MY STORY BEGINS
My story begins where the Old Testament ends. It does not pick up with the New Testament – that painful detour for so many who entered its twisting maze to become helplessly lost. We tend to forget that the reader, not the character in the story, is the one being educated about the nature of the divine. The best that can be said of the Old Testament is that it kept god god, and did not try to make a man out of him; and, more importantly, all men became gods when Job did his ju-jitsu. Practically, the Story of Job is liberating revolutionary dynamite.
God shows growth and development throughout the compendium called the Holy Bible. He starts off as an insane and dysfunctional parent, up to and including infanticide en mass, but “mellows” by the time of Jesus (“You bleed for them, kid, and we’ll call it good this time”). However, in the Story of Job – essentially the end of the original First Five books – God lets the Devil torment Job, mainly for reasons of vanity, and exposes His own “feet of clay.”
“I bet ya ten bucks I can shake this guy,” Satan says.
“You’re on!” God replies.
Job, however, refuses to forsake his faith in the face of overwhelming personal bodily and mental torture, including the loss of his entire family.
Since God created man in his own image, allowing Satan to do violence to Job, without giving Job relief or reason, makes God complicit in evil.
Job has shown God his true self (which is man’s function): man is in God’s image and God is both good and evil. As man sees himself in God, God sees himself in man.
God finally feels guilty enough to declare Job right and almost admits Himself wrong (Big Guy has real responsibility issues). He admits and fixes His mischief (close enough). This is the end of God’s growth into a mature deity.
It is the end of Man’s growth into maturity too; from here on out, for good or evil, he is able to be a free self-directing agent.
Worried learned men wanted to leave Job out of the Bible; their “Jobs” were on the line.
“Down with equality!” They cried. “The Invisible Cloud Being (ICB) rules; we’ll tell you what he wants you to do! You can’t be fully responsible for yourselves!”
Viewed in Job, God and man cancel each other out and merge as one. One can see why the learned men wanted Job out of town as fast as humanly possible. It was a real career-ender for them. But the story got in anyway. Probably because Job “took a licking and kept on ticking,” like a good old American-built Timex watch.
Ever since then, this whole business has been called a “Mystery of the Bible.” And, small wonder.
A Bit More About Adult Responsibility:
When Buddhists recognize the human being, or other in one another, they similarly acknowledge that everyone is under the authority of their own individual adult responsibility for their own thoughts and actions.
Christians, however, seem content as perpetual children, forever dutiful to a paternal authority, oddly manifested in an Invisible Cloud Being (ICB) – as fantastic as Santa Claus, or any other unproven fantasy figure – who, in this mythology, had adulterous sexual relations with an earthly teenaged virgin. Christian desire for god is not nonsense, but their invention is a surrogate, crutch and dangerous doppelganger for the real deal. It is the cop-out of every irresponsible dependent Christian soul. It is also a handy tool that makes it easier for the unscrupulous to take advantage of the gullible and foolish, and even move them to fiendish deeds in the name of the deity.
The world will not improve while great numbers believe in an Invisible Cloud Being; it’s too easy to pass the buck, alibi, excuse, or harm others in the Big Poobah’s name. Yet, if the act is one’s own, by will or grace, who is finally to fully praise or blame? Does this argue that man is divine and divorced from the rest of creation? Such a disconnect is a purely self-destructive insanity. Like it or not, we are biologically nailed to this earth. Christians, and other religionists, seeking to escape life for imagined perfection in an impossible airborne Disneyland are a survival liability for the rest of us.
“Let us cross ovah the rivah and rest undah the shade of the great oak tree.”
One must be specific and particular, scientific and rational when addressing this volatile subject, because all religions are fundamentally intolerant and flawed. My own prejudice is obvious in the few paragraphs above. However, Buddhism (for those who do not know) is not a religion, but a methodology for successful living; Buddha recommended shopping around if his tools didn’t fit the job, and asked his followers not to make him a god, which many of them obviously ignored. Yet, somehow Buddhism admits the mystery without trying to explain it, remains open to new information and the next scientific revelation, and answers questions with more questions. Other religious systems seem primarily fixed and inflexible, imposing absurd limits on the infinite, and providing definite answers to inherently ambiguous questions about inherently unknowable things.
It is, therefore, advisable IMO to be knowledgeable about all religions, and to select tools from each as they may best fulfill a specific need. Critics say that this relativistic approach to philosophy and religion defies their true wisdom, which is intrinsic and whole, to be specifically and fully obeyed. One has to spend a lifetime proving only one point, which eliminates making a discovery that may be better, or being able to avoid a false conclusion before having wasted one’s entire life upon it.
