Monday, April 11, 2016


I've just attended a lecture by the aging John Shelby Spong yesterday. Though always a controversial figure in his activism I find him to be an intricate  scholar and genuine lover of the Bible. I consider him a strong voice in seeking to respect the actual nature of the Bible  rather than forcing the Bible  to be what one may want it to be. He is much up to his lecture circuit and  kept 300 of us in a high state of attention. He has an uplifting sense of humor. The experience  got me to thinking  again about those amazing gospels. I'll share here a train of thought that has come to me regarding 'miracles' in the gospels and a way of thinking of the gospels'  origins.

If persons present with Jesus had seen literal physical 'super (more than) natural ' miracles surely some of them, with the ability and skills for it, would have gone home and written down what they saw. The gospel says for example that five thousand men saw him feed everyone with a few fish and loaves. That would be something to write about, right then, not forty years later. It would be the human reaction to describe and report  such events right then. Such physical materialistic miracles would have stirred up a fire storm of amazement and have been just as astonishing  then as it would be for us today... not to mention 'seeing' persons coming out of their graves and walk around.  Surely this would have been described on the spot.... not forty to ninety  years later, as with  the gospel's?
Caravaggio's  'Inspired Matthew' writing his gospel... 1602

But there are no such early eye witnesses of  nature defying happenings and I strongly suspect never were. Even though what was internally experienced  by such persons deserves the name 'miracle' for it was dazzling, numinous and  defied usual life happenings. Truly an 'experience of light and resurrection'  in the midst of their very dark world of oppression and fear. Something  truly life and consciousness changing was happening to them in those real undocumented historical moments.   But those who were there  were not consciously struck by it  enough in the moment to  try to document it.  If it had been an obvious defiance of natural law they would have.  What person  now even  tries to write out their experience the night after they fell in love?  The inner meaning of such experience seems to require  time to ferment. It is at the moment of happening  beyond words. One just lives it.  Fortunately the same kind of  consciousness raising 'miracle' can still naturally  happen in the world  and perhaps greatly needs to happen in our times.

These gospel stories were not creatively written out for three to five generations after the time of Jesus. That is why, I believe, they were then purposely written in the genre of imaginative symbolic story, not historical fact(even though most of us Westerners still hear them as literal physical facts). When we do we are as misguided as taking the Western fairy tells, which so richly  stir our inner lives, as if they were recorded materialistic eye witnessed history. We would be missing the richer psychological meaning and fail to really benefit from such treasures of mythical type literature.

I think the gospel origins was somewhat like is shown in every TV  episode of the 'Lone Ranger.' People are seen caught up in a life event and drama that is very out of the ordinary and involves danger and threats to well being. Involved also is  a person who seems to know more and have a deeper wisdom, (or we'd say today of a higher consciousness) and seems in the end to effect everything about the amazing outcome for good. Yet this most unusual real life drama still  remains solidly anchored as a part of the  real natural, not supernatural, world of those involved.

Who was that masked man ? 

BUT then, only 'after it is all over' do any involved stop to reflect and ask themselves, " Who was that masked man.... what really happened back there?" So the gospel writers , long after the fact of the experience including Resurrection, sit down and try to put down a narrative, using their Hebrew scriptures, to weave a story of how their forbears, some 40-90 years before,  surely must have experienced the long awaited Hebrew messiah. They were not writing history in any sense, but creatively seeking to makes sense of , to explain what materialistically seemed inexplicable regarding  events that had had a grand effect on many people and  was still enduring in their own hearts. This 'lone ranger' metaphor I think is quite applicable as to the origins of the gospels that could help us put them in proper perspective. ... get us out of reading them as history and the non relevance which that increasingly places on them in the scientific postmodern world.

Now for us, all that happened in those few years of Jesus' ministry and death can be well described as how a person with a more developed consciousness, at the right time and place in real history, can have had such a great impact on shaping culture. An impact that had the spiritual or psychological energy to create a whole new, far more conscious than before, civilization of Humanity. Which is what Christianity(as a historical whole, for good and ill ) has in fact done.

A burning question for us now is: Has that great wave  generated 2000 years ago, and captured for posterity by the gospels, of raised consciousness pretty much run its course, lost most of its effective life transforming energy? And is the world now  in groaning need for some kind of higher consciousness leap again? An urgent need for our religious and secular cultures to be pushed again to higher planes of consciousness, capable of meeting our human/planet  survival challenges? Challenges that the present consciousness of Christianity and other religions, in any of their present interpretations, are prepared to meet?

I suspect we are in such a time, Biblically a Karios,  and that such a change will not come again by a collective projection onto a single hero person such as Jesus, the  Buddha or Mohammad(though these will forever be honored)  but will come instead through many persons being similarly  and naturally affected by a kind of Collective Unconscious or 'mind of Deity.' Sincere and honest persons of all faiths and backgrounds throughout the world coming to a similar unexpected transcending collective consciousness which will spread naturally to the masses. I am hoping something like this is what is happening.

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