There are no breaking news at the moment

As the Sixth Extinction moves in, Jews, Christians, Muslims and those of other religious beliefs will be forced to confront this question: Have I the courage to challenge those of my religious presuppositions that are working against the formation of a new world society living in consonance with our planet even if it requires that I question the past and present validation of much of what I now believe and take for granted?

XXXXX

And that is just the beginning. Now comes the hard part. Challenging beliefs and the institutional structures supporting them will by itself not solve our ecological problem. The Biosphere will be changing with rapidity. It will take more than just a change in your “belief” or my “belief.” That will be no better than placing bandages on a fatal wound. We as a planetary corporate human body will have to find the courage to face who we really are, to confront the dark retrogressive side of our human condition. We will have to examine that mysterious and often deadly juxtaposition between our dark side and our loving side. We will have to acknowledge it as a dichotomy that has in the past and continues to haunt our species.

Jeremiah over 1200 years before the Common Era identified it. Here I quote him.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

Now to our present era: Noted theologian Karen Armstrong in her book Fields of Blood Religion and The History of Violence writes about the Reptilian part of our brains as being part of the problem. She was correct.

But our brain deficiency goes far beyond that. We cannot discuss this subject without also discussing all the other aspects of our human deficiency.

Here is an example of a deficiency. Some years ago during a trip to Egypt I came upon similarities between our own religious structures and those of early Egyptian society.

From the beginning of Egyptian history the priestly class had had a strong hold on Egyptian society; the same with our society. The priestly class had the answer as to how to get to Heaven; the same with our society.

My guide was an Egyptian Coptic Christian. We talked about the Akhenaten story.

Here it is: Over one thousand years after the Great Pyramid of Giza Pharaoh Khufu there appeared the monotheist Pharaoh Akhenaten. (Reign 1350-1334 BCE) He had rejected the priestly God AMON as well as all others in favor of one eternal Sun God. (more precisely defined in contemporary terms as the one monotheistic source of all life sustaining energy)

(Some in recent years have related this to the beginning of the Hebraic GOD interpretation although there is no proof)

Akhenaten had challenged over 3000 years of multiple god worship on which the power of the priestly class in Egypt rested its power. (They collected the taxes for the Pharaoh and controlled the thought process of the people)

Along with his beautiful commoner bride Nefertiti, Akhenaten moved across the Nile River to the western desert at Tell-el-Amana where he and his followers built a small city. There they worshiped the SUN GOD.

In the end his blasphemy could not escape the clutches of the Priests. Upon his death, as Egyptologists have speculated, they moved his young son and heir Tutankhamen to their enclave on the other side of the Nile, murdered him and then gave him a quick burial in The Valley of The Kings, thus taking back power and reinstating their many ancient gods.

The Tomb was unmarked and sealed. Tutankhamen disappeared from the scene as did his father’s singular God.

After years of search by many before him, British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 finally discovered and unsealed the tomb. It was small; showing the boy and his simple treasures. My visit to the tomb confirmed Carter’s observation of the quickness of the burial.

From this Egyptian experience I came to the conclusion that one aspect of “Religion” has always been the same. Once the Priests, Rabbis, Islamic Mullahs get the power, they do not give it up easily.

Now let us move forward one/two thousand years

Jerusalem during the Jesus period

Roman Catholicism during the post fourth century period after his death

Again and again we are reminded of the words of Jeremiah:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”

Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 speaks of a future king of the Jews presenting himself to Jerusalem while riding on a humble donkey. The Christian Gospel as recorded in Luke explains that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and presented himself as the Messiah.

Then he enters the Temple.

To quote from Luke:

“Then he went into the Temple and began driving out the traders, with these words: My house shall be a house of prayer; but you have made it a robbers’ cave.”

“So he (Jesus) made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”

Jesus was arrested and turned over to the Sanhedrin, the Temple Priestly body, for trial. Jesus was then brought before the high Priest Caiaphas and charged with blasphemy and threats against the Temple.

The Priests then took Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Roman Judaea, and asked that he be tried for claiming to be the King of the Jews. Since Herod Antipas, Roman ruler of Galilee and Perea at that time happened to be in Jerusalem Pontius Pilate decided to send Jesus to Herod Antipas to be tried. Herod Antipas is the same man who had ordered the death of John the Baptist.

Herod Antipas makes his decision. Jesus is crucified.

A few words here about the Second Temple: It was first built after the return from Babylonian Captivity around 536 BCE. But that one was not like the original pre Babylonian.

The Book of Ezra recounts that old people who had seen the splendor of the First Temple wept because of the second’s relative shabbiness.

So King Herod of the Jews (73 B.C – 4 B.C.) father of Antipas over four centuries later set about rebuilding it in a whole new dimension; vastly bigger and grander. How better for the Romans to please the local Jewish populace! To provide the setting he leveled a section on the hill equivalent to five American football fields.

It was that temple the young Nazarene visited in roughly 33 C.E. at the time Herod Antipas.

We should note that Jesus was not the only problem for the Romans and the Priests. There was dissension throughout the region. The Priestly class lived in a close mutual beneficial relationship with the Romans; as did the Jewish Sadducees and Pharisees. The Jewish populace however was heavily taxed and often faced Roman brutality.

In fact it got so bad that in 66 C.E. after the death of Jesus there were a number of ill-fated rebellions against the Roman regime. The Emperor Titus then decided to quash the Jewish revolt with a heavy hand. The Romans had had it. In 70 CE, they sent in an entire Roman Division into Jerusalem. The Temple was set ablaze. Then they proceeded to kill all Jews they could find. A remnant of the elite went up to Masada and under siege they all finally committed suicide. Others who could left the region. The great Diaspora had begun.

