What Easter means to me

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What Easter means to me

Post by SteveC » Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:09 pm

It was a number of years ago when I found myself praying in church, when I looked up at the crucifix, and thought to myself, “How crazy is this? Why am I asking for help from someone who is nailed to a cross?” If there was ever anyone who was in a helpless state, it is a person who is crucified. Consider all the able-bodied people who help us survive our daily life, from the plumber to the doctor to the builder to the farmer to the energy producer, etc., none of them would be of much practical value without the ability of motion. What then makes Jesus helpful rather than helpless? We should be trying to Save Jesus, not vice-versa. He needs our help.

As a white male, entrepreneurial, self-employed, college-educated and American, I exist as among the most privileged people in the world. While not rich compared to some, my lifestyle is among the top 10% of the richest people in the world, if certain statistics can be believed. I am a master in this universe, buying and selling, reading and speaking, thinking and doing, coming and going. I have achieved the American Dream of house and family and freedom, yet there was still something more I wanted.

I was down on my knees praying for the answer that I have always sought, going back to at least the seventh grade: why is there war and poverty? This is a pretty common question, I suspect, but I am not sure how often it has been answered. In seventh grade I was the “hippie” at my catholic school in Watertown. It was 1970, and one of the nuns showed us pictures from the battlefield in Vietnam. She put them on the chalk edge and we filed around the room looking at them. Here in vivid and silent color was the real Vietnam. Men in uniform laying in the tall lush green grass, with blood oozing out of their skulls and other places. They were not so different than the crucified Jesus, reduced to a shell of flesh, like meat in the marketplace of time.

This same nun also played for us Jesus Christ Superstar, the rock opera. Looking back, it is clear that she was no ordinary nun, but I did not appreciate that at the time. I didn’t really like her or school. I was the chronic daydreamer, detached and uninterested in my immediate surroundings, schedules and the rat-race rhythm. My brother had the album, and I had heard it a hundred times already. To me, her playing this album was just some goofing off time in school. That I liked. She was obviously unconcerned about MCAS scores and was trying to teach a deeper lesson. It is too bad that I was not paying more attention, as I may have discovered if she already knew the answer that I was grasping for.

Please don’t get the impression that catholic school is normally a deeply probing moral and spiritual place, or that she or my peacenik attitude were the norm. In fact, I have witnessed more cruelty at this school than anywhere else in my privileged life, by both students and teachers. The world everywhere is a microcosm of a macrocosm. The conflict in Vietnam was no different than the conflicts in America: civil rights, poverty, political power, foreign policy, etc. A consensus is hard to come by everywhere. War and poverty have a thousand faces, but I was primarily focused on just one. I hated Nixon. I could not see the whole. It was only when I was down on my knees that I began to see how I fit within reality.

As absurd as it may sound, I am the one who crucified Christ. I am the person responsible for war and poverty. I am the gnawing specimen of history that keeps repeating itself generation after generation. I have given birth to some share of the anger and hatred and greed in this world. I cannot change my past.

We have all failed, regardless of our politics, religion or occupation. In fact, failure is unavoidable. The problem is not what we disagree about, the problem is what we agree about. Our only consensus is the problem! We all believe that money is “real,” when in fact it is simply a figment of our imagination. The love of money is the root of all evil, but more specifically, how we create, understand and handle money is the root of all conflict.

We have been doing a terrible job in how we conceptualize and manage money. In modern times, the four horsemen of the apocalypse can be thought of as George Washington, Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin and Robert Morris. They set down the cornerstone for the society we live in, and each one in his own way rejected Jesus Christ, even if they acknowledged his existence. Each was a reformer, ambitious, hard-working and concerned with the future. They undoubtedly believed themselves to be righteous, but they forgot a key instruction: love your enemy. And secondarily, don’t be so concerned with wealth in this world.

