You Are Entitled

You are entitled to your own fantasy world.

Most of our world shares a certain common core of fantasy in the first place. That fantasy presumes that there is such a thing as “objective reality.” That’s a bad lie and it has dominated society for way too long. All they really have is an agreement to proceed on a highly enforced track of a particular set of false assumptions.

It so happens that God permits folks to do this. In His longsuffering mercy, He has granted people enough moral rope to hang themselves. And there’s a whole lot of hanging going on right now.

It doesn’t take much to realize that we stand in the midst of very loud and ugly dispute that fractures and divides the common belief system into competing sub-systems. This has been encouraged by manipulators who were just a little bit smarter — in a predatory sense — but still suffering their own blindness about what’s real.

And there have always been a few who realized that all the flavors of this social orthodoxy were wrong, but lacked the moral discernment to reject it assertively. Instead, they fled from it into all manner of diversions that at least seemed to feel okay at the time.

In all of these efforts to chase one flavor or another, the primary missing ingredient is not a failure to choose the “right” flavor, but in the fundamental assumption that there even is a “right” flavor. There is no such thing. The truth is not available on that level in the first place. The search for such an answer is doomed from the start. It’s not that we cannot get along and share a certain amount of functional assumptions, but that we take too seriously what should be regarded as provisional.

There was a time humanity didn’t suffer under such delusions. People managed to get along fairly well working from their own unique approach to fundamental questions of reality. That is, however much peace and stability is possible in the first place, they were doing a decent job of obtaining it through that provisional agreement. Most of the human race was cynical and skeptical about their senses and their own logic and regarded “reality” in that sense as a dubious proposition. They accepted that one must make decisions and act, but that the sense of identity and stability didn’t rely on such things. They never expected any two people to consistently see the same thing in any particular shared experience.

They didn’t trust apparent “reality” and whatever part of them lived within that sphere. Instead, they understood quite consciously that we all have a faculty well above that level of existence, a faculty that connected to something beyond. Most of ancient humanity had learned to develop a different faculty, above and beyond mere intellectual capability, a faculty that was fully able and ready to handle the chaos of reality that was alive and active, sentient and willful, and entirely personal.

We seek to understand this ancient society and their higher faculty. Whether or not we have achieved anything isn’t important; we are at peace with a capricious and unpredictable reality because we believe we are friends with it. We proclaim to you that your fantasies, however outlandish they may seem to others, are no less appropriate than what the mainstream pretends is reality. We believe it’s possible that you can find your own place to stand and experiment with what calls to you from inside your soul.

We will share our own approach with you, but only if you feel drawn to it and you sense it will work for you. We won’t rush to correct your alleged fallacies. We will most certainly not waste time squashing your personal reality unless you ask for help making adjustments. That help will consist of pointing how we do things as an example, not as a template. And while we do have a template, it cannot be expressed in concrete terms, but requires teaching the intellect to serve, not rule. We know that truth makes its own path in your soul, and if this is going to do you any good at all, our best hope is helping you see the barriers and letting you remove them yourself. We are utterly confident you’ll find your own answers after that.

Don’t let anyone take your fantasies away from you. They will die on their own as you awaken and allow that higher faculty to set all things in order for you.

Faith Does Not Compute

Here we take a short tour through the history of Western Christian theology. Our attention is focused on the business of fallen nature and human reason.

First, we have to understand that Hebrew Scriptures assume a wholly different anthropology from what is common in the West. On the one hand, both use figures of speech, but use them differently. In ancient Hebrew culture, human nature is divided up differently and associated with different parts of the body as mere symbolism. When it comes to understanding human behavior, it really didn’t matter whether the mind was literally rooted in the brain — there were too many other factors in human nature that affected how the brain worked. In other words, Hebrew culture downplayed the importance of intellect compared to the Western image of it.

Second, there was a radical difference in cosmology, too. While the particulars varied among the multiple Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) civilizations, of which Hebrew is one, there was a common thread of belief in a distinct and separate spirit realm that was invisible to the senses. We cannot overemphasize how radically different this is from the Western assumption that this universe is all there is. The Greeks had no trouble with the idea that deities and demons were invisible, but such beings were still confined to this universe. Greeks honestly believed that it was possible to find a physical entrance to both the homes of the gods and the abode of the dead.

So deeply does this stain Western thought that you can discern the influence in Western Christianity. Early in Church history we find the official church teaching that human reason is not fallen.

Let’s see how the ANE viewpoint is expressed in Jeremiah 17. Starting in verse 5 God is castigating Judah for departing from the Covenant (the Northern Kingdom was already long gone at this point). In particular, He refers to the “heart” as the center of one’s will, the seat of commitment or faith. There is a specific reference to the kidneys as the seat of human motives, and it’s often translated in English as “reins” or “mind.” His point comes right up front: cursed is the man who trusts in human capabilities alone. Blessed is the man who humbly trusts in God for moral truth. Without redemption, the heart of commitment is wicked. In that state, no one can subject their lesser faculties to the higher faculty that should be in the heart. There is no sense of conviction, so the heart is effectively just as fallen and broken as the rest of such a man.

