Saturday, 26 July 2014

Mighty Israel, Part 2

I had a lot of interesting feedback from my last blog and noticed one very consistent thread with all of the comments: none of them spoke of the the God that Jesus loved - none of them spoke of his most basic teachings. None of them spoke of Paul's declarations of unconditional love. All their comments were based on Old Testament scripture. I made this comment on a Facebook thread and thought it may help expand the issue somewhat.


I feel I need to make very clear my views on the Old Testament, especially in relation to Israel's national psyche - it's religious paradigm that governs all of its moral judgments.

Again, I am not judging individual people. Your average Israeli is just like you and me, caring and loving, wanting the best for their friends and family (hopefully).

The problem for me was always the gross discrepancy between the character of God that Jesus and Paul portray and the God that the OT displays. I totally understand the traditional viewpoints about the purpose of the Jews etc, but ultimately I simply couldn't correlate the psychopathic horrors of a god that would demand others to commit genocide on a massive scale. I also simply cannot get my head or heart around God picking one barbaric tribe to be his "chosen" ones and make a bloody covenant with them based on performance, adherence to complex rules and regulations, and a fear that we could accidentally offend him and get zapped.

I have studied and read deeply as a christian for over 40yrs, even went to bible college, all in an effort to understand all these complexities. The only real answer I ever got, after endless questioning and digging, was that His ways are perfect and we have to trust His sovereign purposes - God is God and in the end he can do what He wants, we just have to have faith that He has our best intentions.

In the end, however, that just doesn't cut it. You see, to make it all "work", to give consistency and integrity to Gods character and heart, I had to turn my brain off, and abandon rational thought, logic, compassion, heart and the very essence of love that He has put deep in my heart - the love that Paul describes in 1 Cor 13.

I began to see that the entire OT was simply one particular ancient tribe trying to make sense of life and spirituality. They are writings of struggle, power plays, loss, victory, hatred, self justification, barbarism, cultic practices - all wrapped in a deeply held belief that they were the only nation on the earth that God had any interest in - that God actually despised every other person he had ever created and demanded that this one tribe annihilate the rest.

No matter how much I tried to work through the analogy, metaphor, the hidden purposes of God and the deep mysteries that point to Christ, the glaring facts remained - if the stories in the OT are true, then that God is the most horrific psychopathic monster imaginable, and we have been brainwashed to believe He is loving and caring.

So for me, we have been utterly duped, slowly and inexorably over centuries, to believe in a schizophrenic God through the use of incredibly complex doctrines that are MAN MADE. We have created a god in our own frustrated, distorted image - fickle, angry, abusive, conditional, narcissistic, and yet somehow, who loves us.

I cannot with any integrity whatsoever believe in that God. If He is love (as New Testament points out), then the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its nothing more than an ancient tribe justifying its crap. Sure there are some great bits in it that actually do express His real heart, when those people caught the occasional glimpse of it.


No, the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its NOT His holy word, its NOT the expression of His character or heart.

I now find it completely and utterly offensive to the very core of my being to think that God commanded ruthless, brutal murder and genocide - no matter how much theology you care to wrap it up in.

God IS love - if what we read doesn't fit that, then its not God - end of story.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Mighty Israel


I'll preface this blog by saying emphatically that I'm not dissing Jewish people.  They are all wonderful individuals uniquely created and loved just like us all. This blog concerns a deep national paradigm. All nations have some sort of national mind set or paradigm that overlays individual paradigms, creating very clear national identities and stereotypes. 

Some of my comments here are very provocative, but I feel they are worth the observation. Again, not as an insult to individual Jews, but as a very clear rebuttal of the Israeli mindset over military actions.

It is of course, entirely possible that I'm sprouting crap, but its how I see it, and I think it has a lot of merit.


Despite protestations from many that the nation of Israel is a political entity these days and religion doesn't colour their attitudes, Prime Minister Netanyahu and many members of his cabinet make no secret of their belief that "the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers." In his speech to Congress on May 24, 2011, Netanyahu emphatically stated: "This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one god... no distortion of history could deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.

The Torah very clearly states that Israel obtained this land through complete and utter annihilation of every previous resident. Apparently God instructed them to commit genocide on a massive scale, and even punished Israel if they didn't kill off every last man, woman and child.

However we try to colour this with theology and doctrines, we end up with the fact that they absolutely believed they were God's one and only true chosen nation and they must occupy those lands as laid out in the Torah by whatever means.

