This is my blog post published in the Universalist Herald magazine, a magazine devoted to the truth that all are “saved”.

Truth or Christianity

 

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world

Parents and friends contact me all the time asking me about signs and communicating with their departed loved ones. Just a couple of days ago a friend contacted me because she’s had a few signs from her brother who has crossed over, but she wanted to know how to better have a two way communication. I sent some resources to her that I will link to later in this post.

Yesterday, as I was cutting the grass, I listened to a podcast from a (Christian) philosopher and thinker.  I was really impressed with his takedown of scientism (the religious like belief in materialism), materialism, and the closely related atheism.  I was particularly impacted by the problem that materialists have with the very fundamental problem of identity. What is it that makes me me?  It’s clear to any conscious human being that I am me. But, what does that mean exactly?  For most of us it’s not a problem. We know who we are intuitively and we accept our personal experience of ourselves. From a materialistic, “show it it to me or it doesn’t exist” point of view, what can I point to and identify as me?  Is it my body?  Well, my body is very different now than it was when I was five years old.  None of the same molecules are even present.  My worldview has changed. My brain is different.  Yet, we all know, intuitively and experientially, that the Brian that was five year old Brian is still Brian at 56, even though I have changed.  Materially though, there is nothing I can point to though that identifies me as me which creates a crisis for materialists. Some have gone so far as to say no self exists, similar to the kook who said that consciousness isn’t real since he couldn’t explain how it arises from matter. Since there is no explanation for how physical materials could develop consciousness, in at least an attempt to be intellectually honest, this guy said “Well, I must not be conscious then. And, you aren’t conscious either since there is no such thing as consciousness.  It’s all an illusion.”

This is there problem with dogmatic, fundamentalist thinking. Of course, we all have a paradigm that informs how we view the world. But, we must remain flexible, aware of what the paradigm is, and ready to change based on the evidence. If your worldview tells you that you don’t exist or that you’re not conscious, it’s time to change your worldview. Otherwise, you end up believing some pure nonsense.

So, today I’m finishing up the two hour podcast and hear the host ask this guest what he thinks about a person who claims to have channeled the spirit of Stephen the Martyr.  The fascinating thing is this came through several occasions over a number of years.  The channeler was examined by an 88 year old Anglican priest who researched not only the philosophy of the messages, but the channeler spoke in ancient Greek and used terminology particular to a very small region and a particular sect that Stephen the Martyr was in.  The priest was skeptical at first, but because convinced over the years.  All in all, it’s a pretty impressive case. Without knowing any more about it than what I just said here, the Christian philosopher rejected it out of hand saying it was contradictory to what the Bible taught him, that Stephen the Martyr could never be channeled, and “Why would anyone believe anything a spirit says?  Because spirits lie.”

I was flabbergasted. Here is this guy who speaks so eloquently, who has studied philosophy, who just spent an hour condemning materialists for their rigid dogmatic views, and he was saying that this phenomenon that had been summarized in a description to him that took no more than two minutes was “impossible” based on his understanding of the Bible.  He wanted to hear no more about it.

Well, to answer his question about why would we believe anything a spirit has to say, there is 1 John 4:1 as a start. Why would John tell us to test the sports if they all lie?  There is the fact that there is a rich tradition in Judaism and Christianity of men being visited by angels (spirit beings, guy).  I guess it’s a good thing Mary didn’t say all spirits lie when the angel told her she was going to have a baby, or Joseph when the angel told him to take Mary as his wife.  Then, there’s this little known thing in Christianity called the “Holy Spirit”  The Holy Spirit is a spirit. Does the Holy Spirit lie?  Does the Bible really say all spirits lie?  Clearly not.

This is some dogmatic nonsense that I don’t have time for.  So, as promised.  Here are some resources.

1.) Christine Duminiak has a group on Facebook called After Death Communications and Prayer Wave .  Christine is a Christian (Catholic) who has written a book about how to recognize and encourage signs. The people in the group (almost 3,600 right now), will help you look for signs and will pray with you to receive signs. Christine believes that signs are allowed by God. So, it’s important to pray for them.

