Sunday, January 22, 2012

FOLLOWING THE RULES AND.... FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT.. January 22, 2012..Note to Ed Fudge

There is a reason for rules. In a world filled with hazards and threats, they define the approved course. They show the way that is safe. They mark the path we can trust.
    (Edward Fudge's complete article below)
Grounded Costa Concordia
 Edward, of course  legitimate rules for all kinds of areas of human activity are real and important and are there for good  and respectful reasons. I think though that  'following the rules' is a concept that needs balance to it. In science or economics or politics data are collected and generalizations or averages are determined when the fact is that there may be no specific situation that is actually measured as this averaged out  general value. What this tells us is that generalities that have been determined by human consensus including rules of morality do not necessarily say something specific about the individual case demanding a  thoughtful prayerful moral decision.
I can imagine that under some specific factors  there  are even maritime rules that any boat Captain ,who does his work like art rather than in an unthoughtful rote manner,  may need to vary from the general rule in order to save his boat and passengers. In such a case of varying from the normal rule it would  only  be done with a fully conscious awareness of the general rules, much practice at following them and the seriousness of taking an action that runs counter to those rules. (The Captain of the Costa Concordia was apparently not such a Captain in any of these ways. He apparently  ignored the rules and flaunted his careless drunken behavior. That is not what I am describing. This is an example of a  total
perversion of  Following the Spirit.)
Moses And Ten Commandments On Stone

* So it must necessarily be with every category of  highly conscious and competent levels of human living and working. Those who are welded to taking  the general rules as the final guide for the moral life will be unable to make those essential life and death decisions where a path other than the consensus  and conventional wisdom  is required.  Individual life is still often uncharted waters. Our human lives are every bit that unique. This in fact is the very difference implied in   the 'Will of God' being imaged   as a human incarnation of God. The  Highest moral law is no longer words on stone or a page but requires  a living,  ever deciding consciousness of  what is the 'more excellent' way rather than 'safely' always following the general rule.

Paul labors to make that very point regarding 'law' in numerous ways. That is not just the Hebrew Torah he speaks of as adherence to the 'letter kills' compared to that of the living and always adjusting Spirit being the source of 'life.'  As you say, the actual  Christ story teaches that the 'rules' are no longer written ones but ones that are written in the life of the incarnated one Jesus. This implies that incarnation began in Jesus and continues in us all. This surely is the meaning of Jesus' saying that,' the Kingdom of God is within you.' and the mind boggling , ' And you are gods.' This is the humble confidence that Jesus was teaching humans  to have along with the courage to seek  and follow the ultimate 'rules' within our own hearts as we live day by day, moment by moment.
Again, variations from rules and  laws developed legitimately by sincere human consensus or past revelations, including morality ones,  should  never be  ignored, or undervalued but neither can they ever be considered the  final unique Will of God in any specific  human situation. Every moment of life is unique and requires a fresh and present Word of the Spirit if we humans are to come into any greater harmony than we have yet found with the actual living Will of God on earth. This is precisely what the "Living Spirit of Christ' promises and provides without ever an exception  of misguidance when it is relied on(trusted) as the primary moral guide and not second to any pre-written rules.  How can you speak of  what it means for a Christian to truly 'follow the rules' without talking about this kind of balance and feel you are telling the whole story?  The moral life as describe by Jesus can never feel like a 'safe way' for Following the Spirit is an experience  of 'trusting risk',  though in the long run it surely must be the superior thus idealistically the 'safer' way.  Another way that Following the Spirit is not the conventional 'safer way' is that when a Spirit following person chooses to  not follow the public rule, whether it be a rule of good physical health, civil code or a  moral rule s/he must be willing to accept the human judgment and  punishment that is likely to come. Here we find examples of 'civil disobedience' which have been central to improving political conditions in cultures world wide. 

