William Edelen Blog – The Contrary Minister

William Edelen: Sacred Humanism

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

That brilliant Renaissance man, Carl Jung, said of his Lutheran pastor father: “My father’s bible stood as a great wall between my father and the Living Present God”… What he is saying is this: organized, dogmatic, creedal and authoritarian Christianity has only one primary objective: to sustain, promote and maintain the institution. Individual spiritual growth and maturation become impossible within such an artificial construct.

The bigger the institution, the more stagnation in mediocrity, the more unavoidable is its blind stupidity, and very often immorality. To raise an individual out of this mindless mass and make clear to him/her that they are the one primary factor, and not the institution, becomes impossible.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Free of the Biblical God

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister

Blessed are the Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Mystics, Humanists, Free Thinkers, Taoist, Buddhist and all others who do not have an archaic, primitive God in their mind/brains.

Blessed are they for they do not believe that a God is on their side.

Blessed are they for they do not participate in holy wars, Jihads or Crusades.

Blessed are they for they would never be martyrs for the “Glory of God.”

Blessed are they for they do not condemn others as heretics or infidels.

Blessed are they for they do not conduct inquisitions nor slaughter millions of women as “witches.”

Blessed are they who do not participate in sectarian violence, nor harass little Catholic school girls walking through their neighborhood.

Blessed are they who do not twist biblical words to condemn homosexuality as a sin, nor to condemn a woman’s right to choose.

Blessed are they who would never say that a terrorist act is God’s punishment against those who do not believe or think as they do.

Blessed are they who know that the only hell that exists is right here on earth created by man. And that it is in man’s hands alone to create a heaven here on earth through intelligence, empathy and love.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Cults and Real Religion

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (2008)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

Psycho-ceramic (crack pot) ideas sometimes spew out of politicians so fast it is almost impossible to keep up with them. The “faith-based” circus that totally destroys the line between church and state must be one of the most insane. Some of the TV evangelists have screamed “You can’t give money to cults… but only to real religion… like us…”

Many have asked me the question: “What is a cult… and how can you tell the difference between a cult and a real religion?” Hey… easy question.

A Cult: Believes in heavenly signs such as comets and gateways to heaven and other mentally deranged ideas.

A Real Religion: Believes in heavenly signs such as stars in the East at their leaders birth and the “Sun standing still” for an entire day. (Joshua 10:12) and other mentally deranged ideas.

A Cult: Believes they have found the truth while all others are deceived.

A Real Religion: Believes they have found the truth while all others are deceived. “Salvation is only through Jesus.”

A Cult: The leader says, “Believe me and you will go to heaven.”

A Real Religion: The leader says, “Believe me and you will go to heaven. Don’t believe me and you will go to someplace called hell.”

WILLIAM EDELEN: 2000 Years of Disbelief

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

I ask this question raised by Carl Jung: “Why are so many millions of people willing and eager to turn their lives over to outside authorities?” Why are so many today willing to turn their mind/brain… soul/spirit over to outside individuals, institutions and ideologies, whether it be Jewish, Muslim or Christian “authorities” of dogma? Or whatever the outside authority might be that is telling you what to think, what to believe and how to live your life.

I ask then, how do we withdraw from such a childish dependency if we want to reclaim our mind/brain and our very own life? I answer this by saying that first you must begin by taking a long, hard critical look at all so called religious authorities wanting to control your life, and be willing to accept the risk that goes with such courage and independence.

Our first six presidents had the courage to do that. American history scholars, writing for the Encyclopedia Britannica, have stated that our first six presidents were Deists and not Christian. I quote: “One of the most embarrassing problems for the nineteenth-century champions of the Christian faith was the fact that not one of the first six presidents of the United States was a Christian. They were Deists.” (1968, vol 2 p. 420, Mortimer J. Adler, editor in chief. The Annals of America: Great issues in American Life: A Conspectus).

Thomas Jefferson used these words to express his view: “On the dogmas of religion, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.” (Jefferson to Carey in 1816, ms 1V).

