEF. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and THEY SEE HIS SHAME.Then were THERE TWO THIEVES CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, one on the right hand, and another on the left.For the SON OF MAN IS LORD even of the sabbath day.SO THE DEVILS BESOUGHT HIM, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first

  • ThomasBaum

    CONCERNED THE CHRISTIAN NOW LIBERATEDYou wrote, “Again make sure you invite CNN to your next seance.”I looked up the word seance and it said that it is an attempt to communicate with spirits, so what I experienced was not a seance because it was the Holy Spirit attempting to communicate with me.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • CCNL

    And some like Thomas, The Moses of the NT, and Hallucinator Extraordinaire, Baum, have their own cute, wingie, talking, “dovey” thingie called the holy spirit who visits them on occasion. And the paranormal continues onward, upward and downward!!! This is the 21st Century and it is time to give up Dark Age superstitions!!!

  • Farnaz2

    CCNL (Confused Croissant)”And some like Thomas, The Moses of the NT, and Hallucinator Extraordinaire, Baum, have their own cute, wingie, talking, “dovey” thingie called the holy spirit who visits them on occasion. And the paranormal continues onward, upward and downward!!!This is the 21st Century and it is time to give up Dark Age superstitions!!!”Are you, then, giving us the Muffinist perspective, O thou Confused Croissant?

  • CCNL

    Ahh, the prophet of gloom and doom aka Farnaz continues as noted by the Coven of Eleven in his odd state of mind, never to recover except maybe in New Zealand or Mexico.

  • ThomasBaum

    CCNLYou wrote, “And some like Thomas, The Moses of the NT, and Hallucinator Extraordinaire, Baum, have their own cute, wingie, talking, “dovey” thingie called the holy spirit who visits them on occasion.”I don’t know if you forgot or if you overlooked it but as I have said before I have also met God the Father and I have also met satan.As concerns the Holy Spirit, Jesus Himself said, that He would send Another to guide us into All Truth, did He not?Or is this another part that you have excised out of, what you seem to have left of, the bible?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Arminius

    Hello, Thomas Baum,I see you have finally run into CCNL. You need to know that the Confused Croissant, as he is known here, will never give a straight answer to a question, but will always return with his puerile bigotry and endless, stupid lists. Your efforts are better spent answering other, more sane, posters.God bless.

  • Farnaz2

    Hello Arminius,I am writing the Muffinist epic, unnamed as of yet, in which the Confused Croissant plays a central role. I have finished the first four parts. Fluff, the Magic Muffin, is now in France, home of great pastry, having brought along assorted rolls, cookies, etc., but, alas, although CC was told to remain at the well of confusion, he is following MM.The purpose of the journey is for MM to find a mate, but with CC along, trouble looms ahead. I’ll be posting Part the Fifth anon.

  • Arminius

    Hi, Farnaz,More poetry about our favorite fool, the Perplexed Pastry? Great! I can’t wait.

  • Arminius

    Farnaz,A growing list of names for CCNL:Confused Croissant

  • Farnaz2

    Hello Arminius,This was the last verse I penned, so to speak. Care to try your classicist hand at the fifth? (I could use some help.)For a Concerned CroissantPart the FourthIt seemed CC thought in France he’d be home

  • Farnaz2

    Baffled Biscuit?

  • Arminius

    Farnaz,Baffled Biscuit has been added, thanks.I’ll leave Part the Fifth to you, you’re on a roll.hmmm….

  • Farnaz2

    “I’ll leave Part the Fifth to you, you’re on a roll.”Where is the great Pseudo when one needs him?

  • Farnaz2

    Pale pretzel?

  • Arminius

    Putrid Pretzel?

  • Farnaz2

    Brilliant, Arminius, inspired. We shall need part the sixth in which CC reconstitutes himself (or doesn’t) and appears via cyberspace on this blog.With admiration,

  • Farnaz2

    Arminius,Maybe, CC becomes restless in Muff’s tummy, wants to leave, promises to be good. So Muff lets him go, providing he not trouble folks since he had become stale by that time….

  • Arminius

    Farnaz,Here is another poor effort:From the remnants of the stew a ghost did now emerge

  • Farnaz2

    Oh, sorry…It’s Fluff, Fluff the Magic Muffin. I apologize to all Muffinists out there, except that I think CC maybe the only one. (They, he, it, worship(s)Pastry, btw. I think I’d better stop here.)

  • Arminius

    Farnaz,Apparently my latest was not what you wanted. You are more gentle than I. See what you can do.

  • Farnaz2

    Dear Arminius,No, this is truly spectacular:Here is another poor effort:From the remnants of the stew a ghost did now emergeYou must go on, Muse Inspired Arminius. Perhaps, you will find a noble warrior or two who will combat the Misguided Muffinist.With gratitude,

  • Farnaz2

    All kidding aside, Arminius, I do think you are a natural born poet. I wish I could say that the misguided Muffinist appreciates your labors, but, alas, I think art is beyond is pastryfic ability.

  • Arminius

    Friend Farnaz,Well, I can write some passable rhyme on occasion, when primed with enough beer. Oddly, I can’t write anything decent without beer. Anyway, I think you are wiser than I. You have striven greatly to rise above adversity, and that is to be admired.We cannot converse with the Confused Croissant, nor debate him. He, like a repeating endless tape, keeps coming back with the same drivel. The only weapon we have is satire. And, happily, that is a joyful blade to wield!

  • Farnaz2

    Arminius, you are far too modest. Beer is the nectar of your muse.

  • Arminius

    Farnaz,Ah, yes, the muse, to be seduced with libations.Sing, Goddess, the wrath of Peleus’ son Achilleus, The muse can be a b***h. And the beer, freeing inhibitions, can also bring anger. A two-edged sword, to be sure, to be guarded against.

  • paulc2

    You two are having a very good time at CCNL’s expense. And you are right, he never, ever answers a question directly. I think this is because he really doesn’t have any of his own answers, merely parroting what the secular Jesus Scholars write (in of course, more condenscending ways than they would attempt)or giving long list of references. As you know, I’ve been trying to break through that for several months in the hope that if actually thought about what he was writing it might make a difference. Alas, so far no success in getting him to think outside his self imposed limits, but on the plus side, it has focused me on some interesting sidelights that have further increased my own faith.

  • Farnaz2

    Arminius,Beer stills the “inner critic,” thus freeing up your musical soul. At any rate, it’s a theory. The important thing is that the Muffinist epic be told.Farnaz

  • Arminius

    paulc2,CCNL cannot be reached. Many of us have tried. All we can do now is ridicule him in hope of shaking loose some small amount of thinking ability. But he seems totally rusted in place.

  • Arminius

    So, Farnaz,Assemble the parts of the Fluff Epic, amend as you see fit, and publish.

  • Farnaz2

    Paul C,I’m sorry to say that CCNL is somewhat self deluded and bigoted. He steadfastly refuses to consider sources that run counter to his own; I know, I’ve given them to him. He needs to consider himself an enlightened follower of the man Jesus, of whose existence there can be no doubt, although, of course, there is. It is the rest of us, whoever we may be, whatever religions we may adhere to, who are in the dark. If his posturing has helped you in some way, I’m glad. Frankly, I’ve had enough.Regards,

  • Farnaz2

    Paul C,In the meantime, as CC denies the divinity of Christ, he takes communion, etc. Frankly, whatever he chooses to do is fine with me. It is the pontificating, the conversionism, the inability to question or doubt, the antagonism toward other religions, that trouble. Live and let live, I’ve suggested to him many times, and I’m not alone.

  • CCNL

    From Concerned the Christian now Liberated:Ah, another bred, born and brainwashed member of orthodoxy, aka Paul C. has been added to the list of those who have fallen under the pagan spell of gloom and doom and first century Palestine peasant superstitions.

  • CCNL

    From Concerned the Christian now Liberated:Ah, another bred, born and brainwashed member of orthodoxy, aka Pseudo, the wannabee poet, has been added to the list of those who have fallen under the pagan spell of first century Palestine, peasant superstitions.

  • paulc2

    CCNL:

  • CCNL

    Paul C, Paul C, Paul C,Have you asked your pastor and/or any Catholic theology/religious history professor about the true authors of the gospels????Might also ask them about those “pretty/ugly, wingie thingies” that your religion depends on for accreditation and protection during the scary nights.

  • persiflage

    Christians that would be knowledgeable about their faith owe it to themselves to seek out the Gospel of Thomas (Didymus) in contrast to what the writers passing as John and Paul have to say. The writings of Thomas, Mary Magdelene and other alternate ‘gnostic gospelers’ can of course be found in the Nag Hammadi Library and as separate publications. These documents represent early Christian views and theology that were considered ‘heretical’ by other early theologians and Church founders such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, & Athanasius. Origen of Alexandria was more sympathetic to the Gnostic viewpoint. Clearly, the concept of Jesus as God in human form is nowhere found more clearly than in the gospel of John (along with the letters of Paul). Matthew, Mark and Luke are far more equivical in this regard. The (4) synoptic gospels were selected as the official credo of Christianity because they reinforced a particular view, not because they necessarily represented a more accurate spiritual reality – it was merely the preferred perception of a select group of early and influential Christians that consolidated those views as official orthodoxy after Constantine legitimized Christianity in 325 C.E. – via the Nicene Creed.In Thomas we find much more symmetry with the views of Jewish mysticism and other various esoteric schools of inner discovery and enlightenment – including the (Greek and Syrian) mystery religions that preceeded the founding of early Christianity. To me it is very odd indeed that Crossan, et al fail to recognize the value and significance of inner spiritual pursuit and knowledge-seeking that have always been the hallmark of religionOn the other hand, a secular view of religion is all well and good from a scholastic viewpoint, but is bone-dry and academic in the extreme without a vested interest in the spiritual fruits of religion from a personal standpoint.

  • paulc2

    CCNL:By the way, I have no idea what you are talking about in terms of pretty / wingy things. I don’t need any such thing to validate my faith.

  • paulc2

    persiflage,While you are critical of Crossan and company for being completely secular, recognize that you are advocating an alternative to Christian faith as well. You are advocating a faith that says that Christ was not divine but in fact was a sage preaching self awareness and self knowledge, kind of like Buddha. While self awareness and self knowledge are fine goals, they do not in and of themselves lead you to God, the way that following Christ can do. That’s why these books are not advocated by the Church. By the way, I have read the Gospel of Thomas. Much of it is consistent with the true Gospels but some of it is not. And therein lies the danger for those who do not know the difference and can therefore be mislead.

  • CCNL

    And Paul, Paul, Paul,You don’t believe in angels aka “pretty, wingie, talking thingies?? So the Angel Gabriel is some mythical creature found in the OT, NT and koran??Hmmm, from Wikipedia: “He first appears in the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible. In Biblical tradition, he is sometimes regarded as the angel of death or one of God’s messengers.” So the purge of Egyptian first born sons really did not take place??”Christians and Muslims believe him to have foretold the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.” So there was no foretelling of said births??”Islam further believes he was the medium through whom God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad, and that he sent a message to most prophets, if not all, revealing their obligations. He is called the chief of the four favoured angels and the spirit of truth, and in some views Gabriel is the same as the Holy Spirit.[1]“Wow sure glad we took care of all that hocus pocus!!

  • persiflage

    Paul C – you are correct in that what has long been accepted as Christian orthodoxy is based on hearsay – and that in fact no one knows who the author (s) and compilers of the synoptic gospels actually were. Could these authors actually be from among the original twelve apostles, or were they merely once-removed loyalist wannabees with their own agendas? It is clear that John is less than complementary to Thomas, and in fact coins the term Doubting Thomas when speaking of said apostle’s inability to believe by virtue of faith alone. Surely this was an attempt to discredit and impugn the beliefs of the Thomas Christians of the day. Nothing was known to have been written down for 40-50 years after Jesus was alleged to have lived and died….and of the 4 synoptic gospels, only John seems adament concerning the identity of Jesus as God in human form (a true avatar as compared to the fully human messiah spoken of elsewhere in the gospels).And of course Paul’s own authority was indirect, coming by virtue of his own personal conversion experience via mystical revelations and experiences. In fact, many Christians were said to be directly inspired by the Holy Spirit in those early days, and many were indeed speaking in tongues! Prophetic pronouncements were the order of the day throughout the population of early Christians and sect leaders, including of course the Gnostics Valintinus, Marcion, et al…… The early Christian organizer and Church father Irenaeus had a hard time indeed separating authentic revelation from the work of the devil, as he tried to establish homogeneity among the many and diverse factions to be found among early Christians. Ultimately, the supernaturally based body of doctrinal revelations supported by the Catholic Church emerged one by one over the centuries and show an inner consistency and coherence that seems both purposeful and contrived – to the non-believer. The believer of course attributes all of this to the work of the Holy Spirit. In the end, when seen in a certain light, Catholicism and Christianity in general seem to be an exceedingly passive method of attaining to deep spiritual truth, while the many and various mystical traditions have always been much more active in the methodologies and practices employed for this purpose – including Christian mystics themselves. The Christian mystics that diverged from Church orthodoxy in the deconstruction of their mystical experiences were greatly at risk for being declared heretical – see the visionary experiences of 14th century Dominican priest Meister Eckert as an example – when he dared to imply that he and God were one.But the emblematic nature of the great divide between followers of John and the followers of Thomas is simple – John maintained that salvation could only be arrived at through the intercession of Jesus as God. Thomas believed that personal salvation was achieved by realizing one’s own divinity within. This particular view is in keeping with other mystical traditions – although the Abrahamic faiths have never easily admitted to a real spiritual homogeneity with God – who is wholly seen for all eternity as the Other. And only Jesus shares this singular and divine identity through the mystery of the Trinity. These are interpretations that a more objective historical view of early and even contemporary Catholicism and Christianity might reveal.

