Our literature is a substitute for religion, and so is our religion.
T. S. Eliot
This is not a sermon. I am not a theologian, not even an amateur one. But I am a reader and student of theological works as I am of philosophy and history. What follows is not a manifesto or testament of my personal religious beliefs nor a scholarly paper subject to peer review, it is a meditation on some very ancient religious ideas, gleaned from many different sources.
In ancient times, before Christianity, before Islam, before even Judaism, there were in the Holy Land Patriarchs and Prophets who lived in proximity and coherence with their deity, a divine spirit expressed in the sounds EH, OH, AH, which became Jehovah, which became Joshua, which became Jesus, and Yahweh when spoken in reverse. These were names for the nameless.
These Patriarchs lived in the years from before the Flood until the dawning of Abraham. They left a cosmology, codified, arbitrarily or not, in a system of 7 days. The poet who saw and described the myth of the Garden of Eden prophesied what would become the great hubris of man, seen again in the Tower of Babel and the 40 years in the wilderness.
After the Flood, the hidden and difficult (for me) to understand doctrines of the Noachic tradition which symbolically added wine to the bread and meat sacrifices of Cain and Abel, but which did much more to establish the ground work for a return to Jehovah which had been prophesied as coming after the Fall.
These ancient Patriarchs left the world many important lessons, treasures buried in the ground, to be dug up when the need was greatest. Among them are these three: Atonement, Certainty. Empowerment.
Atonement. Many mistakes and erroneous concepts are gathered around the subject of atonement. It is believed that the human race must attone for it's sins in order to be worthy of God's love. But as the Patriarchs declared God loves all of His creation absolutely, unequivocally. He hates none of it. And He pours forth His love upon it in abundance. God sheds more love upon us than we take. Why is that? Because we have set up barriers against it with our erroneous thinking and behavior. We have constructed walls by thinking that we can exist without the Spirit, we can eat the forbidden fruit of our own interpretations, sacrifice the unholy fire in place of the truth. Atonement is the process of cleaning up the mess, tearing down the barriers and realizing the abundance of divine affection that is coming to us non stop from it's infinite source without questions.
Certainty. Certainty is more than belief and stronger than faith. Faith is needed to bear upon an outcome of which we are not sure. It ties itself to hope and a sense of righteousness. Certainty, on the other had, is the quality the Patriarchs held up as the right of man in his real relationship with God. Certainty was tested on Noah when he was told to build the ark. It was tested on Abraham when he was told by God to leave his home and go into a strange land. It was tested at the Red Sea when God refused to answer the prayer of the Israelites except to say in essence, "You have the right to cross the sea. Do it." It is said in one tradition that a Certain Man, named Nacshon, wadded into the water and as he did the sea gradually parted for him. The lack of certainty is what kept the Children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. The Patriarchs were certain of God's Word and it never failed them.
Empowerment. The Patriarchs had a daily, conscious, one to one relationship with Deity and that enabled them to receive directly the Divine word and the power that accompanied it. They had no churches, temples or synagogues They had no religions. They had a simple worship of a Deity they understood to be theirs. Moses provided the Israelites with the Ten Commandments which some treat as rules for living (which is not a bad idea) but they are more than that. They are prophecies of what life will be when perfection is reached among the human expressions of the divine, the image and likeness of God, the Kingdom of Heaven Earth. Through the years the ancient lessons of the Patriarchs has shown itself to be present in power, a strength given to man by his adherence to the Divine principles spoken by the Patriarchs and left for the world to own. It was with Joshua at Jericho, it was with David when he met Goliath. It is the power given to man that is greater than the power of wrong.
The history of the Fall, Atonement, Certainty and Empowerment of man is written in the Book of Job, probably the earliest book of the Bible. It is also written in the lives of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish prophets through the centuries.
As I said at the top, this is not a description of my own personal religious beliefs, but a gleaning from various sources of literature on religious subjects and my meditations on them. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
DB - Vagabond Journeys
It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you. Don't let the recent New York State decision rob you of your thunder.
Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?
8 answers so far.
You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.
WEEKEND CONTEST ANSWERS
Your task was to supply a different word or words in the place of "noodles." Enter as often as you wish. As usual the decision of the ornery, highly critical judge was final. The winner will receive an autographed copy of the recipe for Armadillo Fettuccine.
This is easy. Love with home grown Jersey tomatoes is better.
Love with bacon is better.
Love with pasta ala Italiano is better.
I prefer the minimalist approach: Love with canoodles is better.
"Love is good. Love with Listerine is better."
love with compassion....
It was a difficult choice. At first the judge couldn't decide between Listerine or compassion. But finally after flipping 15 coins and consulting the gypsy tea leaf reader he decided. So the autographed copy of Sr. Fettuccine's recipe goes to.....
mrs. miss alaineus for -
Love is good. Love with compassion is better.
Thank you all