Posted by Roberta Grimes • November 16, 2019 • 70 Comments
Jesus, The Source, Understanding Reality
“In June of 1995 the Chicago Tribune reported that Pope John Paul II had urged the Roman Catholic Church to seize the ‘particularly propitious’ occasion of the new millennium to recognize ‘the dark side of its history.’ … he asked, ‘How can one remain silent about the many forms of violence perpetrated in the name of the faith—wars of religion, tribunals of the Inquisition and other forms of violations of the rights of persons?’” So begins a book that must be read by every Christian who loves Jesus and hungers to discern the will of God. Helen Ellerbe tells us in her 1996 expose, The Dark Side of Christian History, that “My intention is to offer, not a complete picture of Christian history, but only the side which hurt so many and did such damage to spirituality. It is in no way intended to diminish the beautiful work that countless Christian men and women have done to truly help others. And it is certainly not intended as a defense of or tribute to any other religion.”
When I first read Ellerbe’s book, soon after the start of this century, it helped to precipitate the worst marital crisis of my life. If you doubt that Spirit has a sense of humor, please note that when I was in my twenties I was prompted to fall in love with and marry a man who had attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through college, who for years would go to Mass twice a week, and who to this day loves Catholicism with everything in him. So when it was no longer possible for me to enter a church that had a life-size, full-color plaster Jesus bleeding on a cross above its altar, he fought me for the salvation of my soul. He couldn’t win, but I love him all the more for his having cared so much! The title of this post comes from an epithet that I would fling at him whenever he tried yet again to persuade me to come to Mass. When Christianity was co-opted by Roman Emperors and warped into an instrument of bloody control, it lost whatever franchise it might have had from God. And no amount of Papal contrition can ever win that back again.
What I will share with you here is meant to complete the messages of the past two weeks. Knowing as we do now that what we experience in a dim way as human consciousness is the only thing that exists, that it is the creative force that continuously manifests this universe, and that at its highest love-based vibration it is the Godhead, we can see what terrible harm has been done by Christianity in its fostering of fear in its adherents and its refusal to make the teachings of Jesus preeminent. All of that would be bad enough! But for most of the past two thousand years, Christianity has also been almost unbelievably barbaric, making terror and pain near-sacraments, and often considering human life to be of little value. It is only the passage of time that has spared you and me the same ghastly fates that were endured by millions who revered Jesus Christ just as we revere Him! If it were not for their personal devotion to the Lord, and their conviction that the religion was deeply enmired in the errors that now are plain to see, many of those whose lives the Church destroyed might simply have recanted and been spared. What strikes me most as I re-read this book is the incredible devotion of so many people to professing and living the Lord’s Gospel truths even as they were being torn with pincers, broken on the rack, and eventually burned alive. Oh, to have even a tenth of their love, their fortitude, and their courage!
Helen Ellerbe’s well-written and scholarly book can be read for free online. In only 188 large-print pages, she makes a compelling case that Christianity’s greatest sin against humanity might well be the fact that it has warped the very meaning of what it is to be human. She says, “Ignoring the dark side of Christian history perpetuates the idea that oppression and atrocity are the inevitable results of an inherently evil or savage human nature. There have been… peaceful cultures and civilizations, however, which functioned without oppressive hierarchical structures. It is clearly not human nature that causes people to hurt one another. People of gentler cultures share the same human nature as we of Western civilization; it is our beliefs that differ. Tolerant and more peaceful cultures have respected both masculine and feminine faces of God, both heavenly and earthly representations of divinity. It is the limited belief in a singular supremacy and only one face of God that has resulted in tyranny and brutality.” And she notes that, “The Christian church has left a legacy, a world view, that permeates every aspect of Western society, both secular and religious. It is a legacy that fosters sexism, racism, the intolerance of difference, and the desecration of the natural environment. The Church, throughout much of its history, has demonstrated a disregard for human freedom, dignity, and self-determination. It has attempted to control, contain and confine spirituality, the relationship between an individual and God. As a result, Christianity has helped to create a society in which people are alienated not only from each other but also from the divine.”
In Ellerbe’s learned view, all of Western history was shaped in awful ways by the power of the Christian Church. “As it took over leadership in Europe and the Roman Empire collapsed, the Church all but wiped out education, technology, science, medicine, history, art and commerce. The Church amassed enormous wealth as the rest of society languished in the dark ages. When dramatic social changes after the turn of the millennium brought an end to the isolation of the era, the Church fought to maintain its supremacy and control. It rallied an increasingly dissident society against perceived enemies, instigating attacks upon Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Jews. When these crusades failed to subdue dissent, the Church turned its force against European society itself, launching a brutal assault upon southern France and instituting the Inquisition.”
Then came the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. “Only during the Reformation did the populace of Europe adopt more than a veneer of Christianity. The Reformation terrified people with threats of the devil and witchcraft. The common perception that the physical world was imbued with God’s presence and with magic was replaced during the Reformation with a new belief that divine assistance was no longer possible. … It was a three hundred year holocaust against all who dared believe in divine assistance and magic that finally secured the conversion of Europe to … Christianity.” In Ellerbe’s view, the distant God of monumental power that Roman Christianity invented in order to establish and maintain its control of society became the model for modern human hierarchical dominance. And every Christian position on any topic was calculated primarily to enhance a rigid control of human society that is contrary to humankind’s essentially spiritual nature.
It was my initial reading of Ellerbe’s book that made me first understand that Christianity is deliberately antithetical to the Gospel teachings of Jesus on love, forgiveness, and spiritual growth.
