I Want it Now!

by Surfnetter on August 11, 2012

It is an ironic mystery that even Christians — and I mean the Christian hierarchical intelligentsia — don’t really believe what they teach. If Jesus was God’s One True Human Representation of Himself then the words He spoke were more than human teachings of lofty principles that would require lengthy diatribes by learned clerics in order for the laity to access them. They of a necessity are the very principles themselves. It’s as if in the process of discovering the “God particle” the quantum physicists heard it say, “A sower went forth to sow …”.

Having been blessed (or cursed–depending on my reaction to the particular remembrance) with an enhanced autobiographical memory I can see, hear and feel my childhood friends marvel at my total lack of belief in God. For these beautiful Roman Catholic children of post WW II Levittown filled with love, joy and hope God was real — Jesus loved them and Mary was smiling on them every day.

I would have none of it. I was being loyal to my parents who —  and for the life of me at sixty I still cannot fathom how or why they resisted the sheer peer pressure to submit — hated God and the Church and anything that related to those things. I was told when I had asked why back then –in one of my earliest memories of processing the spoken word — that we were “different” and “smarter” then they.

To this day I am plagued by needing to prove my parents right. I cannot even be certain that this blog –dedicated to promoting belief in the Christian God of the Bible — is not really a further attempt to foster the agenda of the Tekula family who lived at the bottom of the little hill on the northwest corner of Bloomingdale Road and Gleaner Lane.

Today most of these kids I knew are not now active believers. In fact I am the most fervent Christian of all that I have come in contact with. And today I am having a sense — perhaps even an epiphany — as to what happened to them. From what I can gather from memory and conjecture they were being taught that what they were to be about with the gift of faith each had been given was to make the world a better place. Well — while certainly a different place from the culture of the mid-20th Century I don’t think many would call it better — especially from the point of view of a young person back then. I cannot blame any of them — me included — for the modern pervasive sense of frustration and confusion on that point.

Listening to the words of Jesus from the Gospels I can’t help but wonder where the idea of changing the world as a Heavenly agenda got into Christian Catholic catechism. Jesus  spoke a parable about letting the weeds grow with the wheat lest in pulling up the “tares” you uproot some of the good growing crops. He taught directly not to put any hope in this world “where moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break in and steal.” The mistake all the followers — from those at the periphery to the twelve apostles themselves — made was to think that the Messiah of God had come to change their local world and from there spread the Kingdom of righteousness, justice and peace.

How could they believe such a thing having heard His words with their own ears? I’m thinking that we are all like toddlers who want the ice cream now even though Mommy said “Not until after you eat your dinner“….

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Any Super Sunday

by Surfnetter on February 12, 2012

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and you’re having party for friends and family. The pre-game festivities are on the big HD flat screen — chips and dip are on the coffee table and guests have been arriving for about an hour now. You are busy taking coats and the snacks from the guests and preparing finger foods making sure the ribs and wings don’t burn. Your spouse is sitting in front of the TV mesmerized by the sports pundits predictions and analysis of the two teams. And you are upset that you’re not getting any help. As you scowl at your worshipful life-partner/football maven you hear someone addressing you directly. It is coming from the television. It is Brett Mussberger — he says “Your loving spouse has chosen the better portion — it will not be denied him.”
It was another Super Sunday 2000 years ago when this lesson in true prayerful worship was left for us in the Gospel of Luke. Only it wasn’t electronic talking heads that were the subject of the apt attention of the one who wasn’t helping with the party preparations and hospitality. Mary of Bethany — the sister of Martha and Lazarus — was the one sitting mesmerized by the guest of honor while Martha was busy in the kitchen.
This little family of siblings were reported to be particularly close friends of Jesus. It was Lazarus who lay dying at home later on while Jesus waited several towns away in full knowledge of the illness, letting it become fatal to the surprise of the disciples because they knew how much He loved Lazarus and his sisters. Jesus of course would lead the disciples back to Bethany to call His friend back from the dead after laying  lifeless in a tomb for four days. This brought such notoriety to Him that it was what spurred the religious/bureaucratic authorities to plot His murder, according to this ancient Gospel chronicler.
Back to the party:
‘As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”’ Luke10:38-42
This has been a pattern for what theologians have deemed the “active life” and the “contemplative life.” Monks dedicated to silent prayer and meditation have used this account of Mary of Bethany for their inspiration for centuries. So — if you find meditative prayer to be a complete mystery you really already know how to do it — the entire civilized world does. Just make like you are home enrapt by a movie on TV or your favorite musician performing your favorite song live. Get quiet and close your eyes or look at the trees and the sky out the window — and listen to the stories the Spirit of God will tell you.