Government, regardless of how it is configured politically, is the source of both war and money. It is the wellspring of all misery. A central government, a central bank and a standing army is the infrastructure of every empire. The individual is smothered by this arrangement since fidelity to organization replaces faith in God and kindness toward one another. The enduring problem with human laws is that the wise don’t need them and the unwise won’t follow them. Adding new laws to God’s laws creates a conundrum. The first law-makers of every country were first law-breakers. The cornerstone of every country is hypocrisy. Any success in a system of hypocrisy can only be accomplished through hypocrisy. As such, my sin, your sin, and our sins are all the same: hypocrisy and double-standards. All men are created equal, in the worst way possible, by our collective errors. Individual countries simply reflect the same conflicts and the same attitudes on a grander scale of diversity.

But moving beyond the structural failures of society, what am I doing wrong? I buy and sell goods for a living. Unfortunately, I am just like the money-changers in the temple. Exchanging goods for money is not any different than changing money for money. Both Profit and Interest presume an unequal exchange, not “trade.” I am preyed upon by one man, and I prey upon another. I am both the victim and the crime. This numerical habit results in inflation and concentrations of wealth. What we call capitalism is a mathematical and spiritual failure. There is no “self-regulating marketplace.” This idea is a fallacy. The first lie ever told was to eat the apple, the second lie was to sell them for profit.

Every product consumed includes the “profit” for everyone involved in the transaction previously. Consumption becomes progressively more expensive as goods move along the global assembly line. The good is consumed, but not its invented accounting value. Those numbers grow relentlessly. Nobody can balance the rapidly growing numbers, and conflicts inevitably follow as wealth and power divide. Every war is actually a civil war based on mis-trade, they only spread as other nations get involved. As war spreads, so too does the mathematical and physical misery. No government can ever collect enough in taxes for what it spends. Government is the origin of money, the largest debtor, the largest buyer and the largest employer. It is an illogical system, and no ruler can rule over a contradictory system or unwise people.

As values are applied to goods, and more transactions occur, the bigger the problems become. Boom must follow bust, and the swings and the divides must grow larger. The geometric progression of compounded “value” is as limitless as numbers themselves. Government is not incompetent by chance; there is an underlying cause and effect. The math is obvious if you follow the money. Since government exists to kill enemies and to regulate private property, when Jesus says to love your enemy and to share your wealth, He challenges the very foundation of every civilization. He says to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's because the faithful have no need for money. We are all family sharing the bounty of the Earth. Money is a fallacy.

Modern man is woefully lost, and the creation of paper money has compounded our problems. Now temptation is everywhere. Even children are selling for profit and engaging in interest-taking. They are indoctrinated into sin and the love of money before they reach puberty. They will inevitably prolong a world of war and poverty. Our sins will be theirs, just as past generation’s sins are ours.

So what should we do? For starter’s, we should take Leviticus more seriously. Jesus came to confirm the old laws. The prohibition on profit and interest was good policy by God. Everybody can afford zero, nobody can afford inflation. Jubilee was a system of making automatic adjustments so that the next generation did not find themselves at a disadvantage to the previous generation. Philanthropists can only give what they first took too much of originally. They cannot solve anything by their example of hoarding and then sharing. It is the hoards of wealth that create poverty, because the only way to become rich is to overcharge (customers) and underpay (taxes, vendors, employees.) Reformers have used violence and laws in every way possible to reduce imbalances, but without finding the cause of the imbalance: themselves and ourselves. They fail repeatedly and they abandon the only strategy that works: Forgiveness and the power of zero.

It is mercy that the world needs, not justice. Courage, not fear. Humility, not pride. Change, not tradition. Mastery of numbers and self-restraint, not slavery to numbers and self-indulgence. God owns the Earth, not men. We are squabbling and self-righteous guests, failing to take a full measure of ourselves. We fear tomorrow, and the government cannot guarantee anything. A virtuous society requires virtuous men.

Each and every man is an individual, for good or ill. Mountains are not moved whole, but by changing the nature of each grain of sand. “The good” has the same advantage as “the bad.” Both grow from a single mustard seed, and we get to choose which seed we will be. We are a small act, yet the harvest is huge. As God declared through Isaiah, if we are willing and obedient, we will eat the best from the land, but if we resist and rebel, we will be devoured by the sword. This would seem to be true for both this world and the next one, for this generation and the next. To change the world forever, all we have to do is write down different numbers. We need a jubilee and the creation of a new currency. A currency based on faith, not on victorious rebel warriors. All glory and honor belongs to God, not to killers and generals and war-mongers. Every nation has the same past: civil war.