This has been the central issue ever since. They are a nation whose history is steeped in merciless bloodshed and genocide - something that is laid out very clearly in their writings.

So here's the problem... When they were tortured and killed by the millions over the years, by many nations, and yes, especially Hitler, its not really surprising, considering their own actions. I absolutely abhor any murder, and Hitler's actions were amongst the worst ever known, and I feel sick when I think about the horrors so many innocent Jews suffered.

But as they say "karma's a bitch". Harsh you say? Anti-semitic? Why? Its a simple fact, that once again, even their own writings would agree with - there are numerous scriptures about reaping what you sow.

So obviously, my main point is about Gaza and the Palestinians. Ultimately, Israel are forever reaping what they sowed. The nation founded in horrific bloodshed in the belief that a psychopathic God told them to do it, is getting upset about another nation who is simply sick of their never ending arrogant assumption that the land is theirs.

You can interpret all their scriptures in mystical allegory about God's perfect ways, holiness and righteousness, stories of how evil those other nations were and the lessons God was teaching us through those actions, but like it or not, it all comes down to the fact that their God told them to commit massive, ruthless genocide.

Let's stop supporting this attitude, just like we condemn any other nation that acts inhumanely. Let's love every individual Israeli - show them the true nature of God - unconditional love. The sooner they realise this, the sooner they will stop reaping the consequences of their heritage. And I would lay odds on that the Palestinians will respect them for it.

Love wins, always, without fail. ALL middle east nations seem to be very lacking in this simple piece of wisdom.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

An open letter to Africa

This is not a racist post, so please don't take it that way!

Nigeria, Uganda and all the others - you know who you are.

Shame on you - Yes, SHAME ON YOU!

You who were ruthlessly abducted into lives of slavery - 10 million of you!
You who were tortured, beaten, murdered, neglected and abused.
You who were dragged away from your native lands - your homes - your roots.
You who were treated like scum, unloved and not even human.

Those who did this to you had a biblical mandate.
There are many scriptures that irrefutably proved God endorses slavery.
There are no scriptures that say men should NOT have slaves.
God saw that your race was inferior. The bible says so.
White men were doing God's will by keeping you in slavery - it was where you belonged.
It was your lot in life according to scripture.

So what changed?
What did those brave men use to convince the religious and state powers they were wrong?

They used God's unconditional heart of love.
They used basic human morality.
They appealed to the heart of love and compassion that is in all of us.


Love won, and you were freed. It was a long hard battle, and it still is for many.
Thank God for His precious love despite what the bible says.

So tell me,
Why do you judge and condemn LGBT people, when you have known the depth of God's unconditional love already? You experienced God's incredible mercy, despite what the bible says.

LGBT people face the same issue!

You say the bible supports your views. That God hates LGBT people, they are abominations, less than human. Sound familiar? It should! That's what they said about you!

So make your choice - extend the same love that was shown to you, despite what the bible appears to say, or be prepared to confront your own hypocrisy, because confront it you will, eventually, whether you like it or not.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Theory of Everything Part 4

Over the years I wrote some blogs on my theory of everything (parts 1 to 3 obviously). Its a couple of years since the last one so I thought it might be fun to sift through my current views on this subject.

I'm one of those unfortunates who wants to know everything, right now! Anyway, that's not going to happen any time soon so I have to settle for wild guesses and assumptions based on the ponderings of other crazy people and scientists and philosophers.

If you've kept up with my blogs over the last
few years, you'll see a very pronounced departing from traditional christianity, wrestling with the most foundational issues such as the relevance of the bible, who Jesus really was, the nature of God - you know the sort of thing, nothing major.

One area that I've been quietly looking at for some time now is the link between science and spirituality, especially in the area of quantum physics - a subject that is guaranteed to completely scramble and fry any unsuspecting brain cells you may have left unatended.

The most astonishing thing is that the physics side of this isn't the made up ramblings of some wild eyed, mad scientist. It's established, accepted, everyday quantum physics that people with enormous brains discuss over breakfast.

Here's my take on things so far. I'll try to keep it as simple as possible, which is all I can do anyway. I'll also assume that I haven't completely misunderstood the scientific concepts.

Quantum physics states that everything in our universe, when we take it down to its most fundamental (quantum) level, consists of nothing more than strings of vibrating energy. These strings vibrate at certain frequencies and combine in resonance with others to assemble into higher level particles, which in turn assemble into more complex structures, becoming atoms and so on up the scale - from micro to macro.