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The Human Factor: This Blog Cannot Save You

by Surfnetter on October 12, 2011

If the Incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth was the perfect metaphor of the Father — God’s own and only pure human rendering of Himself (and I fully believe that this is the case) — then it is not only the person of Jesus that carries the message as depicted in the four Gospels, but everything about those stories as well. The big picture settings of time and place, culture, politics and religion, as well as the minute details of individual thought and behavior revealed therein all have revelatory potential. After all, God  — being God — created all of that as well. As the Artist, the Author, the Director — He fashioned the settings and background as well as all the players to send His intended message down through the ages.
However, one of the main messages carried throughout seems to escape most interested parties. If a book of stories could have saved mankind from eternal damnation then why didn’t God just write a book? Instead He sent His Only Begotten Son to become a lowly human being who could do nothing alone — before He set out on his mission He gathered twelve helpers around Himself. This “Emmanuelle” — the Man named by Isaiah “God-With-Us” — never wrote anything down except once writing something on the ground that has never been revealed. It took three years of close contact and then the gift of the Holy Spirit –called the “Paraclete”, or “the one who walks at your side” — after His death at the hands of the Roman occupiers of the Promised Land for the disciples to become Apostles — or “those who carry the message.”
So how is it we think we can get this saving message from reading a book of stories…?
There must be something very special about being human. This is the tale told as to why the devil — who was once the chief of the angels — rebelled. He could not allow himself to look up to humans who were just a little above the beasts of the earth. And this, in fact, is the strange case of why the other Faiths of the earth cannot accept Christianity — “Jesus cannot be God” — they all say in one way or another — “because God cannot be a human.”
This brings me to the reason I am writing this: the beauty — and the problem — of being human is that a human being cannot receive anything of eternal and/or internal significance unless he or she receives it directly from another human being. This is the hidden truth of the Gospel — so simple and all pervasive that it escapes our lofty intellects.
Writings v. Relationships
The letters of Paul the Apostle more than any other writings have set the tone for all the Christian denominations. And yet these were written decades before the first Gospel was in existence. In fact, scholars and historians still marvel and argue as to how and why Paul either willfully ignored the stories contained in the Gospels or was completely ignorant of them all. (Paul, of course, did not know Jesus before His Crucifixion and but claimed a three year post-resurrection solitary desert discipleship in the Spirit.) Either way for this the most successful of all modern religions it was not important for these written renderings of the life of the One who must be believed in and known personally to be read or even that the stories contained therein be told for it to get its all important foundational beginnings. What was important was direct contact with the men and women who had spent years of quality time with Him. It appears that, since the Gospel writers penned their works just before their respective martyrs’ deaths, these writings were left us for posterity — so that the tendency for “word of mouth” communication to become distorted over time and distance could be countered by written first-hand testimony of what Jesus — and, ergo, the Father — are truly like.
The Faith itself, as is reflected in the ancient Creeds recited to this day by Christians all over the world, is “Apostolic” — it is passed down directly person to person from generation to generation. All the rest is in place — the writings, the gifts of the Spirit, etc. — for edification and aid. But the Divine Virtues of Faith, Hope and Love we give to one another. And these Gifts can be — and one day will be –  traced for each and every one of the faithful back through the generations to that first human contact with Jesus of Nazareth by one of His earthly contemporaries. For each one of us who have received the Holy Faith there is this long line of faithful ones that can be followed back, from the one person who came to us at the moment we were ready to receive this precious lifesaving Gift, back through the decades and centuries, person to person to the one standing in awe and wonder looking into the face of the Son of Man Jesus — Himself  looking off to the Heavens speaking directly to His Father with the eyes and the voice of pure familial Love:
Now, Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before the world existed. I have revealed your name to those you took from the world to give me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they have recognized that all you have given me comes from you for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have indeed accepted it and know for certain that I came from you, and have believed that it was you that sent me. John 17:5-8
No one would seriously contend that the Father gave Jesus lessons in a heavenly seminary of books and lectures. And there is no evidence that Jesus ever taught His disciples in any but a way of interpersonal example. His relationship and teaching with them was in-kind with that He had and has with the Father. And so it was with all the faithful and so it is with us. It is truly “apostolic.”
But does this passing on of the gospel message have to come within the physical or philosophical walls of a classic Christian Church to be truly “apostolic”? Does it even have to come from someone who calls him or herself a Christian? Can it not be that the attraction of the osmotic love of the Son of God Made Flesh need only the close contact with a human host to be “infectious”?
The fact is that if God really became a human being who sent out into the whole world a whole host of others He directly infected with His Love — and God — being God — cannot fail to complete any task He embarks upon — then this world 2000 years later is already in the throws of a Love epidemic. And any scholarly historical “before and after” comparison will starkly reveal this to be the case.
The problem for the world’s Christian denominations is that none of them can lay exclusive claim to this Human Revolution. And it truly is purely and simply “human”. Jesus did not come as a Catholic, or an Evangelical, or even a Jew as the Jews defined themselves in His time. As the Gospels meticulously spell out in minute detail — Jesus came as the First — the Last — the One and Only — Pure and Perfect Human Being.
But we find this perfect flesh and blood rendition of the Father of us all in the form of the people we have known and loved and have known and loved us.  And so when an artist fashions an image of the Son of God it comes as a composite of his or her own contemporaries.
And this is just as it should be ….