My college major meant that my focus had long been on the first five hundred years of Christianity. So Ellerbe’s illumination of the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, and the Reformation was a revelation for me! Let’s look here at three summary conclusions very relevant to our present day that are the product of Helen Ellerbe’s work:
I feel compelled to say here, as Ellerbe also says, that in spite of it all there have been many good Christians who have done some wonderful things. But of course, then we must also add that if Christianity had always concentrated on sharing the Gospel teachings of Jesus and never been seduced by worldly goals, then perhaps the many more love-based works of His followers as they lived His Gospel teachings could long since have brought the kingdom of God on earth.
Ellerbe sums up her discoveries by saying, “The dark side of Christian history has been and continues to be about the domination and control of spirituality and human freedom… Christians built an organization that from its inception encouraged not freedom and self-determination, but obedience and conformity. To that end, any means were justified. Grounded in the belief in a singular, authoritarian and punishing God, … Christians created a church that demanded singular authority and punished those who disobeyed. During the Dark Ages, civilization collapsed as the Church took control of education, science, medicine, technology and the arts. Crusaders marched into the Middle East killing and destroying in the name of the one Christian God. The Inquisition established a precedent in the Middle Ages for the systematic policing and terrorization of society. The Protestant and Catholic Counter Reformation sparked wars where Christians slaughtered other Christians, each convinced that theirs was the one and only true path… In 1785 Thomas Jefferson wrote: ‘Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support error and roguery all over the earth.’” Amen, my precious friend.
70 thoughts on “Losing the Franchise”
Thank you for this. I need to get the book!
It’s a click away! It is wonderfully now being offered for free as a download (as are so many indispensable books, including Craig Hogan’s Your Eternal Self). I think that until we all understand how Christianity has gone so wrong, there really is no good way forward for anyone who wants to create the broader role for Jesus that is so desperately needed now.
I see that now! The link wasn’t obvious on my phone but I found it!
I am shaken by the ghastly nature and practices of the Roman Catholic Church!
“It has been estimated that more than twenty-five million innocent people have suffered death by torture and massacre at the hands of people who professed to be ardent followers of Jesus acting in obedience to God.” Roberta, does this number take into account, the massacres of millions of indigenous inhabitants of the American continent by Christians colonizers? My ancestors believed in the Great Spirit, that we are one with each other, the animals, plants, and Mother Earth but were considered evil savages worthy of death or conversion by force. Spanish explorers (always including Catholic clergy) arrived in the southwest region of the US in the 1500s and immediately began pillaging and enslaving the local Native Americans while “saving their souls.” In New Mexico, along the Rio Grande River corridor, Catholic mission churches sit prominently in the center of most all of the 19 surviving Pueblos. The church spared no one in their quest for control! On my reservation (Navajo), there are Catholic missions in many communities but we were spared the unspeakable hardships endured by our neighbors, the Pueblos.
Dear Kitty, that number of twenty-five million is meant to include the indigenous peoples killed, but of course it has to be only an estimate. No counts were made at the time. The belief soon became that if people won’t convert, then it will be better for them if you murder them in pain, since they might convert in their minds with their last breath, which was one reason why death by fire was so commonly inflicted. That, plus the fact that watching people die in such pain was a wonderful way to enforce discipline among those who were already part of the supposed faithful!
And I know that it’s tempting to blame Roman Catholicism alone, but clearly the problem of forced conversions includes its descendant sects that were born in the Protestant Reformation. Please re-read last week’s post. Protestantism is Roman Catholicism’s even more extreme spawn: it came along later, but it tortured and murdered its own full share of innocents. And having been a Protestant for 25 years before I spent another 25 years as a Catholic, and then having had thousands of more recent encounters with practicing Christians either by email or in person, I have got to say that despite Catholicism’s terrible problem of child abuse because it long ago insisted that priests be celibate in order to better keep all the religion’s wealth for the greedy Vatican, I find modern Catholicism to be the lesser evil. What is taught to many modern Protestants is not much different from the pure Calvinism we discussed last week, and the terror and hopelessness these religions inflict on people is so much harder for them to overcome than are the gentler beliefs of modern Catholicism!
Dear friends, as I answer Kitty’s wonderful and impassioned comment, and I then re-read today’s post, it occurs to me that there are two important things that should be mentioned. These are not meant as responses to her comment, but rather they perhaps should have been part of my post; although I’m not sure that they fit there, either. Perhaps here is where they might best fit. Please note that:
1) It wasn’t just a desperate fear of the Christian version of God that prompted people over the past couple of millennia to do terrible things in that god’s name. In particular, some of the native American and South American gods were so much feared that the carnage they inspired is heartbreaking to discover at sites across Mexico and parts of the South American continent. For example, archaeologists have recently found the skeletons of children – mostly boys of about the age of six – who were apparently first given wounds that were allowed to fester into painful abscesses in order to enhance their screams when they were held down so just a part of them could be burned alive before they were killed. It is assumed the imagined god being placated relished the sound of their screaming. I didn’t keep the article. I couldn’t bear even to finish reading it. But it isn’t just the imagined Christian God who was cruel!
2) Jesus specifically tells us that neither He nor God ever judges anyone! The words are there plainly in the Gospels. They must always have been there, because they so directly contradict the core Christian belief that Jesus died to redeem us from God’s judgment for our sins that for certain they would not have been added later! In fact, the wonder is that early Christian leaders didn’t remove them a long time ago. So Christian scholars have been translating these words repeatedly since the First Century, and apparently never realizing their import. This certainly shows you how very little the words of Jesus have mattered to Christians of any persuasion, right up to the present day!
It’s important to remember that Jesus couldn’t have said these words together, since that would have brought Him an immediate death sentence. But on different days, before three different sets of listening Temple guards, He carefully said these three essential things that His followers could put together, and that we can even more easily put together today:
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (JN 5:22-23).
“If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (JN 12:47).
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (MT 7:1-2). (And in fact, the only post-death judgment is by ourselves. He nailed it.)