An Oldest Manuscript Of A 'Letter' Of Paul
 Jesus on occasion taught his disciples by example there are times when  the  rules of  community consensus , no matter how valuable and honorable , must be adjusted if not outright broken if the right and just thing is to be done consistently.  Such as shelling the corn on the Sabbath and eating with unwashed hands and his approval of  David and his companions eating the Bread from the Holy Alter. This aspect of Jesus actions and teaching, as well as Paul's emphasis in this area, needs to be taught just as seriously and carefully, even if it is scary,  as the conventional and far simpler 'follow the rules' instruction. That is  if creative spiritual human living(abundant life) is the goal. Such thinking begins to define the nature of the responsible 'freedom' that is so valued in both the gospels and the writings of Paul. Blessings, Jim

Dove- Symbol Of The Living Holy Spirit

* The reader may also want to read blog post 'Responsible Human Freedom'         

On Sun, 22 Jan 2012 03:59:00 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge

Capt. Francesco Schettino was more than two miles off course when the 114,500-ton Costa Concordia hit a reef this January 2012. The impact sent more than 4,000 passengers on the luxury cruise ship into a panic. It sent a still-unknown number of them to their cold and lonely deaths. There is a reason for rules. In a world filled with hazards and threats, they define the approved course. They show the way that is safe. They mark the path we can trust.
Our confused society has given rules a bad rap. Torah, the Hebrew word for "law," means "instruction"--always given, by the way, for the recipients' well-being (Deut. 6:24). The author of Psalm 119 understood that, and wrote its 176 verses as an acrostic tribute to God's commands. The Psalm is divided into sections that move through the entire Hebrew alphabet. Within each section, every line begins with the same alphabet character. The longest chapter in the Bible celebrates God's law--yet it is anything but legalistic.
This positive way of thinking about God's commands brings a new appreciation for them, and for the God who provides us a lighted path through life's dark and dangerous trails (Psalm 119:105). Just as Torah, the general word for "law," brings to mind a picture of God's road-markers, so the root of the most common Hebrew word for "sin" suggests a deviation from the proper path. Straying is bad. Intentionally going off course is worse. Captain Schettino admits that he was off course intentionally.
The Jews were given God's Torah, but God has given us something better than that. He embodied his will in a person. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. "I am the way," said Jesus--the road, the path, the course (John 14:6). We can say to Jesus every day, "I am safe when by thy side." In that confidence, let us pray: "Savior, lead me lest I stray . . ."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

THE GREATEST SIN?.... June 6, 2010

The ultimate sin, for which one can expect finally only God's consuming fire of judgment is to reject God's grace and forgiveness.
(Edward, Again I find myself using your essay as a kick start for my personal reflection process. I wrote this all without having you personally in mind. I am writing with what I hear are the beliefs and claims of most presentations of Popular American Christianity. Please read them as such for the sake of our non-threatened friendship. Jim)

Hi Edward. There is surely evil(sin) in the world and its effects are frightfully observable. To make what you describe as somehow the heart  or height of sin seems to  be a practical example of 'swallowing a camel while choking on a gnat.'  At any reasonable village gathering it would not be on the list of evils threatening  the village.  Sometimes evil  is obviously generated by the behavior of humans.  (I've shared that I strongly suspect that another origin of it is in the Sacred origin of everything that is.) To ascribe the most  awful evil , the only one capable of  totally separating a human from its Sacred origin, as being a human conscientiously unable to agree with an abstract intellectually presented  interpretation of a one time happening in the  past  strikes me as cold,  unreasonable and unlike God. I think genuine 'conversion' ,which would include  being convinced of one's accepted standing with God shows that God's 'grace and forgiveness' is not something that is intellectually chosen or decided but one that comes through the irrational process of conversion which I wish to elaborate on below.

Deciding to accept the 'grace and forgiveness' of God is not how the earliest 'believers'  in Jesus came to be so. This comes from  my sincerest effort to understand the story that has affected my life as much as most  others. It was not  any  intellectual rationale or  unquestioned   pronouncement that was the source of the initial 'grace' experienced in the presence of Jesus. It was, or would certainly seemed to be to the converted one,  the  'impact of a  life' that  was so full of 'something beyond explanation', so exemplary of  divine love that  they were  awed beyond measure, overwhelmed with what  could only be described as a  'presence of God.'    I  believe this experience really happened to many  who knew Jesus of Nazareth.  I like to think many of us would have been like them.
Saul(Paul's) Conversion Experience
Grace(I think in contrast to the way it is primarily used and implied in your essay), has often been understood, even in  orthodox Christian circles, as something coming unilaterally from the Sacred, the very opposite of  a logical   human argument to be  reflected on and chosen.   The  thread of origins of both Christian  and other religions is that the most profound,and perhaps the only fully genuine ,conversion  is something that is experienced as 'done to the person'  not 'done by them' or a product of  their rational choice. I believe the metaphors you quote of Paul were originally 'experienced'  irrationally and not 'ideas or posited truths'  on which a person is asked to  make a  rational decision. Hear the story of  Paul's conversion and  of Peter's dream conversion to the premise that 'God is not a respecter of persons.' Moses is another outstanding example. And I will offer my own conversion experience in Aug '85 as a possible example of what I am seeking to describe.  Religious conversion that  is the most real article is not a rational experience(though hopefully the rational function is maintained enough to register what happened so that it can be reflected on critically  for a long while afterward.  It comes from a 'movement  of the Spirit.' 