William Edelen: Reflections On My Own Death

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

At age 92 and facing reality and natures laws, I know that my days are now “dwindling down to a precious few.” (September Song). I write my reflections on this subject as an essay as my gift to you. In all my years as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches, and my own unique Sunday Symposiums from Santa Rosa, CA to Palm Springs, CA, the one question that has been asked me THOUSANDS of times is… “BILL, WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ABOUT DEATH… AND BEYOND… WHAT DO YOU THINK REALLY HAPPENS?”

Many Christian churches have promoted and thrived on a FEAR of death and dying and the JUDGEMENT that goes with it from a “hit man” anthropomorphic “God”. The biblical St. Paul writes, “The last ENEMY that shall be overcome is death.” In Buddhism, Zen and Taoism, they laugh at this absurdity and stupidity of DEATH as an ENEMY. How could anything as NATURAL as death be an enemy? EVERY living organism dies. It is a natural and beautiful part of birth and life. I totally agree, and as a former lecturer in Eastern thought on this subject find the archaic “fear” and “judgment” preached by many Christian pastors illiterate, insulting, degrading, cruel and outrageous.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Sacred Humanism

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

That brilliant Renaissance man, Carl Jung, said of his Lutheran pastor father: “My father’s bible stood as a great wall between my father and the Living Present God”… What he is saying is this: organized, dogmatic, creedal and authoritarian Christianity has only one primary objective: to sustain, promote and maintain the institution. Individual spiritual growth and maturation become impossible within such an artificial construct.

The bigger the institution, the more stagnation in mediocrity, the more unavoidable is its blind stupidity, and very often immorality. To raise an individual out of this mindless mass and make clear to him/her that they are the one primary factor, and not the institution, becomes impossible.

William Edelen: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

For years I have had a mystical, “kindred spirit”, friendship with a man whom I never met. Over the years I have read everything about him, and many things by him, and my admiration grew year by year.

He died a week ago, a Thursday morning at age 87 in Mexico City. (I am writing this on a Thursday morning.) He was the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982. Critics have called him the Master of the opening paragraph of an essay or book. He said that in the opening paragraph you either lose your reader or capture him.

In his greatest work “One Hundred Years of Solitude” his opening paragraph hit him when he was several hours out of town on a trip with his wife, Mercedes. He stopped the car, whirled around and headed back to his study in Mexico City to re-write the opening paragraph about ice.

I have tried to remember that in every essay I have written.

Marquez was a beloved Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Courage and Controversy

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

I have received letters by the hundreds over the past 30 years saying, “I want to congratulate you on your courage, writing as you do. How I admire your courage” and so forth.

Now my question: Why should it be considered “courageous” to write the materials in my columns that can be found in any history book in any library in this country?

Why is it “courageous” for me to write material that is accepted, and taught in the departments of religion in every major university in this country, or the world for that matter?

For instance, I write: “Our founding Fathers, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Franklin, Washington, Paine, were all Deists, classical humanists, who did not believe that Jesus was divine, and they did not believe that the bible was anything other than “literature,” and they did believe that the Christian church was a giant tyranny.” People write me and say “what courage to write like that.”

Well, what I have written can be found in the writings of the founding fathers themselves. It is hardly “courageous” to write facts and truth that are obvious and available in historical records.

Or, I write, “The virgin birth stories about Jesus are mythology, and virgin birth has been a universal theme in all religious traditions.”

WILLIAM EDELEN: Myth Plus Ritual Equals Religion

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

Practically all of our rituals in 20th century American cathedrals had their origins in primitive superstitions, and yet, today, we still practice them. Ritualistic behavioral patterns that are so basic they are still being practiced in churches, with the congregations totally unaware of what they are doing. Our rituals are saturated with primal superstitions and are only a vestige of an origin going back hundreds of thousands of years. Some examples:

EATING AND DRINKING “THE SACRED MEAL.” RITUALISTIC CANNABILISM.

Dr. Paul Dumont, professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington writes: “The purpose is to take on the qualities of the person you eat and by eating the God you acquired the powers of the God.” Vestiges of this are obviously found in the Protestant and Catholic communion rituals. The traditional invitation by the presiding clergy is this: “take, eat, this is my body. This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Obviously cannibalistic even if it is symbolic cannibalism.