2.) Mark Pitstick has a audio available on his website that will help you learn how to connect with loved ones in spirit.  His Facilitated After Death Communication audio has helped many people connect with loved ones in spirit.

3.) R. Craig Hogan has on his site a (free) self-guided afterlife communications course.  After each module, you provide feedback to him, he gives you feedback on your results and you move to the next module.  He also has links to a guided afterlife communication technique developed by Rochelle Wright.  http://afterlifeconnections.org/craig.htm

4.) Susanne Wilson is one of the best mediums there is and she says that we can all learn to communicate with our own loved ones who have crossed over. In her book Soul Smart she gives details on how to do this and even provides scripts for meditations you can do to help you make this connection.

Back to the identity crisis I spoke of above. I know what makes me, me.  It’s not my brain. It’s not my body.  It’s my spirit.  I don’t have a spirit. I am a spirit.  When this body drops, my spirit is free, but it’s still me.  If you can talk to me while I’m in the body. Why should you not be able to talk to me when I’m out of the body? I guess that  it’s only forbidden until you drop your body, too. Then, us spirits can talk to each other. (I hope).  I am a spirit. Why should I be forbidden from talking to spirits just because they are no longer in meat suits?

They are not dead! they have but passed
Beyond the mists that blind us here
Into the new and larger life
Of that serener sphere.

They have but dropped their robe of clay
To put their shining raiment on;
They have not wandered far away—
They are not “lost” or “gone.”

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Mark 12 26-27 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

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Twice this week I’ve been counseled by Christians cautioning me against “consulting with the dead”.  One began flinging Bible verses at me, mainly from Deuteronomy (I’m not a big fan of Deuteronomy). When I told her that we are not Jews and that Paul said that if you try to justify yourself by following the Law, you are cutting yourself off from the grace of Christ (Galatians 5:4), she told me that what was a sin ever is always a sin. When I asked her about eating shellfish or wearing clothing of two different materials, both prohibited in her precious Law, she said obviously it’s the moral part of the Law that we have to follow, not “traditions of men”.  I guess she has the ability to discern between the two because I don’t see that spelled out in the book of Deuteronomy.

The other was a guy I am doing some bartering with.  Great guy.  He came over to do some work and I’m going to do some consulting with him. I had already spent a few hours with him before.  He looked up our business online which led him to my Facebook page. So, he knew I was doing some volunteer work. He thought it was so cool that I’m working with Helping Parents Heal, but when I mentioned the SoulPhone, his face went stone cold serious and he said “We’re not supposed to consult with the dead.”   I said “I get that a lot.” and changed the subject.

This is one of the reasons I don’t identify with Christianity anymore. First of all, most Christians don’t know their Bibles very well.  I pointed out to the woman who was trying to beat me up with Bible verses that Jesus told basically told us there are no dead (Mark 12:26).  Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the mountaintop in front of the disciples. If they were “dead” or even “sleeping”, how did they pull that one off?  Paul consulted with the risen Jesus on the Road to Damascus. Jesus was murdered before.  Dead guy.   The Bible is a good collections of works, a progressive revelation of man coming to understand who he is and who God is. It’s clear that God changes from the God of the Old Testament to the God of the New Testament. But, we know it’s man’s view of God that changed.

It’s silly superstition and a purity code of the Jews from several thousand years ago that convinces people we are not supposed to talk to someone simply because they have dropped their robe of clay.  That bond is still there.  Their spirit is still alive.  You’re not going to forbid me to “consult” with my loved ones. God would never command such a thing.

Christianity is stuck in a worldview from two thousand years ago. They closed the book on their canon never to revisit it.  When we look at the progress from the Hebrew scriptures to the last book penned that made it into the canon, we can see an arc. If we look at the gospels excluded from the canon, we see even greater wisdom.  Imagine what the Bible would look like now if we allowed that arc to continue.  Imagine if  two thousand years of mankind’s evolution were allowed to shape the Bible. For example, at the time the Bible was written many believe the dead were dead. The dead “know nothing”. The dead, at best, were asleep- oblivious to our world.  We now know from NDEs, after death communications, medium readings, etc. that the dead are far from asleep. They don’t fall asleep. If anything they fall awake. The dead tell us they feel more alive the moment they step out of their bodies than they ever did in their bodies.  Everything seems more real. It’s this world that feels like a dream.