A lie thousands of years old is still a lie, and the truth thousands of years old is still the truth. Gold is just colored dirt. Dollars are just printed paper. How did objects so useless become so great in our minds that we lie, cheat, steal and argue incessantly over their value? Men will even kill for money, and kill to protect their money. All of the struggles in society are based on money. If money is our problem, then changing the money, and our habits regarding it, will be the solution.

If you ask you will be answered, at the time of God’s choosing. Happy Easter.
Last edited by SteveC on Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.

The radical myth towards which the helix aspires is beyond the desire for money or power, yet which has greater returns than all the power and money in the world could not achieve.
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Post by bodhibliss » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:56 am

Steve (and everyone)

I appreciate your passion, Steve, and the depth of the guilt you feel over the execution of Jesus. That is a theological position with a long and respected tradition, often used in the past to point out that the Jews should not be blamed for the death of Christ, since every sinner bears responsibility.

I confess it sounds like you're coming from the perspective that Christian mythology is literally true, and you seem to be suggesting all people should adopt that literalist interpretation, particularly by taking "more seriously" the ritual code of Leviticus.

Of course, it's absolutely your prerogative to believe so.

Similarly a Hindu is free to believe one must literally follow the ritual law set forth in the Vedas (which, not surprisingly, is often at odds with the Levitical Code). However, implying we all should be following the ritual code of a mythological tradition, whether that tradition be Hindu, Jewish, Aztec, Christian, or Islamic, is at odds with the spirit of this website.

There are certainly places in the cybersphere where such claims can be made. Here, though, we examine myth qua myth, steering clear of literal interpretations of any particular mythology. Joseph Campbell's primary observation is that mythology in general is metaphor for transcendent universal truths, albeit inflected differently through the experience of different cultures using different vocabularies.

I understand your post as a profound expression of personal belief, but sometimes such statements can be overinterpreted as intended for everyone - and that could easily open up a whole can of worms, leaving us arguing over which mythology - Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, etc. - is "correct."

And then there are logistical problems with any literal interpretation.

I grew up in a church that took the Levitical laws very seriously, and as young as four years old was prohibited from letting any food or water pass my lips from sunset to sunset on the Day of Atonement (I'll admit I'm still at a loss as to how eating food on that day, or eating shellfish or pork at any time, makes me responsible for the death of Jesus).

Those practical considerations are part of the problem with trying to apply the Levitical code in a different time and culture than originally intended.

Then again, Native Americans might favor the practice of the Jubilee, for that would mean we'd be returning the whole country to them!

That provides a clue to the limited application of these laws. We know they weren't intended to apply universally, for even though they are said to have been delivered by the Lord to Moses on Mt. Sinai, they weren't to be practiced until the time "When you come into the land which I give you" (Lev. 25:2) which, if we accept the historical accuracy of the scriptures, doesn't happen for the better part of a century after they were delivered

(following biblical chronology it was another 38 years before the people of Israel entered Canaan, and anywhere from several decades to a couple centuries after that till the Israelites were established in the land).

All rabbinical authorities and Hebrew scholars agree that if these were universally in force at the time the Israelites crossed into Canaan, they would have had to return the land to the Canaanites 50 years after they completed their conquest (and, in historical times, we find the Jubilee year is no longer enforced after the Babylonian captivity at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, as it's only to be applied when the people of Israel control all of Canaan; the intention behind the Jubilee year seems to have been to preserve the original tribal boundaries in Israel, and didn't extend beyond those).

I like the metaphor of the Jubilee year, which denies the existence of private ownership of land (in Israel, the land belonged to God), but I am glad we don't literally practice it. All economic exchange would come to a halt the last three or four years before the Jubilee; who would buy a farm - or a store, or a car - if we knew we had to give it back in a few years?

According to the Jubilee chapter (Leviticus 25), every seven years the whole country is commanded to leave all agricultural land fallow, on the promise that the harvest in every sixth year of the cycle will miraculously be three times what it usually is, allowing the nation to survive. Though the current administration seems to favor faith-based economic policy, obviously such literal enforcement would be disasterous in the United States

... but this does provide a practical model most farmers follow, rotating crops and leaving some section of their total acreage unplanted every year, allowing the land to rest and restore itself.