“TABOO” NOT TOUCHING, NOT EATING, NOT DOING CERTAIN THINGS. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE BIBLE ARE A CULTIC CODE OF TABOO’S WRITTEN BY MEN, FOR MEN… as the actress Ruth Gordon put it, “One commandment I have never broken. I have never coveted my neighbor’s wife.”

IMITATIVE OR SYMPATHETIC MAGIC. Voodoo dolls or the Cro-Magnon caves are examples. It is the principle of like influences like. The law of sympathy. This includes the sacrifice of a human or an animal. “Jesus died for your sins” etc… on behalf of the community.

WILLIAM EDELEN: President’s Day

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (2004)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

I cannot tell you how much I look forward to this annual event. Once a year it gives me an opportunity to relieve the ignorance and illiteracy of the general public on our first six founding presidents… who were not even remotely Christian, but humanists and deists.

When I used to do this show out of KGO in San Francisco… the switchboard would light up like a Christmas tree, with callers saying, “I have never heard that in school: Why are teachers to afraid to teach those facts… that are in their actual quotes?” Our omission and censorship of these historical facts to school children, and with the media to adults, is insulting and an embarrassment to any historically educated adult who knows the truth.

I have one bust in my study. It is of Jefferson. On the base are these words of his: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” He uses the word “God” as a Deist, not as a Christian. A vast difference. He made this scathing statement aimed at the tyranny of the Christian Church. In a letter dated August 22, 1800, Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote Jefferson that “Republicanism should ally itself to the Christian religion in order to overturn all of the corrupted religions of the world.” Jefferson was appalled. He responded with his now famous “every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” including the tyranny of the Christian church.

Jefferson and John Adams, with James Madison, had almost a total contempt for Christian doctrine, dogma and superstitions.

William Edelen: James Madison on Christianity…

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (2002)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

“During almost 15 centuries, the legal establishment of Christianity has been on trial. What have been the fruits? These are the fruits, more or less, in all places: pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity and in both clergy and laity superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, presented this opinion on Christianity to the General Assembly of Virginia in 1785. Madison, our fourth president, continues: “What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.”

In Virginia, the Episcopal Church was established. In 1744 Christians of all other sects were being arrested and persecuted. Madison addressed that septic situation in these words: “That diabolical, hell conceived, principle of persecution rages, and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such a business.”

WILLIAM EDELEN: The Truth of Nature

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

“Men and books lie… only nature never lies.” Thomas Paine

“Nature is always TRUE. Only in nature can TRUTH be found.” Goethe

Over a hundred years ago Kierkegaard observed that maturity consists in the discovery that “there comes a critical moment where everything is reversed, after which the point becomes to understand more and more that there is something which cannot ever be understood.” The “critical moment” is to realize that so called “human wisdom” pales before the wisdom of nature.

In fact, Loren Eiseley, the distinguished Anthropologist and Chair of the Philosophy of Science Dept, the University of Pennsylvania writes that, “There is no such thing as wisdom.” The only “wisdom” can be found in nature where the spiritual and the material are ONE.

There is a belief held by many that I have always found to be especially pitiable. It is the idea that only man (Homo sapiens) is special, sacred and made in the image of God. Many want to differentiate between the supernatural and the natural, the sacred and the profane. But if the creation is the work of an omnipotent mystery

WILLIAM EDELEN: The Bible and Scholars

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (2008)
The Contrary Minister

Scholars with pre-eminent credentials all agree that the Old Testament is far, far removed from facts or history.

Dr. James Bennet Pritchard has been recognized internationally as one of the most distinguished biblical scholars and archaeologists in the world. He was Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the curator of the Near Eastern section of the museum at the same university, biblical archaeological advisor to National Geographic magazine, as well as to the British Broadcasting System and Time-Life Books. Authentic biblical scholars of this caliber are rare indeed. In the professions of religious and biblical studies (I use the word loosely) are more phonies, quacks and charlatans than any other known to me.

I heard him speak several years ago when he was the President of the Archaeological Institute of America. I have copies of his lecture in my files so that I have no need to rely only on my memory.