We need just to ask for clarification, “What did you come to save the world from, Lord?” Clearly it wasn’t from God’s wrath, because He has just told us that God doesn’t judge us. From this and other bits of Gospel evidence, it seems pretty clear that Jesus came to save us from religion-based fears. If only we ever even once had listened to Him!
Dear Roberta, it’s important to download Ellerbe’s free book and at least browse through it. People did listen to Jesus, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation today. But it’s clear that many have abused His name and manipulated folks who had no other resources with which to “fact check” because they were not given access.
Ellerbe’s book provides access to the consequences of not doing what Jesus Himself said, “Ask and you shall receive.” He wasn’t talking about material gifts. We need to question the teachings we hear from any pulpit.
It’s so difficult to imagine today how radical His teaching about an immanent, loving, non-judging divinity was in His age. The tradition as a force of belief in a “jealous” god was not just against Him, but it was a force in cultures all around. And here He comes talking non judgment and forgiveness.
We know horrendous acts were committed by the organizations that churches became. Horrendous acts have been committed by “patriots” of nations, too, but our country and others are still populated by good people dedicated to ideals that still have a chance. So it is with folks who practice their faiths locally in their churches, with no connection to the powerful organizations that are propagating these antithetical beliefs.
We cannot change the past, but books like Ellerbe’s help ensure we don’t glorify that past, that we see it for what it was, and “get smart” about the true Prince of Peace so that we transform the 21st century and the earth 🌏.
Oh my dear Mike, so beautifully said! Yes, our nation and the ranks of Christians of all denominations are full of beautiful and loving people. To be frank, that fact is at the core of why I feel that we must now end the religion! I receive so many pain-filled emails from very good Christians who want to be free of the terrors that were instilled in them in childhood. They want to rise above their fears and grow spiritually; they are eager to follow Jesus without reservation; but they learned when they were too young to question it that they must be a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Catholic for life, or else God will send them to damnation. I see this warping of children’s minds with terrors that they will have to overcome if they are ever to grow spiritually to be the very worst thing that Christianity does now, and as bad for the precious minds of children as those appalling South American sacrificial rituals were for those poor children’s bodies. Let’s begin now to teach American children just love, kindness, and perfect forgiveness!
He said, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (MK 10:14-15). When no child’s mind is afflicted with religious fears – when instead, every child is taught love and forgiveness – just imagine how much better their lives and the world will be forevermore!
That first of the three scripture references above has always confused me: doesn’t it say that “God has given all judgment to the Son”(Jesus)? To me that verse says that Jesus does judge, and that God wants him to judge … Can you explain?
Thank you 🙂
Dear Renee, in order to understand the Gospels it is essential to know that to speak against the prevailing religion when Jesus walked the earth was a capital crime. Yet that is just what Jesus came to earth to do! So He had to do it cleverly. He spoke in parables, then said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (wink-wink) to alert people to seek a deeper meaning. He would proclaim loudly some Jewish belief, then add words to it that altered the meaning and made it actually true. And so on. One of the things that He sometimes did was to give fundamental truths over days of time, since He knew the Temple guards would change frequently but His followers would be consistently with Him. This is one example of such a truth delivered in bits over days. He tells us first that God is not our judge, but for the Temple guards He adds that God has made Him the judge. He gets away with that, since at least there still is a judge. Then, different day and different set of guards, He says that He doesn’t judge us either. And He gets away with that too, since these guards don’t know that He has already said that God doesn’t judge us. On a third day, with yet another set of guards, He tells us in a somewhat obscure way that we are our own judge. And all of this is true!
It is passages like these that make we feel that testing the words of Jesus against what the dead tell us is so important. They have been telling us for a century that neither God nor Jesus nor any other religious figure ever judges us, but in fact we are our own afterlife judge. What Jesus says here was cleverly delivered, and in fact it is precisely right!
The well known words by Jesus on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…” must also be applied to the horrible history after Jesus. He also taught us to forgive 7×70 times.
I acknowledge this horrible history, and yet determine to love unconditionally, forgive unconditionally and do my best to spread universal love to all, especially my so-called enemies.
Let’s have no enemies. But also be on guard against those forces in Christianity that continue these age old ignorant and harmful practices.
May God bless us all, every one.
Love is the answer. And true love is automatically unconditional.
Dear wonderful Adrian, your answer is the only possible answer. We must learn to unconditionally forgive it all! And I think most of us feel as you do: Christianity is only the wrapping. The perfect teachings of Jesus on love and forgiveness are God’s genuine gift, and it is time now for us to unwrap that gift and forgive and then discard the wrapping. Thank you – perfectly said!
Roberta: I thought I heard it all until I read what you wrote about the childrens’ skeletons that were discovered in So. America. I think they were acting out their own sadistic fantasies, and what better excuse could they use than that they were appeasing whatever gods they believed in at the time (similar to Dr. Mengele during WWII who did countless horrific experiments on Jewish prisoners but thought it was okay because it was done in the name of “science”). That is why organized religion was so dangerous. as it became a front for these sadistic acts and offered an excuse to perform them. In Dr. Mengele’s case, he hid behind “scientific advancement”, but in almost all these cases, they claim to do these things for the good of the whole, However, it was just an excuse to carry out their sick fantasies. Clearly, the original and true teachings of Jesus were totally ignored for many, many years.
Dear Lola, oh my, I had never thought of it that way! I guess I cannot conceive of anyone fantasizing about any of these things, harming anyone in any of these horrible ways. It must be only very sick people, and probably as a power move?
Actually, all of this is about fear-based power, in my view. Fear of the unknown leads us to personalize that unknown and make it into a scary god or gods, which makes us feel even more helpless, so in turn perhaps we need to have power over those who are weaker than we are? Even hurt them, as part of our need to be powerful? Whatever it is, it is not human nature! It is the grossest possible distortion of the love which is what people really are; and it is pure evil, whether it’s done by pre-Columbian American tribes, by Mengele, or by Christians who carried out the Inquisition. All of it. The very purest evil.