I now am convinced that such conversion  is a very 'natural' happening involving both  the human and the Sacred. Otherwise it is breaking into the human psyche, which is who we are,  from another world without any respect for the integrity of the human psyche .  It would be as if aliens  injected us with a drug that changed our values and our minds. This is even  how  it may initially seem to the converted.  But it will, if the ego does not fully surrender its role, bring with it the strong conviction(at least on reflection)  that this is something  alive in  and a part of ones larger Self, including all unconscious aspects. It is  not simply a foreign invader possessing ones psychic apparatus which would be a kind of mind rape.  I think with the historical development of  a far stronger  human ego(one that originally was constantly overwhelmed by the unseen forces  that cause irrational conversion) has made  religious conversion of the type that happened due to the  level of Spiritual life that Jesus symbolized very unlikely.   The strengthened human ego has gone now to another extreme( We simply are not as quickly and repeatedly superstitious as our more primitive forebears. We have the historical record to show that, such the capacity to think far more objectively as in the scientific method.) Our over inflated individual and collective ego is  now  convinced  that nothing beyond  its awareness, reasoning  power and logic  can or does ever happen. This is a dangerous attitude that in our day can lead to technological disasters like an oil  hole in the ocean floor gushing death to a large piece of the planet.

One might(if willing to take it out of historical  context)  take that  as a reason Paul could say that some  'turned away from his truth' but  such a state of mind is not one that a person can be rationally condemned for. Because  it is an unconscious state of mind.  And we all live in a far more 'unconscious state of mind' than we can possibly know. (To me this is the foundation for present day true humility. If that awareness will not make a person think twice about every assertion and easily accepted 'belief' nothing will.) Another way of describing authentic conversion whether ancient or modern is that an archetype of the Collective Unconscious is activated and is experienced directly in consciousness(not being told or preached to about it) by the converted. This is the 'kind of personal conversion' that is the foundation for any collective religious faith. It is certainly and clearly the kind  that supported the origins of Christianity. I think American mainline and conservative Christianity agrees with this premise but, in my view, do not accept the implications of it. It says yes that is what conversion was like originally but that is not how it  can happen anymore. (Edward, it is a broader  parallel to the old Church of Christ doctrine that ' revelation only happened in the apostolic age. Now it is much more rational and actually totally contained in a book.')

Soon after the  initial conversions based on the actual physical presence of Jesus and  his death (and the archetypes these stirred)  it seems clear  that another kind of conversion began to happen.  It was through these much more 'group or political'  conversions that Christianity went on to be a world wide political power and  very much a kingdom of this world. We can see such conversion happen at various levels in and out of Christian conversion  throughout history. It is based on  Group dynamic, on peer influence, on various political  propagandizing and  evangelizing; on individuals  being taken up into some  mass consensus.  This can and does happen repeatedly in both  religious and secular movements.  A present example of such a psychological phenomenon would be  a person  becoming  a devoted, highly motivated, religiously zealous 'tea party' member.  Here, as in other 'more than rational' devotedness to a political persuasion, the convert is solidly convinced that his belief is only based on the solid facts of history, the constitution and logic.  He has a valid and certain 'truth' to tell that explains why things are the way they are.(These are the initial  properties of religious conversion also.) But it is quite obvious to the 'non convert'  that the convert's  zeal is at least as much grounded in irrational emotion.  This is a good parallel I think to what much Christian religion conversion became, very likely  even in these texts quoted  from Acts. These sermons were very different than what people heard from Jesus, as portrayed  in the gospels. These are words of a movement headed toward becoming arguably the strongest institution in the  Western world.