  • ThomasBaum

    PERSIFLAGEYou wrote, “….and of the 4 synoptic gospels, only John seems adament concerning the identity of Jesus as God in human form (a true avatar as compared to the fully human messiah spoken of elsewhere in the gospels).”I totally disagree with the statement “God in human form”, Jesus became One of us totally as in He was just as human as you and I and every other human being that has ever been, is or will be.He wasn’t just in the form of a human, He was human and He was still God as in True Man and True God, He was not blender-man.One of the ways that I put it is that Jesus gave up His Omni’s and considering that God is a Being of Pure Love, Jesus was not God in the form of man nor was He man in the form of God, how exactly God did this, not only don’t I know but also I do not care, God is God, I am not, I am just a messenger.It seems like one of the things about being human is that sometimes we want to make God into our image so that we can shrink Him into some kind of formula, well it doesn’t work, God will not fit into any of the boxes that we have constructed thru the ages and continue to come up with still.The Simple Truth is that God is LOVE, Love is not an attribute of God, Love is His Very Being, His Image, as in we, humanity, are made in His Image.You also wrote, “And of course Paul’s own authority was indirect, coming by virtue of his own personal conversion experience via mystical revelations and experiences.”Paul had no authority, he had a “job” to do and it seems like he tried to do it the best he could. If you notice, there were times when Paul said, “All I preach is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ crucified”, some people seemed to want to be told what to do on the outside rather than actually listen and open their hearts up and let it come from the inside out.You wrote, “In the end, when seen in a certain light, Catholicism and Christianity in general seem to be an exceedingly passive method of attaining to deep spiritual truth, while the many and various mystical traditions have always been much more active in the methodologies and practices employed for this purpose – including Christian mystics themselves.”I like how you put this because if read correctly, it can be seen as being passive, but only if we are willing to open ourselves up to God, but it is not passive at all and it also take out our being able to put into a formula how we can get to God except for the being open to Him part, how God does it, one thing that I can say is that God tailors it to the individual as in how God works in your life is up to God, God not only respects us as His children but also as His child.You also wrote, “Thomas tells us that all men are filled with the light of God and made in His image and likeness, as was Jesus himself.”Yes, and if I read this right, not only is this true but it is spoken about on page one in Genesis but if this is all that it says than it is incomplete because Jesus is also God, He is not just a Human Being.One way that I look at it is I am 100% from my Mom and 100% from my Dad and Jesus is 100% from His Mom, Mary, and 100% from His Dad, and we refer to Him as, God the Father, and Jesus, just like the rest of us, was knitted together in His Mom’s Womb.You also wrote, ” Faith-based beliefs are of little value without personal confirmation through actual inner experience.”I disagree with this also and one of the reasons is that I have met God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, Who revealed to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus, so I have met the Trinity and maybe one of reasons God revealed Himself to me was that before I met God, I had “Faith-based beliefs”.Also, I needed to know something for the “job” that God chose me for.Sometimes semantics can throw us off, as a foreinstance, I can say that I have been One with the Father as when He came into my heart but I cannot say that I and the Father are One, I do not know if you can see the difference in those two statements but they say two completely different things!One of the things that it says in the Gospel of John is that: “The Word became Flesh”, it does not say the Word became the form of Flesh, does it?That is another reason that I say that the bible is about the “Word of God” rather than it being the “Word of God”, the bible did not become Flesh, Jesus became Flesh.By the way, God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof and it is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.God’s Plan is for ALL to be with Him in His Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth, also known as the seventh day, remember night is coming, the night of the sixth day, how much longer the sixth day is going to last, I don’t know.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • paulc2

    CCNL:As for Father Raymond Brown, he does have a number of very vocal critics including Father William Most and he is the subject of ongoing debates on the Various Catholic Forums. The examples you use are good case studies. On the one hand, he notes and accepts that the traditional view that the first Gospel was written by the Apostle Matthew. Then he says that in his own view, the Gospel was written by a non-witness, probably because he believes that it was derived from Mark’s Gospel. However, that in itself is controversial because others believe that Mark took Matthew’s base (as did Luke) and editted it to his own needs (combined with Peter’s unique input. Others will tell you that Matthew wrote in either Hebrew or Aramaic and then either he or others translated the work into Greek. Dates for Matthew run from 37-45 AD up into the 60-70 range. My point to you is that none of this can definitively discount the probability that Matthew’s account is an eyewitness account as held by tradition. Its merely speculation.As for your discussion on the deaths of Peter and Paul, I don’t get your point. We all agree (apparently including you)that Peter and Paul suffered Martyrdom for their faith at the hands of Nero after the burning of Rome. Whether or not this came through beheading (Paul) or upside down crucifixion (Peter) really is an inconsequential detail. However, you really have no evidence to say it was done any other way than that held by tradition. Your reference from Father Brown says as much.

  • paulc2

    persiflage:This is Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” This is Mark 1:11: And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This is Luke 1:35: And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. It is clear that all the canonical Gospels portray Jesus as divine. So to say that they are in concert with the heretical Gospel of Thomas is incorrect.

  • Arminius

    Paul C,It is my understanding that the synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This is because they are similar, and quite different from John. Anyway, I hold to the more traditional view that Mark was first, sometime just before 70. Matthew and Luke followed 5-10 years later, and drew on Mark and the hypothetical Q sayings of Jesus. John was probably written about 90. As to authors, only Luke is certain, the others rely on tradition. It is certainly possible that some of the disciples could have lived that long, but who knows? Oh, by the way, don’t count on a straight answer from the Confused Croissant.

  • paulc2

    CCNL:How exactly does the Catholic belief in Angels require me to believe an Angel appeared to Joseph Smith?Did you really expect me to run to my parish priest and ask him who wrote the Gospels just because you recommended it? Frankly, its easy enough to get the official Catholic Position on the web. As you undoubtedly know, the Church recognizes that Matthew the Apostle wrote the first Gospel.Finally, as usual, you list a whole lot of unsupported opinions from your normal Jesus Seminar experts as if they were facts. They are not facts, they are simply opinions created out of biases against the Divinity of Christ.

  • CCNL

    Paul, Paul, Paul,The authorship of the gospels is very important so important that a good Catholic should verify it from reliable sources (e.g. your parish priests and/or Catholic theology/religious history professors) other than web sources whose web addresses you never give. Many who have studied on the scriptural and non-scriptural documents from the first to third century CE i.e.contemporary professors of theology and religious history have concluded/opined that the authors were not eye witnesses. Please note that the Catholic leadership members of the On Faith panel have not come to your defense. Hmmm, I wonder why??And so you are saying that only the Catholic Church had/has access to pretty, wingie thingies aka angels and that the Jews’angel of death and Islam’s Gabriel are myths? Ditto for Moroni??

  • coloradodog

    Yeah let’s talk tolerance while the “scholarly” old ex-Hitler youth Pope calls Protestants “wounded”

  • persiflage

    Paul C – Of course I didn’t equate Thomas with the other evangelists….quite the contrary. He and other ‘heretical’ authors documented in the Nag Hammadi and elsewhere were found wanting as regards confirming the divinity of Jesus and were expunged from the biblical record, along with other apocryphal works. Naturally I’m coming at this from a different perspective than the typical orthodox believer – and find the Bible to be a polyglot work of mythology, metaphor, and allegory. On the other hand, I find the message of Thomas more realistic than the canonical gospels – and as you point out, it can easily be equated with other esoteric schools that promote self-realization and personal discovery of what we could call the ‘fundamental and most subtle nature of reality’ – which is of course our own nature as well. Essentially this is a monistic approach to the nature of the Absolute – rather than the dualismEnlightened Buddhist masters over the centuries since the time of Gautama the Buddha, have indicated unequivically that this subtle Reality is without a second, and is therefore both indescribable and beyond conceptualization – and yet since it is also our very own nature, can be apprehended by individual seekers in some mysterious way through a proper application of method and practice – the process of enlightenment. Mystics through the ages that have apprehended this Absolute Reality (or Cosmic Consciousness)often describe it in terms that reflect their prior religious orientation. Their experiences thus confirm their expectations, or even far exceed those expectations – and yet, humans are driven to be understood in familiar terms (even those of high spiritual attainment) and thus commence to explicate those experiences. This often results in the almost inevitable mis-apprehension of what they’re really trying to say, and is exactly where the allegory of myth is mistakenly taken for concrete reality. How can what someone else says have any real and lasting impact on our own spiritual condition, without our own personal experience? In part, mythologies arise from these inner experiences and also give rise to religious traditions and the possibility of similar future experiences for others – those that are willing to follow in the footsteps of the original spiritual pathfinders. As an example, Lao-Tze referred to this path as the Way and to the nature of reality as the mysterious and ever-elusive Tao (to which everything thing is beholden). Thus, living in harmony with the Tao was (and is) the goal of the highly evolved man that chooses to follow the Way. As the saying goes when referring to ultimate inner discoveries, those that know don’t say, and those that say don’t know.

  • persiflage

    Thomas Baum – while I have no doubts about your own deep spiritual experiences, I do believe that those experiences were both shaped and defined by your prior Catholic orientation and strongly held beliefs. And it should be noted that the drive to convert others to the Christian faith is particularly strong among Catholics and certain other Protestant denominations. And you now proclaim that you have confirmation of those beliefs based originally on faith – and your spiritual experience has taken the shape of a message that must now be delivered. However, no one else has any concept of what you actually experienced, and typically individuals have no true basis of authority when describing personal interior revelations of the spiritual kind – there is no universal language available for this purpose. So what you say in the aftermath may have some credibility to other Christian believers given the scriptural language that you’re using – in addition, you present yourself as far more of a prophet than a mystic and there is a significant difference between the two. The difference being that prophets play the religious role of delivering a public message that predicts something in the future. Their mission is based on being informed of future events via divine revelation for the purpose of wide distribution – mostly among the faithful.Mystics generally keep their experiences to themselves …….

  • persiflage

    Thomas Baum – I need to clarify one point regarding religious experience. Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, among others, believed that universal religious archetypes & symbology could be found primarily in the mythologies upon which religions are founded and have their basis. Myth-making is thought to be inherent in human nature and human culture, and thus we find many similiarites among diverse and widely separated socio-religious and cultural collectives throughout history. Thus, the religious symbols of primitive man are also found to be duplicated in the most technologically advanced modern cultures. Carl Jung believed that these universal symbols found in religious mythology emerged from the deepest part of our commonly shared psyche, the Collective Unconscious. While he considered himself a Gnostic in the religious sense, he had an equally high regard for both Christianity and Eastern religions. He almost single-handedly unwound the ancient mysteries of Alchemy for the academic community. This ancient hermetic tradition (thought to have been first revealed in the Emerald Tablets by the mysterious Egyptian Hermes Trismogestes (Thoth) was still exant in the early days of Christianity – but the dangers of pursuing inner esoteric knowledge apart from the realm of orthodox Christianity was great in those early days, as heretics were frequently burned at the stake. So while alchemists talked of transmuting dross metal to gold through magical processes (a perfectly legitimate pursuit), the true alchemical goal was inner transformation, spiritual development and self-completion through the practices of Magick – a non-christian wisdom tradition that had much in common with both Gnosticism and the mystical study of the Jewish Kaballah. Jung would refer to this process as Individuation – the true goal of human life from his own point of view, and shared by many other esotericists from Pythagorus to George Gurdjeiff. It must have been an interesting (if dangerous) time to be alive!

  • withouthavingseen

    Prof. Stevens-Arroyo,Your piece is generally sensible. Flannery O’Connor quipped that being a Christian had come to mean only that one has a golden heart. One comment I’d like to make is that being a Christian is to a great extent doctrinal; or at least, it is not simply a matter of good behavior. Traditionally, an interdenominational, bare-bones definition of Christian belief has been the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. The first seven ecumenical councils of the undivided Church (held between 325 and 787) has also been a traditional standard, although most Protestants reject the anti-iconoclastic declarations of the last council (II Nicaea).Mormons, though as far as I can tell they usually lead very upright lifestyles, as a community deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. Or at least, they assert that our sonship to the Father is the same sort as His. The gospels and the letters of St. Paul are uniquivocal on the point, though: Jesus is the Son of God by nature, and we are destined for adoptive childhood of God. That is, Jesus is God, and we are to be made like gods. That’s a big difference.Jehovah’s Witnesses also fall into a sort of Arianism by denying the Trinity altogether, first and foremost the divinity of Jesus Christ.These two groups, while composed largely of nice people I am sure, are not Christian groups, because they deny the foundational doctrines of Christianity. In fact, the first ecumenical council was called in order to defend the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ (and not, as some novelists would have it, to suppress the gnostic texts or what have you).To say that they are not Christians isn’t mean or bigoted. It is a disagreement about fact. Even if they claim to be Christians and we claim they are not, it isn’t a matter of bigotry. Are Buddhists bad for not being Christian? I don’t think so. Stating that Mormons aren’t Christians isn’t to say that they are bad. Rev. Hagee asserts that you and I, Professor, are not Christians. Fine. We can discuss that with him if he cares to. We can ask him what a Christian is, and start there. Odds are, he only has a vague and hazy definition in his own mind. If we consider anyone a Christian who has a nice heart, we will soon be as lost. If we stick with creeds and the councils, on the other hand, we will have a very clear idea.Socrates quips in one of the dialogs that the beginning of wisdom is to call a thing by its name. Confucius wrote that of all his rules for the reform of Chinese society, the most important was the restoration of proper names.