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THE STORY OF JOB: God Loves a Good Loser

by Surfnetter on April 5, 2011

If you want a Biblical argument just bring up the Book of Job. The interesting thing about this experience is that all but one of the arguments will sound like the reasonings of Job’s “friends” who had come to offer him “comfort.” But anyone who knows the story knows that when God finally shows up to explain Himself for allowing this perfect man to suffer so, He first rebukes these false counselors. The reason for this dichotomy is that the real moral of the story of Job — that God’s lesson to him was that “I’m God and you’re not” — is so discomforting, at least to we in the affluent West.

As written it is a wonderful parallel to the other most controversial tale of the Old Testament — Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden — also, as it is written. Both are stories of having it all and then losing it all and then gaining it back. In Job the getting it all back part is included as an addendum at the end of the story. For Adam and Eve the rest of the Bible is that addendum.

A Zen saying: Above is a river flowing — below the vast ocean. In between them is a waterfall. The totality of our individual conscious lives occurs between the river and the ocean.

We are all in the “in between” phase of life. None of us has any real knowledge of the befores or the afters. But the place we are in is a place of loss. We are in the realm of “Life is a bitch — then you die.” The goal of getting a lot of money is Western Civilization’s answer to alleviate the former half of that “bumper-sticker” statement. No one has an answer to the latter. In fact, the longer medical “miracles” can push back the inevitability of death, the harder it becomes to escape life’s hardships no matter how much money you have.

This is where Adam and Eve were banished to. And you don’t get back into Paradise where all the animals are our friends and we just have to sachet around naked picking fruit to eat just by practicing some ancient cleansing ritual and confessing our sins. We are here to stay — for now.