If that's what is meant by "we should take Leviticus more seriously," you make a powerful point.

On the other hand, the bold assertion that "Jesus came to confirm the old laws" can certainly be challenged - and indeed is, by the Apostle Paul, when, in I Corinthinans 10:23-33, he announces that some of the old laws of Leviticus no longer apply

... which is why we shy away from literalist interpretations here, for even among those who embrace the Judeo-Christian tradition such discussions often degenerate into a series of scripture-quoting sorties as individuals argue over why their particular reading is the way it actually happened.

With that caveat in mind, the following is my own impression of the season. Though I do reference what we know of the observance of Easter, both before and after the time of Christ, the insights and inspirations are my own - conclusions that need not be accepted by anyone else. If I use the pronoun "we" and it rings true in anyone else's experience, great - but it's a rhetorical device, not a command.


Easter Sunrise speaks to me of renewal, transformation, and the unity of the human imagination.

This is apparent in the dead of winter giving way to the birth of new life and new vegetation in the spring, echoed in the theme of the Dead-and-Resurrected God in His many expressions. Whether Dmuzi in Sumer, Osiris in Egypt, Attis, Adonis, or Diarmuid in Ireland (all slain by a boar), Jesus in Palestine, or the Green Man in Europe, the motif of death, resurrection, and transformation rings loud and clear.

The many localized expressions of this figure, from Mesopotamia to Mesoamerica, arise out of the common mythological stock of humankind. That doesn't need mean that one mythological tradition necessarily borrows consciously from another, anymore than my neighbor's dream last night of showing up at work in his pajamas is borrowed from my dream the night before, where I stood naked at a chalkboard in the front of a classroom.

Motifs recur in dream and myth because the circumstances we experience recur - and no circumstances are more universal to the human condition than our encounter with death, and our experience of death giving way to new life in the spring.

Of course, that doesn't mean that one myth doesn't bump up against another, especially in the close proximity of the Near East:
It is highly significant that the later festival of the Passover which, as we have seen, was first celebrated in 621 B.C. in commemoration of the Exodus, occurs on the date of the annual resurrection of Adonis, which in the Christian cult became Easter. In both the pagan cult and the Christian, the resurrection is of a god ...

But, as our whole survey of the prehistory of the Aegean has shown, the goddess Aphrodite and her son are exactly the great cosmic mother and her son, the ever dying, ever living god ... that willing victim in whose death is our life, whose flesh is our meat and blood our drink ...

Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology, p. 138, p. 235
Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ the same day as that of those traditional pagan lunar gods: the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.

Etymologically, "Easter" is derived from the goddess Eostre (first noted by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century) who is celebrated in this season, as have been many other incarnations of the goddess connected to the dead-and-resurrected god, including Inanna (linked to Dmuzi) and later Ishtar (Tammuz) in Mesopotamia, Astarte (Baal) in Syria and Canaan, Cybele (Attis) in Phrygia, Aphrodite (Adonis) in Crete and Greece.

The celebration of Easter and the death-and resurrection of Jesus certainly resonates with this pattern:
It is clear that, whether accurate or not as to biographical detail, the moving legend of the Crucified and Risen Christ was fit to bring a new warmth, immediacy, and humanity to the old motifs of the beloved Tammuz, Adonis, and Osiris cycles.

Campbell, Occidental Mythology, p. 362

But apart from these ancient myths, I experience new life inside and out - in the bees and blossoms, the new leaves and birds in the trees, the foals and colts and lambs in the field, in the smile on my face, the spring in my step, and the stirrings in my soul.

That is when I know the truth of the words "He is Risen."

Metaphorically Yours,
Last edited by bodhibliss on Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Joemac » Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:16 am


Your account of the mythological and symbolic transition from pagan to Christian feast could not have been presented more eloquently. Not ever in the record history of humanity has a falsely convicted criminal become the center point of the predominant power on Earth; Rome, Europe, and now the United States.
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Post by Evinnra » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:15 am

:P Nice to see you posting again Steve.