  • Enrique-I

    Belief in the divinity of Christ is central to this discussion and to the identity of Christians, and of Catholics as Christians.PERSIFLAGE contends that ‘only John seems adament concerning the identity of Jesus as God in human form…” and that the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke do not.The latter 3 sometimes differentiate between Jesus and God while other times confirming it (the birth narratives, the transfiguration, the claim to have preceded David).The birth narratives have inconsistencies so at least one of them did not have full access to a primary source of historical information: Mary.However, the claim to have preceded David appears in Mark 13, 35-37,, Matthew 22, 41-45 and Luke 20, 41-44. Thus, to these 3 evangelists Jesus did not consider himself only human, which in turn confirms the contention in John that He claimed divinity.This claim meets Meeier’s criteria of multiple attestation for evaluating historical authenticity. In addition, one cannot dismiss that the evangelists’ risked their lives by proclaiming belief in Jesus’ claim. Why would they risk everything to attest to something they did not believe Jesus actually claimed?The transfiguration is is confirmed by Mark, Matthew and Luke. Mere humans do not transfigure themselves into light in front of historical witnesses.Further, Jesus’ claim that his kingdom was ‘not of this world’, contradicted what Jewish culture expected of the Messiah. All of this points to the likelihood that Jesus actually claimed divinity, that the claim is historically authentic. No other religion rests on such a historically verifiable claim.Belief in his claim however is a matter of faith which, according to Lonergan, and personal experience, is what occurs after one experiences the love of the Christ, which sometimes happens in the most unexpected of moments and ways. Consider for example the Paul’s conversion to belief in Chriost’s resurrection and divinity. He came from the most educated Jewish class and had previously assasinated Christians believing that he was truly serving God.

  • Farnaz2

    mystical study of the Jewish Kaballah. Persiflage,I disagree about the Kaballah.

  • persiflage

    FARNAZ – I recall we had a brief discussion about the Kaballah a while back & and how it becomes the Cabala among non-Jewish students and practitioners (including certain practitioners of Magick – thinking now of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Macgregor Mathers, Aleister Crowley, et al). I’ll have to refer back to Gershom Sholem again to see what he says – but I know he hypothesized a connection between early Jewish gnosticism as it preceeded Christian gnosticism – and finally emerging as the Kaballah by way of Isaac Luria in the 13th century. I think there are ancient links to such as vast and complex metaphysical system.It could be that Campbell just got too popular and exceeded his own myth – experts do tend to see the world through a single lens more often than not! In recently re-reading parts of Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, and Reflections’ I found him to be absolutely hung up on the concepts of ego and self, despite all his studies of Eastern and Western esotericism. Of course this was where he made his bones….. On the one hand, he believed completely in the transcendance of the Collective Unconscious, while at the same time opining on the biological and secondary nature of individual consciousness as an obvious given. It seems he was not as god-like as I once imagined him! Just confused like the rest of us – and perhaps most of all by his own thinking.Still, he records some remarkable and personal psychic experiences in that particular book.

  • Enrique-I

    Jung’s work is about the psychology of religious experience, not about its objective existential vailidity.The question in this discussion, however, as I understand it, is about what constitutes a Christian.

  • ThomasBaum

    PERSIFLAGEYou wrote, “I do believe that those experiences were both shaped and defined by your prior Catholic orientation and strongly held beliefs.”I disagree totally because in the way your statement is written, it is as if I shaped what happened to me rather than that they actually happened to me and I can tell you for a fact that I had absolutely nothing to do with shaping them.Actually for a long time I thought that what happened to me came in a totally backward order but it came the way God planned it.One of the things tho, when God the Father came into my heart not only did I know, but I said out loud, “It is ALL TRUE” as in what I was taught about God and the sheer simplicity of the fact that God is a BEING OF PURE LOVE. I say “sheer simplicity” and it is, but, to say the least, it is beyond my comprehension and that is, I suppose, at least one of the reasons that God the Father came into my heart.Like I have said earlier even tho I did not, for the most part, go to church for about thirty years, that doesn’t mean that I stopped believing in God or that God was not working in my life. You wrote something interesting, “Mystics generally keep their experiences to themselves”After I had a dream that I know was from God and I was told that “only I could say it”, well, I had no idea what it was “that only I could say” so I dove into bible studies of all sorts.It was a while before I actually started talking about what happened to me, as specifically as I could, but what happened to me isn’t the important thing, that was to get my attention, the important thing is that GOD’S PLAN IS FOR ALL.You wrote, “Jung would refer to this process as Individuation – the true goal of human life from his own point of view, and shared by many other esotericists from Pythagorus to George Gurdjeiff.”Personally, I think that that is rather selfish, a much better goal would be to be a decent human being, but it isn’t about some “human goal”, it is about God’s Plan coming to Fruition which it will at the dawning of the seventh day, the new heavens and the new earth, God’s Kingdom, which is for ALL.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • persiflage

    Thomas Baum – I certainly can’t find fault with your message, but your theology is your business. Of a pending apocalypse – even one based on divine love, I will have to remain doubtful.

  • persiflage

    T. Baum – as to the selfishness of achieving an enlightened inner state transcending any imagined material fulfillment; I predict that rare achievement would result in a most decent person indeed. Replete with compassion and concern for their fellow humans – and intuitively possessed of expediant ways and means to help ensure the wellbeing of all that might cross their path – this is the position of the Bodhisattva (by the Buddhist definition). One that vows to remain ever in the cycle of birth and death until all sentient beings are saved. One must admit, this is the long view. By comparison, Christianity often takes the more myopic view – at least in my opinion. The cosmos is the playground of the Bodhisattva…..

  • persiflage

    Enrique – you are supporting the objective reality of the various supernatural events that make up the doctrinal coda and belief system of the Catholic Church and Christianity in general, isn’t that correct? More specifically, the resurrection and transfiguration of Jesus. Then it seems perfectly valid to find out what part of the human psyche considers all of these reality-defying events to be possible, and only one time in the history of the world, at that.Carl Jung might have something to say about that, or not. It seems to me that unless everyone without exception entertained the same beliefs about the same alleged historical events, there is room for debate and even doubt, concerning the existential truth of any metaphysical claim – especially those distant in history, and that haven’t been replicated.

  • Enrique-I

    CCNL : MY RESPONSES IN CAPS”The transfiguration is confirmed by Mark, Matthew and Luke. Mere humans do not transfigure themselves into light in front of historical witnesses.”WHO ARE THE EXEGETES YOU REFER TO AND WHAT IS THE BASIS OF THEIR SHARED CLAIM?The story also conflicts with basic science and common sense. BIG DEAL. SCIENCE IS ANYTHING BUT BASIC. COMMON SENSE IS HELPFUL IN LIMITED PRACTICAL MATTERS, NOT OF MUCH VALUE BEYOND THAT, AND NOT INFREQUENTLY CULTURALLY DRIVEN.It also conflicts with Heaven being a spirit state i.e. said residents (e.g. the souls of Moses and Elijah) of said state are not visible to humans.MUCH THAT IS PHYSICAL IS NOT VISIBLE TO HUMANS EITHER. And again, Mark, one of the NT’s authors, was not an eyewitness, nor were Luke and Matthew.POSSIBLY NOT. SO WHAT?See Father Raymond Brown’s epic reference book on the NT (878 pages), p. 127.I WOULD LOVE TO, AND WILL, ONCE I CAN AFFORD TO PURCHASE IT.

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE – MY RESPONSE TO YOUR COMMENTS IN CAPS.”…you are supporting the objective reality of the various supernatural events that make up the doctrinal coda and belief system of the Catholic Church and Christianity in general, isn’t that correct? More specifically, the resurrection and transfiguration of Jesus.”YOUR ASSERTION IS TOO GENERAL FOR ME TO ACCEPT. I BELIEVE IN THE INCARNATION AND IN THE RESURRECTION. I ALSO BELIEVE THE TRANSFIGURATION OCURRED. Then it seems perfectly valid to find out what part of the human psyche considers all of these reality-defying events to be possible, and only one time in the history of the world, at that.PLEASE DEFINE WHAT YOU MEAN BY ‘REALITY’ SO THAT I MAY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU MEAN BY ‘REALITY-DEFYING’.Carl Jung might have something to say about that, or not. It seems to me that unless everyone without exception entertained the same beliefs about the same alleged historical events, there is room for debate and even doubt, concerning the existential truth of any metaphysical claim – especially those distant in history, and that haven’t been replicated.MOST CERTAINLY.

  • Farnaz2

    Persiflage,I remember well the discussion you reference. What an amazing period with Blavatsky et al, not? Are you, then, Perspective, of the esoterica? Are you also Pseudo, the great poet?Farnaz

  • CCNL

    Enrique-1Historic Jesus ExegetesH.S. Reimarus, R. Bultmann, E. Kasemann, Earl Doherty, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Alvar Ellegård, G. A. Wells, Gregory Riley, Robert Eisenman, John Dominic Crossan (an On Faith panelist), Robert Funk, Burton Mack, Stephen J. Patterson, Marcus Borg (an On Faith Panelist) Stevan Davies, Geza Vermes, Richard Horsley, Hyam Maccoby, Gerd Theissen, Bart Ehrman, Paula Fredriksen (an On Faith Panelist), Gerd Lüdemann, John P. Meier, E. P. Sanders, Robert H. Stein, Karen Armstrong, Albert Schweitzer (The Quest for the Historical Jesus), Mahlon Smith, Karen Pagels — Many libraries have copies of Father Raymond Brown’s epic NT reference book. If your library does not have a copy, they should be able to get a copy on load from another library.

  • Enrique-I

    CCNL: Are you suggesting all of these characters are exegetes (e.g. Schweitzer) a and that all equally claim, for the same reasons, that the 3 testimonies on the transfiguration were written by the same person? I’m really looking forward to getting a couple of raymond Brown’s books as soon as I’m able and have been wanting to for a while. No libraries able to borrow his books exist where I am.

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE –What historical documentation supporting the claims about Rinpoche exists? What evidence exists supporting the contention of a tantric practitioner’s body vanishing at the moment of self predicted death?What would the foregoing, if true, persuade you to believe and what would that belief change that’s of central importance?

  • persiflage

    Enrique – what we have on hand in virtually all cases pertaining to metaphysics and miracle workers and the miraculous is the personal testimony of eye witnesses to the alleged facts. Religious traditions all have this in common regarding the deeply held beliefs of the faithful. The Bible is another example of history and events based on the alleged testimony of contemporary observers, or at least those in close proximity to those ‘facts’ in time and space. Are they pre-disposed to report and ultimately support these ‘facts’ based on previously held beliefs? That seems to be a consistently human thing to do…If one has not personally observed miracles in action, then one takes their existential truth on faith, if one is so persuaded. As the Dalai Lama says, most people are born into a particular religious system and religious faith, so you inherit your particular metaphysical orientation by way of cultural and personal pylogeny – conversion away from one’s native religious matrix is uncommon. But in the end, one set of religious metaphysics has exactly the same objective credibility as any other. It’s always the believer that makes the distinction. Having been raised as a Catholic, I’ve long been persuaded that the metaphysics of Buddhism is much closer to reflecting the probable underlying truth of our material reality – as well as addressing the invisible dynamics that make it operate as it does. In many ways, Buddhism is harmonious with science, and that also has a certain appeal. The whole idea of individuals being personally responsible for their own spiritual liberation just rings true – as opposed to the idea of relying on a divine proxy to accomplish this ultimate human goal. The time frames are very different, of course. We can surmise that it is very unlikely that any individual can obtain to this goal in a single lifetime through their own efforts – and note that the idea of reincarnation was prevelant in the early Christian era as a widely held belief. This was tossed out when the idea of salvation in a single lifetime through divine intervention (as a concept in early Christian soteriology) was established as part of the developing orthodoxy. Like all religions, Christianity was built on earlier pre-existing religious foundations – the idea that Christianity is completely unique is not born out in historical reality. In my view, religious faith and associated beliefs are completely arbitrary and relative, depending on the many personal associations, conditions and circumstances that shape and pre-dispose one to those beliefs. Whatever works best as an antidote to our own spiritual conundrums is what we believe to be true.

  • paulc2

    Persiflage:Your statement “But in the end, one set of religious metaphysics has exactly the same objective credibility as any other. It’s always the believer that makes the distinction. ” ignores that fact that some religious reality is actually the truth. You go even further to say ” Whatever works best as an antidote to our own spiritual conundrums is what we believe to be true.” Well, this is a very self-centered view point because it centers religion around our own needs. In reality, the truth exists and its in our best interest to find it and align to it, rather than to try to create our own truth to meet our unique needs, which is of course, a foul’s errand.I fundamentally disagree with your view that ” the idea that Christianity is completely unique is not born out in historical reality. ” While maybe you would argue that there are SOME similarities with other religions (with your qualifier “completely”) , the essence of Christianity is unique. We believe that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, teaching us the way to personal redemption through his life and sacrificing himself for our salvation through his suffering and death. He rose from the dead to demonstrate the validity of his claims and his teaching and gave us the HOLY Spirit to lead us to salvation to this day.As Saint Paul said in 1Corinthians 3-8 within 20 years or so of the events: For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. He acknowledges a list of witnesses that could be sought out by his readers for confirmation and he also brings out that all of this was consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures, which had been predicting these events for hundreds of years. I fail to see any other belief structure that matches these dynamics..