Put simply, there are no dead. There are people in physical bodies and people in “glorified” bodies (as Paul called them).

Pretty much every day I ponder the meaning of life. It’s what I do.  Why are we here?  Why is here pretty much hell for so many people? If we’re going to be here, what should we be doing and why do we have to bother with it?  And, I get answers.  Usually when they come, they’ll come in clusters, from at least two sources.  It’s this confirmation that signals me they are being sent to me, not me just making them up.

I am reading George Anderson’s Life Between Heaven and Earth right now.  It’s a series of people’s life stories coupled to medium readings they have had with George and the life lessons that have come from the souls who reveal some of what they know now that they are on the other side.  I wrote about doors a couple of days ago, how our earthly lives begin by walking in the door of birth and end by walking out the door of death, but meanwhile, we are going through a series of doors in between- that came from this book. Another common theme in the book is George keeps referring to this place, Earth(school), as Purgatory or as a proving ground.    The spirits tell us this as well. We are here to learn, to grow, to be tested. This isn’t supposed to be a  rose garden. This is supposed to be tough. For most of us it is tough.  If it isn’t for you, just wait a while.

So, today as I’m walking, I decide to listen to the latest Swedenborg podcast.  It’s on conscience.  According to Swedenborg one of the primary reasons we are here is to develop our conscience. Conscience, according to Swedenborg, isn’t simply knowing right from wrong, it’s developing a love for what is right- for truth and goodness.  Maybe a better word would be character.  There is a new age teaching that we have this Higher Soul that is fully developed conscience-wise and that we can tap into that to make ourselves better people.  The idea is to make our human side line up with our Higher Soul which is already evolved.If we did have this more evolved Higher Self, why is our human self so undeveloped?  Swedenborg looks at it a bit differently. He’s probably call that Higher Soul our inner self. And, it’s not fully developed. We comes here to develop it. We come here to determine the shape of our soul.   What we do here, what we love here, what we learn to cherish here- that’s what determines what we are like in the afterlife. That is what determines our place in the hereafter.

There was a time when I was a Christian that, like most Christians, I was hyper-focused on salvation. Salvation, for me, meant an escape from Hell. That was it. That was my only concern. I remember telling my counselor that all I wanted was to get into Heaven, just scrape by. I didn’t care about a mansion or what happened after I got there.  Just leave me alone in a little corner by myself. Anything other than Hell was good enough for me.  That is the result of thinking of myself as not being worthy and never able to make myself worthy.  I was told my righteousness was “as filthy rags”. So, why even bother, if that’s what you’re told?  Now I realize that I am supposed to work on myself. I am supposed to choose right over and over again, making myself a better person until it becomes a habit, becomes ingrained into my very nature and becomes what I love.

The last couple of years have been a major challenge for me.  Not only has Shayna’s passing sent me for a loop, I’ve been facing a challenge with our business that seems completely intractable.  I started a project a year ago next month, that should have taken a few weeks.  The company I’ve employed to do the work has let me down time and time again. These delays have cost me tens of thousands of dollars and have put my livelihood at risk.  Four months ago I was told the project would be finished in a matter of a couple of weeks. A month ago, I thought it would be a few days.  I want to scream every curse word I know at these people.  I want to not pay them for the work.  I want to fire them and start all over. I want to take them to court and sue them.  I am so angry and frightened that I cannot even express it.  Kayla wants to go to Spain this summer with school. I can’t commit to paying for that until I know how this is going to turn out.  Tywana and I want to go to Arizona this September and next April.  I can’t commit to that until I know how this is going to turn out.  I’ve been sitting in this valley a long time and the scenery is getting pretty boring. I’m ready for a change.  And, every day, all day, I grind, trying to figure out what to do next to make it change.  If I can’t get this done and it doesn’t work out, I might be looking for a job for the first time in nearly 20 years and I really, really do not want to do that.