So in reality we are nothing more than vibrating energy. That's very simplistic when we consider how many gazillions of atoms we are made of, let alone how many quantum particles and "strings". Just as astounding is that the relative distance between these particles (at the quantum level) is huge, meaning that an atom for example is actually about 99% nothing!

A real picture of a hydrogen atom!
But here's the thing - at the quantum level, physics as we understand it, totally changes. Time and space don't behave the same at all. Particles can exist in multiple places simultaneously, they can affect each other no matter where they are in the universe. Did you know that electrons whizzing around the nucleus of an atom keep changing their orbit? But they don't move to a new orbit, they simply disappear and reappear in the new orbit instantaneously - teleport as it were (*looks perplexed and scratches head)! Its the stuff of Sci Fi, except its for real.

If all that wasn't enough, there is a growing school of thought that the physical universe is actually a construct of our combined consciousness and doesn't exist at all in the way we think it does, and there's some freaky dudes that have a lot of maths to support the idea!

So what does this have to do with God and spirituality? Apparently, at an even deeper level, some theoretical physicists (who have been search for the "unified field theory" - the thing that generates the strings of energy in the first place and is the fundamental cause of everything), are thinking that the unified field is actually universal consciousness - thus producing a cross over into spirituality that has a "scientific" basis.


This may all seem a but far fetched but I'm mulling over these things and watching mind numbing videos about quantum physics, and thinking about the universal nature of God being love and the source and sustainer of everything. We are simply small expressions of God, made of the same stuff and part of each other in the same way. The energy we are made of vibrates in harmony with all other energy, but our level of consciousness allows us to interact in ways that can enhance or destroy that synchronisation with God and the rest of the universe.


We can then put those ideas into "religious" language to produce a set of meaningful psychological, sociological and spiritual tools to provide purpose, health, peace, joy etc to life as we know it. It seems every religion has scattered through its beliefs and doctrines, recognition of these basic "fundamentals", although some religious constructs can be more damaging than helpful.

I'm still chewing over the emotional and "heart" side of the whole thing, but I can see plenty of scope in this to cover just about everything really. 



So, umm, yeah - the Theory of Everything? How the hell should I know?? This sounds pretty good for now!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Gay types of stereo

OK, stupid title, but it got your attention. If I just put "gay stereotypes" you would probably have just clicked on past.

This is kind of an awkward topic, mostly because I don't mean to, or want to, offend anyone in the LGBT community. I'm talking about stereotypes, so it helps to also remember I'm generalising. I am of course, targeting this blog at everyone, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, including categories such as intersex and other cultural groups like Fa'afafine), "straight" and anyone in between.

You may hear someone say "I have a gay friend!". Your brain probably immediately displays a picture of a rather effeminate looking guy, tight pants etc, or maybe a large drag queen, or a slightly awkward looking transsexual woman. Yeah, the stereotypes.

We all have mind images that pop up unbidden for stereotypes in every aspect of life. Its how our mind works. Part of the way we process and store information is by internal association and labeling. Its unconscious and is a very important factor in mental health.

The problem is when our internal labels are created by incorrect or biased data - data that has been slowly determined by our paradigms since the day we are born. This includes family, peers, culture, religion, societal ethics and morals, and a million other influences.

The problem with the whole LGBT issue is complex, far more so than religion and culture realise.

Firstly, there is actually no clear cut "gay or straight" categories. The term LGBT hardly does it justice! In reality, there are sliding scales for gender identity, gender expression, sexual attraction and physical gender. Although there are a few minor variations in how this is presented - it looks like this.

Secondly, everybody has different personality traits - quiet, loud, introspective, extravert, blunt, rude, gentle, cautious, sensitive, you name it! Strangely enough, this applies to LGBT people as well. So you get those who are at different points on the scale (as mentioned above) combined with the usual mix of personalities and you get a small percentage of really "out there", bold, happy, up front and loud gays and lesbians, drag queens, and everything we use to stereotype them with. Why? Because they are the ones who, no matter what their sex/gender orientation is, will always be seen. They are the ones at the Pride parades and Mardi Gras, just being who they are - just the same as anyone else who is passionate and outgoing (especially with "causes" that affect them personally) will be the visible, vocal ones.

Thirdly, let's consider the statistics of the number of people who are LGBT. As I said above, we are all somewhere on the spectrum so it makes getting real stats extremely difficult. Heaps of research has been done on this over the years, and all of it differing depending on demographics, especially the type of questions asked and environment (physical/emotional/spiritual etc) where the research was taken. From all the research done, it seems we could generalise somewhere around 15% of the population are far enough towards the LGBT end of things to fit that category. Bear in mind that some surveys asked much broader questions about same sex experiences in ways that allowed the participants to express feelings and encounters that bypassed their own stereotypes, so they felt free to report experiences they would otherwise have never spoken of. Some of these surveys revealed up to 25% of the population.