I will emphasize that every ' most genuine depth conversion' experience is a direct encounter with the Collective Unconscious and it has the downside of at first being interpreted as a 'one and only and for all time truth'. It is the essential work of the conscious and logical  human ego to work on the contents of such a conversion experience to separate the healing redemptive elements from the destructive exclusionary 'inflated'  ones. As Jung said, 'Any fool or genius can receive a revelation or vision' but it is what is done with it by  the reasoning  human ego consciousness that determines if the final result is a collective treasure and blessing  or just another truly crazy person. ( I suffer now with  what verdict is yet to be reached on my experience. This is like a crucifixion between two opposites. I am totally alone with it and know it. And I can do nothing but submit...and even choose to.)

Going back to a main point. Someone for sincere reasons  not accepting  an intellectual premise, having to do with  interpreted events long past that obviously carry an emotional archetypal charterer, does not issue in the level of evil or sin, if any at all, that  much present  day 'historical'  Christianity ascribes to it, and that your article claims. There are so many real and treacherous kinds of evil behavior and happenings that we  all agree the Sacred strongly laments. But to declare the most egregious to be the incapacity or even the unwillingness to agree with an abstract philosophical proposition  misses nearly entirely the present day critical psychological/spiritual situation and need of Western humanity. If any American village met to discuss the evils that threaten its community life would someones unwillingness to agree with any abstract intellectual statement about the nature of Jesus of Nazareth  be on the top ten concerns (even if the village were Christian)?   Should  it be what is considered the 'greatest sin' for humans that  claim to care about each other? Besides it is not likely that anyone who actually 'sees,understands and is moved' by an image of a gracious and forgiving God would ever even consider rejecting such a notion. So that being named as the 'greatest sin' becomes rather irrelevant in our post modern human experience.

On Sun, 06 Jun 2010 05:59:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge

Click here to view any of 1100 past gracEmails on 100 popular topics.

A gracEmail subscriber, having read in previous gracEmails that Jesus made peace between God and the entire world, asks whether anyone can reject God's love and the reconciliation resulting from it.
* * *
The gospel is the good news of our salvation (Eph. 1:13). It is the announcement that God has "made peace" with every human being who will ever live, through the blood of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19-20). In the life and death of Jesus Christ, God was "reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). From the work of Jesus Christ "there resulted life to all" (Rom. 5:18). The Creator has issued a general pardon to his rebellious creation. Because of Jesus Christ, the slate is clean for the entire world. Jesus "made purification of sins" and, having completed that assignment, "sat down at the right hand" of God in heaven (Heb. 1:3). God has made us his ambassadors -- commissioned to tell the world about God's forgiveness and to beg them to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20).
Sadly, not everyone accepts this reconciliation. Not all receive God's grace (2 Cor. 6:1). When Paul announced the good news in a synagogue in Antioch, people responded in two distinct ways. Some who heard were drawn to the message and Paul urged them to continue in the grace of God, knowing that God was working in their hearts (Acts 13:43, 48). Others argued with the gospel announcement and spoke evil of it (13:45). Paul told them that they had repudiated the word of God and judged themselves unworthy of eternal life (13:46).
To reject God's grace and forgiveness is the ultimate sin, for which one can expect finally only God's consuming fire of judgment (Heb. 10:26-27). The same principle also applies to those who never hear the good news of God's forgiveness. God will judge them by the light they did have. Those who reject God's love, however they have known it, also cut themselves off from eternal life (Rom. 2:8-12). God desires that all people be saved and that none perish (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Surely we should wish the same thing. Yet the mystery of evil is that some people reject even so great a salvation as this, and for them there will be no escape (Heb. 2:3).
Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail with attribution and without financial profit.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012


                             I Corinthians 13: 4-8a,12-13 (edited Feb 14/ 09)
I know each person here has experienced Beverly in your own and unique way. I know I speak with a personal bias toward her. But these observations are very real and I think worthy of reporting. I saw her demonstrate consistently Continuous Spiritual Growth, Remarkable Courage and Enjoyed Love. I wish to mention some of the inner dynamics out of which she was the optimistic, upbeat, exuberant person that many of you know.