What Easter means to me? To me, Easter is the time when a renewal of faith in the providence of the One is confirmed. Last night I dreamed about wading through clear water and later I was holding little babies in my arm. I was lost at first in a building but by following a water stream I managed to find my way out.

Best Blessings, Cheers, Happy Easter to you All,
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
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Post by noman » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:22 am

I hope you don’t mind a little criticism on your preach post Steve C.. I know I always like it when I get a response of any kind. (And their usually negative.)
We have been doing a terrible job in how we conceptualize and manage money. In modern times, the four horsemen of the apocalypse can be thought of as George Washington, Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin and Robert Morris. They set down the cornerstone for the society we live in, and each one in his own way rejected Jesus Christ, even if they acknowledged his existence. Each was a reformer, ambitious, hard-working and concerned with the future. They undoubtedly believed themselves to be righteous, but they forgot a key instruction: love your enemy. And secondarily, don’t be so concerned with wealth in this world.

- Steve C.
This paragraph begins and ends with a concern for money management. But you use a metaphor of four apocalyptic horsemen. Traditionally the four horsemen were war, conquest, pestilence, and death. However instrumental these men were in the war of American independence, war of 1812, the cultivation of tobacco, the slave trade, or disease in the colonies, they hardly seem like key players and I don’t see why they should be singled out. And if they rejected Jesus Christ they were certainly not alone among the founding fathers – or among the intellectuals of Europe at the time. Deism and atheism was in style for the educated class.
And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

* * * * * * *

When philosophic reason is clear and certain by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supersede it.

-- John Adams, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

* * * * * * *

As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?

-- John Adams, letter to FA Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816

* * * * * * *

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect.

- [James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1,1774, as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 37]
As far as leadership goes, the lament of a decline in religion is misguided, as the G.W. Bush administration has implemented a “Department of Community and Faith-Based initiative” as a way for the Government and Government taxes to pro-actively support the churches.

- NoMan
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Post by nandu » Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:58 am

Death and rebirth... the staple of all myths.

The seed goes into the ground and comes back as the tree, same as Persephone. So does Mahabali, the Asura king of Kerala, as he comes back every year for the festival of Onam. According to Campbell, this is the myth of the primitive planters.

Easter also holds the grain of a deeper myth: the Hero who must be crucified and wear the crown of thorns before he can be buried and reborn. The cross is there, but it takes courage if one is to mount it - but mount it one must. The way of the cross is the way of enlightenment.

That is what Easter means for me.

Welcome back, Steve. Wondered where you had disappeared to.

I don't post that much nowadays... I've discovered my bliss and the need for conversation has disappeared. However, I'll look in once a while.

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Post by SteveC » Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:13 pm

Hi All,

thanks for responding. I have reposted this essay with some significant changes, which I hope makes more clear what I am trying to express.

In general, I look at the Bible as three things:
1. Description
2. Instruction
3. Prediction

These three elements are not always easy to separate, and most confusion and error is the result of not putting these things into their proper category. For example, even my essay has elements of description, instruction and prediction. I think the Bible is written in very much the same fashion, it is an attempt of men to tell a story of the wisdom they have discovered. Nowhere does God say that Scripture is "literal" or that every example is something we should emulate. Rather, He and the prophets are quite consistent on the "instructions" regarding love of one another and sharing the bounty of the Earth.

There are lots of similarities between the story of Christ and other "myths." We really have no way of knowing if the "myths" are true or not, but we do know our world, and the world in myth is not so different. There is no reason to limit God's presence on Earth to a single society, imo, but that doesn't mean that somehow Jesus is not the best unification of all these events, either. For example, Muhammed was right about Interest, but as a merchant he was selling for profit, whereas I am suggesting a problem with both. But once you make the assumption that we are not alone, it is also necessary to give the Devil his due. He tries to confuse people and corrupt the good. What better way to do that than to confuse the historical records and have nuances lost through language over time? Even if it isn't the Devil consciously, the atrophy could be enough. Just as skills and languages are lost between generations, so too could wisdom be easily lost. The habits of pride, fear and greed are not easily overcome individually, much less collectively.

I also want to explain why I pointed out Washington, Paine, Franklin and Morris.