Here we come in close contact with things and people we love and cherish dearly, wanting to have and to hold them forever — but knowing all along that at death we will part — if not before. In fact, we are in the place Job was where God allowed this “perfect” man to be tested by the piece by piece deconstructing of his life.

Another parallel story is in the Gospels — the one about the rich young prince of Judah. He wanted to know what he must do to “inherit eternal life.” Jesus reminded him of the Commandments of Moses. He responded: “I have kept them all since childhood.”

“Hearing this Jesus said to him, ‘This one thing you lack — sell all you have and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.’” Luke18:22

The rich and otherwise saintly Jewish ruler went his way “full of sorrow for he was very rich.”

Jesus went on to teach about the great difficulty for wealthy individuals to get into the Kingdom of God — as difficult as it would be “for a camel to get through the eye of a needle.” The people were wondering how under such a strict standard anyone could enter. Jesus responded to them with this famous assurance: “What is humanly impossible is possible for God.”v27

The imagery seems to indicate that anyone  — no matter  what their estate in this life — can get into heaven if they really want to be there. But for some it will hurt more than for others.

I just heard an up and coming Roman Catholic televangelist priest preach to a small congregation of affluent white congregants (and we television viewers) about the issue of attachment to material things. He seemed to be saying that we don’t have to give up anything — we just have to beware of attachment to worldly riches. But if the rich prince of Judah had actually kept all the Commandments — and by the response of the One “who knew the hearts of men” we must assume he was telling the truth — he was a champion of detachment: he did not lie, cheat or steal, he was not covetous, did not worship anything but God. So what did he lack?

To get insight into this perplexing question we can look at a similar Gospel account — that of Zacchaeus the tax collector. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, a man among men who were most reviled by their peers for profiting through the aiding and abetting of the Gentile pagan Roman invaders in their subjugation of their Hebrew brethren. Zacchaeus was also “very rich,” according to the story. He was a short man and to get a look at the young Galilean Rabbi as he passed he climbed a tree. Jesus called him by name and immediately told him to climb down as this traitorous crook was to host a dinner in His honor that night. Luke tells us that –“All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’” Luke18:7

On the spot Zacchaeus made a deal with the Messiah: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anybody of anything I will pay back four times the amount.” v8

In contract law there must be an offer and an acceptance: “Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”v9

According to ancient tradition Zacchaeus went on to become the Apostle Matthew, the writer of the first Gospel.

Packed into Jesus’s response is much to look at — but herein I will deal with only the fact that the Lord accepted his immediate offer of “half his riches to the poor” and a future promise to pay back those he cheated in quadruple.

For the one all his neighbors saw as a despicable sinner this was sufficient; but for the famous hero of the land — the success story of Judea — naught but “everything he had” would do.

Psychological detachment — according to this — is not the one thing the rich prince lacked that Zacchaeus had as a part of his life. To infer this we have to add to what is lacking in the story — this to make our own affluent American assumptions true. What Zacchaeus already had in his life that the Judean prince lacked was loss. Though rich, Zacchaeus was not a Jew among Jews — this is indicated by Jesus saying that he was “also a son of Abraham.” At that time those who were identified as “Jews” were special in that social structure as they could trace their genealogy through parental lineage to Father Abraham. Zacchaeus’s family, like those of most of his Israelite contemporaries, had lost that ability because of the Assyrian invasions centuries before. Zacchaeus was also “very rich” but he was not a hero in his town and region — he was a pariah. Everyday his dignity and self-respect suffered, as did that of his family. Plus he was very short — literally looked down upon by almost everyone else.

What Job lacked as the “perfect” man is exactly what the rich young prince lacked in his experience of this life. We can infer from what Jesus said in response to the rich man’s rejection of the offer He made to him that the Father in His love for this man would begin to display His terrible mercy upon his life — the kind that  Robert Kennedy spoke of in his impromptu speech to the crowd in Indianapolis on the night after the assassination of Martin Luther King, quoting the poet Aeschylus: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” It was a subject — the subject of real and biting loss — that  he himself had intimate knowledge of — and RFK’s own loved ones would learn first hand later in that fateful spring of 1968.