It certainly was “the very purest of evil”, and the Vatican was no exception. In fact, their version of the inquisition was one of the cruelest, believe it or not. All this was done in the name of Jesus, but since Jesus never once advocated torturing anyone, he was clearly used as an excuse to carry out these evil deeds – even by the Vatican who surely knew he would never agree to these tortures. I know that some people will do just about anything to gain power, but this goes far beyond that. I believe that something happened during the Middle Ages era that we don’t understand, as there was never another time quite like it. It was far worse than most people imagine, as no one wants to believe that human depravity could possibly reach that level..
Dear Lola, it was a far rougher and meaner time in general than we moderns can imagine. Raw human sewage ran in the streets. Houses were unheated one-room hovels, and some people never washed either themselves or their clothes. Whole families of children died of some preventable disease in the course of one day! Warfare, bar fights, random conquests, and so much else occurred so often and so bloodily that human life was held to be far cheaper than any modern can imagine. And it has been proven over and over again that religious zealots can talk themselves into doing just about anything for their God (as witness the terrorism that has been randomly inflicted on innocents over the past twenty years).
Don’t get me wrong. I still have trouble getting my mind around the Inquisition. But it happened. And I think that no Christian can go on pretending that Christianity has not willingly committed the worst possible evils in the course of its history.
This is absolutely true. People have been cruel since time began, but I never came across anything that can compare with Christianity – especially on such a large scale. No one seems to want to admit this, but all they have to do is do a little research and find this out. However, a strong stomach is required. The fact that they used Jesus as an excuse makes it even more diabolical. The one thing that bothers me is that if there is a God that is timeless and can see into the future, he must have known the horrible devastation that was to come – if so, why did he send Jesus here at the time he did knowing that millions of innocent people would be so horribly affected?
Roberta’s post this week reminds me of a course that I am taking (The Christ Path) by Andrew Harvey (an Englishman raised Catholic in India). He talks about a mystical experience that he had while attending a service at a Catholic church in his hometown of Coimbatore (South India). After having this mystical experience in the church, he exited the church and the following occurred:
“I was exiting the church and came across a beggar without arms or legs, very young, very desolate-looking, very broke and symbolizing all the crucified in nature, animal, and other ways I held him in my arms, and I asked the people to look after him and gave him money. As I did so, gazing into his eyes, I saw the eyes of the crucified Christ and I heard a huge voice. I don’t usually hear voices but this time the voice was very fierce and very unmistakable and very flaying and very scolding, and it said, “Stop playing with your mystical experiences. Stop using them as decorations for your ego. Stop using them as ways for escaping from the agony and horror and madness of the world. Look at this being in front of you and see behind him the billions who are now living on less than a dollar a day. See the hundreds of species that are vanishing. See the forests burning. See the polluted seas and realize that you are in a world burning to death in the fire of greed and ignorance and delusion and savage, savage cruelty on every level.”
Being born and raised Catholic (like Andrew) I have a deep connection to Catholicism, and I am still hopeful that Catholicism can evolve out of the barbarism that has consumed it since being hijacked by the Roman Empire. However, even if Catholicism does not survive, I know that Christ’s message to humanity will survive and through evolution or revolution humanity will be better equipped to embrace the knowledge of who we really are.
Dear Don, I too am fond of Catholicism in a quite sentimental way; and I love the Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic, that was central to my life for half a century. But it is not addressing any of the things that the booming voice pointed out to your friend! Christianity is complacent. Even much worse, it clings to fear-based teachings that have nothing to do with the genuine Lord Jesus. How can Christians of all denominations have held that book in their hands for so many generations and never paid much attention to the Lord’s Gospel words? I am coming to accept the fact that perhaps Christianity will have to die in order to free the teachings of Jesus, or else they never will be heard and followed at all :-(.
It might prompt readers to wonder why after all the years since humankind began walking this earth we still see human monstrousness in present-day generations.
One might conclude that as it’s gone on for so long, and continues to this day little-changed in many ways, there must be a good reason; a continuing need for incarnates both to perpetrate such behavior and be the victims of it.
Else why has it not stopped?
Dear Mac, most of the people on earth were reared in fear-based religions, with Christianity foremost among them. Until humankind is being reared and maintained with purely love-based ideas, you can assume that the fear that so many imbibe with their mothers’ milk is quite enough to keep human societies monstrous and cruel.
It’s hard for people to come to terms with the fact that Jesus did not come here to establish a church, Catholic or otherwise. Catholicism and Protestantism are actually man made and have nothing to do with Jesus. He taught love and tolerance – quite simply really, He never would have tolerated a wealthy institution like the Vatican
No, dear Lola, Jesus did not come to establish a new religion. It is clear from His Gospel words (those that He spoke; not those that the church-builders added later) that He came to loosen the hold that the prevailing religion had on our minds to the point where we could begin to relate to God individually. And yes, it is pretty clear from His words that He would have found Christianity as it has developed to be wholly repugnant! But the Lord will prevail. His time is coming. I think that perhaps Christianity as it is still practiced may have been allowed to go on for so long primarily so He would become so well known and so well loved. At least, that gives us some kind of reason?
Nah I don’t buy that, Roberta. 😉
Dear Mac, the wonderful thing about being free of Christian brainwashing is that you can choose to believe whatever you like.
And as you know, Roberta, I don’t actually believe anything when it comes to matters that matter….. 😉 🙂
If I don’t see persuasive evidence, issues get pigeon-holed for potential later reference. That’s truly being free. 🙂 😉
thanks I will read that book
You’re welcome, Millie! I think you’ll find that despite its frankly awful message, Helen Ellerbe’s book book is a fascinating and even enjoyable read.