  • persiflage

    Paul C – I think you make my point very well. Why then, doesn’t the Jewish world support your belief that the Messiah has in fact arrived? But then, the Messiah was never imagined to be God become man in the original scheme of things.You noticed I mentioned my own Catholic background – then why don’t I and numerous other ‘fallen’ Catholics believe it? Trying to divorce your own emotional needs and pre-exising family and cultural heritage from the origins of your religious faith is disingenuous, in my opinion (although perhaps you are a convert?). On the other hand, you seem to be saying that one must first determine which religion is actually true and valid, and then make the informed decision to align oneself with that one true religion, or suffer the consequences (that task could take half a lifetime of diligent work, if literally true). There is no denying the fear factor present in many believing Christians – with the exception of Thomas Baum, for which I give him considerable of credit.I’d also like your interpretation of the nature of the Trinity – it really sounds to me as though God the Father is the First Cause – after all, you’re saying that Jesus somehow rendered available our access to the Holy Spirit. Was the Holy Spirit unavailable before that time? Is there a hierarchy in the Trinity, or are the Son and the Holy Ghost simply God the Father in other forms? This is one of those (many) mysteries that my parish priest of yore never answered with any clarity. As you know, the Trinitarian doctrine supplanted the Arian view of God the Father – but not until the 5th century C.E. I have never heard the nature of the Trinity well explained, even by Thomas Aquinas himself. The fact is, Catholicism evolved over several centuries before arriving at it’s present form. It’s very hard to attribute this evolution to the action of the Holy Spirit, unless your beliefs preclude many other more reasonable and mundane possibilities. I do know that the number 3 is commonly found in numerous metaphysical/religious systems. I’m not really being contentious, just trying to get to the bedrock of religious belief.

  • paulc2

    CCNL:

  • Enrique-I

    CCNL: As I understand exegetes attempt through a variety of methods and investigations to explain what a text (e.g. Scripture) was intended to say in a given context, not whether what they deem it says is ontologically true or not. Thus exegetes are supposed to provide an unbiased reading of the matter to be interpreted. Hermeneutics, not exegesis, is an attempt to interpret the texts. Obviously, some exegetes pretend to do both, but that points to bias.Schweitzer trained as a theologian but then practiced medicine and followed a calling to what he felt was humanitarian work. He did not dedicate himself exclusively to exegesis in an unbiased manner. I have not read him, but it appears that he wrote his books from his spiritual pre-conceptions about who Jesus was or was not. That is hardly exegesis, as I understand it.I tried the search you suggested but Google doesn’t show the actual pages of this book. Do I need to open a ‘library’ or download google software to be able to read it? By the way, could you please provide the title of the Brown book you most recommend.With all due respect, your comments about my access to libraries tells me you too have pre-conceptions.I will answer your response, if you kindly post one, tomorrow.

  • Enrique-I

    Persiflage: I was also born into catholicsm but abandoned it for almost 30 years after some disspointing experiences. During that time I continued trying to live according to the gospels but also trained in zen and other oriental practices. I was not looking to return to the Christian faith when it happened. Like you (I think) I was trying to get to the bottom of the matter – what exactly was true? I then turned to God humbly acknowledging that He might or might not exist, and that if He did, I surrendered my life to Him. I did not acknowldge Christ. Not long after that I had an overwhelming experience of Christ’s love in a manner that was totally unexpected, the intensity of which lasted for weeks and then settled into a constant awareness of His peace. I did nothing to ‘earn it’ except surrender.There is in my subjective experience much value in oriental spiritual practices but also a fundamental difference between them and my subjective experience of God. In the former the basic question remains forever unanswered. One has a subjective experience of the soul but not of that ‘Being’ which is incomparably greater and distinct from one’s ‘being’ or soul. No amount of effort can produce said Being, who is a person, although effort can result in a perception of one’s own being.Objectively, for the Christian faith there exists relative consistent historical documentation from Christian (e.g. Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, Paul) and non-Christian sources (e.g. Josephus, Tacitus) dating approximately from Jesus’ time and providing testimony that He lived on this earth and was known at least as a miracle worker. Where may I find that for Rinpoche?That ‘Buddhism is harmonious with science’ does not mean much given that science does not deal with ontological questions. Being relative, Buddhism can be harmonious with anything. That does not make it objectively true. Indeed, doesn´t it demonstrate the contrary?I will answer to your response, if you kindly post one, tomorrow.

  • persiflage

    Paul C – thanks for your views. My own posts also explain why I don’t share the orthodox Catholic point of view. In later posts I may try to draw some corollaries between Eastern religions and the esoteric Christian perspective – which has much in common with other contemplative and meditative traditions of mysticism. Enrique – it appears that you have some experience with non-Christian contemplative systems yourself, and they are certainly not for everybody. The Christian saints agree with you – surrender is an effective strategy for experiencing the divine, and is also very similar to certain (devotional) systems of yoga. As you may know, Zen does not consider itself a school of mysticism, but instead descibes it’s philosophy as ‘radical realism’ (Suzuki). This remains my primary ‘spiritual’ orientation. But more on that later….. You are clearly using the most effective system for yourself, as you describe your experiences.While Christianity is not for me, is obviously meets the needs of many. I personally don’t believe the premises, and consequently can’t share in your experiences of God and Jesus.Regards —-

  • CCNL

    Paul, Paul, Paul,Good, you were able to access some of Schweitzer’s books on-line. The reference was provided to Enrique-1 so he could read this and Schweitzer’s book The Quest of the Historical Jesus. This way Enrique-1 would not have to purchase said out-dated books (e.g. 1914).Unfortunately Enrique-1′s computor also appears to be outdated since he could not access the books either from the active site address provided or from a Google search. Enrique-1′ nearby libraries also must be a bit outdated since they cannot get books on loan from other libraries. Have you talked to your parish priests and/or local Catholic professors of theology and/or religious history about the authors of the NT? Unfortunately, Father Raymond Brown’s epic reference book, “An Introduction to the New Testament” is not on-line. How is your “pretty, wingie thingie” doing today???

  • paulc2

    CCNL:Look, I understand the full extent of the debate on authorship of the gospels. Some people side with tradition, figuring that the authorship was passed on correctly through the generations. Others speculate on what could have happened if tradition is not correct. Only the most hardened extend that to where you are, that the gospels aren’t true. In the end, there is no way on earth to prove that tradition is not true.As for Angels, my parish priest was talking about guardian angels only yesterday since it was their feast day. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that aspect of the faith. Maybe I should..

  • ThomasBaum

    PERSIFLAGEYou wrote, “T. Baum – as to the selfishness of achieving an enlightened inner state transcending any imagined material fulfillment; I predict that rare achievement would result in a most decent person indeed.”Maybe, maybe not.You also wrote, “Replete with compassion and concern for their fellow humans – and intuitively possessed of expediant ways and means to help ensure the wellbeing of all that might cross their path – this is the position of the Bodhisattva (by the Buddhist definition).”As far as “intuitively possessed of expediant ways and means to help ensure the wellbeing of all that might cross their path”, sounds like a pretty tall order to me especially the ‘ensure’ part of it, whether or not you want to admit it, this world is made in such a way that sometimes the unexpected happens when we least expect it, don’t you think?I met God, I did not become God, there is a BIG DIFFERENCE, and no one else has become God by meeting God.By the way, Jesus did not become God, God became Jesus.Then you wrote, “One must admit, this is the long view. By comparison, Christianity often takes the more myopic view – at least in my opinion.”Yes, this is your opinion and I can understand how you can have that opinion, if God was the putrid piece of garbage that some who call themselves “Christians” seem to think and supposedly present God to be, I, for one, would not want to have anything at all to do with Him.Also you wrote, “The cosmos is the playground of the Bodhisattva…..”Earth is the workplace of the Christian.I noticed on another post that you said, ” I have never heard the nature of the Trinity well explained, even by Thomas Aquinas himself.”, I have no idea if Thomas Aquinas even met the whole Trinity, so to speak, but I have and I wouldn’t even attempt to “explain” the Trinity, it just happens to be TRUE.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE: OK…on to buddhism.You asserted that you didn’t accept Christianity’s premises (which are?) and in the subsequent post expanded on what you believe, drawing from your understanding of Buddhism.As I see it, Buddhists want their cake and to eat it too. On the one hand you claim with Buddhists that nothing whatsoever is objectively real. Then you assert:—the current cosmos is only one of a never-ending cycle of perpetually inter-connected and inter-dependent events….an apparently real universe that is continuously undergoing change.So, is the latter assertion objectively true? How can the cosmos be a cycle of interdependent events and not be one? Do you really believe that by adding the word ‘apparently’ you are somehow enabled to assert contradictory statements?In one breath you proclaim all is ultimately the One Mind, or the Self …while on the next claiming …”self are unreal – illusory creations of the ‘thought process.’” So it’s OK for the self to be real and unreal; to have a creator,, that is, thought processes, and also not to have one.The arguments are of course circular. Contradictions are tolerated because, you implicitly claim, they don’t really exist.What’s the point of arguing circularly?………………………….Persiflage, I see Zen as a method. As such it does not contradict Christianity. When it attempts to be a philoosophy it contradicts itself and Christianity.So, what next?

  • persiflage

    Enrique – there is contradiction, and then there is paradox. Buddhism never denies the existence of a subjectively real universe, but If you’ve read Nagarjuna, you would understand that the basic position of Buddhism is this; the fundamental nature of reality is Emptiness, accompanied by the mere appearance of phenomena – none of which are objectively and independently real. So the word ‘apparently’ real means just that….this is an idea that is completely in synch with the discoveries of quantum mechanics, which goes to my point of Buddhism converging with science regarding similar views of ‘objective’ reality. Nothing whatsoever is a free-standing, independent agent in this view, because everything is and always has been inter-dependent and inter-connected. That begins to scratch the surface of the concept of Emptiness – but there are deeper layers to this idea. At the deepest levels of mediation (as in the Zen that you mention, or the Dzogchen techniques of Tantric Buddhism) the idea is to reach the level of the clear light (rigpa) – this is the fundament, and also referred to as the Dharmakaya or the One Mind, among many other names. These practices are particularly valuable at the time of death, when individual consciousness reportedly experiences many and various unexpected psychic events that are typically outside of our control. The Tibetan Book of the Dead reveals the ideas behind these practices, and how this knowledge and these techniques are applied. It is a study guide for one’s own death, as well as how to assist an individual going through the transition we call death.Everything in life and in the perpetual cycles of cosmic birth and death are relatively true or false, but according to Buddhism the Absolute matrix (the clear light) is beyond both, and is without subjective or objective reality – simply because there is no dualism whatsoever at this primal level of reality. I didn’t intend to confuse the individual self or ego with this solitary and autonomous undifferentiated Oneness. The 6th patriarch of Zen, Hui Neng simply said that ‘from the first, not a thing is’. This seems to point to his inner experience of the direct apprehension of that indescribable Self that is no self. I’ve never personally seen Zen as a philosophy – it is a radical form of existentialism that invites one to confront reality directly – completely free of pre-conceived notions or concepts. This is a exceedingly difficult thing to accomplish – completely against our habitual ‘instincts’ for thought and a total preoccupation and identification with the objects of our senses. I think Zen abhors philosophy and metaphysics – direct and immediate experience of our fundamental nature is the only goal. It does not tell you what that fundamental nature is.As to what premises I disagree with – the supernaturalism of Catholicism and Christianity in general. The doctrinal and dogmatic declarations of Catholicism do not ring true for me as real possibilities in our ‘apparently real’ material world. I believe that the Catholic Church decided to turn mythology and a host of mythical ideas into concrete realities – by declaring these ideas to be based on actual events, rather than the complex symbolism of personal transformation.