“It is no longer possible,” he said, “to read the bible as our parents and grandparents did. Far too many discoveries have been made, using dating methods that are the most sophisticated known. Six discoveries are crucial.” It would take ten full columns to document why they know each to be true. They are:

WILLIAM EDELEN: Cults and Real Religion

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (2008)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

Psycho-ceramic (crack pot) ideas sometimes spew out of politicians so fast it is almost impossible to keep up with them. The “faith-based” circus that totally destroys the line between church and state must be one of the most insane. Some of the TV evangelists have screamed “You can’t give money to cults… but only to real religion… like us…”

Many have asked me the question: “What is a cult… and how can you tell the difference between a cult and a real religion?” Hey… easy question.

A Cult: Believes in heavenly signs such as comets and gateways to heaven and other mentally deranged ideas.

A Real Religion: Believes in heavenly signs such as stars in the East at their leaders birth and the “Sun standing still” for an entire day. (Joshua 10:12) and other mentally deranged ideas.

A Cult: Believes they have found the truth while all others are deceived.

A Real Religion: Believes they have found the truth while all others are deceived. “Salvation is only through Jesus.”

A Cult: The leader says, “Believe me and you will go to heaven.”

A Real Religion: The leader says, “Believe me and you will go to heaven. Don’t believe me and you will go to someplace called hell.”

A Cult: Has leaders, mostly men, often wearing fancy robes and promising you salvation and heaven if you will give them your money and property.

A Real Religion: Has leaders, mostly men, often wearing fancy robes and promising you salvation and heaven if you will give them your money and property.

WILLIAM EDELEN: The Torpid Endless Mass

 

Pilgrims crowd Copacabana beach as Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass of World Youth Day July 28 in Rio de Janeiro. During the service the pope commissioned an estimated 3 million people in attendance to become missionaries without borders. (CNS photo/Paulo Whitaker, Reuters) (July 28, 2013) See WYD-MASS July 28, 2013.

From WILLIAM EDELEN (2002)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

The question for today is at the heart of the problem we face as a nation… It is Carl Jung’s question: “Why are so many millions willing and eager to turn their lives over to outside authorities?”

Why are so many today, without thinking, willing to turn their mind/brain… soul/spirit… over to outside individuals, institutions, authorities and ideologies? Whether it be to Osma bin Laden or whether it be to Christian, Muslim and Jewish authorities of dogma, or whether it be to Republican or Democratic dogma… or whatever the outside authority or institution might be that is telling you what to think, what to believe and how to live your life?

Carl Jung put it this way in his essays: “It is a delusion when the Christian churches try to rope the individual into some sort of social organization and reduce him or her to a condition of diminished responsibility, instead of raising him or her out of the torpid endless mass and making it clear that he, or she, is the one important factor. Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man or woman who is as well organized in his/her individuality as the mass itself.”

William Edelen: Joseph Campbell — Metaphor and Religious Mystery

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

Bill Moyers had two interviews with Joseph Campbell for his national television program, Bill Moyers Journal. In his introduction Moyers said “Joseph Campbell is one of the world’s foremost scholars of mythology.” Anyone having an interest in becoming religiously educated and enlightened will be helped by insights from these interviews.

Campbell brings out, of course, that mythological themes or motifs such as flood, virgin birth, resurrected hero, “heaven” concepts, a sacred meal (or ritualistic cannibalism) have a world-wide distribution and are everywhere. They are organized and ritualized according to local needs. In the Moyers’ interviews, Campbell said, “When people try to interpret a spiritual symbol (in mythology) as though it referred to a concrete fact, you have lost the message.”

Moyers: “Give me an example.”

Campbell: “Well, the image of the virgin birth is perfect for an example. This is a motif that occurs in all the mythologies of the world. There are virgin births all over the place in all religions. ‘Virgin birth’ is symbolic of the birth of the spiritual life, and so with resurrection themes or motifs. Misunderstanding consists in reading spiritual mythological symbols as though they were references to historical, factual events.”