We may never know the true figure simply because of the paradigms and biases associated with the whole subject.

With all that taken into consideration, we see that it's a minority of LGBT people who have helped us create the stereotypes. In reality, most LGBT people are quietly going about their business just like everyone else. They aren't effeminate, or drag queens etc. They are often "in the closet" and you would have no idea! They aren't drug addicts, abuse victims, sex addicts or satanists. They don't have an "agenda" to recruit your children or take over government or anything else. Many have  wonderful loving families and the best upbringing you could hope for. Many are pillars of society and church. You just don't know.

You may be in a room with 10 guys - the chances are good that 2 of them are LGBT.

Think about that.

You are in a church meeting of say 200 people - maybe 20 to 40 of them have experienced same sex attraction and enjoyed finding expression for something that is deeply part of them, but have suffered enough guilt, fear and shame to never mention it.

The stereotypes we create end up destroying our efforts to understand and look past the things that disturb our paradigms. We have to realise that stereotypes, no matter what they are associated with, are just that, and they do not, nor cannot represent the truth.

This is something I had to work through myself, despite being gay! I was so influenced by the christian paradigm that I had internalised homophobia, reinforced by working in reperative therapy for years. I still sometimes battle with the stereotypes imprinted in my mind. But that's another story!

There is no such thing as just "gay or straight" - there are only people, with a myriad of subtle to extreme sexual and gender characteristics, who simply want the freedom to live with integrity. Until then, we have to talk about it, loudly, and persistently!


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Jims Awesome Cult Watch

On a whim and rush of adrenalin (or the last vestiges of gin coursing through our veins from the night before), myself and a friend decided to check out the grand opening celebrations of Destiny Church's new "City of God" in Auckland.

For my overseas friends - Destiny is a large pentecostal church in New Zealand that has had its fair share of flack for many years. Over the last year or so their numbers have been dropping and then last December, the leader's right hand man did a runner and opened his own church just down the road.

So anyway, the pastor, Brian Tamaki, made himself a bishop a couple of years back (for real) and of course refers to himself as an apostle. Most of the elders are family and he runs a VERY tight ship.

I've only ever read the odd article about them and seen the news reports, and must confess I haven't even read the book that was written about him last year by Peter Lineham, who I know, very slack of me, sorry Peter!

To be fair, they actually do a lot of good work in the community and have great programs for helping the poor and needy, and their motivation certainly seems pure.

So we found comfy seats, which, by the way, were "movie theater" seats - plush thick purple padded things with armrest, just no drink/popcorn holder - and settled in for the show for around 1000 people. And what a show it was!!

Every cliche in the book, the loud pumped up rock/R&B worship music, the pep talks and emotional dynamics (which I know soooo well cos I used to lead worship myself). The stage is a wonder to behold with the country's largest LED screen in place extending 24meters across the back of the stage, floor to ceiling, and very impressive light shows to complete the polished performance.


Then there were the offerings - yep, 3 all up. Tithes AND gifts (which they passed around the seats for, and a special seed faith offering which everyone had to take to the front of the church and put in a couple of big baskets, which were then lifted up in the air and prayed over.

There was a performance (a Maori Kapa Haka) put on by the Destiny school kids (yes, they have their own school) that told us how amazing the school is and how it was only so good because of Brian.

We had Stan Walker singing beautifully, and finally the Bishop (no one calls him pastor, let alone Brian), gave us the sermon. Apparently God specifically told him to not preach what he had planned but instead to give a very blunt message on "Wolves in the fold" which he informed he was "winging it" at the last minute - despite the fact that the big LED screen operator seemed to amazingly anticipate his subject headings and scripture references while he was preaching.

So anyway, the whole point of the sermon seemed to be damage control after the recent split, with very strong and unambiguous references to wolves coming among the sheep to destroy them. There was plenty of out of context and misquoted scripture, lots of mocking and patronising, large servings of emotional manipulation and fear mongering, and most importantly, unquestioning and unswerving allegiance to himself and the elders.