This is echoed in Romans 3, particularly in verses 9-18. Paul indicates that a covenant identity never kept Jews from being just as wicked and sinful as the worst of heathens. Paul goes on to assert that without redemption, there is nothing good possible arising from human capabilities. It was always a matter of divine grace. Western Christians are completely mistaken in thinking Jesus introduced a new concept in John 3 when He spoke of spiritual birth. We can find references to that symbolism throughout ANE religious writings. Without “a spirit of the gods” within us, we are doomed. Nicodemas as so Hellenized that he had completely forgotten the mystical roots of Hebrew culture. For him, there was no separate realm of the Spirit; everything was confined to his universe. Redemption was merely to earthly Jewish identity.

Even when we find Western church teachings about spiritual birth, we find that the net effect it is merely a changed mind. Somehow being more spiritual means nothing more than a different cerebral track. It’s a conversion of mind only, in the sense that religious leaders are looking for symptoms of orthodoxy. We find them saying in effect that “Jesus in your heart” equals “right belief and practice.” And that right religion always seems to look like the one that the present leadership espouses. “If you don’t believe and act like me, you ain’t born-again.” For non-evangelical traditions, it’s more like, “We are the arbiters or what God says, so if you don’t agree with us, you haven’t heard from God.”

This is precisely the fatal flaw in Judaism, and it goes all the way back to Jeremiah’s prophecy. Judah was at that time facing Babylon’s rampaging conquest. The Judean leadership insisted that, since the Temple inside the walls was God’s House, they were safe. Would God allow heathens to dirty His carpet? Was not this Hebrew nation God’s Chosen? Jeremiah was telling them that it didn’t matter where the Temple stood. It also didn’t matter their proximity to it; the nation had moved too far away from God’s protection in their hearts. Their faith, their feudal loyalty, was in something other than Jehovah.

In Hebrew thinking, spiritual birth does not change what you are, but who you are. It opens the door for a personal communion with our Creator so that His power can mitigate the Fall. Thus, spiritual birth is not some magic that changes the ideas in your head; it changes your heart — it registers as a sense of identity and commitment. You aren’t buying into a different package of human identity, but leaving all of that behind for an identity rooted in the Spirit Realm. Christ said His kingdom is not of this world. There can be no earthly kingdom of Christ; there can be no Christian nation. In this world there can be only provisional associations of fellow believers, acting like family in an eastern feudal setting. We as Christians are brothers and sisters with no earthly father. We are away from Home working together in a foreign realm. We don’t colonize; we offer adoptions out of this world.

Meanwhile, the only people who actually understand this world are those who belong outside of it. The only people who hold a valid assessment of human nature are those who denounce and renounce it. Only when we are linked to the Spirit Realm do we find communion with the rest of Creation. We still face the same natural world, but now are friends with it, not alienated from it in some god-forsaken mythology of something must be defeated, tamed and enslaved to our will.

Reason cannot be reformed. It can be properly subjected to faith, but you won’t see that often in organized Christian religion. Instead, we see the whole matter of “faith” as better belief and action, and “spirituality” as mere education and training. Theology is data; faith is much more.

Set the Captives Free

The longer I look at it, the more I cannot imagine that my mission is pivotal in God’s work among humans.

Let me reiterate some things my regular readers already know. The gospel message is freedom. It’s the opposite of sectarianism. While a great many Christian denominations use terminology like that, what they mean is that there should be no sects other than their own. “Everyone should be free to do it our way. Who could want anything else?” The problem is that they keep religion a slave to reason. Thus, whatever “freedom” means, it has to pass through the filter of reason — and we all know that reason is the conscious cover story our minds offer for very unreasonable personal wishes.

It is utterly impossible for reason to fill in the blanks of ultimate moral purpose; reason must start from certain moral assumptions and those always rest on the individual’s personal collective mythology. Need we note again that said mythology is itself a moving target? It is simply not possible for any human to be objective. We are all born with an instinct to propagate our genes; most of us are born with a certain drive to propagate our personal mythology. But only a few of us are born with the talents to make either form of propagation happen on a wide scale (and those two talents are often found in the same person). These folks honestly believe: “My way is God’s way.” Thus is born a particular brand of religion that sweeps in larger numbers of people.

And people are taught to disregard some of their own personal mythology in order to participate in some grand vision of conquest. “Everyone should taste the privilege of living like I do.” We see this in secular politics; religion never escapes politics. Despite words to the contrary, nobody in the religious propagation business really wants to make room for significant variations in reasoning and explanation. This reluctance is wired into the culture itself. There is this a priori assumption that it can’t be worth the trouble unless the results bring in large numbers under one single Great Man’s leadership. A part of the Curse of the Fall is an endless supply of human demigods.

Instead of boring you with yet another recounting of my long journey through madness, I’ll cut to the chase and remind you that coming out the other end of the Valley of the Shadow of Death was possible for me only by tossing aside the primacy of human reason and the instinct to lead. Do not follow me. Don’t trade your old demigod for some dream of making me into another one. My mission is to destroy that very thing. What I really want to do is set you free to find Christ on your own path. I’m fully confident that Christ in your heart can lead you where He wants you to go without my interference. I’m just along for the ride.