This would be that the Loving God of Heaven would see that if this rich prince and saint among his people — a man born into the wealth of his forebears — didn’t willingly give in to God’s will for his life (i.e., to become a willing pauper) that he soon after would begin — beyond his control — to lose everything he had.

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A Thank You From Hope House

by Surfnetter on March 8, 2011

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One Thing Lacking.

by Surfnetter on January 26, 2011

My adaptation of John’s Gospel, The Gospel of Pure Human Kindness, began as an experiment — by giving Jesus a narrative name that matched a major aspect of His essence (much as the name given Him by the Angel Gabriel identified His mission and needed no translation for those He walked among) would the message in the Gospel story be enhanced?

Not only was the answer a big affirmative “Yes!” — but just the exercise itself gave me a completely new perspective on the God in whom I had come to believe in four decades before. By focusing on what the “Beloved Apostle” had endeavored to tell us were the actions and attitudes of the One who had revealed Himself firsthand to young John as the Only Begotten Son of God, the Word of God made Flesh, the Way the Truth and the Life, I was getting a new glimpse of the Creator and Father of all. And He — who chided Philip into understanding that “… if you have seen me you have seen the Father” — is much different than the way He is being depicted by many — and perhaps most — modern Christian theologians, preachers and Bible scholars.

The way He dealt with sinfulness in the Gospels belies most modern conventional thinking on the matter. Neither a woman caught in the act of adultery and dragged kicking and screaming to His feet nor a man paralyzed from birth who was carried spontaneously by four men onto the roof of the house Jesus was teaching in and lowered to His presence by ropes did anything to get there. Nor did either express any remorse for or even a desire to be forgiven of their sins. Yet both went on their way justified — both healed emotionally and the latter physically. No preacher I have ever heard treats sin so lightly.

Putting the Gospel tales into their historical context, the land of Judea had become a vassal state of the pagan Roman Empire. Zacchaeus was a Jew who was collecting taxes for these Gentile crooks and was a crook himself, cheating his own people. Yet when all he did was to climb a tree to get a better look at the young Galilean rabbi as He passed by, Jesus told this conniving slime ball that it was his lucky day — that he was going to host a dinner in Jesus’s honor that night. Zaccaeus swore on the spot that he would sell half of his belongings and use the proceeds to pay back those he had swindled. Zaccaeus became Matthew the Apostle, the writer of the first Gospel. Juxtapose this with the rich young prince of Judah, who had kept the law meticulously all his life. When he asked Jesus what he must do to become a disciple, Jesus told him that he lacked just one thing: “Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor, and then come and follow me.” The Gospel writer reports, “The man went his way very sad, because he had many possessions.” Zaccaeus the cheat in cahoots with the pagan, murderous Romans gave up only half — the saintly but rich Jew had to give up all.

The Samaritan woman also did nothing to confess or undo her adulterous ways — a simple reading between the written details exposes her as also trying to seduce the Lord Himself. But she was the first one to whom He freely and openly revealed who He was and the true nature of His  mission and she instantly became the most successful evangelist of all the Gospel stories.

It appears in the light of these narratives that Jesus — and by extension, God the Father of All — doesn’t need or require any special gyrations or genuflections — verbal, physical or emotional — to deliver His kind loving mercies. We just need to be made available.

But there is one attachment that can stymie the process.

“One thing you lack.”

It would seem that our entire society lacks this one thing: “A man can’t have two masters — you can’t serve God and money.” But we are all forced into the position of serving money. In our society you can’t do anything without money. And it would seem that the more you have the more you need. This is the first civilization on the face of the earth that has this malady. It is also the first to question en masse the existence and/or the all importance of believing in and serving God. Today for most God is a side issue — religion a marginalized institution. But money is center stage, top of the news, the all-powerful entity. With it you can do anything — without it nothing.