  • Enrique-I

    As I understand it you suggest, propose or claim (?) that any contradictions in Buddhist representations of reality are just apparent and arise only because our modes of thought predispose us to incorrectly perceive reality stripped of them, as it really and radically is. If, I think you argue, through Buddhist practice one exerts the extraordinary effort to attain a state of awareness free of these mis/pre-conceptions, then one will be rewarded by seeing reality as it really is; and what seemed contradictory before liberation from one’s habits and preconceptions, will become self-evidently and transparently true. Is mine a correct reading of your understanding so far?Now, to an analysis of your subsequent statements:You believe that Quantum Mechanics suggests a representation of reality somewhat similar to the Buddhist world-view and thus serves as supporting evidence. That’s quite an epistemological leap don’t you think? Quantum mechanics deals with mathematical representations of reality, not with reality itself. It has been demonstrated that logic (or rality) can be reduced toi mathematical logic. It can be demonstrated however that it abstracts by dismissing objective dissimilarities. For example, common sense mathematics suggests that 1 + 1 = 2. Yet there is nothing in the real world that corresponds to that because no 2 things are exactly the same.I have no problem with the notion that every ‘thing’ and/or ‘event’, is somehow related and influences all others, like a holograph. This however does not demonstrate that the differences between events or entities are reducible to nothing or to an undiffrentiated absoloute. Therefore the concept of an ultimate ‘emptiness’, is only that, a concept. Furthermore, interrelatedness points to a reality that is to some extent comprehensible and therefore meaningful. From, a purely logical perspective, it may, or may not, point to the Christian revelation of God or to the Buddhist notion of a self-perpetuating forever existing unified cosmos. These are some of the reasons why it’s not correct to extrapolate from knowldege arrived at scientifically to support religious or spiritual claims about the ultimate nature and structure of existence.I think however that you have prematurely jumped to the conclusion that you can, that science points to the Buddhist notion and not to the God revealed to Christians, for you immediately follow by writing: ” the idea is to reach the level of the clear light (rigpa) – this is the fundament, and also referred to as the Dharmakaya or the One Mind, among many other names. ….These practices are particularly valuable at the time of death, when individual consciousness reportedly experiences many and various unexpected psychic events that are typically outside of our control. ….The Tibetan Book of the Dead reveals the ideas behind these practices, and how this knowledge and these techniques are applied. It is a study guide for one’s own death.”John 8:58 has Jesus saying “Before Abraham was born, I am” and in John 5 “He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life.”So Christians believe we already have a very clear and unambiguous guide and one personally delivered by the ultimate authority, with whom we commune with, personally and mystically. Note however that Jesus differentiates between 2 resurrections: the resurrection to life and the resurrection to judgment. There is a parallel here, albeit imperfect, with the Tibetan Book of the Dead’s claim that at the moment of death one initially experiences the excruciating impersonal absolute Light, which one is encouraged to embrace (Resurrection of life?) or else be karmically forced to settle for less attractive scenarios, paradises, terrifying demons, reincarnation (Resurrection to the judgement? Purgatory?).You then describe your faith in its present state writing: “I didn’t intend to confuse the individual self or ego with this solitary and autonomous undifferentiated Oneness. The 6th patriarch of Zen, Hui Neng simply said that ‘from the first, not a thing is’. This seems to point to his inner experience of the direct apprehension of that indescribable Self that is no self.” I say ‘faith’, because you do not claim to personally have experienced the lonely ‘autonomous undifferentiated Oneness’ except as a mental construct, or perhaps a partial, subjective psychological state. However Hui Neng, it seems, did not think it was just an idea about his experience, but that his experience and ‘absolute’ reality were one and the same. I think he’s very seriously but perhaps not completely mistaken, and that’s the danger. In other words, the experience of one’s soul may be so intense that one perceives the Glory, and think it’s one’s own. If it was, we would be able to produce it at will, or auto-hypnosis, no? Jesus, on the other hand, was careful to state that the “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28) and that “….No one is good except God alone.”, even as He claimed that he had been sent by God and was one with God and that that whoever saw Him saw the Father; for which He is the Way, there ultimately being no other way. Per Jesus, even Hui Neng would have to recognize Him if he is to fully participate in His Glory. Otherwise, if we accept Jesus’ contention, Hui Neng’s relationship with God would remain partially flawed, and tragically perhaps forever. If he deemed himself equal to God, he would, from the Christian perspective, have succumbed to the same temptation as Lucifer.Your ball.

  • Enrique-I

    Persiflage –My last comment was intended particularly for you and I forgot to mention at the outset.

  • Enrique-I

    ERRATA:I wrote: “It has been demonstrated that logic (or rality) can be reduced toi mathematical logic.”It should read: “It has NOT been demonstrated that logic (or reality) can be reduced to mathematical logic.”

  • persiflage

    Enrique – really, it’s pointless to continue, because you’re set in your beliefs and life is short. Neither of us will be persuaded of the other’s position, and that is clear enough. Your belief is that ‘salvation’ is not humanly possible – but instead, takes the intercession of God the Creator in human form as Jesus (who you also point out states he is not the equal of God the Father in terms of goodness – and yet according to Trinitarian doctrine is every bit the equal of the Father).The Trinitarian doctrine among many other foundational doctrines of Christianity are rife with human inconsistency if taken as the literal truth. The minute that Christianity declares mythos to be concrete fact, it stops making sense – in my opinion. Anyway, I disagree with Christian metaphysics as simply being filled with supernatural ‘theorems’After all, it took almost all of 2000 years to complete the doctrinal coda of the Catholic Church – within the last 100 years we have the Infallibility of the Pope and the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven. 2000 years to complete the tale, from start to finish. Why so?? The obscurity of those early Christian centuries where doctrine and dogma were in a state of flux, and were being created in bits and pieces speaks to the dubious and all too human process of ongoing revision. But in the end, whether your beliefs make a difference or not at the end of life will have to wait, no? In the meantime, they have probably improved your life in various ways and that has to be a good thing.While QT is based purely on the abstraction of mathematics, it does boast the most accurate predictive powers known to science. And surely any physicist will admit that when our material reality is reduced to it’s essential sub-atomic parts – those parts are not really parts in a physical sense at all – forces and processes seem to be more appropriate descriptors. When probability waves become standing waves, or particles, it’s only because something caused one of an infinite number of probabilities to manifest (according to QT). All of this very complex mathematical thinking is only because close observation shows our seemingly solid universe of phenomena not to be so solid afterall, in the commonly understood generic sense. And speaking of holographs, I highly recommend physicst David Bohm’s book, ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’. A physicist of remarkable accomplishments, he was once thought to be Einstein’s natural successor. He was quite deeply influenced by the spiritual philosophy of Krishnamurti (a widely regarded modern Hindu philosopher). His cosmology included the idea that the phenomenal universe (explicate order) continuously emerges from the quantum vacuum (referred to as the Implicate order) – the quantum vacuum is the currently proposed infinite virtual matrix from which the Big Bang emerged. He continues to theorizie that emerging phenomena take the form of holograms – which as we know are not ‘actual’ things. In the end, the Nothingness of the QV is unable to produce real objects – because something cannot come from nothing. This begins to close in on Nagarjuna’s position of Emptiness and the Void of nothingness. While I’m not claiming total symmetry between QT and the Buddhist metaphysics of emptiness and mere appearance, you will have to admit that Christianity is exceedingly obsure regarding the differences and similarities between materiality and the world of the spirit. The idea that human souls were created arbitrarily by God out of nothing at a particular moment in time only to serve out an indeterminate (single) lifespan which would then end in eternal salvation or eternal damnation – depending on faith in His only begotten son, is about as arbitrary as any idea I’ve ever run across. It just doesn’t make a lick of sense. The arbitrariness and unpredictable contingencies of a single life time hardly gives the individual a fighting chance for eternal bliss! But we both have faith in our own positions – and faith is as much of part of Buddhism as it is with Christianity.

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE– Trinitarian doctrine does not state that the 3 are in every way equal but that they are irreducibly distinct persons constituting 1 God. I think many people try to visualize this mathematically which is a mistake. It’s not like 1+1+1 = 3. You cannot add the three because they are different. They are mystically united in the Spirit, in the Mystery of God.God, as Christians portray Him, is not obligated to meet your or anyone’s criteria, thankfully.The unwillingness of anti-monotheists to consider the possibility that God is a person is amusing and narcisistic. Indeed, they attribute that higher qwuality of being to themselves but will not grant that a Being of a higher order the same capability. God is like us and more than us, like we are like stones but more than stones.It appears that you have closed yourself off, that your pre-conceptions (or negative experiences?) with Christianity prevent you from seriously examining the historical evidence.Regarding papal infallibility and the Marian doctrines, I don’t suppoprt them. Nor do I support the evangelical attacks on catholics’ Christianity. I no longer go to mass precisely because I sense that Marian devotion is idolatrous and offensive to God. Yet I recognize that Christ has not given up on the Catholic Church because I experience his presence in the Holy Eucharist they celebrate.I’m not qualified to question Quantum Mechanics but believe that most theoretical physicists would agree that you cannot extrapolate from its inconclusive findings to draw spiritual conclusions.I read some of Bohm work on the implicate order in 1977 and found it fascinating. I don’t see where it contradicts the Christian message. Perhaps you can point that out. A.N. Whitehead also has interesting speculative views.You wrote: “The idea that human souls were created arbitrarily by God out of nothing at a particular moment in time only to serve out an indeterminate (single) lifespan which would then end in eternal salvation or eternal damnation – depending on faith in His only begotten son, is about as arbitrary as any idea I’ve ever run across. It just doesn’t make a lick of sense….”Faith and doing good; not just faith. It does not make sense to me that God would condemn anyone, Christian or not, without doing the utmost to save them, and trying to so so long as the person remains open. I mean, babies die (and are sometiomes killed) prior to birth!You follow: “The arbitrariness and unpredictable contingencies of a single life time hardly gives the individual a fighting chance for eternal bliss!”I totally agree. If we depend on making it only through meditation, there is only a remote chance in any of an infinite number of lifetimes, according to Buddhists. God, I believe, however is all merciful and just asks us to humbly open up to Him like a Father-Mother and He will take us to Him-Her.Hopefully, you won’t give up for that would only demonstrate that buddhism is closing you off, not opening you. It reminds me of the man who went so have tea with the zen master. Know that story? It’s not a matter of convincing each other but of providing good-faith service to each other. Both faiths would agree on that, no?

  • persiflage

    Enrique – Alfred N. Whitehead was an advocate of what is called process theology and which has been compared to Buddhism in it’s basic tenets. See Wikipedia for a brief review – he did not support orthodox Christianity by any means. What I believe at heart is this – the basis of life now and as the universe has known it for the last 15 billion years is One Source. I believe that our essence is infinite and eternal. I believe that time is a figment of the imagination, and that the material universe phase changes from instant to instant without our being remotely aware of this constant flux, at our typical level of awareness. This defies the position of material realism or any other kind of dualism. If we actually had one life, one death, and one eternal reward none of these questions would even be asked – but I don’t believe this is the reality of our situation. Humans in our present form have been around for about 200 thousand years – so why do we see a savior appearing only 2000 years ago?? Believers can certainly speculate, but truthfully speaking this is an unanswerable question. What I have found in my past experience with Christianity is a dearth of answers for deep and complex questions – the retort from parish priests always referred to ‘mysteries’ and matters of faith. Whether the eternal source of all things is a Being will probably remain unanswered – but I will concede that the essence of reality includes Primal Awareness…..the source of all life. And yes, we should assist one another in good faith to find the truth behind the life we are living – a daunting task by any standard. Best regards -

  • persiflage

    Enrique – I’ve enjoyed our discussion. Your comment on A.N. Whitehead brings to mind the fact that trinities are found throughout the history of religious thought. For example, you may know that Buddhism has the concepts of Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. This triad represents the Absolute, the archetypal or idealized Buddha forms, and the sentient forms of the incarnate Buddhas. Of the three, only the Dharmakaya is recognized as the unchanging, essential Source and eternal Absolute. I think the impersonal or transpersonal quality of this trinity throws Christians off, but in fact it does not seem to differ substantially from the Christian view (other than the divinity of Jesus in human form – admittedly a significant difference in itself).Mystical Judaism (Kaballah) also proclaims three supernal aspects in the forms of Kether, Chokma, and Binah. All of life emanates from the interaction of these these divine elements – and which arise from the Unmanifest Godhead.Again, I think there are commonalities among religions that are universal in terms of human experience. The differences to my mind are more apparent than real. regards -

  • ThomasBaum

    ENRIQUE-1 I was reading your dialogue with Persiflage and if you don’t mind, I would like to make a couple of comments.You wrote, ” God is like us and more than us,”, actually you seem to have this backwards in that we are made in His Image and since God is a BEING OF PURE LOVE, whenever there is Love shining thru us then God’s Image is shining thru us.If you remember it says, “My Thoughts are not your thoughts and My Ways are not your ways”, so to say God is like us, as far as I am concerned is, shall we say, bringing God down to our level rather than the way that God did it by coming down to our level by becoming One of Us.I have met The Trinity, individually, you could say, but I would be the last to try and come up with a “definition” of the Trinity, it just happens to be the way it is, God is God and He is a Trinity but He sure is not the egotistical being that some seem to think that He Is.The reason that I put it that way, “egotistical being”, is that some seem to think knowing God’s Name is what it is all about, how sad.You also mentioned Mary and it seems to me that some overdo Mary and some underdo Mary. Isn’t it something that God would ask permission from a Lady to become One of Us? Of course since God gave us free will, He had to ask since to force this on Mary would be overiding her free will and He will not do that because for one thing then it would not be free will but coersion.I also happen to believe that God knew that Mary would say YES, but this does not take away from the fact that she freely said YES.Mary’s saying YES is part of God’s Plan which is unfolding before our very eyes whether we know it or not and God has had His Plan since before creation and His Plan will come to Fruition.I honor Mary for the simple reason that she said YES and I also pray to her to help me with my YES. I believe that Mary is part of that “great cloud of witnesses” that Paul spoke of, and since Paul’s time that “cloud” has only gotten bigger.Mary is very important in God’s Plan but aren’t we all?Something else that is written, “I will reveal to the ‘child-like’ what is hidden from the wise and learned”, interesting, don’t you think?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Enrique-I

    THOMASBAUM: Thank you and please feel welcomed to jump in all you like.I agree that we are made in God’s likeness, not vice versa. What I was trying to address, however unsuccesfully expressed, is that non-montheists (see Persiflage’s arguments) will argue that humans are persons but that God is not. In his argument, Persiflage, for example, characterizes the One universal source of existence as capable only of a ‘primal awareness’ and as impersonal.My contention can be reformulated (in colloquial terms) as follows:1. Humans are constituted like stones (e.g. atomically and sub atomically), but are more than stones. They are capable of personhood and meaningful communication and, accordingly, are of a higher order of being.2. Humans are made in the image of God. God has all the capabilities of stones (e.g. atomically and sub-atomically) as well as of humans (e.g. personhood, meaningful communication), AND infinitely more.Please let me know if this clarifies it before I address your comments about Mary.