But this is no small task. It’s made all the larger for all the cultural mythology that demands we cling to a false definition of “holiness.” If there’s one idea that comes from Satan, it’s the truculent insistence that “truth” has to result in one concrete intellectual construction. It’s the big lie that this concrete physical universe, which we experience through our senses and grasp through our reason, is the sum total of all that is. It’s that endless quest for more data so we can nail down what can be, and thus what ought to be. Whatever is meant by “truth” must be some static, dead and cold “reality.” Even when we get people to admit that there could be other realms of existence, they still insist that whatever we can learn from any other realm must result in one single concrete answer here.

And all the while, this “here” is not concrete in any way. That “concrete objective reality” is the ultimate lie of the Devil. The world seems to have somehow agreed to that one underlying assumption, even in the face of vast unresolvable disputes about how we shall define that concrete reality. So we have endless wars because we all agree that there can only be one definition of concrete reality, but we cannot agree on what it is. That’s crazy.

But because everyone buys that fundamental lie, we end up finding ourselves under threat of force to buy one or another false mythology. So we all band together with others, buying into one or another great myth so we can stand together and fight back. Nobody seems to notice how the New Testament taught that we should just nod our heads and salute whatever flag someone runs up the pole because we don’t really care. The reason we don’t care is that we are conscious that this whole thing is one big lie. We play along with the game because we aren’t in a position to reach inside other people’s heads and turn on the light of revelation. Only God does that.

And His chosen instrument for that process is each of us living by our own provisional reality, consciously aware that no two of us have the same answer. But most of all, we are aware that no two us should have the same answer, simply because we cannot. God reveals Himself differently and individually to each of us. We would not dare tell God what He has to show anyone else. Nor would we dare to demand that the net result of revelation in some soul should come out with a concrete reality that looks the same as ours.

Yet by the very miracle of agreeing that we should not see things alike, we are able to unite in a bond of faith stronger than any shared identity mere men can dream up. We find fellowship and communion, ties of compassion and affection, and we worship the same Creator and Savior and Power to live in this Shadowland of lies and deceit. This world is the prison of souls.

So if there’s one thing I want you to remember me for, it’s that I helped you break out of the prison.

A Better Mythology

The word “mythology” is associated with “mythos”:

mythos: 1. Myths collectively; the body of stories associated with a culture, institution or person (see: mythology)

2. A traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain the world view of a people (see: myth)

3. An orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation (see: political orientation, ideology, political theory)

This definition comes compliments of WordWeb (available as a separate application for Windows and is part of the Artha application). In academic terms, we need not limit ourselves to the popular denigration of “mythology” as something inherently false. Of course it’s not fact, but mythology addresses itself to things far above mere fact.

In this sense, it becomes easier to recognize the root mythology of Western Civilization as mostly Germanic. That is, while the Greco-Roman Civilization gave birth to the West, we are not Greco-Roman, but derived from the Germanic nations that conquered the last vestiges of Rome. After the Middle Ages, European (Germanic) scholars began rediscovering the intellectual traditions of Greece and Rome and fed this back into their own intellectual traditions so that whatever it means to be “Western” reached its peak with the Enlightenment period of Western history. Even terms like “Post-modern” refers to a mythos that still stands squarely on the Enlightenment. So if you give time to reading about such things, you become aware of Western Civilization possessing its own mythos separate from the mythos of other cultures.

The primary failing of Western Christianity is a failure to recognize itself as trapped inside of Western Civilization. Further, for all the Bible teaching that warns this is not the same as the Hebrew mythos, the average Western Christian you encounter will still be thoroughly Western first and foremost. Further, they are likely to hold an unspoken assumption that Western is Christian by definition. The acorn of Reformation didn’t fall very far from the Catholic tree. Worst of all, virtually every Western Christian regardless of sectarian background will most certain operate from Western intellectual assumptions that push their doctrine and theology into the realm of “religion” as something that is nothing more than a single thread woven into the tapestry of Western culture, and competing for attention and political dominance.

For all their religious rhetoric, Western Christians demonstrate no effective genuine commitment to things of the Spirit. They have secularized the concept of “spiritual” down to just a more accurate form of intellect. But it requires stepping outside Western mythos to recognize this. As long as you remain within the Western intellectual traditions, you cannot possibly escape the confinement of awareness.

We need desperately to come up with a much better mythos, a better mythology than Western mythology if we are going to restore any part of God’s revelation. You cannot follow Christ and remain Western, because Western is inherently inimical to His teaching. The West didn’t arise from His teaching, but was a nasty perversion of His teaching. Since mythology is just a working model for the mind to organize and implement a faith response within reality, let me suggest something.