Although I do get the message, conciliatory comments of several readers are quite refreshing. It is certainly possible to analyze the past of many cultures, countries, religions etc. and get worked up over atrocities and wrongs that have been covered up. I prefer less focus on the negative past and more on the “get smart” approch advocated by Mike. All of the lives lost unjustly in the past per our judgement still had a purpose from the perspectives of the abused.
While I do not believe that Jesus died to save us from eternal damnation, several comments from the Last Supper (assuming they are accurate) give me pause. I seem to recall something about offering up one’s body for the forgiveness of
Dear Tom, Jesus Himself tells us that neither He nor God is our afterlife judge, and those that we used to think were dead tell us that the Lord’s death has never made an afterlife difference for a single human being. The Gospels were edited repeatedly by seven Roman councils over the first millennium, and much was added. Turning the Lord’s farewell Passover dinner into a sacrament was just one more thing that those councils did in order to further consolidate their hold on the faithful.
Dear Tom, I understand how distressing all of this can be! If it hadn’t been made very clear to me that in laying bare the failures of Christianity we are helping to free and empower Jesus, I couldn’t bear this process. I love my lifelong religion! But in the end, Jesus is the reason for the season, isn’t He? In the end, I find that I love Him more.
I am curious do you still call yourself a Christian? I find myself calling myself spiritual, as I feel saying Christian brings in all the false narratives perpetuated by the Christian churches..
Also, interestingly, I was raised in a church which did not teach the history of the bible and the Roman impact. It’s almost like the bible was in place after the last book was written, and it was never touched since that time. They also spoke of persecution of Christians, but not Christians doing the persecuting. I expect they leave that out to prevent lay people from questioning the truths.
Dear Tim, pretty much all churches have taught Christian history as you learned it. When I got to college and all of this was dumped on me, I was horrified! When I studied the history of the Bible, it was the same experience as a sausage-lover going to a factory and seeing all the horrible waste parts being ground up to become the sausage that she used to love. I entered college entirely devout, and sure I was going to become a minister; I left it so disenchanted that when my Catholic beau asked me to marry him but said I would have to convert, I shrugged.
For a time I called myself an “originalist Christian,” whatever that means. Now I call myself a follower of Jesus. But the time will come when the word “Christian” will mean “a follower of Jesus.” After all, what else could it really mean?
Wonderfully insightful Roberta! You laid out clearly the inherent contradiction of what Christianity could/should have been to how it turned out to be. It may be painful for some Christians to acknowledge, but a gospel based on love, yet practiced in fear, can no longer be denied. Teachings not lived or practiced result in hypocrisy, and can only be maintained via ritualistic dogma and control mechanisms which unfortunately the Church became only too adept at.
Dear Dennis, it’s wonderful to see you here! Everyone, Dennis Grega and Michelle Szabo run afterlifedata.com, which is the largest database of afterlife description and analysis on the Internet, and also voicesacrosstheveil.com, which is doing medium-based communication research in which you can participate. Check them out!
Thank you for your kindly words. Just as you and Michelle are working to better shed more light on what we are learning is true, so I am working to do the same thing in the spiritual realm. It’s good to be working together!
And thank you for your kindly words and for mentioning our work! It certainly is good to be working together to help people evaluate their belief systems in light of the knowledge that is coming out about non-physical reality.
Roberta, I am aware we ultimately judge ourselves, that the death of Jesus does not have a direct impact on the quality of one’s afterlife and that false ideas have been added to the gospels. My success in understanding truth in the gospels rests on my ability to trace and understand the evolution of such falsehoods.
Considering all that has been written about Jesus both before and after his time on earth, there almost has to be a higher purpose. I am more interested in hearing evidence for that purpose rather than the details of what it was not.
Oh Tom, I do understand how you feel! And I’m there at this point as well – I would rather not talk about Christianity’s appalling past. But I hear from so many good people who are only now feeling led away from the religion they have followed for their whole lives, and they are hungry to better understand how they can extricate themselves. Their first problem is a desperate need to get past the fear that has been instilled in them for their whole lives long! And I have found that seeing how that fear was instilled by man, and not by God, is hugely helpful to them. I’m sorry! I hope you will bear with those who need this knowledge as we all work through this together.
Dear Roberta. In defense of “Pre-Columbian American tribes,” they lived a generally spiritual, peaceful, and ecological lifestyle, like tribal cultures around the world for the vast majority of human history. Warfare was usually rare and very small scale. The fact that most of us have small amounts of Neanderthal and/or Denisovan DNA in us demonstrates that things were less violent than the latest episode of the “Survivor” TV show would have us believe. The atrocities in Central and South America, like what you described, were usually when people became more “civilized,” and started creating empires. Most of the death and destruction in history, right up to WW II, the Cold War, and even a lot of what we’re seeing now, is the result of various empires’ constant attempts to consolidate power, economic, ideological, or spiritual. People with unaccountable power always seem to run amok. Religion plays an ace role in this, and the Romans certainly nailed that to an unprecedented level with Christianity, then Christianity tried to become its own empire! Could Jesus, and other great teachers like the Buddha, have been trying to roll back the perversion of spirituality for the purposes of empire building that always seems to happen? It seems as though periodic “corrections” such as these, by spiritual masters, become necessary. Most cultures have them, and they come at fairly regular intervals, somewhere in the world. They don’t come to found religions, but the followers do it anyway. Maybe religion is something that needs to become obsolete or at least tamped down, for the sake of human survival and evolution.
Dear Scott, this is very well said indeed. Organized religions in all their myriad forms are always the problem; I can’t think of a single case when a religion actually made people happier, better, or more prosperous.
I know that some will talk about the prosperity, unprecedented in all of human history, that has arisen in the nation that its Founders based upon Christian principles. And they would be right! Except that it wasn’t the religion that established those principles, but rather instead it was the teachings of Jesus themselves that inspired the Founders of the United States system of government. One Founder in particular, Thomas Jefferson, was always bold and consistent in differentiating Jesus from the religion and then lauding Jesus but disparaging Christianity. His quotation at the end of my blog post above is only typical! He also said, “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus…. I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”
And “Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teaching of Jesus.”
