Let me ask … What might the ultimate sense of being spiritually alive look like? Would it not be a powerful sense of God that is very deeply personal? Would it not be coming to an epiphany of God that is sufficiently powerful that we might be able to achieve a somewhat constant awareness of it?
Or, as Alan Watts wrote and with which my own experience strongly concurs,
“But, from the beginning, institutional Christianity has hardly contemplated the possibility that the consciousness of Jesus might be the consciousness of the Christian, that the whole point of the Gospel is that everyone may experience union with God in the same way and to the same degree as Jesus himself. “
Would it not be the serious acceptance of that very positive declaration of Jesus that the kingdom of God IS within you and not waiting somewhere out there for a future time?
Would it not be plausible that nowhere else is the kingdom found until you come to a cosmic epiphany, a recognition easily obtained if you alter your point of view sufficient to become perceptually free of anyone else’s magic?
Even if it takes a lot of work, is it not worth it if we do nothing more than grope and stumble our way into a cosmic epiphany that the kingdom of God IS our reality and we are already living physically in it? Would it not be exciting to understand how the kingdom of God IS all around us, here … and now … and was never “then and there?”
But, as our human-ness has proven for thousands of years, we are easily distracted beings. We tend to buy into anyone else’s magic easily as it entertains, informs us as to what we do not already know that we should believe, and lies to us in terms of asking that we cross lines of credibility and offer blind adherence to someone else’s specific magic.
Spiritually speaking, anyone else’s magic – as a product sold, preached or both – may begin with or be almost entirely composed of theology, which – and this is an obvious and given truth – never was and never will be reality, but mere speculation.
I would like to repeat that obvious truth: theology never was and never will be reality. It always was and always will be mere human speculation.As easy as it is to perceive the Genesis story, for example, as myth, it ought to be equally easy to filter theology as mere speculation. Beyond that statement, I would add that from within the Genesis myth we are taught the extremely and falsely speculated notion of original sin.
Original sin is nothing more than pretending that humanity exists in a state of sin as a result of the theological Fall of Man.The Original Sin pretense establishes our existence as a human community based on collective guilt automatically attached to us at birth.
Does not simple honesty require that as we acknowledge – as the source of this pretense – the original Catholic Christian Fathers who constructed an elaborate scaffolding that began with shoring up church authority and ended with church authority over the minds and bodies of humanity? Consequently, as a starting point, let us jointly look at our mortality in terms of communion with God. In so doing let us remove the concept of original sin.
What is the next speculated fact to go?
Unless we buy into original sin, our sense of carnality that separates us from a loving God disappears. Our sense of fear, shame and guilt over our failure to adhere to tedious details of mortal moral perfection disappear. Honesty then suggests that we step forward, not backward, and understand that original sin theology is the only basis for an idea of atonement, the need for redemption and, by extension, the need for a redeemer.
The particular honesty that requires we grow up; that we cease pouring out all that emotional energy over the pretended moral duty to satisfy some divine mandate that abhors sinfulness and can tolerate sin to no degree of allowance. That particular honesty actually liberates us, freeing us to stare directly and lovingly into the face of God without the crutch of a satisfied atonement.
It also rescues God from the imaginations and machinations of moral manipulators who saw then and whose heirs still see fear, shame and guilt as the best tools by which a few can be authorized.Fear, shame and guilt – based on the two pretenses of original sin and atonement – allows the few to spiritually and emotionally coerce the many into an institutionalized subordination to a pretended authority that is not real.
Contrary to what most of us have been taught all our lives, we are not all like the biblical Esther. We do not risk blasphemy or execution for approaching the highest power without the permission, authorization or ordinance work of any other mortal. We do not incur divine displeasure when we are uppity enough to go around the middle-man pretenders and straight to the boss.Neither are we required to “earn” the right to cross any mortal or spiritual veil to visit with God spirit to spirit.
Such is the problem of theological-based religion that devolves into some form of performance-based eligibility activity; one that is never satisfied in the eyes of the preachers, pastors, and brethren at the highest levels of typical Christian orthodoxy. Speaking specifically of “Christian” orthodoxy, the end of original sin directly results in the end of atonement as a concept upon which much manipulative theology is based. Furthermore, there are obviously untold numbers of religious authorities who make their livings – support themselves, if you will, – by crafting and preaching endless sermons Sunday after Sunday; mostly emphasizing fear, shame, guilt and forgiveness based on a pretended theological/intellectual concept of atonement.
What then do we with Jesus Christ? Again, Watts:
“Worshipful as the character of Jesus may be, it was not what inspired Jesus himself, for he was what he was because he knew of himself that “I and the Father are one,” and not—obviously—because he had accepted Jesus as his Saviour.”
We of course keep Christ. We relate to Him in his proper and real role as pattern and model for a way of being, of living and perceiving others. There is nothing divine required in order to accept, apply and benefit from Christ’s most significant works: the teaching of love toward God, Self and Neighbor.
If you cannot relate to the teachings, pattern of life, example and wisdom of mere mortal Jesus, ought not the questions then be, ‘Are you convinced that you will then be unable to live a life of virtue and goodness?’
Are you then sadly unable to replace moralizing with ethical behavior?
Removing the “divine” nature of Jesus, demoting Him in effect from trinities and godheads (a place, by the way, to which he was promoted by vote in Constantine’s Rome 1800 years ago), removes more problems than it creates. Such is true except perhaps in the childish minds of those addicted to theology and a literal-minded acceptance of it.
We no longer are forced to sit as captive audiences while adults who do not think critically and who mistake faith-based superstition for God’s plans of salvation monopolize our time; a time we might otherwise expend in good works, personal growth, even in genuine non-guilted leisure.
The really dark night of the soul needs to rescue us. There is more to life than institutionalized religion from which theology is woven and then used to entangle our hearts and minds. There is more to life than living with endless exhortation to useless consumption of our time and energy in corporate religious busy-ness that satisfies few but those who function as part owners of the monopoly.
I enjoy my life and experience of God shared with my partner, my eternal companion. I want to take her daily to worship in the only temple where I can ever find genuine communion with the Divine Father and Mother.
To quote Charles Eastman regarding one of the most effective ways I have experienced in search of an encounter with the Great Mystery:
“He would deem it sacrilege to build a house for Him who may be met face to face in the mysterious, shadowy aisles of the primeval forest, or on the sunlit bosom of virgin prairies, upon dizzy spires and pinnacles of naked rock, and yonder in the jeweled vault of the night sky!
He who enrobes Himself in filmy veils of cloud, there on the rim of the visible world where our Great-Grandfather Sun kindles his evening camp-fire, He who rides upon the rigorous wind of the north, or breathes forth His Spirit upon aromatic southern airs, whose war-canoe is launched upon majestic rivers and inland seas—He needs no lesser cathedral!” – Charles Alexander Eastman, The Soul of the Indian.