This was preached in no uncertain terms and he said that only he had the most powerful anointing to discern these wolves, and the elders had the next most powerful. Everyone else were just silly happy sheep who couldn't be trusted to discern these things for themselves and had to completely trust the leaders, who would decide who are wolves and who are sheep. No one could be trusted and he even encouraged wives to not trust their husbands and to be prepared to ignore him if he started getting slack about going to church and his allegiance to the Bishop.

This was all the most wonderful display of a narcissist in full flight. Incredible control and manipulation through fear and mistrust, using the indigenous cultural values of the Maori and pacific islanders to threaten the breakdown of their families if they didn't follow his advice.

It was the kind of thing you don't really believe unless you actually hear it. My only hope is that it will not survive the recent split and the people will come to their senses and see the depth of this guys deception. I think that at the heart of even his best social work initiatives is the need to feed his narcissism, to be held and worshiped in his position of complete power, to have the adulation of those he can coerce to give him the love that will never satisfy.

We can only hope that the fallout, when it eventually comes, will be small and those who end up hurt won't fall for the same thing again.

Update:
There is also a special ring that men can buy for $600 when they become one of Brian's spiritual sons. They sign a covenant pledging loyalty to him. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Angry Jim

Angry JimmyI'm angry.

But I know I shouldn't be. Its something I know will get better, and it is, but it keeps flaring up.

I'm angry at religion and christianity in particular.

I know, here I go again like so many others who have been ripped off, abused and disillusioned by traditional christianity. But I've done that one. No this is a bit more specific and its really about me in a way (isn't it always, lol!)

I've come a long way in my journey and can honestly say I no longer feel much of the sting of the lies of religion myself. But I see the horrendous trap that fundamentalists et al, get stuck in; a trap that shuts down their minds and hearts.

I've had so many discussions about varying topics with conservative fundamentalists and the most consistent problem I've found is their stoic unwillingness to even consider they may be wrong in any way, or there could be problems in their belief systems. They have developed mental processes that allow them to shelve and ignore glaring inconsistencies and hypocrisies and successfully divert all responsibility for their personal integrity on to a book. A book who's only claim to spiritual authority comes from itself, creating a circular argument that can never be resolved unless you have "faith".

Now the interesting thing is, I've been in that place myself, so I can really understand the processes involved that get you stuck in that trap, but because of the depth of my personal struggles in life that this belief system could never resolve, I had to live with incredible cognitive dissonance that caused a life of suicidal depression. So I get it, I really do.

But I'm angry that those who are stuck in that trap won't even give you the time of day, deferring their brain, heart and spirit to a book. I don't have a problem with the book as such (well, yeah, there are issues on a few levels). I have a problem when we hand over our intellect, reasoning, heart, compassion, and all that we are, to a belief system that judges, belittles, patronises, condemns and generally puts an unachievable burden of principles and regulations onto the most vulnerable and needy, let alone those who are apparently doing ok.

So yeah, I really hate it. Fundamentalist evangelical whatever you call it crappy biblical literalist bigoted dogmatists who think they have cornered the market on truth because of their faith in a book that has taken 1700 years of creating wild doctrines to try and hold together a mish mash of disparate opinions about God.

I'm angry about the damage that this filthy religion has spread throughout history - about the damage its done to so many innocent people struggling to find love and acceptance. I'm angry about the exclusivist club that claims to be the sole purveyor of truth and condemns the rest of the world to death. I loath that which drives people to ignore the fact that most of the world will never hear their message of exclusive conditional love but are happy to so blithely blame the lost for their own damnation.

Yeah, it gets my blood boiling!!

I refuse to associate myself with that farce of a religion called christianity, and yet Jesus (as far as we can tell from the 2nd hand documents we have about him) showed us what love (God) looks like. But I can't even trust the words in the gospels as we know them. After all, hundreds of documents were destroyed when the arrogant church leaders of the time determined what the "real" truth about Jesus was. I guess we will never know.

And then there's millions of people who think their precious opinions are the solution to all the worlds problems and yet refuse to even acknowledge that we ALL have subjective opinions and paradigms.

So what's my point??

Christianity as we know it is a dead, sick, pathetic excuse for spiritual reality. We may never know what Jesus was really on about.

BUT!

I DO know that God is in me. That He/She is love - nothing but love. That I am one with love and that love is the basis for all we know and don't know. I am happy to dig through the bible to find this truth - its there if you look for it. Its there in so many other writings as well. And the same despicable crap is there in other religions as well. They are all just as bad.

I'm not angry with God, or people. In fact I've never experienced such love towards everyone, or closeness to God in ways I never knew possible. I've never felt more loved or loving. Its religion and all its filth that gets me fired up.