Other observations by Campbell in the interviews include the following: “The ‘hero’ in mythology is always the founder of something, a new religion, a new age, a new way of life. The ‘hero’ founders of all religions usually go on their vision quest. The Buddha went into solitude and sat beneath the tree of Immortal Knowledge; Jesus goes off into the desert for 40 days; Zoroaster goes off into the desert, and so it goes.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Homo Storialus

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

Biologists may classify us as Homo sapiens, “The Wise One,” but I would call us Homo storialus, the animal who tells stories. We tell them through folklore, legend and myth. We then act them out in ritual. It is safe to say that stories plus ritual equal religion. Stories are the threads by which we weave the tapestry of our culture, our religions and traditions.

The literalistic skeptic says: “I don’t want legends. I want facts.” He does not understand the observation made by D. H. Lawrence that there are two kinds of truth, a truth of truth and a truth of facts. A truth of facts has to do with dates, names and places and so forth. But a truth of truth is revealed through legend, myth, folklore and fairytales and has to do with the inner world of the imagination and emotions. They reveal the inner shape and contour of our minds, our longings and needs, our spirits.

We are now entering a beautiful, lovely period of folklore, legend, fantasy and myth.

“We Three Kings of Orient Are” is a perfect example. A beautiful carol, but no one has any idea how many wise men there were. There could have been two or fifty. And they were not Kings and they did not come from as far away as the Orient. They were magicians and came from no further away than Persia. The magicians were not Hebrew and would have been considered pagans. At any rate, through folklore, they and their three camels are with us every Christmas.

WILLIAM EDELEN: The Horror of Biblical “Gods”

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (2002)
The Contrary Minister

From time to time, as all writers do, I receive anonymous letters. In a number of such letters I have been asked: “Why don’t you quote God, instead of men?”

That always reminds me of a great cartoon in The New Yorker magazine a number of years ago. A minister is standing, robed, in his pulpit with waving arms and he is saying “and now, reading from the Bible, God says… and I quote of course.”

To deal with this question, I thought that a little multiple choice survey might help.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Mornings with Heraclitus

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

I have a regular morning ritual that starts my days with great Joy… it is a habit that I cherish. Sitting in front of my wood burning fire, with my pre dawn coffee, I read pages of Heraclitus, or other great literatuare. It starts my day on a noble plane. I would not wilt the freshest part of the day with the littleness and banalities of morning television and news.

The wood in my fireplace is REAL wood, not the gas fed artificial wood, real wood from a stack in my backyard where a friend brings in several a day and puts them by my living room fireplace. Growing up in West Texas, with real wood, for real fires, there could be no other kind for me.

In front of the fireplace is a hooked rug of Indian design with a sun burst. My two four legged soul mates adore curling up on it, two Shih-Tzu’s, and with me in my chair experience this magic time of the day. I live alone and this is a very precious time where silence and peace, tranquility and vision become present and clear.

WILLIAM EDELEN: No Violence… No Dualism… No Absolutes…

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister (2002)
[Repost]

When asked “What am I?” I always answer by saying I think of myself as being within the historical stream of Mysticism where there is no violence, no dualism and no absolutes.

No Violence: The vast majority of all the religious violence of the last 2,000 years has come from the “believers” of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam… the people of the “book,” the bible. Carl Sagan called the burning of the library in Alexandria by Christians in 391 one of the most obscene atrocities in the history of our species, Homo sapiens. Had there been a world view and philosophy of mysticism there would have been no burning of the library, but a celebration of the wealth of knowledge stored there… nor would there have been the Crusades… the Inquisition… the witch slaughtering… nor would there be a Northern Ireland nightmare… nor would there be a West Bank or Gaza strip killing field… Such violence would be unthinkable and obscene to anyone living within the world view of mysticism.

No Dualism: We must rid ourselves of the dualism that infects so much of our orthodox religious views of the earth and the universe. Dualism constantly separates man and woman from the sacred… nature from man… and spirit from matter. Several  years ago the giant Zen Master, D. T. Suzuki, was lecturing at Stanford University. He opened his address by stepping up to the front of the stage, leaning toward the audience, and saying, “Man against God… God against Man… man against nature… nature against man… God against nature… nature against God… a very, very funny religion.”