Continual Spiritual Growth: To understand Beverly's extraordinary spiritual development one needs to know that at age 5 she was severely burned over much of her torso. The hospital barely allowed her parents to visit her. She never got to see her twin. So she experienced extreme emotional stress. This trauma showed up in her early twenties as severe, paralyzing anxiety attacks. This was anxiety that threatened to stop one's normal living. People did not understand it and one's fate was to suffer silently. Attending church was one of the most panic threatening situations for her. But even there she was a welcoming, creative effective teacher of small children. We were both overwhelmed with her fearful secret. This beautiful young sensitive person was early on no stranger to harsh suffering. But always a positive-thinking fighter she kept asking, studying, praying , seeking counsel and practicing every coping skill imaginable. She successfully gave devoted mothering to three beautiful children. She could do most of this at home where she was relaxed. Gradually she began to win the battle. She gained an edge over the problem and her life began to expand.

Such an experience can lead one to search for every possible emotional and spiritual resource. And to question what one has been taught about spiritual matters. For Beverly this included the meaning of common Bible themes and some of the religious interpretations she had received. On several occasions she read thoughtfully the entire Bible. She seemed to have a more determined interest in it than her preacher husband. I saw her suffering and joined her in much of her spiritual journey. Beverly always affirmed that she is a Christian for the story of Jesus is the spiritual path that she was given and from which she found her way. She said it also though led her to a broader view, that some individuals are given other paths that lead to the same kind of spiritual truth. Her basic belief became that, “God is alive in every person, even ones who are not considered religious, and that we are all , along with all of nature, connected as one. She said that discovering this, to her, is what the Bible calls the ' pearl of great price', ' a treasure hid in a field', and the 'love' that every person is here on earth to discover.” This hard-won, simple, yet profound faith she ardently sought to practice the last decades of her life.

Remarkable Courage: When the anxiety was very strong every step out of her home took raw courage. As her life unfolded she demonstrated courage time and again. She eventually went back to kindergarten teaching. Most parents considered her an unusually skilled and caring teacher. While teaching she decided to attempt to fulfill her long time dream of teaching dance. She studied, trained, marketed and built up a full class of Aerobic Dance in a church gym. This required physical and mental preparation weekly. She loved it and stayed in great shape. Again,with no guarantees, she resigned her teaching career and launched, with Nancy's help, a brand new business: Message Therapy. So now she was bringing physical comfort and healing to many who were in serious chronic pain. She was kept busy also at every family gathering. It took significant courage also (at least I hope) for Beverly to discuss with me that it was best, for complicated reasons, that she and I consider living separately. Eventually we both painfully agreed to divorce after 35 years of marriage. Her insight was correct and that difficult change only cemented our friendship. How deeply I am missing our conversation, our planned trips to see family and our experience of being supportive of each other's pursuits. Cancer began to threaten her nine years ago. The little girl who learned to be very afraid of hospitals summoned courage , went through three surgeries, radiation and chemo and a trip to Mexico for treatment.. She was thoroughly courageous ,even smiling, to the end. And she departed in the devoted care of ones who love her as deeply as she does them.

Enjoyed Love: One religious scholar defined mature human love as the 'experience of fully enjoying the presence and being of another without the need to control or possess.' This became the hallmark of Beverly's life. Beverly and her twin Barb have been the objects of each other's love all their lives. Barb, with Milt, has been by Bev's side during the most trying times of her illness right to the end. I am so delighted that our three children fully experienced how deeply she enjoyed and delighted in them without controlling or possessing them.(Well, she may have occasionally slipped a tad into the controlling part but, she had so taught her kids that they would quickly, and with good humor, nip that in the bud. She once proudly mused, 'you know, my kids don't take any crap off of me, do they? I'm so glad'). I'm perhaps even more grateful that Beverly knew how much each of her children adored her. And that perhaps each of them had already moved to experiencing her not primarily as 'mother' but as 'good and loyal friend.' It was so obvious that Bev thoroughly loved and enjoyed her family, friends and associates. I'm confident they felt her love coming from her face, her words, her eyes and her hands.

