Sunday, February 28, 2010

Switching Back

A recent visitor suggested that I switch back to writing on the blog

The rationale is that this title more accurately represents the mood of people today. That commenter thought that I needn't worry about the title implying that I'm any kind of prophet. That's the reason I made the switch some time ago, and wrote about why on the Voice blog and referring visitors to Cape Cod Lighthouse.

So, if you've been good enough to visit the blog,
you will be able to read my most current thinking on matters which I find important enough to write about at A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.

Thanks for your interest,and I hope that you will take the time to write comments.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Religious Controversy

"The Jesus Mysteries" is a book published in 1999 which looks at the history of paganism, mythology and other strange ideas, and how those ideas came to be embodied in the stories about the life of a man called Jesus.

Here's a summary of the book's message

"The Jesus Mysteries"

by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

quotes and notes by Vexen Crabtree 2003 Feb 21

The book is a summary of the theories and history of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with a lot of introductory text to each area of study.

Quotes in my website are taken from 2000 paperback edition. Published by Thorsons, London, 1999.

The traditional history of Christianity is hopelessly inadequate to the facts. From our research into ancient spirituality it has become obvious that we must fundamentally revise our understanding of Christian origins in the most shocking of ways. Our conclusion, supported by a considerable body of evidence in our book, The Jesus Mysteries, is that Christianity was not a new revelation. It was a continuation of Paganism by another name. The gospel story of Jesus is not the biography of an historical Messiah. It is a Jewish reworking of ancient Pagan myths of the dying and resurrecting Godman Osiris-Dionysus, which had been popular for centuries throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

The stories told about Osiris-Dionysus will no doubt sound familiar. He is the Son of God who is born to a virgin on the 25th of December before three shepherds. He is a prophet who offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism. He is a wonderworker who raises the dead and miraculously turns water into wine at a marriage ceremony. He is God incarnate who dies at Easter, sometimes through crucifixion, but who resurrects on the third day. He is a saviour who offers his followers redemption through partaking in a meal of bread and wine, symbolic of his body and blood. The Jesus story is a synthesis of the Jewish myth of the Messiah Joshua (in Greek Jesus) with these Pagan myths of the dying and resurrecting Godman.

It is hard for us today to imagine the Jesus story being consciously created, but this is because we have misunderstood ancient spirituality. Myths were not seen as untruths as they are now. They were understood as allegories of spiritual initiation, which encoded profound mystical teachings. Reworking old myths to create new ones was a standard practice in the ancient world.

The conquests of Alexander the Great had turned the Mediterranean world into one culture with a common language. This created an age of eclecticism, much like our own, in which different spiritual traditions met and synthesized. Jewish mystics of this period, such as Philo Judeas, were obsessed with synthesizing Jewish and Pagan mythology. In light of all this, it is actually no surprise that some group of Jewish mystics should synthesize the great mythic hero of the Jews, Joshua the Messiah, with the great mythic hero of the Pagans, Osiris-Dionysus.

At the time, both Pagans and Christians were well aware that the Jesus story was a myth. The early Christians, known as Gnostics, understood the Jesus story as allegory, not history, and even called Jesus by the names of the Pagan Godman. The Gnostics were brutally eradicated by the Roman Church in the 4th and 5th centuries, and since then we have believed the official propaganda that these Christians were dangerous heretics who had gone Pagan.

Actually the evidence suggests the opposite is closer to the truth. The Gnostics were the original Christians, just as they themselves claimed. They had synthesized Jewish and Pagan mythology to produce the Jesus story and many other extraordinary Christian myths largely unknown today. The Roman Church was a later deviation, which misunderstood the Jesus story as history. It was, as the Gnostics said at the time, an imitation Church teaching a superficial Christianity designed for the masses.

Roman Christianity, and all its subsequent offshoots, is based on the idea that if you believe in the existence of an historical Jesus you will go to heaven when you die. For the Gnostics, however, Jesus is an everyman figure in an initiation allegory. They taught that if you yourself go through the process of initiation symbolized by the Jesus myth, you would die to your old self and resurrect in a new way. The Greek word we translate as resurrect also means awaken.

For the Gnostics, Christianity was about dying -- the idea of giving up your mortal body and awakening to your immortal essence as the Christ within ­- the One Consciousness of the Universe. This mystical enlightenment was not something that happened after death, but could happen here and now.

The historical figure of Jesus has been so central to Western culture that it is hard to question his existence. As soon as we hear his name we can see him in our mind's eye, in his flowing white robes, with long hair and a beard. Yet this picture of Jesus was not created until the 8th century. Early portrayals of Jesus show him clean-shaven with short hair and wearing a Roman tunic. St Paul says that long hair disgraces a man, so presumably his image of Jesus was not the same as ours.

