31 July 2008

Oh, my...

Last Sunday's service at Unity Church of Peace was... not memorable. Apparently, the several people who are all responsible for putting the service together ALL decided to "wing it." What was memorable, however, was the workshop I was invited to after.
These sorts of activities were why I had decided to settle down into the Unity congregation in the first place... I thought. The workshop, as originally described to me, was titled "Have You Had a Spiritual Experience?" Since it's fairly difficult to imagine someone having the sorts of experiences they gave as examples--OOBE's, for example--and not realize it, I assumed that it would be a sharing group.
It was actually a workshop on "ECKANKAR," the self-described "religion of the light and sound of God."


It is organizations like this that really give esoteric studies a bad name. The group--consisting of myself and about a dozen middle-aged women--sat around chanting "HU" (pronounced "hyoo") and talking about dreams we'd had (well, I didn't participate much...). "HU" was described as, I kid you not, "a love song to God," which had been "used in ancient civilizations from Africa to South America."


First of all, esoteric religions is my second-biggest hobby, just behind martial arts; and my best friend has a master's degree from Oxford in Early Christian History and is working on his D.Phil. on the Roman occupation of sub-Saharan Africa. If "HU" was really this universal sound, ONE OF US would have heard of it.
Second, I haven't bought God dinner. I'm certainly not going to meet His parents. As close as I may feel to God, we're really not in the sort of relationship where I sing love songs to Him. Had Dr. Klemp--the founder of ECKANKAR--put forward the statement that he had worked with yogic mantras (or some other form of sacred vibration) and found "HU" to be particularly useful... I might have been interested. But I'm not going to work with any group that lies to its members.

There was also a Tarot exercise... except it wasn't described as a Tarot exercise, and we didn't use Tarot cards. Instead of universal symbolism developed over centuries of refinement, we used index cards with pictures the coordinators had clipped from magazines the night before. I was somewhat less than surprised when the exercise turned out to be useless to me.

Anyway, I certainly don't recommend ECKANKAR, and I hope that I am exposed to something more substantive in the near future.

24 July 2008

More on Entertainment: J. R. R. Tolkien

Now that I've started writing about Christianity in contemporary entertainment, I'd like to set down my apologetics for The Lord of the Rings, once and for all. I have talked to more than a few Christians who either refuse to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or say they watched it but didn't see anything Christian in it at all.
To which my first reply is, "Great--read the damned book!"

However, many of the Christian elements of The Lord of the Rings successfully survived translation into film (even when other story elements were destroyed). People no longer recognize that J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the great Christian writers of the 20th century. This is odd, since, as a member of the Inkings, he was a close friend of C. S. Lewis, whom few would deny was a staunch Christian apologist.
The problem arises because Tolkien despised direct metaphor. He thought it too simplistic for adult writing--so, unlike Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings has no single character that one can point to and say "That's Jesus."

Tolkien rather divided the Christ-attributes between three characters: Aragorn, the King who Returns, who entered the Land of the Dead and returned to pass judgement on the living and the dead, and who healed with his hands; Gandalf, the wandering miracle-worker, who cast down demons, who fell into darkness and returned to his followers in a flash of light such that they could not at first recognize him; and Frodo Baggins, who was wounded terribly and carried a great burden toward certain death to redeem the evil of the world.

Hey, maybe I could start performing services for Unity Christian Church!

Superman Returns

So, as I recouperated from helping my brother move furniture Tuesday night, I decided to go back and re-watch Superman Returns. Not everyone realizes that the Superman story fuses two divergent elements: the science fiction element, as Superman is an alien, and the mythological element.
Superman, you see, was set adrift in space by his parents when his planet was destroyed. The TV series Smallville plays up the Superman-as-alien theme, because it plays into the teen-angst of the program's genre. Superman Returns, however, continues the mythical element, using Superman's relationship to the sun to cast him as a Christ-figure.
Being set adrift as an infant by one's parents--usually upon their death--is a very common element in mythology: one sees it in origin-myth of Rome, with Romulus and Remus; in the the story of King Sarkand of Akkadia; and with King Sigfried of the Thidreksaga and Niebelungenlied. Most famous today, of course, is the birth of Moses, who was set adrift and raised by the family of Pharoah.
Superman Returns updates Superman from Moses-figure to Christ-figure with a number of devices; the most innocuous of which is his twice-stated "I'm always around, Lois," coupled with images of him hovering above the world, listening and rushing to save people in need. The imagery goes much deeper than that however: Lex Luthor's shard of kryptonite is the Spear of Longinus; raising the island of Kryptonite is the bearing of the Cross toward Golgotha; he dies saving the world and returns. Of course, Lois/Mary Magdalene does not find his crypt empty (a nurse does), and I'm not sure how the son works into all of this (but then, I'm not sure how a son works into the Superman story at all), but the imagery is quite prevalent.
I'm interested to see if it is continued in Superman: Man of Steel.

22 July 2008

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Qabbalistic Cross; 10 minute Relaxation Response Meditation (I.A.O.)
Matthew 11-14
In this section we are introduced to Jesus speaking in parables. Of particular interest to me is the quotation: "For to you it is given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven; but for them it is not given," indicating a tradition of secret teachings all the way to the beginning of Christianity.

21 July 2008


I slept through Church yesterday... and the service is at 11:00 a.m.! Man, I'm still strung out from that last SED. I feel a bit better, now, though. :)

17 July 2008

Ike Skelton

Hey, did you know that Ike Skelton is a Freemason? Scottish Rite, too--he was the exemplar of his class when he was inducted. The guy I talked to Tuesday night was inducted with him.