A final capstone in her evolving spiritually courageous life was falling in love with another family. She calls them her 'adoptive family.' They are Nancy and her children Drew and Anna. To them Beverly is Bevie which became for our granddaughter Jordan- Grandma Bevie. Beverly's family was surprised when this basically shy person expanded her love to another family as well. She has brought us together as an extended family for these last years of her life in the most amazing and loving way.

Conclusion: To those knowing her most intimately, Bev's life has been an amazing story of spiritual growth, remarkable courage and most importantly of enjoyed love. And her legacy to each of us is a strong encouragement to follow our own paths and find our unique expanding selves as well. I am so thankful to have been a best friend of this amazing child of God for 46 years. She taught me so much and propelled me to learn far beyond what I ever imagined. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to her. Jim Hibbett

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SEEK THE LORD, what that may mean today. January12, 2012..note to Edward Fudge

Western Humanity  Carries A Strongly Felt  'Split' View Of Reality.
Hi Edward. I agree that we need ways to help us focus on what is ultimate. But I honestly don't believe our traditional religious views offer much help in 'how' to do what you are describing. If we think of  'seeking the Lord' as being moments when we consciously stop other thoughts and activities and have a period of worship, devotional or prayer;  to be consistent we would eventually need to 'do this' with our whole life and all the other considered 'more secular and less spiritual' activities which you mention will come to a halt. So most decide that we need to 'find the right balance' between these two different worlds... the 'spiritual vs the secular or material and 'body vs soul.' 

I think this  frustration that so many experience is a symptom of what is  'wrong' (what misses the mark or  is sin) with our  common view of life and reality. We have been led to a 'dual nature' belief of cosmic reality. In this view we are truly 'split' in our loyalties. We know from sacred text and a collective intuition we can't 'serve God and mammon' .  We live in a  perceived dualistic world where the two 'opposites' also do not intellectually have equal value. We have been carefully taught that the 'spiritual' is the highest value so whatever we invest of time and energy to the 'material' side is done with an uneasy guilt and a sense that we 'should' be doing more 'spiritual' things like  whatever we believe that 'seeking the Lord' is about.

 The problem is the 'dualistic' world view that we have inherited. This view point of a  'cosmic dualism' has come to us Americans primarily through some of the major interpretations of our inherited Christian religion and  the advancement of science. We could use the scripture to move beyond this 'dualism' but not by denying the places where scripture definitely teaches a 'dualistic' view of reality.  These  ancient people did not yet have the scientific or psychological resources except to have a 'dualistic' or split  world view.  To them it was natural .  Just one example: The sky for them ended right up there above the birds where they could 'see'  that the  moon, sun and stars were hardly larger than they appeared.  God was not far away at all, just beyond their eyesight watching over them like a kind 'father.' This point of view  was spiritually/psychologically true for millennia but something has changed in recent centuries and greatly accelerated even in recent decades.  We have made adjustments in attitudes and beliefs that ancient people were exempt from. For them they could be just like mother and father and life would be fine  but we know we do not have it that easy. We  are now confronted with the knowledge that the sky is just the beginning of an infinite expanse of space.  And our children  have integrated such 'new' facts of an expanded consciousness more than  most older ones likely have.

 We can easily get caught, for the comfort and convenience of it,  insisting that an outdated world view , that did not know what we know,  still can work  for us post modern people but the uneasiness of the conflict between two important  worlds  remains unresolved. The 'big split' has gradually become conscious to the  Christian masses but we've not yet found a suitable new point of view of our situation. We use fully the gifts of science but when science opens up new doors of consciousness such as Biological evolution, the Relativity of  mass, space and time, nuclear bombs,  birth control, a morning after pill, Climate change and that being by nature  LGBT  is not sick, perverted or sinful at all.  We, even with our high levels of  sophisticated education, attempt to snap  right back to a world view that was 'true' for  the ancients.  But we know they did not have all this new but true information. So for many open minded people there remains a serious gnawing deep within that things are just not fitting together like we feel  they used to.  We are correct in that hunch. We even can become nauseous or angry that reality as we once had it has changed without our permission. It seems nature or God is telling us that only a new reference point, a new world view is going to get us to wherever humanity is headed. We are being called to a new but different  trust or faith that a new world is coming and it potentially can be better than the one  we tend to cling too so frantically. Our experience in this may be much like when we were without warning  evicted from the warm perfect environment of our mother's womb.... to enter a new  and very unknown different world that was far more challenging than we felt we had the resources to survive.  Or like Adam and Eve once they more fully become humans and thus 'conscious of good and evil.' They now had to grow up and be far more  personally responsible and capable of making strong true judgments than when they  lived a mostly  unconscious biological life in the enchanted garden of Eden. Entering new worlds is what fully living as humans has always involved. But look how we have denigrated Adam and especially Eve for courageously becoming what God must have intended and longed for them to become- Conscious and genuinely responsible human beings. Nothing has changed in that sense for us. Still most of us long for a return to Eden not realizing that would a step backward  not forward in our level of consciousness and  in our God destined  development.