Celebrate the Life of Bill Edelen…

 
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WILLIAM EDELEN: To Live With Wonder

 
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From WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

If we are fortunate, at some point before we die, we can discover WONDER. For we who have become so preoccupied with gaining and spending, with winning and losing, have lost sight of the miracles around us. Wonder is the capacity of sustained joy and awe. Wonder is a sense of freshness and spontaneity. Every day is a surprise party. Life is a cafeteria of delights, a new flower, a hummingbird hovering, a cucumber cucumbering.

To sense the ultimate in the common and in the rush of the passing, stillness in the eternal is to live with wonder, with “Ah.”

The purpose of religion for thousands of years has been to put human life into direct contact with the life of the cosmos, mountain life, desert life, cloud life, sun life, moon life, water life, rain life, snow life, plant life, animal life, storm life, rock life, and so receive energy, joy, and transformation. That is why the seasons of Solstice and Equinox are so important in the celebrations of so many traditions.

Today, physicists are telling us that their understanding of “reality,” the nature and activity of the universe is bringing us closer and closer to the perspective of the ancient Eastern religions, especially Hinduism and classical Taoism.

We are a part of the cosmic dance, and all is one. Physicists assure us now that rocks and flowers dance with the dance of life. Trees dance to the wind. Salmon and trout and porpoise dance and leap with a ballet of grace and rhythm. Planets dance to beautifully intricate laws, even as do atoms. There is no line between the sacred and the profane, the supernatural and natural, the divine and the human. ALL is natural, ALL is sacred. ALL is divine. It is asked of us even as the carpenter asked in Alice in Wonderland: “Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?” A recently translated Dead Sea Scroll records a disciple asking Jesus, “Master, how can we get into the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus answers, “Follow the birds, the beasts, the fish, and they will lead you in.”

Classical Taoism has been saying that for 3000 and more years. The Old Master of Taoism, Lao Tzu, born about 600 B.C. was immaculately conceived by a shooting star, according to legend. He did not preach or organize any doctrine or theology. He spoke only of our at-oneness with the universe and the harmony that exists between all things. The Tao (pronounced “Dow”) does not refer to a supernatural “god” out there, somewhere.

Do you want to see the Living Tao? Look into a wood burning fire and see the sun’s energy dancing, as captured by photosynthesis. Watch a bird in flight, soaring on the current and never stopping to analyze or explain the wind. Listen to the sound of rain, which needs no translation. Watch a salmon leap up the next set of rapids. Watch a bee gathering pollen. The Tao is the way of ultimate reality. It says, “Get yourself in tune and harmony with the natural rhythms of nature and the universe, and then let yourself flow without strain, tension and anxiety.” It is a perspective and view of life that can be used daily in the busiest office in downtown San Francisco or New York City. It changes the way you approach problems.

In our busy, rushed, calendar-filled world of appointments and meetings and conferences, it can save us from migraine headaches, high blood pressure and stress problems. Whether you are a Christian, Jew or Agnostic, the beautiful themes of Taoism can still become a part of your days and activities. It can enrich your view of the world and enlarge your understanding of reality.

The flow of life is like the flow of water. If you are thrashing and flailing around, you tire and exhaust yourself and drown. If you relax and float and flow with the tide, it carries you gently. So it is with life. It is as was said by a nomadic teacher named Jesus. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin. Consider the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap. Why be anxious?

Living in the flow helps you to re-discover WONDER. The wonder of being alive in a world surrounded by miracles.

Living in the flow, flexible, helps to rediscover wonder. The rigid pine breaks, The willow bends in the strong wind and returns to its original shape.

A life lived in the flow of nature’s rhythms, calm, helps us to experience the beauty of the dance, of life… events… relationships. It is mandatory for living a life filled with the wonder of our days and existence. It is living with WONDER.
~~

William Edelen: Hebrew Mysticism

 

From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

Dr. Stanley Dean, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Miami, and editor of the book Psychiatry and Mysticism writes: “The study of mysticism should be a part of the curriculum of medical schools.” He defines mysticism as “knowledge or awareness that reaches a persons consciousness through channels other than those known to us at present.”