The fact is that everything we think we know about Jesus, like this romantic picture of the bearded saviour, is a creation of the human imagination. Actually there is barely a shred of evidence for the existence of an historical Jesus and this dissolves on closer inspection. Paul, the earliest Christian source, shows no knowledge of an historical man, only a mystical Christ. The gospels have been thoroughly discredited as eyewitness reports. Other bits of traditional evidence, such as references to Jesus by the Jewish historian Josephus, have been shown to be later forgeries. If solid evidence had existed, there would have been no need to have created such fabrications.

A little over a century ago most people believed the story of Adam and Eve to be history. To most thinking people today its is obviously a myth. We predict that within a generation a similar revolution will have taken place in our understanding of the gospels. People will look back at the beginning of the 21st century and be amazed that a culture with the technology to travel to the moon could see the fabulous story of Jesus as anything other than a myth. However, we do not want to dismiss the Jesus story as nonsense. For us it is truly the greatest story ever told, because it has been thousands of years in the making. It is a perennial tale that has fascinated the human soul since the dawn of time.

Whilst our ideas clearly rewrite history, we do not see ourselves as undermining Christianity. On the contrary we are suggesting that Christianity is in fact richer than we previously imagined. According to the original Gnostic Christians, the Jesus story is a perennial myth with the power to impart the mystical experience of Gnosis, which can transform each one of us into a Christ, not merely a history of events that happened to someone else two thousand years ago.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Tale of Three Generations

'Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.' That's an old chestnut shibboleth which more or less accurately describes the seemingly inevitable macro cycle of a business history. A person with a vision and/or a compelling need to keep body and soul together rolls up his or her sleeves, works long hours and founds a small business which finds a need in the market place and establishes a viable niche. The first born inherits the leadership of the small company and expands it, improves it, brings it up to date with new technology, enlightened awareness of how to keep the team of employees together and pulling as one. The third generation moves in and milks the company for personal satisfaction, exhibiting none of the qualities of innovation and perseverance of the previous two generations, but all of the self serving habits of one who feels entitled.

The following generation has to roll up its sleeves and start over.

Here's Tom Friedman's Sunday Times column which chronicles how this is working out in our society today. Except for using his column yet again to give a seemingly obligatory periodic plug to his friend Michael Mandelbaum, Friedman provides a pretty good summation of what we're dealing with in our economy today.

Perhaps President Obama has not yet realized that he's that fourth member of the family on whom falls the need to roll up its sleeves and start over.

George W. Bush certainly lived up to his role as the profligate third generation who milked the thing dry for his own pleasure.

It's not lost of many of us that George W. actually is that member of the third generation, the first being his grandfather who amassed a fortune, the second his father who understood the need to be a good steward of that fortune. George W. Bush is the silver spoon, spoiled brat who exhibits all the characteristics of the entitled one. That we actually survived, albeit barely, his bought and paid for presidency is a tribute to the underlying strength of the people who make up this country.

(For those of you who require specific facts to support the claim that George W. is the true embodiment of that profligate third generation, read my recent post about Mark Shields' column on the subject. )

Obama needs to call on the experience and skills which he honed as a community organizer in Chicago, and employ those skills at the national level. By doing so he will gain the admiration and trust of the American people, who desperately want to be led by someone who understands and who demonstrates, not just proclaims, that he knows what needs to be done in times that call for starting over.

By doing so, in contrast, Obama would expose the selfish and out of touch GOPhers as the profligate third generation they truly are.

It's not the role that Obama wanted to play as demonstrated by his attempts to act like a second generation leader, promoting huge initiatives, like reforming health care, which require a still healthy economy to support them. It's fallen on him to be a kind of new founder, a first generation type who, not just figuratively for photo ops, actually rolls up his sleeves.

Behold, he makes everything new again. In that sense he really could be The One.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How Soon We Forget, to our Peril

Here's Mark Shields' important contribution to what should be the true public discourse about what has happened to the economy under the GOP and the Dems. If he got his facts straight no one should give any credence whatsoever to the idiots at the CPAC conference which was held this week.

As I've written recently on this page, those politicians and party hacks who call themselves Conservative are trying to win the support of the public by hypocritically shouting lies, believing that repetitious loud volume hollering can cover up the facts they want and need to hide.

One can only hope that there is still a sufficient number of street wise and alert Americans who see through this bluster, and recognize people like Beck, Limbaugh, Palin and Pawlenty to be the dishonest buffoons they truly are.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Opinions of Two Rational Journalists

E.J.Dionne and Ruth Marcus offer their fairly rational opinions on Congress and today's politics in the Washington Post. It's heartening that these two journalists continue to state their moderate/progressive views in a newspaper which is inexorably becoming the print version of Fox News.

Neocons Fred Hiatt, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, William Kristol, Marc Thiessen, to name some, outnumber moderate progressives like Marcus, Dionne and Eugene Robinson.

Click on the following links to read what Dionne and Marcus have to say. These two pieces were posted on TruthDigg.