Then, I read George Anderson. I listen to Swedenborg.  I sit in meditation and leave this world of trouble, even if temporarily and only in my mind.  I pull back and I look at the big picture. This life isn’t about the acquisition of things. It’s not even about comfort.  It’s about creating the character I will have on the other side.  I look at all of this crap that’s been piled on me and I think of it as a character building exercise. It’s an obstacle on the obstacle course. This life is about assembling that character.

This morning I listen to a Podcast by a friend of mine.  Her subject- what will follow Christianity? The demise of Christianity has been predicted by many. And  trends don’t bode well for it.  Church attendance is on the decline.  Rightfully so, IMO. Most churches teach not only things that aren’t useful, they are spreading poison.  Lies about the nature of God, this life, the afterlife, the Bible, etc. etc.  They tell people they are worthless miserable sinners that God detested so much He had to kill Himself.  And, they tell you the only way you can be sure to appease this god (small g) is to follow their rules.  Fortunately, there are only about 30,000-40,000 Christian denominations to choose from, so your chances of getting it right are pretty good </sarcasm>.

After many years of wrestling with my Christianity, I finally decided about two years ago to give up on trying to stretch Christianity fit what I had become. To say I’m a Christian, but I don’t believe in Eternal Conscious Torment, the inerrancy of the Bible, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, etc. etc. because untenable.  I was studying Buddhism, Taoism, meditation, reading about NDEs, talking to mediums, studying what leading edge science is telling us about the afterlife and, maybe more importantly, the nature of this universe.  I realized that I had formed my own “faith”, my own “religion” and it didn’t fit into any one else’s box.  I went to a non-denominational church, attended a UCC church for quite a while, back to non-denominational, and now I’m at a Unity church. But, I’m not tied to any of those dogmas. I’ve studied Buddhism and I practice some of it, but I’m not a Buddhist.

When I attended the Suzanne Giesemann’s “Back To Your Center” conference a month ago I realized that Suzanne and others are teaching a new kind of spirituality.  It’s a spirituality not based on faith, but based on evidence.  It doesn’t require any particular practices or set of beliefs. And, the greatest commandment is what Jesus said it was- Love.  If Christians acted like Jesus and taught what Jesus taught, Christianity would be a whole ‘nother thing. But, they don’t act like Him and they don’t teach what He taught. I think the word “Christian” is damaged beyond repair.

I realized I am a Brianist.  I practice Brianism. It’s an ever-evolving religion that has no set practices, rituals or dogmas.  It’s customized to fit me and only me.  Tywana and I have very similar spirituality, even more so since the passing of Shayna, but we are not exactly alike. And, that’s the way it should be.  When I was a Christian, I attempted to proselytize.  I don’t do that anymore. I’m not seeking to make converts, other than to encourage each and every person I meet to be the best version of themselves they can be and to realize they are loved more than they can possibly imagine and nothing can keep them separate from the love of God/Spirit/Universe because they are that.

Today I got into a pretty heated exchange with a handful of my liberal/progressive friends on Facebook.  I posted one of my favorite Bible scriptures- Ezekiel 16:49 which clearly states the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but arrogance, gluttony and lack of concern for the poor.  One would think my liberal brothers and sisters would have been cheering this one.  Instead, a handful took it as an opportunity to attack the Bible in particular, scripture in general, Christianity in particular and scripture in general.  It was a full out assault by some of them.

As a former Christian, I can understand the criticisms of Christianity and the Bible because I’ve felt and voiced all of them myself.  The Bible is far from perfect and has been used as a tool to promote misogyny, sexism, racism, slavery and genocide.  Need I go on?  Christianity has been the dominant religion in the West for close to 2,000 years and is responsible for many, many deaths and a lot of heartache. I get that. I get it when someone says that neither is for them, ever again.  Fine.  No problem.