And yet it doesn’t really exist. It has become an open secret that the money supply increases by the incurring of personal and corporate debt. Our money is no longer backed by a valuable — and real — commodity such as gold or silver. Supporting it all  most tenuously are millions of individual promises to pay — called promissory notes.

But beyond this appalling factoid, the cash and coin and the numbers on account statements only mean something because we all believe they do. Beyond human imagination money has no reality — which means it has no reality at all.

It is like “The Emperor Has No Clothes” — only it is “The Rich Man Has Nothing of Real Value” for our purposes here.

A tree exists — no tree has ever fallen in a forest with no one to hear it, despite the gloating of French existentialists when they asked their infamous and stupid question.  Bugs and birds and squirrels and monkeys have ears too. And sound does not need an ear to be sound, since sound is made of waves traveling through the air. If a tree fell on the moon no one would hear it because it would not have made a sound — no air, ergo no sound waves.  But the ground would shake and the dust would rise. I could keep going — but I won’t. The tree is real. We can change it’s form and make it into a table and chairs — we can burn it, releasing energy by the rapid oxidation process — but the totality of its mass remains, converted into gases and ash. This is the way of all created reality.

We can make a tree into pulp and use it along with other real elements to fashion a dollar bill. We can manipulate the ink to replace George Washington’s image with that of Andrew Jackson and — as if by magic — it is now worth twenty George Washingtons. But if you drop both a dollar bill and a bill of any other denomination on the moon there would be no difference in the effect — except maybe that the astronauts might be more likely to claim the one with the higher amount printed on it.

A space monkey would pay little attention to either.

Money and a Mustard Seed

“If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could tell this mountain to cast itself into the sea and it would obey you.” But with money it is not so simple — even for God. If He created money out of nothing in answer to our prayers it would be counterfeit — unless He also convinced the Federal Reserve to update its records for the new serial numbers. If he mysteriously transferred some from someone else’s account into yours and you spent it you would be guilty of larceny — since only God would be saying it was now yours and the people who balance the bank’s books don’t listen to God’s spoken decrees when they do their jobs.

To get more money in our pockets even God has to convince other people to do something. And people are notorious for their disobedience of Divine ordinances. Many prayers went unanswered with the rich young Jewish ruler’s inability to detach himself from his wealth for Christ’s sake.

The truth is that the only real property that God had no hand in bringing into existence and therefore has no rightful claim to is money — we created it and it all belongs us. Well —  some of us.

The value system of Heaven, it would seem, is based on another commodity — something called “Virtue.” By definition we are gifted with virtues — made up of specific “talents” that we must nurture to perfect and retain. It is the Power of Good. But here on earth those of us who display such talents in athletics, music or writing ability or even in strong interpersonal character traits are not deemed successful unless we get rich by them.  The last example is what actors sell to us in the media marketplace. Even the most successful religious renunciates in society’s eyes are the ones who bring in the most money for their religious orders and ministries. And it is quite a public high wire act that these individuals perform amassing wealth and fame while attempting to not lose these talents. The vast majority don’t make it for long — at least by human standards. The few that do are the celebrated — the human idols that we heap with praise and glory, feeling as if we have some secret intimacy with them. But just like the money they have  — that has passed through each of our hands, at some point — our relationship with these “stars” is phantom.

Money is our God. The Golden Cash Calf is King and publishers and movie moguls even get rich on the Tablets of Moses and the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are waiting for the coming of the Antichrist to deceive the inhabitants of the earth with great signs and wonders – they’re waiting for the “Abomination of Desolation” to be set in the “Holy of Holies” where only God can sit without damnation being brought down upon the world. But these things have already occurred. We see money healing the sick, raising the dead, letting me type these words and then instantly have them published to every nation. Money has split the atom, put people on the moon, has let us look at the far reaches of the Universe. And how long does it take before we turn from realizing that we have awakened to the golden light of a new day that we must again bow to the Money God — the Unrighteous Mammon — and do whatever it bids us do to get our meager daily ration, forgetting Who it is that made us and sustains us? Money sits on the Throne of God on Earth right now.