  • ThomasBaum

    ENRIQUE-1You wrote, “1. Humans are constituted like stones (e.g. atomically and sub atomically), but are more than stones. They are capable of personhood and meaningful communication and, accordingly, are of a higher order of being.2. Humans are made in the image of God. God has all the capabilities of stones (e.g. atomically and sub-atomically) as well as of humans (e.g. personhood, meaningful communication), AND infinitely more.”On 1, yes, we are made out of matter, created matter actually, and we live in a world created out of created matter or you could say put together out of created matter and we are more than the matter that we are made out of.On 2, if I understand what you are trying to say then I do not agree with it except in the case of God-Incarnate when the Second Person of the Trinity became One of Us. God is uncreated and God is not made out of created matter, God-Incarnate is both out of created matter and He is also uncreated. God is a BEING OF PURE LOVE, I can not explain it nor can I imagine it but when God the Father came into my heart, I just knew it.One of the ways that I look at it is, that God cared for us so much, that He became One of Us, another way that I look at it is that before the Incarnation, God could, so to speak, only look down on us but by becoming One of Us, He could look right at us.In other words in the Incarnation, God became part of His Creation.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • persiflage

    Enrique – well, I wouldn’t say that Christians are unique is going beyond a conceptualization of the Absolute – or God if you prefer. After all, the Enlightenment of Gautama the Buddha became the primary spiritual goal for all Buddhists since that time – and that singular event was based on a direct and transformative apprehension of that Absolute of which we’re speaking. The many powers of the Buddha based on his direct and successive spiritual experiences, even including the power of omniscience, are the stuff of legend and myth – but perhaps based on truth. Many and various non-Christian meditators and contemplatives over the the centuries have been alleged to have acquired miraculous powers – but those were always completely secondary to the singular effort to gain the enlightenment of the Buddha. Not so much for the individual, but for the benefit of all sentient beings. As you probably know, the materials and wisdom-based documents compiled as a result of the Buddha’s teaching over a period of the 50 years following his Enlightenment, are contained in the Buddhist sutras – and are vast indeed. He never claimed divinity of course – and he proclaimed that each individual must save themselves through their own efforts…..although he provided the initial roadmap. Since then, many have achieved similar spiritual accomplishments and have testified to the truth and wisdom of his message. And truthfully speaking, the Buddha was originally grounded in the much more ancient Hindu faith of Vedana, the wisdom of the Upanishads, and the yogic practices of Patanjali. The enlightenment experience that replicates the Buddha’s own inner experience has been known to many from among the countless numbers of Hindu and Buddhist faithful over many centuries. There is and can be only one God – regardless of how you experience or refer to that Ultimate Reality. To say that Christians are the only ones to have experienced that Reality is quite an arrogant and self-serving statement – in my opinion.The fact that most Christians adamently believe in their own superiority by virtue of their membership as Christians is unmistakable to those of other faiths – and you and Thomas Baum reinforce that view very clearly in these posts!BTW, I’m not a Buddhist – because I don’t engage in religious practices of any kind. I do have a great appreciation for their spiritual views however, and am particularly fond of the great Zennists and Zen masters of old.

  • ThomasBaum

    PERSIFLAGEIn your reply to Enrique, you wrote, “The fact that most Christians adamently believe in their own superiority by virtue of their membership as Christians is unmistakable to those of other faiths – and you and Thomas Baum reinforce that view very clearly in these posts!”I have never spoken of my “own superiority by virtue of my membership as a Christian”, not even close.Maybe instead of grouping all “Christians” together, you should actually read and think about what I write and try to see what I am saying, by this I am not even coming close to saying, believe what I am writing, but at least try to see what it says.If I am saying anything about something or someone being “superior” than I am saying that that something is a Someone and that Someone is God.One of the things that I have said is that one of the most important things that I have learned in my life, I learned in second grade and that is, that we are all equal in God’s Eyes.This is one of the things that a lot of people sure get upset about and that goes for some of the people who call themselves “Christians” and for some that call themselves “atheists”, or some that apply some other label on themselves.As I have written: “God is a searcher of hearts and minds not of religious affiliations or lack thereof”, if this statement isn’t simple and direct and right to the point I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to put it any simpler.I do flat out state that I am a messenger of God but that does not mean that I am better or superior or anything of the kind, all that it means is that I am a messenger, pretty simple, is it not?After meeting God, I thought that people would like to hear about God but it is kind of sad and strange that some people are much more interested in religion, spirituality and a myriad of other things and sometimes it seems that one of the reasons might be that it is too simple, plenty want it to be more complicated and I suppose one of the reasons might be to give themselves credit for what “they” accomplished on “their” spiritual journey.One day ALL will know that “GOD IS LOVE” is a literal statement.We are all brothers and sisters, we are all family, no one is superior and no one is inferior, yes, we are all different, if God had wanted us all to be the same, then He would have created clones rather than human beings.Also as I have said: “God’s Plan is for ALL to be with Him in His Kingdom which is the new heavens and the new earth which will come on the seventh day which will arrive in due time, God’s Time.This is what the “GOOD NEWS” is about, it is not about the ‘good enough news’, which some seem to settle for and some actually want. It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.Knowing something does not make one superior, it just means that someone knows something.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • persiflage

    Thomas Baum – your self-declared relationship with God makes you pretty unique. If I seem to take a skeptical tone, it’s because that’s my impression of your message – peculiarly open-ended and without further elucidation. As the elect messenger of God, you apparently hold a singular position – and ex post facto, a very spiritually superior one at that. Who else has made such a claim, at least in recent years? You have said that ‘God is Love’. Well, nothing wrong with that message. And seeing all as equal in the eyes of God is an egalitarian position, without a doubt. However, as to ‘God is Love’ – I would like to know exactly how ‘love’ and ‘divinity’ are linked up. I’ve heard this expression said countless times over the years, and would like a better understanding of what it means to a person making this declaration. How then should it be interpreted? I do recall ‘love thy neighbor as thyself, and do unto others……’ – I have long felt that message to be the very best part of Christian doctrine – how could one go wrong by diligently practicing this sage advice? But then, every religion has a variation of the Golden Rule. If we were to take a poll of all that have read your messages over the many months, I doubt that anyone would profess doubt as to your strongly held orientation as a Catholic, or that your messages have a powerful slant in that direction.Whether or not all of that poses a position of spiritual superiority can’t fairly be judged by one person, so I’ll gladly withdraw that judgement. And then you seem to imply that there is a stupendously large global upheavel on the way, at which time it is presumed the New Millenium will be ushered in. God has given you this revelation directly. Did I get that wrong? And if not, are there further details? My impressions are based purely on the public and prophetic nature of your message, which you have repeated here over and over. I’m curious to know if there are other venues and forums where you share this same message? Call me a Doubter of Thomas if you must, but you must. best regards -

  • Enrique-I

    THOMASBAUM –I don’t see where in Genesis it is said that God created out of ‘nothing’.My conceptualization of Genesis is more pan-en-theistic (not pantheistic). Let me try to explain through an image: Consider an infinitely large circle as God. Creation would be a circle within the circle, that is less than God, but made of God, that is, made of Impersonal, Personal and Transpersonal Being.Consider next if you will, an infinitely large sphere instead of a circle. God would be represented by that sphere, not only infinitely large but infinitely deep. Creation and creatures would be represented by limited spheres, limited evolving free instances, freely created by God, but made of God’s very Being. While God has no beginning, creatures do, but yet they are made of God’s being. What else could they be ‘made of’? Nevertheless, having a beginning, they cannot ever contain the fullness of God, but can increasingly participate in His Being by evolving and cooperating with God. They are free to recognize their relation with God’s being or to try to survive on their own, ultimately fruitless, as they march towards disintegration and equilibrium while never arriving: degrees of purgatory, and if forever, possibly hell, that is, eternal estrangement from God.

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE AND THOMASBAUM –I don’t think it’s fair to say that we are claiming Christians are superior, but that the Christian message is superior, precisely because Christians believe Jesus Christ is the the first and foremost instance of tthe living God, the living son, through and for which all was created. It is not a Christian’s superiority, victory or glory, but Christ’s.I am not doubting the spiritual achievements of Buddha, Buddhists or Hindues. Indeed, I believe they have authentic spiritual experiences, that is, authentic experiences of their soul. I know that in my practice of zen I experienced this to a significant extent. Indeed, I was still doing zazen daily at the time I had my encounter with Christ. In Zazen I kept asking who was thinking my thoughts; who was running the operating system. Sitting upright and folding my hands in a mudra definitely had a postive and liberating effect. I believe it may have in my case inadvertently (?) helped paved the way back to Christ.My experience of Christ however incomparably transcended this in the sense that I suddenly experienced being in the Holiest Radiating Presence, and was overwhelmed by His love, vividity and peace without having done anything to deserve it.On a more philosophical note, I have trouble with the contention that the absolute, the ONE, has a an awareness somewhere between a rock and a human, like a protozoa perhaps.I see it more in a Teilhardian way (Teilhard de Chardin), that is, that humans are on the one hand striving towards, and on the other being pulled by, the Divine Millieu, which I understand as the Mystical Communion of saints (Mystical Body of Christ) participating in the divine life of the Holy Trinity. Thus there is a progression from matter to God, with each stage being superior to the previous. By superior I mean, as Teilhard, a deeper interiority arising out of greater complexity (e.g. human complexity vs. that of unicellular organisms, organic or inorganio matter).Against this view is entropy, which would favor the Buddhist cosmovision. In other words the cosmos is reportedly heading towards undiffrentiated equilibrium. My conjecture (driven by faith and Teilhard) is that as entropy advances towards equilibrium and undiffentiation, the cream of material-spiritual evolution escapes to another dimension, heaven, the divine millieu.Persiflage, food for your thoughts: Thomas Merton was in despair when he started sitting next to the Eucharist at empty Catholic temples. He began feeling a presence that he had not previously felt in protestant temples where the Holy Eucharist is not kept in a tabernacle.

  • persiflage

    Enrique – I appreciate your well studied overview of religion – like Merton, you have studied Zen (see his ‘Mystics and Zen Masters’) and ended by re-dedicating yourself to Christianity. Curiously, Merton was a Catholic convert, according to his auto-biography. One can’t argue with personal spiritual experience – whether it be yours or Thomas Baum’s. Although I have my doubts when it comes to prophecy…. Teilhard de Chardin was ahead of his time – he and his theories were stifled by the Church and he was ordered to silence at one point in his academic career – it seems that like the Dominican friar and mystic Meister Eckert, the Jesuit de Chardin was in danger of committing heresy by conflicting with orthodox Church views.In the end, neither priest defied the dictates of the Church, and so were spared ex-communication.I don’t necessarily support organized religion in a big way, but being religious in spirit is a different matter – that I can get behind 100%, whatever one’s personal orientation may be.I have also taken issue with the seeming Buddhist view that the ultimate spiritual goal appears to be total absorption into the undifferentiated Oneness of Nirvana – although the vows of the Bodhisattva run counter to this view (and is thought by some authors to have been influenced by the early social gospel of Christianity – arising some 500 years after the Buddha’s death). Losing our individuality is a traumatic idea, and I have no idea what an ultimate spiritual outcome might mean for a perfected being. To me, this is all speculation unless you happen to be one of the elect. It does seem as though deep spiritual experiences often come unbidden – separate from any kind of strenuous personal effort. As to cosmology, I believe we’re in agreement – equilibrium, stasis and entropy are offset by the forces of chaos and complexity, without which we would have nothing new, and therefore nothing at all – no evolutionary change toward greater perfection.Nevertheless, I suspect the infinity of cosmic cycles to be a strong possibility. And parallel universes? The Megaverse may be much larger than we ever imagined. I fully subscribe to the esoteric principle of three, or the power of three – it is said that for anything to happen, three coherent elements must always be present as positive, negative, and neuralizing forces – whose subtle identities generally remain unknown. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll all meet again at the round table in the near future …..