And “I believe in both a creative and personal God, a divinely ordered universe, that man has an innate moral sense, and that Jesus was a great moral teacher, perhaps the greatest the world has witnessed.”
… and much more. I found eleven quotations like these for The Fun of Loving Jesus, and they don’t even include the one that Helen Ellerbe used above! You can see why he irritated the churchmen so much. But Mr. Jefferson’s time at last has come….
Dear Lola, your question of November 17 at 7:09 is a wonderful one, but there was no opportunity to reply to it there so I hope you won’t mind if I do that here.
It’s important that we never forget how unimportant to all of us what happens on earth is in the great scheme. Where the Godhead is, and where we nearly always are, there is no time, and we want and expect this universe to be rough, just as when you go to a gym you expect a workout. Or else why bother? As I was working all of this out, there was a time when I, too, was frustrated about the two millennia when Christianity apparently ignored Jesus, and what a mistake that had been. But, loudly and clearly, Thomas broke in and informed me that had been no mistake. We can reincarnate out of time, and apparently these horrors have been laid down to give people the opportunity to incarnate into the very kinds of travails that we recoil from now. I don’t understand it entirely, and I know that from here we are sure this is not the way that we would do it, but I am told that once we rejoin our greater minds, it is going to make better sense to us.
There are classes given in the Summerland for people who have chosen – apparently eagerly! – to be part of some great tragedy on earth. I have always envisioned the Holocaust as the kind of thing they were signing up for, but it is likely it is also being born in Spain at the height of the Inquisition. We are amply prepared at the level of our higher minds to take part in what look from there to be simply opportunities for more rapid spiritual growth.
Another thing occurs to me as I write this. The evidence strongly suggests that time isn’t linear, and in fact this material reality – including all of its past – is being freshly created in each micro-instant. I have elaborated on this a bit more in the post entitled “God and Creation.” It may be that it is the earth’s rising negativity that has made the history of Christianity as bad as it was, and that as we work to raise this planet’s vibration and thereby also heal the past, it may turn out that none of that actually happened after all…?
Roberta: Even though what happens here may not be important in the larger picture, I was not really including those that reincarnate to be part of a great tragedy. I think that happens often. What I was really thinking about was the torture devices used during the Inquisition and includes the Vatican. These devices were so well thought out and so much time and money were put into them, it is beyond words. All of them were designed not just to inflict terrible pain and ultimate death, but were designed so that the victim stayed alive for up to 2-3 days or more. This was obviously for the enjoyment of those who were watching. To say this was sadistic is like saying someone has a “nasty cut” when they get hit by a cannonball. I just don’t understand how anything like that could help someone grow spiritually. We all have sad things happen in our lives and I can see spiritual growth happening as a result of most of them, but I do not believe spiritual growth can happen as a result of these monstrous tortures. I wonder when they actually finally stopped this and why
Dear Lola, please understand that the notion of growing spiritually never entered anyone’s minds at the time. The purpose for imposing prolonged, intolerable pain was (theoretically at least) to get the victim to recant his errors and convert, even if only with the final breath; but I don’t deny that those who inflicted such tortures were horrible, twisted individuals who on some level must have enjoyed what they were doing. And all of this was fruit of the poisonous tree that was Christianity from Nicaea in 325 and thereafter: When Jesus said, “By their fruits you will recognize them,” He nailed it.
As for how and when the inquisition was finally ended, it seems that sunlight is the best disinfectant. These things happened in somewhat isolated places, and communication back then was poor. As word got out, a lot of people recoiled. It is said that the Spanish Inquisition alone killed 32,000 people by torture, and when Napoleon’s soldiers finally arrived on-scene they were so horrified that they tortured the torturers with their own instruments.
:”Growing spiritually” is a term that was not only never used back then, but even if it was mentioned, no one would ever know the meaning behind it. I find it ironic that Napoleon’s soldiers used their own devices against them. Those soldiers were probably a hard nosed bunch, and the fact that they were horrified proves how terrible things must have been. People who had a life back then probably reincarnated into a new life with feelings of fear and depression and never realized where these feelings came from
Do you think that humanity, as a whole and as a collection of grand ventures such as empires and religions, is actually mad? I mean do you think that we are mentally/emotionally ill? IE: Not quite sane, as it were?
We turn: religions of love and wonder into fear and hatred; human societies into wealth and poverty polarities; nations into oppressive empires and peaceful life into the chaos of war. Humanity is riven between its light and dark sides.
Here is a species that lives in cognitive dissonance, where equally held core ideas are perpetually at variance within, driving it to madness.
We know at a deep level about the shining realities of love, compassion and the importance of all of us as one whole, yet we both fear and detest the lies, greed and destructive nature of our kind. Perhaps it is the agony of how far we are from our true potential that we feel keenly, at some deeper level. And this deep pain produces madness.
Perhaps the illness struck root when we entered this world of duality, of hot and cold, abundance and scarcity, of love and fear. And yes (dare I say it?) of flood and… fire.
In this case the derangement may actually be duality itself. It is the madness where the perpetual ‘us vs them’ is but a symptom. Therefore to heal the rift, to come at last to Oneness, is the only healing answer. The end of separation from the Source is to truly awake from sick delusion and to shine, healed and whole. ❣️
Hi Efrem: I completely agree with everything you said. However, despite the horrible history we have discussed, these sick delusional people do not represent the majority. It may seem that way because, unfortunately, these people seem to always gravitate to large organizations such as religions, Nazism, and politics. In the past, they have been emperors, kings, military leaders etc. – they join and often become leaders of large groups so they can instill fear and hatred on a grand scale, making it appear that there are many more of them than there actually are. Their negativity attracts more negativity and ultimately, the results are a form of madness, as you point out. Once madness takes hold, it becomes easier to justify the persecution of gays, blacks, and those of all different ethnic groups, as now there is someone to blame when things go wrong without their taking any responsibility.