Basic assumption: Our current world is not ultimate reality. Indeed, our world is just a confining bubble within the wider Creation. The bubble itself is our fallen awareness. It limits our ability to really understand Creation. Thus, we assert a terminology that says “world” is not just our planet, but a particular level of existence, a fallen plane of existence. It’s a different category from the term “universe,” which implies the full limits of physical existence itself. But Creation is far bigger than either of them, for it includes the Spirit Realm that God created around Himself, housing angels, for example. Again, while we are a part of Creation, we are the only part of Creation that is fallen.

So let’s pick out anthropology and generate an example of a mythology that might bring us closer to God’s revelation. In doing so, we’ll have to counter the prevailing mythos.

At the lowest level of human existence are the mere appetites, a brutish emotion-driven life. Don’t call it “animal” because animals aren’t fallen. It’s merely what unenlightened humans imagine they see in the natural world of animals. Such a life consumes the mind with the tasks of survival out of fear that there is nothing beyond such an existence. There’s a good bit of that in Western mythology.

On a higher level is a mind that also uses formal reasoning processes. While we have a Western cultural myth that envisions rising to a life of pure reason and logic, it is neither possible nor desirable. It is the sum total of what mankind can discern with the full use of all human talent and capability. It denies the fall, so it’s not likely to bring much success, but it also insists that humans can eventually reach some kind of Nirvana by making the most of reason and analysis as the basis for exploring the limits of what man can do with physical reality. It asserts that physical reality is all there is. In Western mythology, “real” means concrete reality; it asserts that humans must use their senses and abstract formal reasoning to understand what’s “real.”

The biblical mythos posits that there is a higher realm available to human awareness, and abstract reason can’t take you there. I call it the “moral realm” without capitalizing because it represents the overlap between the Fallen Realm and the Spirit Realm. The moral realm is not simply a better intellectual clarity and reason, but a humble recognition that reason alone is not enough. This higher awareness is moral in nature, because the biblical mythos denies that morality is nothing more than a cultural construct; it says that morality is fundamental to existence itself. Ultimate truth in this universe is moral truth woven into Creation before we came along. Indeed, moral awareness rests on the assumption that the whole of Creation is alive, sentient and has a will of its own, and that it all reflects the character and moral nature of the Creator.

Thus, in proper mythology, Eden is not Heaven; Eden in the world free of fallen nature. Eden is still there all around us, but we are morally blinded by our hubris — a hubris that rests on denying the Fall. In that sense Eden never was in this world, because this world is defined by fallen human awareness. You have to remove human intellect from the throne and make it serve some higher faculty. That higher moral awareness is what we here at Kiln of the Soul call heart-mind or heart-led living. And this heart-led living prepares us for the final migration of the soul to the Spirit Realm.

There is nothing we can say about the Spirit Realm. While we can use parables to discuss the moral realm of human awareness within the fallen world, even parables fall short of genuine spiritual matters. The best we can do is inculcate a familiarity for the intellect of moral things in parables to indicate something about the nature of genuine spirituality. The whole point is to generate a desire to go there as soon as God lets us come home, and we gain that desire because we start down the path of communion with Creation on a moral level. That’s a taste of communion with the Creator.

You tell me: Do you suppose this alternative mythos makes it easier to share a redemptive life together in the Spirit?

What the Hell?

Some of you get it, but it seems there is enough confusion that I need to restate things for clarity.

I use the English word “Hell.” If you have been paying attention, you’ll notice I use it in the vernacular sense, having a very flexible meaning, and have never bothered with defining it as a religious term.

The image of serving as slaves of Satan applies to this life. It’s the biblical image of ANE feudalism, God’s dominion over Creation. A part of what we need to know about Satan and his activities is derived from this parabolic image of Satan as God’s personal Potiphar, if you will. This has nothing to do with Western Medieval images of torment and Hell; that should have been obvious by my steady denunciation of Western Christianity. People who do not walk by a heart of commitment to God’s revelation are, to varying degrees, slaves of Satan here and now. Their share of the blessings God intended to grant them under covenant are consumed by Satan, and Satan gets none of his own.

But in this image, I include multiple references that Satan is somehow confined to this world, along with all his demons. There is a sense in which that image of slavery is “Hell,” but I don’t recall thinking or writing that Satan was also in charge of Hell as a place beyond death. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Whatever that verse means about “judgment” is the more precise meaning of “Hell.” I have never pretended to offer any firm knowledge of Hell because the Bible avoids a literal description. It’s always been lyrical references to torment of some kind, but that could just as easily mean standing in the Presence of God with full awareness on that higher level that you are not in His favor. That can’t be comfortable, but you can’t possibly presume to describe it in literal terms.

And on top of all that, I believe Hell is not eternal; neither is whatever is signified by the word “Heaven.” Note that Jesus on the Cross referred to it by the Persian word for Paradise (Luke 23:43). Indeed, our current “place of the dead” for everyone, in God’s favor or not, is a temporary state. It’s all prior to the final Resurrection of the Dead, prior to the Final Judgment. I tend to believe that “new Heaven and new Earth” is somewhat literal. Some parts of Revelation 21 do have literal connotations, but how literal can you be about something the intellect cannot grasp?