So there you have it. I love but I hate. I'm patient but I'm impatient. I want everyone to experience who God really is but I have no time for bigoted pharisees. Maybe I'm just human, on my own journey, happy to do and be the best I can, as I experience the best that's available to me, learning to live loved, and listening to every person's unique story in the hope of learning something and giving something.


Friday, 16 May 2014

Questionable Answers?

Do the parts make up the whole?
Does the hole swallow the parts?
Do cords of belief make a strong rope
    to choke the hope?

Do we question the questions?
Can we answer the answers?
Will we label the labels
    and disable the enabled?

What flight of fright strikes
    Deep into answers unseen?
What will open the hole whole?
Who will lift out the bright to
    Light the night?

Close up dusty pages?
Defy the scream of past ages?
Face the fickle feelings that
    Form framed fears?
Hear hearts with new ears?

Do paths make a way?
Does the way make a path?
Do we tread uncertain through the curtain?
Will questions remain
    And keep us sane?


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mansionland



A short story... with no pictures.


The land was expansive. Really expansive. I’m not really sure you could say it had a horizon, although it did, sort of. It faded away into immeasurable distance, and I mean a really, really immeasurable distance. Well that’s how it seemed.

But that was just one aspect, although I must admit a rather impressive one.

There was light. You know, just like in the movies and C.S. Lewis books, and near death experiences. That sort of light. But you breathed the light and it felt like air in a light sort of way.

Anyway, this place was awesome, in an overawesome way that transcended the awesomeness of any other awesome thing you could think of. So really, I don’t think I’ll bother even trying to allegorise it, let alone metaphorise it. Let’s just say it’s beyond metaphor, or language.

So there’s this place and I’m looking around, and there’s these huge mansions scattered around. Quite a few of them really, spread out way into the fading horizon that isn’t really a horizon.

There’s a lot of space between them all though, forests and gardens, beauty that’s disorganised in a non-minimalist crazy person kind of way. Wild but knowable, untamed but playable.

The whole place, the land, whatever it is, was complete. Nothing could conceivably or inconceivably be added or taken away. You just knew that the entirety of ‘all that is” is here, visible or hidden, searchable for sure, maybe not findable, but there none the less.

So yeah, it was just the other day, or maybe it was tomorrow, or did I dream it, or will I dream it in another life? Anyway, there I was, smacking my gob at this place and wondering about the mansions. So I set off to the closest one.

Not sure how long it took, maybe an hour or a week. Just can’t tell in this place.

As I approached I could see this mansion was huge, really huge! But it looked really strange. Despite the obvious ostentatiousness of the place it was really a hodgepodge of add-ons and extensions. So much so that I had no idea what the original might have looked like. The windows were boarded up, which I though was rather strange given how incredible the view was – and who the heck would want to block out this light?

So as I approached I met a couple of people wandering around outside in these outrageous suits – like diving suits. You know, all sealed up with air tubes going back to the mansion and an airtight helmet with tinted glass so I couldn’t really see their faces, and we had to shout at each other to be heard. It was really, really weird. Maybe they all had some medical condition?

Never the less, they invited me in.

The front door was very impressive indeed with very ornate symbolism in the carvings and pictures all over it. But instead of the whole door opening to welcome strangers, there was just a little door down one side – just like those big warehouse doors have a little one so they don’t have to open the whole thing all the time.

We quickly entered and slammed the door shut behind us while they took off their suits in the rather comparatively dim light.

Together they welcomed me to the “Mansion of Light”.

OK… it was rather dingy, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt.

I was then given a map of all the places to see, in the correct order with the correct viewing times and who would be leading the viewing sessions and their qualifications, along with all the correct protocols to follow.

They wanted to personally take me around to make sure I got it right, but I hate guided tours - you know how it is – you never get the time to really find out the whole story. It was a battle but I assured them I’d be fine and follow all the protocols, sheesh!

Of course I didn’t have any intention of following boring tourist guides and protocols so set off exploring the moment they were out of sight.

All the boarded up windows were a puzzle, seeing as they had to rely on artificial light all the time and some corners, and even whole rooms, were really hard to see into.

As I went around the rooms I found endless groups of people mostly discussing what the land outside was like and the best ways to get around out there. Other groups were saying outside was a dangerous place and best not to venture out unless properly prepared, and proceeded to debate the best methods of protection. Many seemed to think that outside was actually evil and we shouldn’t even entertain the idea of going out there.