  • ThomasBaum

    PERSIFLAGEYou wrote, “Thomas Baum – your self-declared relationship with God makes you pretty unique.”, maybe you meant that I met God, the Trinity, because as you put it my “self-declared relationship with God”, as I have said we all have that relationship, we just might not know it.Also, ” If I seem to take a skeptical tone, it’s because that’s my impression of your message – peculiarly open-ended and without further elucidation.”I can understand that, that is why I am glad that I know that I am a messenger and that I do not have to believe it but I was wondering what do you mean by “peculiarly open-ended and without further elucidation”?Then, “As the elect messenger of God, you apparently hold a singular position – and ex post facto, a very spiritually superior one at that”, yes, I have a “job” to do that was given to me by God but you are the one that thinks that I am “spiritually superior”, I don’t.In answer to your question, “Who else has made such a claim, at least in recent years?”, I don’t know.Then, “However, as to ‘God is Love’-I would like to know exactly how ‘love’ and divinity’ are linked up”, I already said that God is a BEING OF PURE LOVE, as in Love is not an attribute of God but is His Very Being.Then, “I’ve heard this expression said countless times over the years, and would like a better understanding of what it means to a person making this declaration. How then should it be interpreted?”, LITERALLY, it is that simple.Then, “I do recall ‘love thy neighbor as thyself, and do unto others……’ – I have long felt that message to be the very best part of Christian doctrine”, I am not here to speak about doctrine or dogma or religion or spirituality or anything of the sort, I am here to speak about God and His Plan.Then, “how could one go wrong by diligently practicing this sage advice? But then, every religion has a variation of the Golden Rule.”, as it says in the bible, “I will write it on their heart”, so it seems that not just “religion” but also as some point out that “they” don’t need “religion” to have a moral outlook on life, you could say that “they” also have it written on their heart, don’t you think? By the way, there is no “us and them”, we are all in this together.Then, “If we were to take a poll of all that have read your messages over the many months, I doubt that anyone would profess doubt as to your strongly held orientation as a Catholic, or that your messages have a powerful slant in that direction.”, I have many times stated that I am a Catholic and that I cherish my Catholic Faith and something else that I have said is: If you are going to be a Catholic than you might as well be catholic.Then, “And then you seem to imply that there is a stupendously large global upheavel on the way, at which time it is presumed the New Millenium will be ushered in. God has given you this revelation directly. Did I get that wrong? And if not, are there further details?”I suppose that you are referring to what I said about night coming and the world going down the tubes, so to speak, well Jesus already told us that, He wasn’t lying. As far as the “New Millenium”, I didn’t say that, I said the new heavens and the new earth, the Kingdom of God would come on the seventh day but that the night of the sixth day would come first.Some people speak of the “Millenium reign of Jesus” or something to that effect, well, in the time that we refer to as the old testament times, a thousand, which the word millenium comes from, was the biggest number that the Jews used and it could mean a thousand or anything beyond that, something to think about!Actually, God didn’t give me any new revelation or revelations, they are all there right in the bible and there are plenty that have not yet come to pass, whether or not anyone believes in what is written there, it seems to me that no one could say that every revelation in the bible has come to pass, do you?Also, I am not a detail man, I am just a messenger.You also wrote, “My impressions are based purely on the public and prophetic nature of your message, which you have repeated here over and over. I’m curious to know if there are other venues and forums where you share this same message?”, I have been to bible studies and opened my mouth, I have written letters and mailed them, I have sent some e-mails, I have made comments on here and I guess you could say that I have made myself available but ultimately, it is in God’s Hands.As I have said before, even tho someone may know what their “job” is, does not mean that they know how to do it.Then you wrote, “Call me a Doubter of Thomas if you must, but you must.”, no problem, I used to believe that Jesus died for everyone but me, but as I have said, close but no cigar, Jesus died for everyone including me, quite a difference, don’t you think?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • persiflage

    Thomas Baum – thanks for your response. Life is short, and we will see what comes next. Beyond that, predictions seem tenuous at best. For many, this is the last day of their lives. A thought that often brings me back to the moment. Take care -

  • ThomasBaum

    ENRIQUE-1You wrote, “THOMASBAUM –I don’t see where in Genesis it is said that God created out of ‘nothing’.”Where it says that God said, “Let there be Light”, could that mean that before that, there was no light?It seems to me that if someone is going to believe in God, then maybe they should believe in GOD. At least something a little bigger than some people’s rather puny version of God.I remember reading quite a while ago that someone was taking a survey of college students and asked some about a belief in God. Some said, yes, they believed that there was a God and some said, no, they did not believe that there was a God. To the ones that believed in God, they asked if they thought that God understood how our sun works and some said that it was too complicated for God to understand how it worked, I could hardly believe what was written.It seems like quite a few people like to put God in a box, so to speak, for whatever reason but the, shall we say, limitations of the above mentioned God is mind-boggling, don’t you think?I definitely believe that God made absolutely everything our of absolutely nothing and I did before I met God and I still do.You wrote, “My conceptualization of Genesis is …”, it is interesting what you wrote but to me it is not important how God made everything and all of the details that go along with it.To me the WHY of creation is not just much more interesting but also much more important.As in, WHY DID GOD MAKE CREATION?At the end of your comment, you wrote, ” possibly hell, that is, eternal estrangement from God.”, you are getting hell mixed up with spiritual death, they are not the same.Jesus won the keys to both hell and spiritual death and He will use them in due time, God’s Time. Remember Jesus said, “Simon, thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build MY CHURCH and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it”.We are all called to be “rocks”, living stones, so to speak, are we not? and it is JESUS’S CHURCH, is it not?, and He has put the keys in our laps, so to speak, has He not?Jesus also said, “the gates…shall not prevail” doesn’t he?”Many are called, few are chosen”, God does the choosing, doesn’t He?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    PERSIFLAGEYou wrote, “For many, this is the last day of their lives. A thought that often brings me back to the moment.”How true and we don’t know when that day becomes our day, so to speak.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Enrique-I

    THOMASBAUM — I read ‘Let there be Light’ as ‘Let there be more of ‘I AM’ given that God is the eternal light.Surely you will agree that God cannot create a square-circle. Doesn’t ‘making’ ‘something’ out of ‘nothing’ suggest He can. I’m not sure what you mean when you write: “It seems to me that if someone is going to believe in God, then maybe they should believe in GOD. At least something a little bigger than some people’s rather puny version of God.”. Are you referring to the God of philosophers, the God of Scripture or to the God of faith? How do you distinguish between hell and spiritual death?Why did you say you had met Satan. What exactly happened? How did you know it was Satan?

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGEIn principle, I don’t see why a local prophecy is anything less prophetic than a global one. In both cases, predestination is suggested. In addition time cannot be what it appears to be if prophecies occur as the 3 of us seem to concur. Nor do prophecies seem to be limited to judeo-christians (e.g. the i-ching, astrology) and perhaps should not even be considered ‘supernatural’. I found Jung to be very interesting and quite insightful about a number of issues. His experiences and explanations of synchronicity, the personal and collective unconscious, archetypes or a globally shared symbolic language, and how we process information depending on our orientation (feeling, intuitive, intellectual, sensorial). Yet he was not Christian, felt that evil was a shadow to be integrated for a person to be made ‘whole’, and is was reportedly associated with the Nazis (not surprisingly). I checked out the Wren Lewis website briefly. He appears to be associated with the new age movement that extends gnosticism, but with a California USA (and australian) flavor. There’s much interesting stuff in this cultural phenomenon. However most of the people involved with it only recognize God peripherally. Like many Christians they focus on remarkable phenomena (the paranormal, marian apparitions, televised healings and prsperity thinking, etc.) rather than on knowing God personally and what he might really want. They don’t generally seem to distinguish between God and the Cosmos and thus fall into pantheism, rather than pan-en-theism.What do you think of the fact that boomerangs, invented by ‘primitives’ thousands of years ago actually work?

  • persiflage

    Enrique – my intent with Wren-Lewis was mainly the profound noumenal experience that occurred quite unexpectedly after his poisoning – and that all-consuming perception of Darkness (in a good way) that seemed to have transformed his life and his beliefs about the reality of an Absolute. On the other hand, Jung was a self-declared Gnostic himself, as he mentions in numerous of his writings. He had a number of noumenal experiences, but withheld a belief in the Person of God. For him, ultimate mystical realities were of a transpersonal nature, although fully transformative as to effect. Obviously he was preoccupied with the idea of the Collective Unconscious for much of his career – and this could only be a transpersonal phenomenon. At one point in the early 1980′s I was putting the entire Jung library together, but stopped after about 5 books. My own experiences were deeply archetypal, per certain ancient Jungian-type symbology. One involved my mother’s death. He had a particular interest in the traditions of medieval alchemy and wrote extensively about this esoteric practice as an ancient system of self-transformation that passed as a ‘secret’ and magical method of transforming base metals into gold (merely a disguise for the real Work – as a protection from the persecution of the Catholic Church). Being intimately connected to the future, and having direct knowledge of the future is not the exclusive domain of religion or psychology (eg. the Jungian synchronicity principle that you mention). The early quantum theorist Wolfgang Pauli was deeply interested in Jung’s work, as it seemed to anticipate the QT concept of non-locality that was first disclosed in the early EPR experiments led by Einstein, one of the three principles that conducted this experiment. It nevertheless proved that instant non-local acausal connectivity between two discreet elements or particles was a reality, per synchronicity. He dissed non-locality as ‘spookiness at a distance’ and refused to accept the implications. I think he profoundly believed in both order and ultimate limits inherent in material reality, and this pointed toward a kind of ‘lawless’ reality that was unacceptable. He never did accept the uncertainty principle and other features of QT – in a curious way, he was just too ‘down to earth’….and thereby hit his own theoretical dead end sometime before his own career was over. The fact that ‘entangled’ particles were forever connected regardless of distance was not proven until much later in the Alain Aspect experiments of 1982 (employing Bell’s theorem). It seems to me that even by the physics standards used to explain the Big Bang, every element of today’s cosmos is logically and permanently entangled. Seeing into the future becomes a very real probability when our universe is view as a fully interconnected nondual reality at it’s deepest levels. This recapitulates the D. Bohm idea of the quantum foam or vacuum that we discussedPhysicist Fred Alan Wolf has any number of exotic works that attempt to tie esoteric phenomena to the principles of quantum physics – dense reading and not so easy to follow, but interesting. His best known work is ‘Parallel Universes’. There is no doubt in my mind that time is fluid – and that we can directly apprehend events of the future in some mysterious fashion. In fact, some physicists believe that the present is not created by the past, but by the future! I’m not particularly trusting of grand prophecies, ala Nostradamus – although it would appear that he nailed many historical events. A more contemporary example would be Edgar Cayce, with whom you’re probably familiar – an interest of mine many years ago. Maybe I have to give Thomas Baum the benefit of the doubt?? As to boomerangs, the principles of aerodynamics is easy enough to surmise – I understand they were (and are) recreational toys (much like the frisbee), and were probably accidentally discovered when aborigines started throwing hollow slightly v-shaped bones around just for fun some 30,000 years ago. I made and used leather slings (ala David and Goliath) as a kid, and became pretty accurate with practice. Probably after seeing that very movie! I know I drove every one crazy for awhile with my new obsession. After that it was malaysian throwing knives….. The non-returning throwing sticks (atl-atl) were employed by the aborigines for the serious business of hunting.As to the Person of God, I have yet to discover that Being, but I have discovered a Presence – and that may or may not be the same thing.

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE .. My last comment was in response to yours.THOMASBAUM: I’ll respond to yours, probably tomorrow.All the best.

  • persiflage

    Enrique – a couple of quick comments. As to the boomerang – yes, it does travel full circle if it’s thrown correctly and because of it’s inherent aerodynamic wing-like design (which I imagine was an accidental discovery). Re-check my post though. I stated that the boomerang was recreational and functionally similar to a frisbee, rather than necessarily being a serious all-around weapon – a primary weapon that instead took the form of a non-returning sharpened spear (called an atl atl). The spear is fitted into a grooved and hand-fashioned, hand-held ‘thrower’ – very effective for extra leverage & power, accuracy and distance compared to a simple hand-thrown spear. However, if one caught a boomerang along side the head, it would no doubt do serious damage! The kangeroo and rabbits seem to be a primary traditional food source for the Australian aborigine – they’re obviously skilled survivors, path finders, hunters and foragers of extraordinary talent. Although their native culture is probably threatened with extinction. No, I don’t think the shadow as Jung intends it conceptually is evil – it is an undiscovered and concealed part of the unconscious self that generally takes the form of ‘projections’ – hostility, criticism and fault-finding with other people….in fact the only ‘cure’ for these ‘imperfections’ is bringing said hidden complexes to the light of day and dealing with them consciously. Talk about wrestling with the devil! Projecting our own flaws on others seems to be a universal human character trait. Identifying these character ‘flaws’ is one function of depth psychology and Jungian therapy. The shadow is also identified as the trickster – which often leads us to make poor decisions and the same mistakes over and over, only to suffer the consequences. It is pathological but is also considered to be a creative source of highly charged unconscious energy – probably based on deep seated conflicts and contraditions without any method of resolution. It drives many people to success, but usually at great expense to oneself and others. The shadow, along with neurotic complexes, stands in the way of Individuation – or the Jungian perception of the spiritual self-completion process, which he believed was every person’s potential birthright. The inner knowledge of the meaning and purpose of one’s life. until next time -

  • ThomasBaum

    PERSIFLAGEIn your response to Enrique you wrote, “Talk about wrestling with the devil! Projecting our own flaws on others seems to be a universal human character trait.”This “projecting” that you speak of does seem to be pretty much universal, I think of it sometimes as people looking at others as if they were a mirror and the “flaws” that they see are sometimes actually their own whether they are aware of it or not.Sometimes it could do us some good to not only actually listen to what other people say but to be conscious of what we say.I think that if we are to judge anyone, we should judge ourselves, honestly, and then we just might not be so quick to judge others, remember, Jesus said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”, is it me or does it not seem that no matter what label people apply to themself that this statement is one, that some like to pretend, was never uttered?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Enrique-I

    THOMASBAUM – No, I cannot conceive what absolute nothingness might be. However, I would think that an infinitely intelligent Being would have soon realized that he might well not have been and yet he was, or is. That fact must have made him infinitely happy and something which he would want to share, but how? What would be the risk? Don’t you think?I could not have conceived of a being that was Pure Love until my encounter with Christ. If it had not happened I do not know how I would have believed it and can certainly understand that others have a hard time. They of course, are more blessed than me, if they believe. I am much more obligated because of what I have been shown. At the time I had begun to reluctantly accept the Philosopher’s God, and that beauty, wordly beauty, was as good as it gets. How wrong I was and how grateful I am for what was revealed. How guilty I feel that I do not share it more and better.Even though there is only one God Thomasbaum, there are 3 major monotheistic religions with 4 billion people and they are killing each other, for they don’t read him the same way. That should make anyone think. Why are they killing each other in His Name?Our experiences of ‘God’ are different in some fundamental ways. Compare yours, Persiflage’s or mine to Carl Jung’s. So, yes, God reveals and we read…and we are very limited and biased.Even Holy Scriptures present contradictory pictures, between and within religions even as they all manifest a varying degree resonance with the Holy Spirit. One latin american theologian wrote that the bible is a monumental waste of paper unless we understand it as God’s pedagogy, the Infinite Master teaching his beloved limited evolving children. Surely anyone can understrand that upon systematic reading of the Old and New Testaments or examining Judeo-Christian-Muslim history.Perhaps we agree with regard to hell and spiritual death but are referring to it by different terms. What you define as hell is, I think, what John’s gospel refers to when he speaks of those who not having done good, resurrect to the judgement. There they presumably get a chance to repent, or if they reject doing so, to live in eternal estrangement from God’s love, that is, spiritual death. Schillebeeckx argued that they might cease to exist but unfortunately, I don’t think that’s possible; anymore than creating something out of nothing is possible.I have read what you wrote about Satan but need more details. What do you mean that ‘Satan still has access to heaven’?