So while American vernacular English does permit a flexible use of the words “Heaven” and “Hell” — to include symbolism and parable — if you want to shift to a more precise discussion of matters of faith and Scripture, both are apparently outside of this realm of existence, but attached to it in some way that indicates they will be replaced along with the rest of Creation at some point out there in our world’s future.

Do we really need a comprehensive word study of Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, etc.? I’ve already covered the Old Testament teaching on afterlife to show that Jesus wasn’t so much adding new revelation about the afterlife as He was speaking to an audience that had drifted far from their ancient Hebrew roots. You need a heart-led discernment to recognize that some of it was just using the common rabbinical manner of speaking (because folks were familiar with it) even as He corrected false impressions about things. Often He was pushing them back away from Hellenism toward the ancient Hebrew way of thinking. Hebrew language uses words as signposts, not as containers of truth. The whole point was to persuade you to seek God’s truth from God Himself, with the underlying assumption you must have an active heart-mind in order to hear from God in the first place.

I don’t think chasing down precise word meanings in Greek and Hebrew will help you very much because that was never the point. A proper heart-mind operation means that words are indicative, not descriptive. If you could read Greek, you’d know that Paul’s Hebrew mind constantly searched for ways to express those thoughts in Greek so that he was always coining his own Greek words. If you were born speaking Greek in that time, you would tend to resist that Hebraic thought pattern. You would read things back into his writing and struggle to keep up with Paul’s teaching. This is why the Apostles spent so very much time with each of their church plants, because it was downright tough to make a Greek mind shift over to Hebrew patterns of thought.

And now we have English with a whole batch of fresh barriers keeping us from Hebrew thought. A part of me wonders if I’ll ever get that across to enough people before I die. The language you speak is the language you think, and the language can seriously hold you back from thinking the way God designed us to think. All I can do is ask that you learn a cynical suspicion of the person in the mirror, because I’ve had to cultivate that, too. It doesn’t require paranoia, because God is surely at work in you, helping you to move steadily closer to Him. Always be willing to question whether you have actually caught on, and turn inside to your heart and connect with the Holy Spirit for patience and guidance. You don’t have to accept my answers, but maybe you can learn something useful toward your own answers by noticing how I get mine.

Our Crazy Ancient New Religion 6

You will fail.

That is, lots of things you try won’t turn out as you expect. So the only wise course is to adjust your expectations. Turn failure into learning and learning into victory.

I’ve done what I could in this series to shake loose a bunch of crappy thinking about how religion is supposed to work. It is work, and it is mostly failure for a very long time because that’s how we get better at it. But the whole purpose is not success in those terms; redefine success as perception, not objective fact. It’s not a question of knowing the truth, but your truth. Yours and mine cannot be precisely the same, because God will not let it be that way. Yes, God Himself will see to it that “reality” is varied somewhat between His servants.

That’s why I’ve tried so hard to shake you loose from a view of reality that tries to make it all concrete. The danger in that approach is that concrete itself is alive and God can let you hear it talk if it’s part of His mission and calling in your life. Concrete ceases to be an image of something that never changes. So-called “concrete facts” are more fungible and variable than Western minds are prepared to accept. Stop asking the question of who is right about what they perceived and start asking the question of what is right for you.

Walk in the light you have.

Start where you are and pray that God will reveal where you should be. Don’t take yourself too seriously because it may require He put you through several different places to sojourn on the way to your earthly “home.” Your ideas and expectations are part of the scenery, subject to modification because it’s all a matter of path, not place. We are practicing for Heaven, and that means shedding a lot of junk that won’t get us there because it can’t exist there. A lot of that junk is the structure of processing perception.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping track of what folks around you think, of how they perceive the world. There’s nothing wrong with keeping one hand on that false “concrete reality” thing most people adhere to as they live their heartless existence. But don’t remain trapped there with them.

You cannot demand that reality be consistent across the entire spectrum of your life, much less consistent between two different people. This is why one of our catch-phrases is, “We are creating a new reality.” Reality, as most people think of it, is variable. Not wholesale, like with horror movies or drug-induced hallucinations, but variable in ways that allow plausible deniability of moral truth. Walking with Christ is wholly voluntary. If you don’t want it, God won’t force the issue in this life. Spiritual birth is wholly His choice and initiative, but walking here in this life according to the inheritance that comes with that spirituality is another matter. You are permitted to refuse moral truth on this earth regardless. However, you will never find anything else you imagine that you seek. It will keep slipping through your hands because those hands are continually reaching for shadows.

All the miracles and stuff you could see will remain out of reach until you step into the light of His glory in this moment. And you should fully expect that spotlight will move, not following you, but going where you should be at that point. What’s outside that spotlight is mostly irrelevant. All the noise and movement out there in the Shadowlands is not your concern. Don’t allow the Lust of the Eyes draw you off into mere entertainment and curiosity. Instead, exercise your curiosity in the moral demands of your life here and now.

Realize that somewhere down that as-yet unseen path, you’ll come to place when you can look back and discover what was consistent, what characterized your existence through all the various changes. You’ll begin to know who you are in that sense. Not who everyone says you are, or says you should be, but you’ll discover the person God says you should be. You know — the One who made you? Your “concrete reality” is His moral character, so stop looking at Creation for clues that your intellect can handle. Start looking for clues that only your heart can handle.