Washington, of course, was the warrior who wanted to be King. He got his wish, and created a system where everybody would get the same "chance" he got. This, of course, presumes that we need a king of some sort to rule over us.

Paine provided the historical interpretation to delegitimize the king. While I agree with much of what Paine analyzed, I think the King was a scapegoat. The problems were not caused by the King, but by the people and their habit of money.

Franklin was the driving force for the creation of paper money, which he discussed when he was 23 in 1726. The Constitution gave him a chance to try his experiment, but I think he may have been wiser at 23 than when he got older and was grandfatherly leading the young radicals. Paper money has solved one problem and created many others in its place.

Robert Morris was the Donald Trump of his times. He was the financier of the revolution, the first superintendent of finance, a merchant, wealthy, and at one point Morris Notes were better accepted than Continentals. More than anyone else, he is the architect of the modern world. Hamilton came after Morris as the lead "money man." Morris eventually went bankrupt. (Morris is a fascinating and important story. My study of 9/11 led me to find him.)

The time of the American Revolution was a lot like today: The government was broke, the people were broke, the businesses were broke. The violent (Bush, Osama, whoever the "founding father" is of every country) thought they had a better system, but the differences between a constitutional monarch and a constitutional presidency are slim. As mentioned, a central government, a central bank and a standing army MUST have the same mathematical results. Communism, Islamism, etc, are all based on this same structure. What matters is how we use the money, not what it is made of, or whose picture is on it.

I will state simply that there is practically nothing in this world that I agree with, including what I must do to survive. There is little in the past or the present that needs to be preserved. I am thinking about changes on a very grand scale, essentially to have the effects of a war without the war. ie, starting over. I am not "defending" religion, the church, or anyone, except maybe Jesus and the truth, or God and the prophets, as I understand them.

Profit and Interest are the same thing mathematically, even though technically one is the profit on goods and the other is the profit on money. Both create inflation, lead to the next generation being victimized, and pretty much screw up the working of everything. Nature does not use money. One robin does not claim the ownership of the berries on a bush. One robin does not tax another robin for a share of his berries.

Money is created by the government. They own the only chicken, yet they collect taxes in eggs. The system we use could not be more stupid, and it has been this way for thousands of years.

In nature, nobody "owns" anything. More interestingly, nobody "works," but everybody can consume. Nature is a perfect balance, and certainly some native populations were much wiser than the Europeans with their myopic visions of colored dirt. We need to become the masters of the numbers, rather than slaves to them.

We are part of nature. I do not hold nature above us, since what they do they do without consciousness. But if we can be like nature, and do so consciously, then I think we shall find a bliss that has always been God's gift to us. Why look to the unconscious for fulfillment, when we can find it in the eyes of one another?

A world of virtuous people can only be accomplished if people know the difference between virtue and error. Money plays a central role.
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.

The radical myth towards which the helix aspires is beyond the desire for money or power, yet which has greater returns than all the power and money in the world could not achieve.
Robert G.
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Post by Robert G. » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:36 am

Steve C., first I have to agree with Evinnra, it's great to see a post from you again. I think you are exactly right, the movement of the heart towards Jesus on the cross is exactly what we should (?) be fostering as the true meaning of Easter. Campbell said that Abelard's interpretation of the crucifixtion was the most sophisticated one he knew, and that revolved around the movement towards the sufferer as awakening the humanity in our own hearts. I have to say I agree. This is the awakening of compassion (or passion?) in the heart without which we are simply human animals.
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Post by SteveC » Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:24 pm

Robert G. wrote:Steve C., first I have to agree with Evinnra, it's great to see a post from you again. I think you are exactly right, the movement of the heart towards Jesus on the cross is exactly what we should (?) be fostering as the true meaning of Easter. Campbell said that Abelard's interpretation of the crucifixtion was the most sophisticated one he knew, and that revolved around the movement towards the sufferer as awakening the humanity in our own hearts. I have to say I agree. This is the awakening of compassion (or passion?) in the heart without which we are simply human animals.
It's funny you should mention that. I heard a horrific sermon on Easter Sunday, but parts of it were quite good. The part that was good was in regard to how the high priests sent a soldier to guard a corpse. He said it was a singular event, but I think it happens whenever soldiers "secure" an area after a bomb goes off in Iraq. Fear and pride plays mind tricks. Anyway, while the first part of the sermon was good, the second part was horrific, since it was about how somebody said to him "have a happy holiday" instead of "Happy Easter." He took offense, called it "politically pagan" and basically berated the clerk for being kind. He made no mention of if he said "Happy Easter" to her, and I suspect he didn't. It was your typical self-righteous Catholic sermon, and it was delivered by a young deacon.