One of the major movements in Judaism today is a return to Hebrew Mysticism. I have chosen the following examples to indicate the strength and direction of this movement. Rabbi David Teutsch, Executive Director of the Federation of Congregations, writes: “We are moving toward a new Judaism. It will have as classical a shape when viewed a thousand years from now as biblical Judaism has now. A new, revitalized Jewish spirituality will emerge.” Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb describes the movement as experiencing “a freedom to take religion and Judaism out of its conventional forms and bring it back to the heart and soul of the earth.” It is a desire to create a new spirituality and physical unity with this planet.

Traditional Jewish services have been turned around and pointed in a new direction. Instead of sitting in orderly pews, facing East toward Jerusalem and reading from standard prayer books, the participants sit in a circle. The rationale is that, since God is within each one of us, it is better to look at your friend when you pray than to imagine an ancient Holy Temple. Liturgy and ritual have been invented and revitalized.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Jews Without God

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

Several years ago I lectured to a sold out auditorium at the University of Southern Colorado on the subject of “Redefining God.” It was about a movement today that is sweeping through Protestant churches all across this country. In this age of quantum physics and breath-taking discoveries in Astronomy, Archaeology and Biological evolution, intelligent and enlightened people are realizing that the archaic Gods of the bible are the most primitive superstitions. And nothing more.

My recent readings have been about a similar movement that is a fast growing phenomenon in Judaism. It is known as Humanistic Judaism.

Rabbi Sherwin Wine said he realized that he was “not being true to himself” in still talking about a biblical God that he no longer believed in. He started the Birmingham Temple outside of Detroit, the world’s first Humanistic congregation, which today has grown to a congregation of over 1000 members. There are now more than 40 Humanistic congregations across the United States with over 30,000 members. There are 12 such international organizations including one in the Jewish homeland of Israel.

Those involved say that humanistic Judaism is the only form that makes sense to rationalist Jews in this age of science and technology.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Congregations with Frontal Lobotomies

 

Christ Church Stellarton
From WILLIAM EDELEN (1984)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

Recently I received a long distance telephone call from an embarrassed member of the hospice group of in a prominent community. The group had invited me to lead a two-day seminar comparing the world’s major religious traditions, emphasizing different views on death and dying, which is what the hospice program is all about. The seminar was to be held in one of the local churches.

An officer of that church decided he had better find out what I was going to say. I told him about the material that I would be presenting. He informed me that the congregation recently allowed a speaker to come in who talked about “astrology” and all of that “occult stuff” and they would not allow any kind of that thing in their church.

Then came the call from the hospice member to tell me that the church officers had decided they did not want a “controversial” speaker coming into their church to talk about all of those “foreign” religions and things. (Someone should inform them that Christianity is a “foreign” religion, and the only Native American religion is that of the North American Indians,)

What a church like that needs is obviously all of the fresh air that it can possibly let in. The fact is, you don’t know what you think until you hear someone who thinks differently. Any church that cuts itself off from such dialogue and from mental and spiritual stimulation becomes smug and stupid and completely incapable of defending its own beliefs, except by dogma.

William Edelen: The Ten Commandments — A Cultic Code of Taboos…


From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

No one has so put the Ten Commandments in perspective better than the famous actress Ruth Gordon, probably without even realizing it. she said to an audience: “There is one commandment I have never broken… I can assure you I have never coveted my neighbor’s wife.”

Perhaps few other parts of the bible have been so misused, misinterpreted, misunderstood as have the Ten Commandments. They were a cultic taboo code written by Hebrew men for Hebrew men. Nothing more and nothing less.

Sir James Frazer in his classic The Golden Bough writes: “These commandments of Israel are taboos of a familiar type in primitive religions disguised as commands of the tribal god.” Dr. Ernest Colwell, former Dean of the Theological Seminary, Chicago University, writes: “These were prescriptions written only for the Hebrew cult. They acquired authority due to their association with the rites of the cult.”

All “thou shalt not kill” meant is that thou shall not kill another Hebrew. The giver of the commandment, Moses, quite obviously totally ignored it with everyone except the Hebrews. And all with the jealous tribal God’s blessing.

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