Let us now go back again to that Jesus period. He began his mission at about the age of 30. He was crucified at about the age of about 32.

During his lifetime there was a melding of Greco/Roman and Hebraic thought in the very prominent town of Sepphoris. (about four miles from his home) His father was a scaffold builder. (not a carpenter as is generally understood) Jesus would have spent time in Sepphoris during his juvenile years accompanying his father in his work there. He would have been able to absorb a wide range of Greco/Roman Jewish thought. There is a biblical Jerusalem synagogue reference to his brilliance as a young boy.

Now let us move forward 300 years to the Council of Nicaea and the codification Christianity. Christianity by that time had spread throughout the Empire.

Certain selected writings compiled over the prior three hundred years were made sacrosanct. All other writings were declared heretical. Christian churches that did not accept the Nicaean conclusions were defunded. The Roman idea of political power grounded on subjugation of the population was reinforced.

What we saw was what we now call doctrinaire Roman Catholic Orthodoxy and now doctrinaire Evangelical Protestant Orthodoxy. The question all of this raises is: Was that the original message of Jesus? Many scholars today say part of Nicaea “yes,” part of it “no.”

Recent discoveries of manuscripts have showed that there were many other interpretations of the message of Jesus in his time, some in conflict with present day Christian scriptural and interpretative Orthodoxy.

As an example:: There is evidence in the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945 (remains declared heretical by the Roman Catholic Church) that Jesus had said you do not have to believe in me, you have to be like me.

Another one of them: Catharism.

Catharism (also known as Gnosticism) thrived for over one thousand years after the death of Jesus in some areas of Europe, particularly what is now northern Italy and southern France.

From 1209 to 1215, the Crusaders captured Cathar lands and perpetrated acts of extreme violence. Catharism was driven underground never to resurface with its former dynamism.

The Roman Christian violence was not limited to the Cathars.

During the First Crusade, Christian knights from Europe invaded Jerusalem. After the city was captured, tens of thousands of its occupants were slaughtered.

Now let us take a look at distortions of Jesus thought in our own American history:

The New England Puritans arrive in America and exterminate native populations.

Note that the Mayflower settler Pilgrims got along well with the indigenous “Indians.”

The native inhabitants of the region around the Mayflower Plymouth Colony were the various tribes of the Wampanoag people who had lived there for some 10,000 years before the Europeans arrived. Soon after the Pilgrims built their first winter shelters, they came into contact with Tisquantum, an English-speaking Native American. (prior to the Mayflower arrival European hunter trappers had taken him to England and then returned him) He spoke English and was a friend of the local chief. The Pilgrims benefited greatly that first winter from his directing them to food buried in the ground near their settlement.

After the Mayflower there came many ships from England filled with Calvinist Puritans. Immediately these Calvinist settlers began taking Native American lands and killing the indigenous “Indians.”

Commander-in-charge John Mason wrote after one massacre of Native Americans:

“And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished. God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven. Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies.”

“Thus the Lord was pleased to smite our enemies in the hinder parts and to give us their land for an inheritance; who remembered us in our low estate, and redeemed us out of our enemies’ hands. Let us therefore praise the Lord for his goodness and his wonderful works to the Children of men!”

A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, referred to that slaughter as a “barbeque.”

And then to bring us up-to-date:

X American Korean and Vietnam massacres

X Islamic Al-Quaeda hatred of the West expressed by 9/11 bombing of the New York World Trade Center.

X American Christian Evangelical President George W. Bush invading Iraq.

(His daily briefing books often had militaristic biblical verses printed on the covers. Just prior to the war he phoned French President Jacques Chirac suggesting that the War was “Biblically Ordained” according to the story of “Gog and Magog”)

X Ireland: 30 years of conflict between Catholic republicans and Protestant unionists. Riots, shootings, bombings.

X Evangelicals in America telling us that TRUMP was sent to us by GOD’

X Shite Islam in Iran orchestrating violence in Yemen and elsewhere

(The Iranian Revolutionary Guards today are the enforcers of the Islamic Shiite code. They report to the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah. The Guards control as much as 20% of the economy)

X Intractable Israeli/Palestinian conflict used as an excuse for Israeli government to turn over land on the West Bank to Israeli settlers.

X And most recently in Sri Lanka where over 369 Roman Catholics and others died as Muslim Radicals bombed Catholic churches and nearby hotels. Zaharan Hashim, radical Muslim preacher, is now accused of masterminding the Easter Sunday attacks. He had been vehemently spreading Wahhabism and calling for jihad.

Now back to our topic:

Given the events above, clearly “Religion” as it exists today is in crisis and will not be able to counter the ecological events in front of us. In fact to some degree it will be an impediment to progress.

Enough said

Now back to the warning of Jeremiah

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”

This is a human weakness that again and again usurps underlying value in the Abrahamic religions – and the others.

Let me emphsize what our problem is and what it is not:

Religion overall as an attempt to understand who and what we are in relation to ourselves and each other is not our problem. To the sceptic it may appear to be, but it is not.

As Jeremiah and Karen Armonstrong point out; it is we, you and I, as we have used and abused religion in the past and are using and abusing religion today that is our problem.

This is my message to all religious followers and leaders throughout the world.

XXXX

David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics. He has written four books. The fourth has just been published. It is about the necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival.

See: http://www.inquiryabraham.com/new-book.html


SUPPORT HONEST JOURNALISM

Join Our News Letter


 

Comments are closed.