16 July 2008

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

I went to Columbia today to attend Lodge with Acacia #602... they had a first-degree scheduled, and I figured they could use some assistance. However, I got sidetracked with requesting degrees for the Scottish Rite and talked with the local secretary for about two hours!
I will probably be a 32° Master Mason by Christmas... Next year, I'll probably look into the York Rite, as well.

13 July 2008

No Chuch Today!

I'm at drill today, so no church. Next week I'm going to talk to Rev. Rosado about "officially" joining the Unity congregation.

12 July 2008

Complaint-Free World

I've added a link to the Complaint-Free World bracelets to the left. I first heard about these on Fox News about a year ago, after starting my new job with MOARNG. These bracelets--which through convergent or divergent evolution, are related to esoteric practices of the Golden Dawn--are yet another connection to the Unity Christian Church that I had before joining the church.

11 July 2008

Friday, 11 July 2008

1930: 10 minute Relaxation Response meditation followed by Matthew 8-10.

Matthew 8 largely deals with Yeshua healing people according to their faith. Greatest of these was the Roman centurion, who knew that Yeshua could heal his son without even visiting the centurion's house. Interestingly, in Lamsa's translation, he describes "two lunatics" rather than "two men possessed by demons"--and the lunatics attack a herd of swine before Yeshua can heal them. This is why he is not allowed into the next city.

Matthew 8:26- Jesus said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm.

It should be noted that this was a miracle commonly ascribed to students of the Mysteries in the ancient world. Pythagoras (yes, the triangle guy), who brought the Egyptian mysteries to Greece, was also said to be able to do this.

In Matthew 9, we have:

3 Some of the scribes said among themselves, This man blasphemes.
4 But Jesus knew their thoughts; so he said to them, Why do you think evil in your hearts?

If more church-goers thought about this verse, I might have found myself in a more main-stream congregation!

Matthew 10 is fairly straight-forward admonitions by Yeshua to his followers on how to live while spreading his teachings. I noted that where before, when addressing crowds, he admonished not to resist evil. Here he tells his disciples that he brings not peace, but the sword--and to knock the dust from their sandals when leaving any place that did not accept them, so that that place would meet harsh penalties on the Day of Judgement.

08 July 2008

Tuesday, 08 July 2008

After a ten-minute meditation (interrupted half-way through by a forgotten alarm clock), I studied Matthew 5-7. The Beatitudes, of course, and quite a few directives on the Kingdom of Heaven; most interesting to me, however, was the Lord's Prayer from the Aramaic:

Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven so on Earth.
Give us bread for our needs from day to day.
And forgive us our offenses, as we forgive our offenders.
And do not let us enter into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever.

Sunday, 06 July 2008

The main pastor of the local Unity Church was back today; Rev. Rosado. No matter how interested I become in Unity, I don't like her sermons (or "lessons," they are called in Unity). I also realized some things about the Unity Christian Church:
--They apparently are Nestorian, and may have adopted this belief from Dr. Lamsa. That is to say, they believe that the man "Jesus" and the redemptive spirit, "Christ," were two separate beings. This actually goes along with certain Gnostic teachings, although the Unity folks apparently ascribe this condition to everyone.
--They don't have crosses anywhere that I could see. I'll have to discuss this before I join.
--They now have a fly up advocating a "U.S. Department of Peace." This, folks, is an abomination. It is not the business of the U. S. Government to enforce specific conflict-resolution methods on private citizens. Further, the U. S. of A. was founded on the ideal that FREEDOM IS WORTH FIGHTING AND DYING FOR. I may post more on this later.

I have been invited to both an upcoming church picnic and a float trip; it is refreshing to once again be part of a group which puts such things on. I hope that I don't have to leave for doctrinal reasons--of course, I won't be the first person in history who didn't see completely eye-to-eye with their pastor, if I do stay.

05 July 2008

Saturday, 05 July 2008

1930: 10 minute Relaxation Response
Matthew 5-8

04 July 2008

The Perversion of Lamsa?

In searching for Aramaic Bible resources, I came across the following website. I'll go ahead and link, because I don't have a problem with opposing religious views--even rather silly ones.
The authors of this website believe that the King James Bible is the "most reliable" transmission of "God's Word," and that Lamsa's translation is not derived from ancient Aramaic. Rather, they believe that he simply added his "occultic" (sic) ideas into the text of the KJV. I have been unhappy with Lamsa's retention of the KJV style of language, and specific words, for other reasons; openness to this sort of criticism hadn't really occurred to me. Of course, the authors of this website drew this conclusion because the Lamsa Bible is approved by my newly-adopted Unity Christian Church, whom they hold to be "occultists" as well.
Of course, Lamsa's Bible is also endorsed by Oral Roberts' Bible Study, and these folks think that the Roman Catholic Church "suppressed" the truth of the KJV...

Be that as it may, George A. Lamsa was a native Aramaic speaker and middle-eastern Christian whose new (1933) translation of the Bible really clarifies a lot of things that got muddled as the ancient manuscripts passed through Greek and Latin and into English. He--and his surviving student, Rocco E. Errico--has also published books that assist in understanding Aramaic and middle-eastern idioms. Errico has even written an introductory text for Aramaic, so that one can read the original texts without relying on anyone's translation.

Thursday, 03 July 2008

After work today I did a five-minute (oh, how the mighty have fallen!) Relaxation Response meditation, followed by reading chapters 1-4 in the Gospel According to St. Matthew in Lamsa's Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text.