The atheists’ argument is that believers in the Loving Almighty God of Heaven just believe because others do and that gives them comfort and security. And then the atheist looks up his bank balances online and feels comfort and security over numbers in cyberspace that only mean anything because we all believe that they do.

I see the connection.

Don’t you …?

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The Human Tale of the “Scoop Shark”

by Surfnetter on October 23, 2010

Say there was a species of whale shark that was far more common and had developed through the eons of evolutionary history a hybrid form of feeding — rather than filtering plankton and krill through its huge scoop-like mouth and gullet it dragged it’s open lower jaw over the sea bottom in search of particularly favored species of fish, mollusk and crustacean. It does this by taking everything into it’s mouth and then filtering unwanted species out its giant gills — some dead, some injured, some just stunned. Following in their wakes are multitudinous marine animals feeding upon these movable feasts, as they and their various and sundry genealogical forbears have done in the same waters for centuries. Generation after generation have come to rely upon this food supply for their survival. Say our hypothetical leviathan is called the “scoop shark.”

It is easy to see how the scoop shark would be an essential apex predator — not only for what it takes from the ecosystem but for what it gives to it. Any human activity that would endanger it’s population would be the target for stringent restrictions by the marine environmental lobby — they would claim that the  entirety of the ecosystem would be in danger of collapse if this food producing source were to disappear.

Now make it real by making the mouth of the scoop shark out of synthetic rope and webbing and the gullet out of steel or fiberglass towing the open jaws from the sea surface powered by an internal combustion engine — and the selective filtering system is worked by human flesh, blood and bone. And instead of intentionally acting upon the interests of one organism of its own species each human scoop shark crew risks life and limb in the survival interests of thousands. As it now should be apparent, the  “scoop shark” is a metaphor for our commercial trawler fleet which the environmentalists would completely eliminate as a totally destructive force with no redeeming ecological benefits.

This is a human rights issue — environmentalists are biased against the entire human race.

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Imagi–Nation

by Surfnetter on September 25, 2010

The First Commandment prohibition did not allow the people to make any image of anything in the heavens, on the earth or under the water. What we in the West have a hard time comprehending is that the Mosaic Law and, in fact, all the books of the Torah — for Christians, the Law section of the Old Testament — were the one and only law of the land of ancient Israel, not just the heavens. All else was commentary. Lawfully permitted decorative artwork did not include human hand renditions of anything real.

The small sculpture of the fertility goddess above is an example of a kind of “contraband” that archeologists find in settlements  all over the ancient Kingdom of Israel prior to the return from the Babylonian Exile in the 3rd Century BCE. And these were not just ornaments. They are actually ancient examples of pornography lifted to ritual status. The Assyrian based worship of the goddess Ashtoreth or Ishtar (which is where we get the term “Easter”) included male masturbation before the stone and clay female images with the ritual spreading of the semen upon the roots of the temple shrubbery. Of course the statues in the Assyrian temples themselves were far more comely and  lifelike than the household statuettes were —  but the latter had to be easily disguised or hidden if a priest or a lawyer were to show up at the door.

The Biblical accounts claim that this practice drove the entire Nation of Israel mad, and was the cause of it’s downfall in the centuries before the coming of Christ.

In the light of this, the effect of having these crude, rudimentary imagery of the naked female body in the homes of this people who were to worship the Loving and Invisible Transcendent God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob alone — what’s going to happen to us?