What I have a problem with is when my liberal/progressive brothers and sisters became as judgmental as the most fundamentalist Christians.  My friends were comparing Christianity to an abusive marriage.  One went so far as to say that an addict that escapes drug addiction by finding faith in religion has simply traded one addiction for another- implying that both are equally harmful  One said (I’m paraphrasing) that good behavior brought on by compulsion is not good behavior at all and he gives no credit for it.  I wonder if he’d be surprised to find out the Bible and Christianity actually agree with him.  But, he presumed or concluded that all good behavior done by Christians is done out of a fear of hell.  He has completely neglected the fact that a true understanding of Christianity leads to good deeds done out of gratitude for what God has already done for us and the recognition that our fellow man is our brother, made in the image of our Father.  When I discovered Christian Universalism many years ago and began hanging with people who had new found freedom offered by the understanding they were not compelled to believe anything or to go to church  many of them started berating me for still going to church.  They wanted to use their freedom to tell me what I could not or should not do

My friends yesterday argued that good people would be good people with or without religion.  This is interesting, since I had earlier made the argument that racists and homophobes would be racists and homophobes with or without scripture.  Neither of us can prove our point. But, I can say I have known many, deeply religious Christians who are exemplary  human beings, including both of my parents.  Religion has bound them in some areas.  Some things from their former teachings they have had to overcome.  But, it has also inspired them to go beyond what most human beings ever achieve in terms of compassion.

As a middle way kind of person, I see both sides of this argument.  I would never (again) tell anyone he has to be a Christian or go to church.  People certainly can be amazing human beings without a religion or a religious community.  Religion has been too abused in some people’s eyes for them to ever go back to it. I don’t advocate for any particular religion, anymore. I think everyone has to find his own unique path.  I do attend a church.  I’m not a member. I do have a  community of people I gather with on a regular basis both in that church and in other groups.  They are people of like minds, beliefs and goals. We don’t have a formal religion. I practice Brianism.  It’s my own blend.  But, to deny the positive impact of Christianity and even the Bible on Western civilization I think is not only wrong, it’s ineffective. There are still many, many people who are in churches, who take the Bible seriously if not literally.  And, you are never going to reach those people from a position of putting their faith and their scriptures down.  Better to understand their scriptures and teach them what they really say.  Better to understand their faith and teach them what Jesus really taught.  And, it’s also more loving to do so.

Ezekiel 16:49- “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

This was written for the Jews over 2,000 years ago in a land and a time far removed from America in 2017. But, the words are just as true today as they were then.  Substitute the name “America” for “Sodom” and it could have been written yesterday. This is the power of scripture.  Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is not for me. Many parts of the Bible and Christianity still resonate deeply with me.

I’m amazed that some of my Christian universalist buddies love saying “ALL things are possible with God”–yet they balk at the notion of God speaking and supernaturally acting NOW. So they live in the gray world of doctrinal head-knowledge. Then, I have my charismatic buddies who love saying “ALL things are possible with God”–yet they balk at the notion that Jesus will actually SUCCEED in His mission to save the World! ???
LORD HELP US ALL TO NOT LIMIT YOU NOW–OR EVER!

As a (former) Christian Universalist, a person who holds scripture in high regard (but not inerrant), and a man of science, but a believer in the spirit world, this quote from my Facebook friend really resonated with me.  I do believe God is still speaking, still acting and that not one will be permanently lost. And, I am excited by the discoveries being made by science and how those dovetail with what philosophers and theologians have been telling us for centuries.  Man has known since the beginning of consciousness that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Ironically, with the coming of the “modern age” and the rise of materialism, we have forgotten who we are and are starting from scratch trying to figure it out.  This quote reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend just a few days ago.