Anyway, this experience has been rattling through my head, as to how this dedicated young man could make so many errors, and I came back to the crucifix again. Catholics have this fixation on the crucifix, and about the suffering of Jesus, but it is very much a paradigm of the gnats and the camels. The church makes a big hullabaloo about abortion, but is silent on war. In fact, it graduates more soldiers than it does priests, and has long been led astray by St Augustine's "just war" theories. But why does the Church make so many errors?

And so the answer I came up with is that the church focuses more on what happened to Christ (the crucifixion) than what he said. And, they focus more on what happened to Christ (the crucifixion) than the way of thinking of those who acted against him. In other word's, they play the "victim by association" card, and the "I am good by association" card. The High Priests were very much like the young deacon who "feels" affronted when people say the "wrong" thing to them.

To take myself more clear: for many years people waited for the Messiah. Finally He comes. But rather than listening to what he says and following Him, instead they focus on what happened to Him and await His return. What was the point of His coming if we are back to waiting again? That doesn't make sense. We have received a gift, but we are too afraid to open it, and instead wait for another one. It makes no sense. Rather than being grateful for what we have, we are worried about what we don't have. This discontent and illogic is a yeast that has worked its way through the entire bread.

So while Jesus on the cross is a great image of what man can do to the innocent lamb, and it fits in well with the historical record that God gave his son, just as he took the first-born of the Egyptians and the Pharaoh took the sons who would be Moses, and the testing of Abraham to give his son, the issue is about respecting God's grace and wisdom and power, which we must do with one another as equals under God. We want to know the Jesus who walks and talks, not the corpse that we can project all kinds of our own self-righteousness upon. With the exception of miracles, Jesus didn't do anything that anybody can't do themselves. He was literally human, but what made Jesus human was the way He thinks, not what he did or what happened to him.

Jesus is the best example of why we need not fear poverty or death, and it is really that wisdom (with the miracles) that makes him a Messiah, rather than a prophet. Where Moses freed the slaves, Jesus freed the slave-masters. Of course some slave-masters killed Him, just as the South wanted to retain slavery, nations want to retain colonies, owners fight unions, etc. Similarly, "The Church" sees itself as a master, and not as an equal with the flock. Democrats think themselves as superior to republicans, etc. The will to power, and the ambition of the slave-master, is (still) everywhere. To be equal you must bring yourself down and raise others up, like winter and spring, the crucifixion and the resurrection can't be separated. You cannot have forgiveness without an awareness of sin. You cannot give mercy without the presence of the merciless.

People who feel themselves "put upon" want justice, but Jesus is giving them the exact opposite. He is teaching them mercy, which is why he last words on the cross are merciful. He never wants justice, even after He has been stripped naked and paraded through the streets and crucified. He doesn't want to punish anyone for what they said or did, He just wants them to "get it."

So what was Abelard's interpretation of the crucifixion?
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.

The radical myth towards which the helix aspires is beyond the desire for money or power, yet which has greater returns than all the power and money in the world could not achieve.
Robert G.
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:48 pm

Post by Robert G. » Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:05 am

Abelard's interpretation was that by subjecting hinself to such horrific suffering Jesus evoked a sense of compassion in the human heart, which is the birth of the human from the human animal. It is in compassion with our fellow sufferers that we awaken to our spiritual potential. Of course, what we do then is up to us.

One thing that your post reminded me of is that Jesus' suffering is ongoing. There are children in unbearable circumstances even in the small town in which I live. There are people suffering incredible injustices within a few miles of me. What is going to be my response? I think that is a question that Easter begs us to ponder, even if there is no final answer. I think that the answer is that a human response, compassionate and loving, is the only way out of the cycle of hatred and despair that such behavior sets off.