Very well said, dear Lola! And especially the fact that a lot of what the most evil movements do is a form of projection. If they can blame other people for whatever has gone wrong, then they don’t have to take responsibility themselves. Great point.
Hitler is a great example of that. He blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews, as some of them were bankers, doctors, etc., and he had some weird idea that the prosperous Jews were “stealing” money from the Germans. However, he never took into account that the majority of Jews were just as poor as the Germans, and some even more so. He deliberately ignored that so he could make his campaign of hatred seem more justifiable. It’s odd that his mother was Jewish and he kind of swept that under the rug as well.
Yes Lola, you are certainly right. Or so I feel. As you mention Hitler, I am reminded that ‘Fuehrer frenzy’ swept Nazi Germany and everyday Germans raised their arms to him wherever he went, like seas of reeds bending in the wind. (Until Hitler started to lose the war of course. Then many Germans lost their fervor and just went through the motions of obeisance robotically.)
Did you know, dear Lola, that only eight percent of Germans were card carrying members of the Nazi Party? Eight percent.
These hard core fanatics influenced many more, but they were only a small portion of the nation, even at the height of the fury. Of course, there were many Germans who were never Nazis from the beginning of the madness. So the reality looks like a mixed barrel with fewer fully rotten apples than one might think.
I’ll wager that there are many more good people than bad in the world. (Though as Mac correctly reminds us, without comprehensive, factual statistical information it is not possible to know for sure about a grand statement like this.) Somehow, I think that Spirit is at the core of each person and it will win out in the end. 🙏🏼❣️
Efrem: Most Germans were not Nazis, but it really didn’t matter, as he demanded obedience and respect, although what he actually wanted was worship. Many people who disagreed with his policies could easily find themselves on a train going to Auswich or some similar prison camp, just because they disagreed with him. Therefore, some of the people that seemed to stand behind him did so out of fear. Many Germans were killed or taken to prison camps because of orders from Hitler – some merely because they had Jewish friends before any of the madness began. What disturbs me is that the many well thought out plots to kill him were all thwarted by some stupid little glitch, including one by his best friend, Erwin Rommel, who was his greatest supporter, but wound up hating him. None of these plots worked out, and that is why he insisted he was protected by a “divine plan.”
Dear Efrem, what you say here seems right. Those that we used to think were dead tell us that duality is a bedrock negative illusion to be overcome, and we know that the essence of real spiritual growth is moving away from fear and toward love.
I have hesitated to think about this much, but it may be that the fear-based hold that all modern religions must assert in order to control their faithful has been the ultimate reason why the hierarchical organizational model of governance persists to this day. It has produced only poverty and despair for most people, and ultimately produced wars of dominance and conquest, and eventually the lies of socialism (as a proposed alternative to dominance that turned out to cause even more dominance). It has led to the notion of extermination of targeted peoples as the ultimate dominance, and even to just about every other fear-based evil that exists.
And Christianity, to my mind, bears the largest share of the blame. The Judaism from which it came was also rooted in fear, but it was tribal, based in kin loyalties, and to read the Old Testament is to be shown the leaders’ feet of clay, not once but repeatedly. The notion is ever-present in pre-Christian Judaism that a king is an earthly necessity but the real King is God, ultimately good and fair and supportive of His chosen people.
All of that changed when Constantine and his successors took over the Lord’s Way – in which love was central, and whatever you thought was between you and God – and turned it into an instrument of extreme fear-based control over large masses of people. They built a religious governance system modeled on the earthly notion of kingship by right, nobility, and strict class roles. I mean, “Holy Roman Emperors” in Europe, for heaven’s sake? I think this religious hierarchical model served to reinforce and prolong the secular hierarchical model of governance, and there are consequences that we still deal with today. What a mess!
I know very little about Constantine, but he sounds like he was a bit of a control freak. Once Christianity was allowed to be governed by emperors etc., the future of Christianity must have turned into a recipe for disaster. As you said, it became completely fear based. That’s why I am fairly certain that the bible was severely tampered with to support this view.
To call Constantine a control freak may be a bit of an understatement. As I recall, he had his own son executed. He had his wife boiled alive. He was one fun guy!
Oh my God! The man had to be utterly insane! This kind of tells me that he used Christianity for some kind of power play that he would receive benefit from – certainly not for the love of Jesus, God or anyone but himself.
I haven’t thought about the hierarchical organization of modern governments deriving from the preexisting template of religions before. Now that you mention it, I can see this link clearly. That’s right, isn’t it!?
Certainly the tribal origins of Judaism, based around clan lineage and land, explain much of the Mosaic laws, such as the cruel stuff found in Leviticus. So much of this text is human thinking and falls short of Love Eternal. Leaders, priests and kings are openly shown (in the OT) to be rife with human failings. Kingship proved flawed ultimately and often resulted in sheer catastrophe. However, in Judaism there can be no priest or king who stands between a person and God. The Divine relationship was and remains first and last.
Ever and oft it becomes more obvious to me that human systems must erode so that Jesus’ Way can come to the fore. The Way needs to stand free of old, fear based religions and their heavy conditioning that twists perception. There has to be a complete break from religion for this, the best and clearest transformational teaching in the world.
Also Roberta, I think that socialism/communism has to complete its fall too. It has enabled such dictatorships to become more vicious than the cruel tzars or emperors who preceded them. Not only did such governments take away freedoms and the right of each citizen to defend themselves, they stripped away citizens’ resources too. Everyone became merely poor slaves.