What will amaze you is the surprising level of moral consistency you’ll find in other believers on that path. When you stop seeking concrete consistency and seek moral consistency, you’ll find it. There are people in this world who will share this moral reality in ways you never expected. You’ll find heart-minds that “think” just like yours. You’ll find fellow believers who can agree with you on things that mere intellect cannot handle. You are most certainly not alone. Socially isolated at times, but never truly alone. If Creation itself can be a good friend and companion, you have to know that some of your fellow humans are also connected to Creation that same way. God will not allow the witness of His glory to be snuffed out in this world.

And you will discover a whole company of fellow-failures who have more victory than words can tell.

My Head Was Filled with Crap

Colleges can be cheap in the sense that they often take shortcuts so that the administration can waste funding on self-aggrandizing schemes nobody else knows or cares about. One of the ways they cut corners is to put graduate students into the same classes as undergrads but make the former write more papers, which typically means reading more outside material on the same basic stuff covered in lectures and class discussions. Typically these grad students then make some kind of presentation to the rest of the class.

My college education record is far from typical, but I never tried to get above the baccalaureate level. Instead, I pursued my own outside readings of things never assigned for course work or tests. Even for research papers I felt driven to read well outside the range of what was required. Something I might find in a footnote turned into reading an entire fat tome or two that simply held my interest, never mind whether it helped me make any grades. Whether or not that made me any sharper or wiser is for others to assess, but I read way more than most of my peers in college both times that I attended formally. More than once an educated person assumed I had a master’s degree, at least.

Among the classes I attended were lots of courses in the Philosophy departments. Among at least a dozen or so lecturers, I recall only two professors who made any effort to help us understand some of crazy stuff philosophers can spew onto pages and pages of books. Two guys who remembered what it was like not to understand this crap — and they made sure we understood just how much of it was crap. Of all places, you might think a philosophy class would avoid making such harsh judgments, but trust me: Most writing in the field of philosophy is crazy shit you can’t possibly use, never mind whether you might imagine you understand it. It’s not useful because it makes no significant difference in human awareness. It doesn’t make the world a better place. I might not remember the names of all the famous philosophers (and theologians), but I can recall some of the idiocy that became sacred in that field.

But I didn’t stop there. While classes of useful depth were exceedingly rare, I also studied the philosophies of non-Western societies. Way back from my high school days, I stumbled into a program where students were offered really obscure stuff as electives led by some teachers who were just marking time in a public school while waiting for a better job at some university. Two of those classes would fall into the category of Comparative Civilizations. So I already had an inclination to pursue academic investigation of non-Western intellectual traditions.

Maybe I’m just dense, but I was nearly finished with my first BA when I was slapped upside the head with the statement that Christianity was born in a non-Western civilization. Graduating from that school did require me to get a job to make a living, but I also had more brain-time to devote to that issue. For the next decade I read a lot of stuff, mostly articles out of magazines and encyclopedic works, sometimes places like libraries or obscure little bookstores, all over the US and Europe. I was sometimes obsessed about the non-Western nature of the ancient Hebrew religion. In the process, I became ever more dismissive of what passes for philosophy in the Western traditions.

I know what I’m rejecting here. Oklahoma Baptist University is still slavish about worshiping Western Civilization. The last time I checked, the single biggest and most demanding course they offer as mandatory to every student passing through that institution is the combined study of Western History and Literature (and consequently, philosophy). A central assertion in that whole course of studies is that Western Civilization is inherently Christian, as you might expect from a Christian college. But that’s because “Christian” is defined in a highly perverted way that reads Western Civilization back into the Hebrew Scriptures. Only one professor admitted as much to me, and I recall it as a private conversation with someone loath to provoke the tenure committee. This same professor carefully made it abundantly clear in class that Hebrew thinking was radically different from Western. They called the Hebrew stuff “orientalisms” so that students would dismiss it as a curiosity, not germane.

I note in passing it was not just Western Civilization as a whole, but that hidden in the whole thing was an ugly iron demand that students adhere to the peculiar value system associated with Anglo-Saxon culture. We “celebrated” other cultures, but the core of our religious material was thoroughly Anglo-Saxon. We read Beowulf cover to cover and studied it in depth, as if it were an additional book of the Bible. Need I remind you that no thread of Western Civilization is more rapacious and spiteful than the Anglo-Saxon? Somewhere deep below the surface it seemed to say, “Never mind what you might think of it; this is what we are, so conform, dammit.” What does it do when “faith” is driven into that spooky territory of human self-awareness?

Western Civilization is the one and only place in human history where we see that religious faith is inherently unacceptable. If you accept the ground rules of Western epistemology, you cannot believe in God as someone who guides your moral decisions. Whatever it is you make of any deity, morality can never be anything more than mere sentiment because all morality is a human social and cultural construct. That is the quintessential assumption behind Western Civilization as a whole. This is why Western Christianity is so utterly powerless. All those efforts to make faith reasonable, by whatever terminology you choose, violates the very foundation of what Westerners consider “reason” in the first place. If you accept the basic assumptions of Western Civilization, you must reject Christ.