I do not believe it is the model of Jesus that is the problem but the interpretation of him and some church teaching  that has developed over the last two millennia. I can see no way, with the particular levels of human consciousness during these two millennia, for it to have been any different. The strong 'dualistic' view of reality, of 'spirit vs matter' ,'mind vs material' or 'body vs soul' was a necessary  final outcome following the Age of Reason and the rational, logical  scientific view point that developed throughout the West and in all our institutions. But  mystics of various religions along with personal direct experiences of the Sacred and post modern science have  now led to the same paradoxical conclusion: that 'spirit and matter', ' mind and material', 'body and soul' , 'earth and heaven'  are of one cloth, are actually united and different moments of the same 'stuff'. There is no 'dualism' as the ultimate reality. This implies that all the other inner 'splits' in our minds are also not ultimate divisions but have their origins in human perceptions. They are  not eternal realities but temporary perceptions.Perceptions that we humans were never intended to take as  eternal realities. But we did and now our minds and souls are overstretched. We are paying the price for getting too comfortable on our mysterious human journey. We all became bonified materialists with nothing but words to say about the 'other' part of reality.  Even our religions have become materialistic. We value printed words on material paper as the highest meaning of the Word of God rather than expecting any more direct encounter and knowledge of God.  But this is what we were told. We were told we can  only try to copy those great ones  who preceded us.  But instead we find ourselves  in  an exciting time  that we actually can  take fuller personal  and collective  responsibility for ourselves and our world than we ever imagined would be expected of us. We just never considered that the ultimate source of all that is had that much confidence in our capacity to make judgments about things that no humans have had to face before.  We are called on to  find new answers to new problems ourselves.  We can't copy anyone who has come before.  We can no longer look to  ancient religious prophets or our national  founding fathers simply because they  do not offer specific  solutions to  the most serious problems we now face. In following Jesus Christians  must learn that this means we are to face our lives and situations as courageously, honestly, creatively  and lovingly as he most certainly faced his. We are far more comfortable looking over our shoulders to our favorite authority figures  when we are met with brand new personal and collective questions and needs. We thought Moses and  O.T. prophets or our American founding fathers already made the important decisions and they are surely more capable than we are.  Well that does not seem to be the case. We each are here for exactly times like these and we can't ask anyone to make sense of it or  to do it for us, for they would not know how to do what only we were uniquely  destined to do. It is never fair to ask a tomato to be a tulip. But each is very confident when asked to be truly themselves and make their unique contribution. Is it not time for it be the same for humans? This is a 'growing up' like most of us have never imagined possible.

This uninvited change  has come to scientifically mean that mass, time and even space are not the permanent  foundations of cosmic reality. Whatever it is that is behind what  is not ultimate and not  indelibly 'split' off from each other is rightly called God or  in Judeo-Christian language 'Lord.' The implication is that all of the activities that you mention ,unnumbered diversions for our thoughts, and constant issues that occupy our minds.,,,, tend to business, enjoy down-time, find recreation, are potentially just as much a part of participating in 'God or Lord' as whatever comes to our minds as being more so. Yes if one's life has only these kinds of 'materialistic' thoughts and activities(which I think is highly unlikely) and they are not perceived  themselves as all moments and activities in harmony and not opposed to the Spirit then one is living only half of life's reality. This would be the truly 'non spiritual' person, if there even are such persons. But today's typical religious person also participates in this greater part of 'material'  life without fully perceiving it as participation in the Spirit, for they think of the Spirit only being fully alive and operating  in ' worship, devotional, prayer ' moments. Whichever end of the problem we may as a human suffer from, the problem of both is that we are living in our inherited 'dualistic' world view. And for many it gets more uncomfortable each year. The problem does not seem to get better. What is it trying to tell us?