There were so many rooms some big, some small, some huge auditoriums, some little studies, but all with people discussing/debating/arguing, or just being told, how to deal with outside, or even if they should deal with outside in the first place. It was so confusing, even though each room seemed to basically agree amongst themselves.

Every so often though, I’d see someone sneak out and into another room, as if nothing had happened. But as I was going down one particular corridor, a whole heap of people suddenly ran out of one room down the hall and into an empty room, shouting wildly about the colour of the walls. Truly perplexing!

I began to wonder where I’d be if I’d taken the guided tour!

After a while I bumped into a quiet sort of guy walking slowly through a pillared gallery where some of the windows weren’t quite so well boarded up, and cracks let through small rays of light that shone on parts of some of the paintings and sculptures.

Thinking he might throw some light (as it were) on what the heck was going on this place, I straight out asked why the windows were boarded up?

He looked at me with a strange expression, as if I was either an idiot, or maybe it was a trick question and he was waiting for the other half of my question so it would make sense. After a few moments where he seemed to be trying to process the obvious absurdity of my question, he started on quite a long and eloquent discourse.

Around 5 minutes later he stopped to see if I was following, but alas, I couldn’t follow a single thing he was saying. It all seemed to do with ancient prophecies and traditions, and the elders of the ancient days who spoke of strange powers and beings and who knows what. I just wanted a simple answer as to why they didn’t like the light.

As he began his dissertation again I casually wandered over to a nearby window that was letting in a ray of light and went to look through the crack.

Well, what a commotion! He stopped in horror and began a tirade about respecting the light and having to wear special glasses, and you had to spend hours in preparation or be one of the elite before you could even glimpse outside.

This place was really beginning to creep me out. So I excused myself with many apologies and headed off for the stairs to see if I could quietly find some light and fresh air. After a while of wandering and working my way up, I found what seemed like a rather little used hall leading to a stair case that almost certainly went to the roof or a balcony, judging by number of flights I’d come up and the general layout as best I could figure it. As I reached the top of the stairs and began to look for a door outside, a very old guy suddenly threw open a door and light streamed in behind him creating a silhouette. He had been outside obviously, but was keen to come back in. He hesitated when he saw me and looked around, perhaps to see if I was alone.

He obviously didn’t know quite how to deal with my presence and stood there with the door half open, until he decided to ask what I was doing. I honestly stated I’d like some light and fresh air as it was getting rather oppressive inside.

Again he looked around and asked if I knew what it was really like out there. Well, of course I knew, although after being in this place for what seemed like ages, I was beginning to wonder if I did. All the confusion and different ideas that really didn’t make much sense to anyone who had actually been outside, were beginning to take their toll on me.

He grabbed my arm and pulled me closer. I saw in the silhouette of his face that he was wearing dark glasses, but he wasn’t in the suits that others wore outside. It all seemed very conspiratorial somehow, but never the less he seemed to think I was an ally of some sort who was in the know.

He reached into his coat and pulled out another pair of glasses, saying I’d need them before going out. I could see it was bright outside but not harsh or glaring, still, I put them on just to humour him.

We quickly stepped out on to the roof and I was hit by the incredible view. Simply amazing. But the stupid glasses made everything look dull and all the colours were wrong, and I couldn’t even see clearly into the distance. I guess it was my previous experience of the land which allowed me to appreciate it still. I put my hand up to take off the glasses but he jumped in horror when he realised what I was doing and knocked my hand out of the way, declaring me insane.

I stopped and decided to humour him. He was shaken but turned to look out with me. After a few seconds I pointed to another mansion some way off and asked who lived there.

He turned slowly and seemed to be struggling with my question. He then started a discourse, not unlike the other guy downstairs, about the ancients and traditions and evil forces and battles and who knows what, until after a few minutes I gave up trying to follow him.

This was all too much really. I politely interrupted him and said I couldn’t really follow him, but that was OK, I was just curious. I thanked him anyway and as I could see a staircase that wound its way down the outside of the building, I said I’ll just go and see them myself and took of the glasses to give back to him.

That was obviously a huge mistake. Apparently it was inconceivable that anyone could/should/would even think about doing that! He then preceded to pontificate in a strange voice about the curses of the ancients and the dangers of venturing out on my own and being blinded and deceived by the light because the nature of the land apparently could only be correctly discerned with their glasses.

It started to get rather ugly, and even though I apologised for any offence, and tried to reassure him that I was fine because the light was actually a lot better without the glasses and I just wanted to meet the other people and hear their story, he just got more worked up.