It constitutes a rejection if you redefine Him to the point He is no longer the quintessential Hebrew man. I continue in amazement that Western Christian professors can explain the huge difference between Western and Hebrew epistemologies and still not make the connection that Western Christianity is not actually Christlike. This is a basic assertion behind much of what I teach here. There were moments when my progress along that path lurched forward, but I didn’t get there overnight. For the longest time I still bought into the basic assumptions of Western Christianity and remained in that prison until the last moment I was ejected from a church. It was nothing formal, mind you, but that same corrupt, subtle background threatening that happens at churches all the time.

I don’t miss it.

Burning Heart; Changing Life

And then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:31-32, NKJV)

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“Why in the world would you want to do that?” The young man’s question was a demand. He was a brilliant technician who had sacrificed a great many hours of sleep to experience and know precisely how it all worked and what the results would be for just about every variable.

The older man let his breath quickly out his nose, then opened his mouth. His chest expanded to pull in a large volume. In a calm, almost bemused tone he responded, “It doesn’t matter to me what makes sense to you. I know what I want and you can either take my money or tell me you aren’t interested.”

——–

It is human nature to make a great many decisions based on something other than reason and social custom. It is a standard delusion to imagine what what makes sense to you must be somehow universal. The vast lore of scientific and historical knowledge of how this world works could never cover all the bases; together they cannot possibly answer all the questions. Human need cannot be quantified that way.

Once you become conscious of this and embrace it as moral truth, it becomes a lot easier to suffer the arrogance of people utterly convinced that their way is the ultimate answer to all mankind’s ills.

If you are not in a state of flux on at least a few things in your life, then you have already died. It is the nature of childhood to explore things not yet experienced. Yet each child will unconsciously foreclose on a lot of possibilities for any number of reasons. This does not make them inferior. As we age, we tend to shut the door on more things, but that’s so we can pay more attention to things that do call us onward.

Adding in a conscious awareness of the heart and the moral sphere of consideration adds more complications. It does not reduce tension; it makes tension natural and normal. We stop wasting effort on vanquishing tensions and seek to build our own peace internally. We serve to personify peace in that sense. It’s not that everyone will simply buy into our sense of peace, but that their tension has little effect on us.

Even something as quantifiable as the computer technology so very important to my ministry calling, it still must yield to the variability of human questing. If computers become the masters, we are doomed. They are the servants, second in line behind the intellect that must also submit before the moral authority of the heart.

Don’t ignore your convictions; God plants them in the nerve clusters of your heart’s independent nervous system. There’s a mind there with its own logic, and the people of the Ancient Near East took it quite literally that the heart was an entirely different faculty from the brain. It’s the part of us that can know God.

The Heart of Church History

Church History as an academic pursuit is mostly a matter of grasping the politics of organized religion. It’s sheer idiocy to assume politics have no place in the church; our biggest problem is that people have rejected the political structure God designed for His people. When you understand that we as humans are hard-wired to benefit most from Eastern feudal organization, it’s not hard to see where the Church went wrong. A history of flawed practice and theology arises mostly from closing off the heart-mind awareness.

I’ve noted in my discussion of The Cult that a primary objective of the Judaizers was just that — destroying heart-led religion. The reliance on heart-mind awareness was simply a fundamental assumption in most of the cultural background of the entire Ancient Near East. This faculty is what lies behind the academic term “mysticism” that describes the non-rational approach of ancient Hebrew wisdom and scholarship. The rabbinical colleges didn’t simply go Greek, but they allowed the influence of Aristotle’s epistemology to turn their Hebrew religion into legalism. The fundamental element of legalism is making a god of the written record or revelation. Following this to its logical conclusion, you can find today Talmudic quotations that insist God is obliged to adhere to Scripture as if it took away His divine prerogatives to have it recorded. (Worse, the Talmud claims precedence over the Old Testament as Scripture.) This was an idea carried over from Medo-Persian imperial policy (the earliest recorded incidence of such thinking) and wholly foreign to a more ancient Hebrew approach. In the end, Jehovah is no longer the living God, but a weak caricature of Jewish imagination.

Being able to trace such influences is a fundamental element in History in general, and Church History in particular. The only problem is that we are constrained by the evidence, mostly written records. Against that we are weighed down by a massive burden of popular speculation that arises from some distinct agenda. Noting this is in itself a matter for Church History, too. Don’t let my blather here give the impression that I have some overwhelming expertise that you are not permitted to question. I’m quite willing to explain where my ideas come from because I don’t take myself that seriously; I don’t view my ideas and teaching as somehow the purest manifestation of God’s revelation. By the same token, don’t be offended if I happen to associate your contrasting ideas with something you might not like. Few of us are so completely original as to claim all our ideas as somehow born first in our imaginations. We choose what works best in seeking to obey God; that’s what religion means.