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE –I’ve read some of Jung’s work and also recall a video documentary where the elderly Jung. probably approaching death. was asked if he believed in God. He responded: “Believe? Believe?….I know God.” It wasn’t until a cursory reading of Richard Noll’s books on Jung that I began to question his trustworthiness. Like Heidegger (a Catholic) Jung is accused of anti-semitism, seances and relationships with discarnate spirits, polygamist views (several mistresses one of which was a patient), masonic ties and even of wanting to establish an Aryan religion. I recall reading somewhere that Jung believed that if he did not have a very liberal sexual life his children would suffer.Jung argued that not ‘knowing’ one’s shadow, not being conscious of it, inevitably led to having it confront one, in the world external to the psyche, which I think is true. If one denies one’s fear of snakes or pit bulls etc., one is more likely to encounter one along the way. Yet that may not even be enough, for one may contiunue to deny it, and thus contiunue to experience it.Bringing the existence of instinctual desires or fears to conscious view would thus seem necessary if one is going to escape their grip, avoid being dominated by them unconsciously. However, Jung was not referring to an examination of conscience, but of the contents of the psyche. Conscience, as his mentor turned enemy Freud (jewish) had taught him was merely a repressive tool (‘the super ego’) that only serves to raise up and maintain a facade (persona) necessary for social acceptance. Jesus warned us to take the “plank out of our own eye first…” and manifested that the ‘pure of heart’ would see God. Quite a different emphasis and purpose, don’t you think?One of Ignacio de Loyola’s first exercises is an examination of cosncience of one’s entire life. Try it some time. It took me 3 months 1+ hours daily. What did I do or fail to do? Now that I know Christ’s love for me, what should I have done. The difference between the 2 is sin, which Jung doesn’t seem to mention or be concerned with. Yet, Christians believe that sin is precisely what separates us from eternal happiness and our true self; and that it’s imposssible to overcome without Christ; that it must be absolutely confronted and rejected (first in ourselves but also in other Christians), and most certainly must not integrated into one’s life, for that would accomplish the opposite of what God wants, is offensive to God who is Pure Love and loves only what is justYet Jung and Jungian analysts encourage one to own up to repressed desires as a necessary dimension of the self that is wrongfully being denied and to integrate it in their lives or face the psychic consequences. This suggests strongly that Jung’s ‘psychology’ had philosophical and theological presuppositions that contradict Christianity, Judaism and Islam, all of which insist upon separating the pure from the impure. Jung was an erudite thinker, prolific writer and gnostic and, however knowldgeable, the God he knew was quite different from the one I contemplate and seek refuge in. Saint Paul wrote:”We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth. If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth not yet as he ought to know; but if any man loveth God, the same is known by him.”…..Richard Noll’s books on Jung…………………..Regarding boomerangs, it’s hard for me to believeHad they not discovered or invented boomerangs, I doubt modern science ever would have. That kind of imagination just doesn’t seem to be there.

  • persiflage

    Enrique – I have heard those rumors regarding Jung and his anti-semitism, but in reading his last rather autobiographical book, ‘Memories, Dreams, and Reflections’ I find him to have a very positive orientation toward Jewish historical contributions, especially in regard to mysticism, gnosticism, and so forth. I gained the distinct impression that he loathed Nazi Germany and Hitler. He seemed to be a man so pre-occupied with the human psyche, that supernatural phenomena were bound to be seen as products arising from the workings of the psyche and the Collective Unconscious, even though these entities might at times seem be exteriorized. I expect this would be true enough with both demons and divinities. In the Jungian sense, transpersonal realities would take relative forms that humans could comprehend symbolically. This is somewhat different from the mystical point of view, which professes that ultimate realities are grasped directly in their true essence – as you and Thomas Baum maintain with your respective experiences. I was recently reading a brief excerpt on Bede Griffiths, the Benedictine monk that spent considerable time in India in an effort to found what he called the interspirituality movement – he became a renunciant and sannyasi in the Hindu tradition, but also continued to employ Christian contemplation and meditative methods, as well as prayer (see the Centering Prayer techniques ofAnother Benedictine, John Main, was also an early proponent of this (still growing) movement that takes from the mystical traditions of all major religions as a way of forming a true ecumenical community based on universal spirituality. It attempts to give validity to each approach that seeks inner transformation through contact with the Absolute. This concept is well captured in the book by Wayne Teasdale that I mentioned earlier, ‘The Mystic Heart’. Griffiths reported that he had a profound mystical experience a few years before his death in 1993, and described this state as being suspended in a Void that was saturated with Love…he remained consumed by state of mind for several months following the experience. At this point in the reading I was inspired to trace the origins of the cloistered Catholic tradition and found of course the Rules of Benedict, which govern the monastic organization of Benedictines, Cistercians and Trappists alike.From there I proceeded to the Desert Fathers John Cassian and St. Anthony, who were in turn inspired by Origen of Alexandria. I recommend following this trail for some very interesting reading. Some of these early spiritual founders fell into disfavor with the Church and remain there to this day. Good reading! Anyway, Jung did seem to be a man of considerable formality, which I suppose means he was a product of a certain time and place in history and his rather elite social station. I know very litte about his personal life, other than his rather lengthy remarks regarding his wife, and his remarkable psychic experiences following her death – as reported in the book mentioned above. Enrique, you seem to have a theory about the origins of the boomerang (and fire) that you haven’t revealed. If these were not accidental discoveries thanks to both fate and our intellectual ability to recapitulate such serendipitis discoveries, then what?

  • persiflage

    Enrique – while I believe in a spiritual absolute, the idea of God is relative. And believe me, I’m not taking my cues from Jung – been there and done that long ago. How else to explain the fact that countless millions (perhaps billions) have lived and died, or are living today, that have no acquaintence with the idea of God as the supreme Person, much less with the far more complex conception of the Trinity? Obviously learning preempts our ability to experience anything that is culturally based, including the kind of information contained in religious symbology (Jung notwithstanding). With a background in Christianity, the likliehood of experiencing God in any of the above forms increases by 100%, don’t you think? If you’ve studied Ignatious Loyola’s missionary efforts to convert Buddhists for example, you would find that he was not particularly successful – nor have other Christian saints or missionaries been any more successful. And without being judgemental one way or another, Buddhists make no real effort to convert others to their point of view – proselytizing does not seem to be part of the dynamics of their faith. To me, both religious belief and religious experience are fundamentally a matter of prior cultural background and socialization – this is in part why I’m not a practicing Buddhist in spite of my appreciation for their views. But then, I’m not particularly given to religious devotional practices. I think we each have to proceed in a manner that suits us individually – acknowledging the fact that inner experience can change our views dramatically. best regards -

  • Enrique-I

    Persiflage — You wrote: “…while I believe in a spiritual absolute, the idea of God is relative….” People don’t usually distinguish between a reality, a concept that approximately points to said reality, and the word(s) that points to that concept. Thus our ‘ideas’ about God are approximate but that does not mean (as I think you agree) that God (the reality) is relativge or that anything goes (e.g ethically, what is pleasing to him, or ‘the absolute’).In the case of revelation, the recepient of the revelation does not necessarily receive it as communicated by God, but through a filter. Would you agree that there may be exceptional cases where that filter seems to break down?You wrote: “How else to explain the fact that countless millions (perhaps billions) have lived and died, …. that have no acquaintence with the idea of God as the supreme Person… Trinity? They have filtered out the possibility that God might be a person. Doesn’t that explain it? They cannot attribute ‘personhood’ to anything other than themseves. It’s anthropocentrism. Slaves, ‘fetuses’ have not been deemed persons by some. Animals have been thought to be ‘animals’, incapable of feelings, sensible about justice, etc….Yet it’s understood by many, I hope, that all of that is not true.You wrote: “Obviously learning preempts our ability to experience anything that is culturally based…” Could you please clarify? You mean anything ‘other’ than what is culturally based?You wrote: “With a background in Christianity, the likliehood of experiencing God in any of the above forms increases by 100%, don’t you think?It would seem that it surely increases it, but it does not explain, for example, my experience (and conversions). Perhaps you can argue why my experience is suspect of cultural bias and I can respond to that. You wrote: “If you’ve studied Ignatious Loyola’s missionary efforts to convert Buddhists for example, you would find that he was not particularly successful – nor have other Christian saints or missionaries been any more successful.”There seems to be a syncrenistic effect (with prior religions and culture) in some places where they have been succesful (e.g. (Latin America). Not everywhere or absolute though.You wrote: “…proselytizing does not seem to be part of the dynamics of their faith.”How do you define ‘proselytizing’? I see a difference between sharing one’s faith and ramming it down people’s throats like spam. Our discussion has now progressed to a somewhat different set of questions. I’m very interested in your responses.All the best.

  • persiflage

    Enrique – I was under the impression that you were raised as a Catholic, although spent years away from the faith before returning – was I wrong in that assumption? That’s the kind of background I was referring to in terms of conditioning one’s experience of the divine. The Absolute is not relative, but human comprehension of that Absolute can only be trusted to be perfectly human, rather than perfectly divine – thus making it completely subjective (and maybe a more accurate term).Buddhists do not see the difference, of course, and neither do Hindus – at the deepest levels there is only unity and one essence, although with infinite apparent distinctions. I suppose this has to be distinguished from the idea behind your de Chardin quote ‘unity differentiates’. But are the differences apparent, or real? Religious mythology has it differently of course. Many fully enlightened and spiritually awakened beings over the centuries supposedly grasped that Absolute in It’s essential Nature – the Buddha’s experience would be the paradigm for non-theists. I believe panentheists cover a broader spectrum – and not all could be considered theists in the Abrahamic sense, by any means. And I have to stand by my position that human perception, even under transcendent circumstances, would very probably be shaped not only by our own (religious) background, but more fundamentally by our own kind of (human) sentience (claims of achieving ‘cosmic consciousness’ notwithstanding). Of course Buddhism says our most fundamental nature is unconditioned primal awareness (rigpa in the tantric schools). Experiencing this basic nature really is seen as transcending our limited humanness, and this is what we apprehend in varying degrees during an enlightenment experience (satori, kensho, moksha, et al). But whether this can be termed subjective or objective experience is arguable. Christian saints generally define their experiences in the much more personal terms that you have shared. Hypothetically speaking, highly intelligent creatures elsewhere in the metaverse might perceive the Absolute in an altogether different manner – although the nature of that ineffable Absolute would not thereby change in any way. I don’t think that is begging the point – while completely abstract, we can’t assume we’re the only intelligent life forms in the cosmos, can we? And we can’t anthropomorphize those life forms any more than we can limit the divine by using our own self-image – although that is exactly the role that Jesus plays, you will admit. He makes God more conceptually possible, approachable and imaginable, all at the same time. The idea of God, generally speaking, points toward a divine Being. But that concept is not necessarily the ultimate idea. For example, among mystical Hasidic Jews that follow Kaballah, the idea of the Godhead is the Supreme and forever ineffable/unknowable Source – whereas God (Kether) as the first emanation of Godhead is just within the range of human experience. And again, without some kind of knowledge base, how would anyone begin the journey toward the divine? But things begin to get very murky right about here, because religions that support the idea of reincarnation believe that it takes an untold number of lifetimes to achieve unity with the divine, in complete contrast to contemporary Christianity and Islam – I don’t include Judaism because you can find the idea of reincarnation among Kabbalists. One lifetime, or many lifetimes….that is, in a very important way, the defining difference between a variety of religions. The fact that Origen of Alexandria espoused the pre-existence of souls (but not reincarnation) is one reason he is not sainted – in fact, he was anathematized in the 6th century for his beliefs and was placed in the same league as a number of well known heretics – despite his huge theological contributions to the early Church. Augustine revered him. The Sufis are the mystical seekers among Muslims, and have been vigorously persecuted for their temerity in directly seeking union with the divine (Rumi the 13th century Sufi poet is perhaps the best known exponent of mystical Islam). So while the experience of the divine is simple, direct, and full of subjective knowing, getting to that point may not be either simple or direct. In the end, mystics of different religious backgrounds and persuasions experience the divine differently, and yet all must be assumed to be reporting equally valid experiences, at least in my opinion. Both William James and Aldous Huxley wrote of the universality of this experience in ‘Varieties of Religious Experience’ and ‘The Perennial Philosophy’, respectively. The history of missionary work and the conversion of non-christians by the Catholic Church is too vast for our discussion I think – in the early days, this was quite a bloody undertaking, but of course not in modern times. I’m rambling here, and may have missed some of your points – but one thing leads to another and before you know it you’re on another tangent. enough for now -

  • Enrique-I

    PERSIFLAGE: I don’t see that you addressed most, not just some, of the points of my immediately previous post.On the other hand, the points you make I believe to have already addressed in previous posts. Anything I didn’t address?Can we get back on track?