I seem to remember that the USSR had gulags well before the Nazis initiated the concentration camp system. (I’ve read that the Soviet gulags were the inspiration for the Nazi camps in the first place.) So right or left leaning dictatorships learn the skills of oppression from each other, and soon come to the same dark ends.
My hope Roberta, is that the worst religious fanaticism and political extremities will burn themselves out of fuel, as more people wake up to Spirit and Oneness.
Dear Efrem, I wish I could be as sanguine as you are about the notion that all the worst religious and political ideas will burn themselves out! Religions are so deeply rooted in fear, and bad political ideas are so deeply rooted in the greed of those who perpetuate them, that their fuel is literally the worst human impulses. And unless we can elevate humankind above fear and greed, that fuel is in pretty much infinite supply!
OK, Roberta, I get your message. Although I have come to realize fear is only the absence of something and that anger is best when minimized or avoided completely, it has not been that easy. It takes time and others may be only in the early stages of this process.
Dear Tom, I think you are simply much farther along on the path from fear to freedom and spiritual empowerment. My role is to help those who haven’t yet made that journey, or are beginning it, so my mind has to be with them. I have taken to saying that I teach spiritual kindergarten, and while it may be that I teach up to grade three or four, I think that really is more or less right: I’ve been finding that if I can help seekers to well begin their journey, they soon grow beyond needing my help and then very soon they are ready to fly!
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that religions get coopted. My sense of it is that when we come here and the veil of forgetfulness comes down, we see separation, forgetting the understanding of the ultimate oneness of consciousness we had on the other side. Some part of us still craves that sense of wholeness or oneness we had, so we try to fill that hole with material things, but no matter how much we buy, how much money we have, no matter how much power we get over others, we’re never satisfied. This would apply from the level of the individual up to an empire. The teachings of Jesus and other great masters are to remind us of our oneness, and therefore the primacy of love, and its correlates like compassion, empathy, and forgiveness, where harming another in thought, word, or deed is like harming yourself (and vice-versa I suppose.) Once enough of us can make that shift in consciousness, we can change the world.
Scott, quote: “My sense of it is that when we come here and the veil of forgetfulness comes down, we see separation, forgetting the understanding of the ultimate oneness of consciousness we had on the other side.”
Below is a recent remark made by Mikey Morgan, communicated via his medium-mom Carol Morgan, on ALF (afterlifeforums.com) about a subject raised in a different context:
“Mikey tells me this is one of our learning dimensions where we take on a physical journey and experience life lessons. If we have too much information, than our choices are being influenced versus us making the choice with only our free-will. We are here for spiritual growth. Mikey tells me we do understand how things work here on earth before we come. But it seems much easier from that viewpoint versus here! We know when we come it is just a temporary journey and soon we will be back Home. Everything will be all right!”
I thought it apt….. Why not join the conversation?
Hi Mac. I love that quote from Mikey. He seems very wise. I really need to go through some of the MM material. I started before, but got sidetracked.
I do hope you will return to the words and ideas Mikey Morgan has sent us over on ALF over many years and currently. 🙂 I also encourage other contributors and readers to do likewise and to put their own questions to Mikey.
It’s a near-daily event that someone asks his comment on subjects affecting them personally or all of us generally. Since he began communicating through his mom he has relayed his personal experiences since he last returned to the etheric dimension and offered what he knows about God and life in the dimensions we’ll eventually find ourselves in after we pass over from this life.
The forum-based website enables free-flowing discussion of both questions asked and answers given.
Dear Mac, thank you for sharing this quotation from Mikey! And everyone, do you see what I mean when I talk about how brilliant Mikey’s answers always are?
It’s always my pleasure to plug your website and encourage your weblog readers to come and visit with us on ALF, afterlifeforums.com.
Wise words and interesting discourse on all manner of subjects is the order of the day there, something for thinkers and questioners alike… 🙂
Lola: quote “Oh my God! The man had to be utterly insane!”
Yes perhaps literally….. maybe there’s often an element of mental disorder in these despots. Regular guys – it’s mostly males – don’t show such extreme behaviors, even the ‘bad’ ones.
Very true, Mac. Behaviors so extreme certainly have to be the result of some kind of mental disorder, such as psychopathy. Back in the day, they could get away with it because they held positions in high regard such as emperors, political leaders etc. They saw (and still do see) the world differently than the average person, and usually are charming, intelligent and extremely convincing. They are still with us, just in a more subtle way.
Despite my comment above — or maybe in addition to — I think it may take generations of this experience we perceive as incarnation for us as a culture to reconnect with our pre-“Christian” heritage and get back to the simplicity of the Way. We are subtly (and not so subtly) influenced even today by the way our Western consciousness has been affected and censored over the centuries. The organized banishment and destruction of the early sacred places, thoughts and relationships based on compassion and love that early followers of the Way embodied doesn’t just belong to history, but also to us even today. We must disown it. We have been denied our birthright and slowly we are coming aware in a way that will take it back! And when we do, it will be as revolutionary as was Jesus’ original message 2000 years ago.
Dear Mike, I think this is wise and profound – this is the way I see it as well. Thank you for phrasing it better than I have!
You know who to thank! 😉
Dear Roberta, just today I came upon this observation by Tecumseh, Shawnee Native American leader:
“When Jesus Christ came upon the earth, you killed him, the son of your own God, you nailed him up! You thought he was dead, but you were mistaken. And only after you thought you kill him did you worship him and start killing those who would not worship him. What kind of a people is this for us to trust?“ -Tecumseh
Dear Kitty, I’m sure this made perfect sense from Tecumseh’s perspective! Of course, those who killed Jesus were not the same folks who worshiped him, but it is apparently true that Christian dogmas made no sense at all to this continent’s indigenous tribes… ad it is tragically true that there was a lot of brutal murdering “to save their souls” that went on when those tribes refused to readily adopt Christianity.