I was telling him how some scientists are going beyond materialism to find that consciousness is actually the ground of being (that is what Paul Tillich called God). Max Planck discovered this 100 years ago, but scientists are finally beginning to accept the material universe would not exist without consciousness.  Several, not most- yet are figuring this out. I thought this would thrill my conservative Christian, Bible literalist, friend. But, no. He thought it sounded self-centered and rejected it. I tried again. I said “consciousness, as in our collective consciousness, not individually.  Without consciousness, the material doesn’t even exist. The question of whether a tree falls in forest making a sound if there is no-one there to hear it actually goes beyond an exercise in philosophy.  I always thought that was a stupid question.  Of course, it makes a sound.  But, if consciousness isn’t  here to observe the universe, the tree doesn’t even exist. I told him that “consciousness is another word for ‘God’. Scientists are discovering that God is the ground of all being.” Still, he resisted. He doesn’t need science. Doesn’t need any new discoveries. He has scripture. I went further “The universe existed long before scripture started to be recorded a few thousand years ago. God revealed himself in other ways during the time they were writing scripture. God continues to reveal Godself through nature now. You can learn about God by looking at the way the seasons progress or the way the sunlight provides all of the energy to the Earth, or through modern scientific discoveries.” Still, he wasn’t interested. He has scripture and that is enough.

:::: deep sigh ::::: Next subject.

I was just wasting time on Facebook and saw the headline that LifeWay (a Christian bookstore has decided to not carry Amy Grant’s new Christmas album deeming it “not Christian enough”.  Amy Grant, the multi-Grammy winner and Christian music icon- her new album isn’t “Christian enough”.Hey, it’s their choice, but it highlights one of my problems with Christianity. The “narrow path” view.

Yesterday I was walking with my buddy and we were chatting about life and stuff.  I’ve decided to not try to push Swedenborg on him, even though Swedenborg is what is really resonating with me right now. I sent him a link to one of Swedenborg’s videos about the metaphysical/metaphorical meaning of one of the Bible stories.The video is “What the 7 Days of Creation Mean”.  Swedenborg says the world wasn’t created in a literal seven day time period. This is not news to most of us, which causes many of us to throw the story out all together as the ancient musings of pre-scientific people who were backward enough to believe that man was literally a mud doll until God blew wind into his nasal passages. People who take a metaphorical view of the story though, seeing it as a myth that describes not only the arc of mankind, but the arc of each of us as we come into our own autonomy and eventually get onto a spiritual path back to our Creator, can appreciate the story as much or more than those who take it literally.  I couldn’t help bringing up Swedenborg when he asked me what has been helping me lately because I’ve been studying this higher view of the Old Testament stories quite a bit.  I didn’t push it. I just mentioned it.  But, there it was. Swedenborg was on the table again.

Then, my buddy told me that he decided years ago that he had found the source(s) of objective truth and basically wasn’t interested in finding any more. To take the Bible stories as metaphorical is a kind of slippery slope. The further you get away from the “objective” (I think he used this word to mean literal) understanding, the more prone to error you are. I countered with my view which is that even if you take the stories literally, there must be a higher reason why they were included in the text. I mean who really cares about Noah and his sons or about Abraham and Isaac or about any of the stories if there isn’t a deeper, universal meaning. And if there is and I can get that meaning without getting down in the weeds and saying “Wait a minute.  You mean a donkey talked?  God killed every woman, man, child and animal on the planet because he was pissed at them?”, isn’t that a good thing?  If we can agree on the higher meaning, we can both get value from the story whether we take it literally or figuratively.  Let’s set the literal aside and discuss the deeper meaning.  That’s the way I look at it.

The one thing we did agree on is there is objective truth and if something is true, other things must be false.  No harm.  No foul. We can still be friends. I’ll just keep my Swedenborg to myself.

But, then there’s this. Just as we finished up the walk, he asked me to come over to his truck. He had some reading material for me.  Now, I’ve told him many times my reading queue is really full. I’ve already read PhilipYancey and C.S. Lewis and several of the “Christian” books he’s recommended to me.  I read Dr. Timothy Johnson’s book that he lent to me.  We’ve discussed Charles Colson and I’ve told him I have no interest in reading Colson. So, when he reaches into his truck, what does he pull out?  Charles Colson and a book about religion and politics. It was all I could do to keep a straight face.  Charles Colson?