In my religion, if you indicate an affinity for subjecting your reason to the convictions of your heart, I have no fear that you will somehow develop a religion that threatens mine. In my religion, convictions are planted in your soul by God. You spend the whole of your earthly existence trying to make sense of those convictions so that you can obey them. That’s what it means to be heart-led. That shouldn’t be a threat to other religions, but you and I know that the majority of organized religion won’t tolerate that approach. That’s because most mainstream religion is about control, not setting you free from false moral constraints.

So you can see in my article on The Cult that a primary element in the collapse of genuine New Testament religion is the political impulses of the Pharisees who killed our Savior. While there was certainly some measure of vengeance and hatred behind their determination to stamp out genuine discipleship in following Christ, the impulse is wired into all fallen souls. We drag it out into the light so we can seek to understand it and avoid it. Most of humanity simply assumes it’s natural in a good sense and never questions the impulse. So we see the Judaizers and their sly efforts to lead new converts back into slavery to the Talmud. Part of that effort was smothering the heart-led faith before it really got rolling, and chaining the Christian religion to the same legalism that ruled Judaism.

That influence took deep root in organized Christian religion. Once religion was dependent on reason, there was nothing to protect the mission. The gospel rests entirely on awakening the awareness and moving consciousness into the heart. We look back across the ruined landscape of Church History and see the claw marks left by this beast. For example, who doesn’t recognize the stamp of The Cult on the Jesuits? Why does the Roman Church need their own FBI-CIA agency like that? What the hell are they protecting? There’s nothing heavenly about that. But somewhere along the path, the Roman Church concluded that whatever “the Fall” means, the human intellect is not fallen. Thus, the heart is replaced by reason once again, taking us right back to the Fall itself in Eden. So all you to worry about is bunch of bad habits that the Church hierarchy will gladly correct for you with their magisterial powers.

I’m not saying that the Roman Church is wholly evil and useless. I won’t tell you that your heart cannot possibly lead you to hang out in that system. What would happen if all the good people left the Church? Better that we have some heart-led folk infiltrate every part of the human world, not in secrecy, but wrapped in the mystery of God’s ineffable truth. We need that glorious witness everywhere, like salt and light.

Holding the Door Open

Eden is a long way from Utopia.

The latter will ever remain a myth, a materialistic fantasy. It’s a demand that God mend His ways to match human reason. Eden represents what God designed for us, what He designed us for. So long as reason rules human aspirations, we will never approach Eden. Human reason cannot possibly desire to face that Flaming Sword of revelation. Human reason cannot bow the knee to God unless some other faculty awakens to overpower reason. Reason on the throne of human will is what keeps us under Satan’s authority, precisely because we imagine that we are free.

You may know that I generally hate videos. Some of it is entirely personal, but there is a broad background of factual evidence that the medium itself is a serious danger to our conscious awareness. On the one hand, it offers proof just how weak and vulnerable is human reasoning. You can’t trust your mind to remain faithful to the truth because it is not designed to handle the truth. On the other hand, if you strive to remain connected to the higher moral awareness of your heart, there is no doubt you’ll be better armed to handle the manipulative nature of most video presentations. But don’t fool yourself; just because you claim to be heart-led doesn’t mean you can watch all the videos your addictive flesh wants to see. If you are heart-led, you’ll be careful to avoid most of them in the first place. And the ones you do watch will be heavily filtered through a powerful moral awareness.

So yesterday I saw one that I knew was a lot of propaganda, but was struck by something portrayed that was morally proper. How factual the portrayal might be was not the issue. Sometimes the facts simply do not matter. What matters is that Kadyrov knows the moral truth on one issue in particular — forgiveness. He welcomed home a bunch of stray sheep who went off to join Daesh and found out what a huge fat lie it is. While these men did pay their penalties, there was a place for them to return to their homes and rebuild a life in Kadyrov’s domain. In the video, it was plain to see his brand of forgiveness was strength, not weakness. He put people first because such is the core of his earthly treasure.

Westerners assign way too much value to “principle” — making a god of some imaginary “objective truth.” Absolute truth is moral in nature, far beyond intellectual packaging. Ultimate truth is the Person of God. If you cannot imagine our Creator as someone who can change His mind, then you make Him a dead deity. He tells us flatly to call on Him and seek to persuade Him. Granted, a great deal of that process is aimed at changing us to His way of seeing things, but God is not steel and concrete. He lives and hears and considers what is in our hearts. Knowing God bears little resemblance to a memorized body of factual knowledge.

That you might be able to find alleged ethical violations in Kadyrov’s rule over Chechnya is mostly missing the point. All that really means is that someone refuses to understand how reality works. Don’t imagine that I idolize Kadyrov in any way. I’m not a Muslim, for example. If I admired Islam that much I’d be one of them. But Islam isn’t nearly as much a problem for me as it is for most Westerners. Nor is any other religion, or having no religion at all. I don’t stand on rational principle, but upon my best grasp of the moral ground of God’s Person while having to tolerate the sloshing sewage of fallen human existence. I recognize that I cannot take seriously whatever my intellect and reason might imagine is the ideal.

But my heart knows a scent of Eden’s flowers when it wafts on the breeze.