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Defeating Earth’s Conquering King

by Surfnetter on September 5, 2010


Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

Luke14:25-33

Usually at Mass I do not read along with the lectors and the priest as they do the daily readings from the lectionary. Being a trained lector myself I know that the readings are meant to be heard and contemplated together by the congregation and not read by everyone individually. But today we had a visiting African priest – and the acoustics in our church and my particular type of mild hearing loss from years of standing near a high powered outboard motor made it impossible to understand what he was reading. Afterward at the end of his homily he told an obviously very funny story about someone having an audience with the Pope. Most of the parishioners laughed very heartily at the punch line, spoken by the Pontiff as quoted by our cheerful celebrant in his heavily accented voice echoing through the sanctuary — but all I had gotten were the few details I share here.

I also recognized the Gospel passage he had read, but I didn’t quite remember all the details. So I looked it up in the missalette. And I had an epiphany. Who is the king approaching us who will vanquish us despite all our riches and power and supporting network of family and friends who we should make peace with “while he is still far away …”?

And the answer was obvious. That king is Lord Death — the one who conquers all on Earth in the end. Not our friends, our family, our accomplishments nor our possessions jointly or severally can preserve for us our individual “kingdoms” against the ravishes of this vanquishing warrior monarch.

Taken this way, this passage is Zen-like. If we agree with Death that he wins now — that all of the things that I have been convinced by this culture and my own passions are mine to have and to hold — even my own life — are already the conquered spoils of war — choosing instead to give my life and the fate of all that makes it up into the Hands of He Who Vanquishes Death Itself — well — I have surrendered before the battle occurred — but the War is indeed Won.

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Affirmations

by Surfnetter on July 25, 2010

Judaism and Christianity have long been seen as personally mutually exclusive — you can’t be both. Some are claiming this as a mutual affiliation but are not being accepted into the mainstream of either major world religion. But in a very real historic/anthropological sense neither one would exist without the other.

Devout Jews claim that their lineage back to Abraham of Ur of the Chaldees — as depicted in the Biblical Book of Genesis  — gives them their genealogical heritage to the first historic figure who developed a relationship with the One True God of the Universe — the Self-Existent One — the Great I Am, and that this is the only real connection to God in the world. Conventional Christians claim, on the other hand, that they have a spiritual genealogy through their belief in and acceptance of Jesus the Nazorean Jew of the line of David as their Savior and the One True Son of God — a personal connection that trumps and invalidates all other claims, genealogical or otherwise. Augustine of Hippo, as a pre-Reformation Doctor of the Catholic Church, wrote in his City of God, a founding work of Christian Doctrine, that the stories that follow the Children of Abraham in the Historical Books of the Old Testament — or the Torah, as Jews know it — are pure metaphor as prefigure for the Universal (Catholic) Church which is the true spiritual Israel.

And yet Jesus spoke as if he were just a  Savior and catalyst of the Plan that included the fulfillment of all the Torah and the Prophets had foretold. He came “.. to find that which was lost…” — “seeking only the lost sheep of the  House of Israel.” I explain in my book The Hidden Kingdom how I believe he was referring to what we know as the Lost Tribes of Israel and how this specific mission morphed into seeking “all who would” in general.

But here I just want to point out that — historically speaking — if there had not been an Abraham there would not have been a Jesus — as Christians believe that the coming of the Savior/Messiah as Abraham’s progeny — through whom “the whole world will become blessed”  — was a reward for Abraham believing what God told him — which he alone heard — and for his living his life as if what he had been told was more important than anything else in his human experience. And if there had not been a Christianity the Jews most certainly  would have ceased to exist as a people. I say this because — although Christian factions have persecuted and marginalized Jews since the time of the destruction of the Temple in the first and second Centuries by the Romans — it was strategically placed truly faithful Christian men and women throughout these eons who have risen up at  critical moments to take dangerous political positions and took actions filled with personal risk to make sure that those with malicious intent did not assimilate or obliterate our older brothers from the face of the earth. Many believe — for example — that if it weren’t for the moves that the Southern Baptist President Harry Truman took against the advice of virtually all his advisers and supporters — and even his wife — there would not be a nation of Israel today.

Although we have continued and still continue to try invalidate each other, we cannot help but be each others affirmation.

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