Perfectly good lives are wasted with trivia, nonsense, and utterly worthless self-hobbling concepts, such as, sin, guilt, heaven, and hell.
- The ancient Sumerians had no concept of guilt or sin, yet managed to build the world’s first true high civilization.
- Ancient Greeks: To sin = “to miss the mark” – can be high or low. Sin is not living up to, or being who you are.
People allow themselves to be kept in check with threats of eternal fire and damnation after death! As soon believe on Santa’s list of good and bad boys and girls, and lumps of coal in your Christmas stocking; or rabbits hiding eggs at Easter time – he is risen, have an egg. What kind of garbled mash is that?
Those sure of eternal life, are usually obsessed with and afraid of death. One had better have a pretty good alternative at hand to mollify the despairing crowd, bemoaning their fallen faith, if they ever decide their emperor has no clothes, and god vanishes in a single weak puff of doubt. Without faith, they might invent something truly harmful and ridiculous as a substitute.
Self-deception is apparently a core human behavior – I would now say gene; its use permits all sorts of mindless or mad adventures. Self-deception enables otherwise perfectly decent people to burn disbelievers at the stake, or to bring guns to a town hall meeting; or to sit on the end of a big bullet and get fired at the Moon! Self-deception allows us to feel perfectly safe when we are in fact balanced on a knife’s edge above a raging inferno – and no, not hell, something real, like Mona Loa.
Did you know, Amen, Amun, or Amon was the chief god of Egypt in the New Kingdom? The Hebrews (Habiru) took his name into the desert with them in the Exodus. They literally call on the Great God of the Pharaohs at the end of all their prayers when they intone “Amen.” And so do Christians and Moslems. The three great religions unwittingly – for the most part – believe in the same god and pronounce His name every day: Yahweh-Jehovah, Jesus and Allah are tribal manifestations of the one great god: AMUN.
ALL OF A KEY
“There was a lad in there with a great polished shield of tin or brass, reflecting the yellow-white Egyptian sun back into the tomb recesses so that the paintings were clearly visible in all their profound beauty. There’s a sadness about it, for their discovery and exhibition are destroying them. They were intended as funerary decoration to be shut from sun and air and water for the rest of eternity, not to be displayed like some Messrs. Barnum & Bailey amusement. The academics from all over the world are exposing their fragility to the rough outside world and the great legacy of ancient Egypt is crumbling to sand. I think that those academics are searching as much for themselves as for the remnants of an ancient past. Who and how and what and why mean nothing really except for context. These modern grave robbers are trying to discover how they – the searchers – are somehow more profound, more intelligent, more advanced than the ancient people they are studying. How arrogant it sounds when some fifty-year-old archaeologist marvels over the similarities of modern and ancient man! It is a burlesque of the young judging the old – the foolish criticizing the wise. In the end, it isn’t our technology, which defines our humanity; it is our relation to life and death. In that, the ancient Egyptians were far ahead of the majority of we modern fools.”
Later, the Renaissance considered a life unencumbered by revealed religion.
I MET JESUS
I met Jesus walking down the road with Buddha the other day. They were discussing the oddity that, by eschewing things of the world, and accepting and giving unto Caesar that which is his, one re-arrives at a destination that is also a point of departure called acceptance or rejection. It’s an endless loop, coming from nowhere and going nowhere; and, the leader is the guy who can be seen going by on the merry-go-round at any particular moment. Nothing is fixed, and nothing ever changes; or, to put it another way, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Philosophy will do that to one, and that’s why I was so delighted, because any argument that begins and ends in chaos, with a lot of confusion, bafflement, and befuddlement in between is bound to be as fraught with opportunity as with risk, and holds as much potential good, as it does evil. Having said so, they looked at me and said loudly and in unison,
AGE OF REASON
“That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his works, and is the true theology.
“As to the theology that is now studied in its place, it is the study of human opinions and of human fancies concerning God. It is not the study of God himself in the works that he has made, but in the writings that man has made; and it is not among the least of the mischiefs that man has made; and it is not among the least of mischiefs that the Christian system has done to the world, that it has abandoned the original and beautiful system of theology, like a beautiful innocent, to distress and reproach, to make room for the hag of superstition.” – Tom Paine, Age of Reason, p. 37