I think my buddy thinks I’ve lost my way. I’m no longer Christian enough. I read the Bible, but I don’t take it literally. I believe in Jesus, but I don’t think He is the “only way” at least not in the traditional, literal Christian sense.  I meditate. I study Buddhism.  And, I study Swedenborg. Now, what he probably doesn’t know is Swedenborg has a very, very high view of Jesus or “the Lord” as Swedenborg refers to him.  Swedenborg has an extremely high view of scripture, calling the Bible “the word” and taking all of it very, very seriously as being divinely inspired.  But, because Swedenborg doesn’t line up with what some have deemed as Christian enough (by modern Christian standards), Swedenborg is rejected out of hand. His claims to have visited the spiritual realms and having spoken with angels are dismissed as wild fantasies by people who believe Paul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, Peter saw a vision of a sheet being lowered from heaven and Paul visited the “third heaven” without even batting an eye. Why are these things true? They’re true because they’re in the Bible.

Being Christian enough stopped being a concern to me a very long time ago. All I care about are “Is it true? and “Does it advance my spiritual journey?” I might have to check out that Amy Grant album.

According to Swedenborg, God is Truth/Wisdom AND Love.  If we are to be like Him, we must have both, in balance.

Love without Wisdom/Truth leads to error and being easily led astray.  Truth without love leads to intolerance and tyranny.  We can know the highest Truth, but if we apply it without regard to Love, it’s worthless.

Too many people are choosing “truth” over Love. When your gay child comes to you and you reject him because of what the Bible says, you are choosing “truth” over Love. When you would rather be right than maintain a relationship, you are choosing “truth” over Love.  When you decide that a person voting for a particular candidate is not only not worthy of your respect, they’re not worthy of your time, you are choosing “truth” over Love.  Churches break up over this choice. It’s why we have 30,000-40,000 Christian denominations.  Jesus said they would know us by our Love, not by our “truth”.

This election season is the most divided I can recall in my lifetime. I know families where siblings are not speaking to each other.  Life long friendships are dissolving, all because one person chose one candidate and the other person chose another.

Is your “truth” worth sacrificing the Love that binds you? I think right now, many of us need to seriously meditate on this question.

I just ran across a meme that says “People aren’t addicted to drugs or alcohol.  People are addicted to escaping reality.”  This is certainly one of the truest and succinct memes I have ever seen.

I caught an episode of Vice News this past week. It was about the heroin addiction that is sweeping the nation. They interviewed a guy, local to me, who keeps doing heroin even though two members of his family, including his mother, DIED due to overdoses.  Heroin is being cut with an animal tranquilizer now which is making taking heroin basically like playing Russian roulette.  You don’t know when the chamber with the bullet will come around, but you can be pretty sure it will.

He knows he will probably die himself, but he’s willing to take the risk to escape the reality he is living in.  He said he is not suicidal. He’s not trying to kill himself. Meanwhile, his wife sits right next to him. She has had to call the police to come help him when he has overdosed. She’s begging him to quit.  But, he is so desperate to escape the reality he sees that he’s willing to risk the permanent escape that awaits him if he ODs for the temporary escape of the high.

When people lose hope, lose sight of who they are, look around and see a crazy, materialistic, selfish world, and they don’t see any end in sight, they have to escape.  Drugs and alcohol offer them that escape.  I saw statistics earlier this week that shows the death rate for people in America between the ages of 45-60 is up.  More people in that age range are dying now than were in the past. Even while overall death rates are down- people are living longer, that group is dying more. And the reason is largely due to “poisonings” (overdoses) and suicides.

Last night I attended a study group at church. The group studies the book “A Course In Miracles”.  A Course In Miracles is a deep, metaphysical, book that’s about as long as the Bible itself.  It presents a whole new way of looking at “reality”. It actually dovetails nicely with the studying I’ve been doing in my own attempt to understand what is actually real.  This for me is the only way I can deal with the “reality” of this planet.  There has to be a different way of looking at it.

When faced with a vision of reality that we just can’t cope with, we have to make a choice. Do we seek a different view of that reality? Do we assume our view must be flawed and that if we can gain a different perspective, we might be able to not only deal with that reality, but to embrace it?  Or, do we attempt to escape that reality through the use of drugs, alcohol, sex, the pursuit of money or domination over others destroying it and ourselves in the process?