Ruth Marcus:

E.J. Dionne:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Words and Meanings; Often in Conflict

Here's a fascinating piece on how words can have different meanings to different folks.

In the DADT argument fewer people were willing to support homosexuals for serving openly in the military than gay men and lesbians women. Huh?

My view has it that the word "homosexual" still connotes a generalized sinful life style to many straights, especially the so-called Conservative, white Christianist fundamentalists, while the terms "gay men and lesbian women" connote actual human beings who somehow are given a pass by the
great unwashed.

Reminds of "Get the guvment hands off my Medicare". Conservative today really means "Don't require me to think, and don't fix 'it', because I don't want to admit' it's' broken.

God help us, nobody else will. And I'm agnostic.

Lighthouse Keeper

Conservatives Against Conservation

Here's a good piece from Andrew Sullivan on the disconnect between Conservatives and conservation.

He refers to the older generation of Conservatives as most likely to be blind to the destruction of the planet inherent in their misguided head- in -the- sand "view". If that older generation were prohibited from indoctrinating their offspring in those misguided opinions we might be rid of those opinions in a generation or two.

Clearly that's not going to happen. Destructive as well as constructive cultural memes are passed on by both the blessings and the sins of the fathers. We see that in the perpetual and never ending hatreds around the globe as well as the absurd unwillingness to acknowledge the signs of self-destructiveness all around us.

Lighthouse Keeper

The Onion Provides Today's Mental Health Break

Here's The Onion's offering on what to do about loveless marriages. Make them illegal? If it gets to the Supreme Court should some of the justices recuse themselves? Enjoy.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mental Health Break, Thanks to Gail Collins

Ya gotta love 'er. She helps me not miss Molly Ivins quite so much.

Do yourself a favor and read today's Gail Collins piece in the Times.

Lighthouse Keeper

There's No End to Mystery

I am agnostic when it comes to religion, so this piece by Greta Christina appeals to me.

I'd like this to be an open thread. Jump in everyone.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creation Begins at Home

Here's an article about an idea that really excites me, the idea that we create our own reality, that the Universe is a construct of our minds. The author uses his experience of waking from a dream to help us understand what he's talking about.

This is consistent with my own belief in the idea that Man created God in his own image.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, February 7, 2010

DADT: Repeal.The.Damn.Law

Here's Frank Rich's excellent piece on this anachronistic legislation.

Seems politicians, at least those who still have their faculties intact, do pay attention to the mood of the public.

They milk the prejudice cow as long as they can, but come to understand that they are milking a dead cow when they realize that the public moved on when what little milk which was left for a time had turned sour.

This piece deserves a full read.

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, February 5, 2010

Out of Timeouts

Wasserman's cartoon in today's Boston Globe is yet another proof that a picture is worth a thousand words.

What to do when you're in the red zone, it's 4th and goal at the 1, both the play clock and the game clock are down to two seconds, you're out of timeouts and all your teammates are about to be called for illegal motion for running off at the mouth?

Lighthouse Keeper

"Banksters"; Perfect Addition to the Lexicon

Andrew Cuomo is taking on the banksters.

What a great new word.

Lighthouse Keeper

Domestic Terrorism

If one of the aims of a terrorist is to bring the normal function of a government to a halt, surely Richard Shelby(R, AL) qualifies for the label.

He's holding the US government hostage by putting a hold on 70 presidential appointees, something a senator can do based on an arcane Senate rule.

His beef: He accuses the White House of holding up a multi billion dollar defense contract which Alabama had hoped to land.

Shameful. How do such rules come into being? That's on top of the filibuster rule which stops virtually all legislation. Talk about time for a change.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"The More Things Change---------

-------the more they stay the same."

Tip of the hat to Frank Fowles, my friendly Mainiac, for putting me onto this piece about history.

People don't change. Only the specifics of the circumstances in which they find themselves change.

Here's an interesting comparison of French history of fifty years ago with our own today.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hedges: Objectivity; The Disease of American Journalism

Here's an essay by Chris Hedges which leaves me confused, though I'm having a difficult time expressing why and how. He seems to contradict himself, but perhaps it's more about my not understanding what he's saying.

On the one hand he seems to be decrying the lack of reporter's empathy in submitting stories, or more accurately reporter's empathy being written out of their stories by editors who fear offending those who grant access to their reporters and/or provide advertising revenue.

This might be called the Tyranny of Objectivity; a claim that Hitler is an ogre balanced by a claim that Hitler is a prince, to use an example Hedges cites from the past. He seems to be saying that objectivity obscures truth. Truth is that Hitler was an ogre.

In his last paragraph he says that we won't be better off when these "fact based" institutions fail. That's the thought that I can't seem to reconcile with his earlier criticism. Fact based reporting seems to me to be a positive thing, but he seems to be using it in an accusatory, pejorative way.

Please use the comments option at the end of the post if you think you can help me out here.

Lighthouse Keeper

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