Oh well, I smiled anyway and quickly went down the stairs. I could still hear him shouting from the roof as I walked on to the grass and out into the wild/tame gardens towards the other mansion. He wasn’t making any sense at all by that stage and his abuse faded into the breeze as I breathed in the light and lost myself….



Wednesday, 7 May 2014

God is my strength?

Heeeelp! Gurgle gurgle...
This is a statement that is common to just about all christians. When times get tough and we don't have the strength to carry on or are struggling, in some way, to meet the demands of life, we turn to God for strength, claiming that He IS our strength.

So what does that actually mean? It seems that most of us can give some bible verses to back it up, but really, what the heck does it actually mean, in practical, hands on reality?

In fact, it goes deeper than this.

I have many christian friends who have reached a crisis or are going through hard times in terms of trying to understand how God's "direction" and leading in life works - how he guides us through the crap, and what the heck is really going on.

There may well be two separate issues here - acquiring His strength, and living in His will - but I see some commonality. We are taught in the church, by traditional understandings and doctrines, that when good things happen we are blessed and when bad things happen, well, we aren't so blessed - perhaps even "out of God's will" (whatever that means) or are even under a curse! This complicates matters somewhat because if we ask for his strength to get through bad/dark times does that mean we can't expect help if we are being cursed or aren't "in His will" or have been particularly sinful?

Again, I'm sure we all know scriptures to throw at this dilemma, but they don't confront the actual reality. Shit happens, and we want help to understand it and get through it unscathed. We don't want to suffer and we don't want to be out of favour with God, just in case that's the cause of our suffering.

I hold the bible a lot more loosely these days, so even though I think its an amazing book and holds incredible life giving truths, it's inconceivable that it holds all truth for everyone ever created for all time. So I look for bigger answers - yes BIGGER. Bear with me.

If we take a step back and look at what people everywhere go through, its obvious that we all go through good times and crap no matter who we are or what we believe. There is no rhyme or reason to the distribution of good and bad no matter how we try to dress it up. It just plain happens.

Perhaps the issue then is not what happens, but what we do about it? The whole concept of being blessed by God is astoundingly simple minded (not the same as childlike) and flies in the face of everything around us. Its an attempt to live by legalistic formulas to make life tidy and predictable.

We claim God's strength, and then try to figure out what we are doing wrong so that we can adjust things, get out of the curses we bring on ourselves, and move into His blessings. Many of us turn ourselves inside out wondering what we've done wrong. Sure we know God is loving and faithful to forgive, but we get obsessed with the consequences of bad decisions, fearful that nothing will change or get better.

So in reality the picture is pretty bleak if we are honest within the limitations of traditional christian beliefs- we go through crap, looking for meaning, and wanting strength to carry on so we don't get into the crap again.

STOP THE CYCLE!

Back up! Like I said and we all really know - shit happens! It just does. "It rains on the just and the unjust". So when we pray for strength, what are we really wanting/needing?
LOVE! Doh!
We just want, and need, to be loved. If we experience love we can not only get through anything, but come out the other end better for it! Sure it may not make the situation any easier, but love changes US, not the situation (usually, sometimes it can change both).

To know we are loved in the worst of situations brings peace and reassurance. So when we cry out for Gods strength we are crying out for love.

Million dollar question!! - how do we get this love??

Its already here. God is one with us, intrinsically part of us in every way, holding us together. He is the love that unites and binds all energy and life. He IS. We have all we need and will ever get - every single person ever created is part of God whether we know it or not. And that's the problem - knowing it.

We must repent, (oh ye sinners! lol!) because repenting simply means changing your mind, no great self abasement (although you can feel remorse if you want, sometimes that's a good thing).
So we change our minds about being one with love.
We change our minds about anything to do with blessings and curses, about being in His will, or being sinful. We change our minds about God dishing out blessings for random reasons.
We change our minds about God being external to us in any way.
We change our minds about who we actually are.
We change our minds about struggling to be anointed and holy.
In fact, we change our minds regarding just about all doctrines that man has invented.

We, and God, are one. That's it. Everything we do is "his will" because we are one.
We are loved, because He is love, and we are one.
We ARE a little piece of God - it can be no other way. Am I saying we are God? Gasp!!!!
In a way, yes! God is all in all. We are part of "all", we are part of God.

Back to the topic.

The strength we need is US! Its in us already. We are part of the strength. We are part of the solution. God doesn't arbitrarily help some and not others based on how much they cry out and sweat and struggle. We are it. We are love. We are one.

Repent - change your mind!