I still think that times of 'focus', 'centering'  or 'worship'  where we seek to be more aware of the ultimate center or God are important and necessary.(Some of the Eastern religions have ritual that tends to foster this kind of focusing more directly than our Western ones, although the commonly described Christian time of 'meditation and prayer' can also function as such focusing activity.)  A purpose of such focusing meditations would not be to get ourselves more in line with the orthodox views of God that are often  hand-in -hand with a dualistic view of cosmic reality, e.g 'God free us from our connection to material concerns and delights', but to help us regain our awareness that 'All is one' and  that we desire to stay with such  an ultimate reality in trust and faith. That becomes the postmodern Spiritual exercise.  I think this "Oneness" is the reality  being imaged in  the gospel expressions 'Kingdom of God' and 'Will of God' and 'Heaven.' The timeless Mandala type image, like below,  appears world wide across all religions(on so many older churches) and cultures as a symbol of 'Unity' and even as an image of the ultimate God. It places the idea  and archetypal expression of  a Monistic view of cosmic reality before us all as we come stumbling  into the  third Millennium.
The Mandala Appears Across All Cultures and Religions

An implication of such a change to a 'monistic world view' paradigm  would be that the more  we come to 'living' in a  truthful monistic view of reality and of God rather than a 'dualistic' one, the less any  'set aside time' to meditate this view that is needed.  As  a spiritual  'monism' becomes our natural mode of operation and living, having escaped the programming of  the dualism of  several millennia in Western  habit and thought,  then a need for  meditating to bring this' back to focus' or for a 'striving for balance' is less needed and felt. In a sense this means as one becomes more developed spiritually/psychologically the less 'religious' s/he becomes from an orthodox perspective. It would mean that 'faith' gives way to living in a greater 'reality' than had  before been imaginable.  I would suspect this would be parallel to living in a purer state of  love than humanity has yet experienced. Living in a  reality where 'All, though so beautifully different,  is  perceived as One'  is one where 'faith' is replaced by ongoing experience which is All  in spiritual harmony and where 'All is grounded in natural Love.' I doubt such perfection is  possible for even the most fully developed  human consciousness any time soon, but can remain a primary  human potential goal. I would consider this an aspect of humans more fully reflecting the 'image of God.'  I believe a N.T. writer has suggested such a greatly  needed  'monistic' replacing the 'dualistic' view of cosmic reality by saying, 'Whatever we do in word or deed  we can do it ALL in the name of the Lord.'  For it truly is ALL of  God. 
Blessings Always, Jim

On Thu, 12 Jan 2012 09:05:03 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge
by Mark Lanier

I will cut off . . . [those] who do not seek the LORD” (Zephaniah 1:4, 6).
I see the world whirling by. Days clip by at an alarming rate. Blink, and a few weeks are gone. Blink again and it's a month later. There are countless ways to numb our minds, unnumbered diversions for our thoughts, and constant issues that occupy our minds. If we are not careful, we tend to business, enjoy down-time, find recreation, and in the midst of the running days, leave seeking God out of the picture.
Stop. Better yet, STOP! Do not let this be your lot in life. You have no rewind button; there are no do-overs. Each moment that passes is gone, each day happens one time only. Make a decision, and get into a habit, where you constantly seek the Lord. Make him your constant companion. Start your day thinking about your service to him.
Thank him for the food you eat, each time you are blessed to eat it. Seek his insight when you make decisions. Spend your time in ways and activities that do not shut him out. When confronted with challenges and difficulties, seek his temperament as well as his solutions. As your day ends, in penitence and humility confess your shortcomings and seek his presence for your next awakening.
Seek the Lord! Your life will be transformed!
Excerpted from "Fall of Judah, Part 1," lesson for January 8, 2012 in Biblical Literacy Class, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, and reprinted by permission. Website: . Copyright 2012 by W. Mark Lanier and reprinted by permission.