Best of Spirits

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Best of Spirits

Jesus Stands There

Crossing all barriers of culture and language and time

One day long ago, at the beginning of a break from college, I sat down in my mom's back yard with the practically untouched Bible she'd given me years before for my catechism, and I read the four gospels for myself, really for the first time.

Answered many questions, raised many more.

I was persuaded by nothing more than those records — and have never had cause to be dissuaded since — of Jesus' historic reality, and indeed the general accuracy of what he was reported to have said and done. Miracles and all.

Mark Gospel fragmentI'm no inerrantist. (I always say every word of the Judeo-Christian scripture may be divinely perfect, but that doesn't necessarily mean every passage means what we think it means.) However, I find the gospels all the more persuasive in that despite seeming contradictions and some general confusion of sequence (how many times did he do the mass feedings?), despite intervening centuries, and recopying glitches and translation problems known and unknown...

Jesus stands there, confounding the 'wise' while both amusing and uplifting the commoners, and readers centuries later,

replacing crippling ceremony with liberating simplicity a child can understand (good Samaritan),

forgiving his 'enemies' even as they're nailing him to the cross,

living his teachings magnificently, through all trials, to the horrifying glorious end,

concerned even to the last about others, his mother, his followers, the thief the next cross over,

and when it was finally at an end, when his mortal brain was expiring, going down reciting Psalms.

Then coming back like a Boss.

Among other immortal highlights from his saga.

You know the saying, you can't make stuff like this up? I am persuaded that nobody alive then could have made this up.

Which leaves this reader confronted with a personal call across two thousand years that I still strive to answer.

Best of Spirits

The Romans Were Good at Dead

Everybody knew no man could possibly survive.

Jesus pierced,origJesus pierced,flipped L-RThis was the saddest day on earth.

Jesus was dead. There was no question about it.

The Romans were experts, and everybody knew it. He was dead, thoroughly dead, in the most public possible way.

Absolutely everyone knew without question that he was dead.

The crucified might take lingering days to die. Because of the objections of the Jews to leaving the crucified lingering over the holidays, the Romans in this case dispatched the three crucified early, two by breaking their legs, which quickly caused suffocation.

Except one of the crucified, unusually, was already dead. With typical Roman skill, they put a spear up under the ribs into the heart, anyway, to be absolutely sure. We know they pieced his heart by report of the draining from the sword wound of blood and pericardial effusion.

You don't get deader than Romans made you.

Jesus was dead, that one thing was certain.

Searching for an image for this article, I found the depictions shown (depending on your display) on the left and right side. The images on the right are the originals.

Which side is your heart on?

"But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out." -John 19:34

"When these soldiers arrived at Golgotha, they did accordingly to the two thieves, but they found Jesus already dead, much to their surprise. However, in order to make sure of his death, one of the soldiers pierced his left side with his spear. Though it was common for the victims of crucifixion to linger alive upon the cross for even two or three days, the overwhelming emotional agony and the acute spiritual anguish of Jesus brought an end to his mortal life in the flesh in a little less than five and one-half hours." —Urantia Paper 187

Best of Spirits

Revelation and Heresy

Dangers of opposing the entrenched dangerous error

One man's enlightened truth is another's heresy. As Jesus' arrest, trial, & execution most eternally, vividly demonstrated, you buck the Powers That Be at risk of your very life.

Jesus was born into the greatest monotheism on earth, no question. Almost like it was planned. @@ But he found it woven with both truth and error. He sought to dramatize, amplify, glorify the truths. He didn't waste time correcting the error, but was not reticent to condemn it and show the better way. For this heresy, he paid the full price.

Spike through the wristChristianity today is like Judaism of Jesus' day, the mightiest truth encumbered with innumerable superstitious and philosophical flaws. Considering the wildly conflicting variety of what is called or considered Christian, this seems undeniable.

Error has a range, from harmless misconception which might actually transiently strengthen belief, to the inversion of truth which undermines faith.

The harmless really should not be corrected precipitously: the young-earth believer who comes to understand geology may, lacking good counsel, throw out the baby of faith with the bathwater of misinterpretation. (Apologies to all young-earthers, especially any whose weak, belief-based faith I've just crushed.)

Grievous error, however, is inimical to one's spiritual progress, and to promulgation of the gospel. That which Jesus cited were the potential, and eventual, doom of his people: nationalistic pride, false messianic beliefs, basically the problem as old as the prophets, subversion of their spiritual value to mere worldly things.

Evil won in the small when the leadership in Jerusalem, and the masses who can be fooled most of the time, chose to reject their greatest prophet. Good won in the large, naturally, as "the stone which the builders rejected became the cornerstone" of a new religion. That was only the backup plan, though, and it had some problems of its own.

Besides their theological readiness for Jesus' uplifting truth, Judaism's strengths, as a people, were their unity through Jerusalem while yet being threaded through all the world; from Britain to East Asia there were Jews. They traveled; they kept in touch. Had Jesus' preachment been accepted, this ready network would have been the means of proliferation of the new truth, peacefully infiltrating the world's peoples.

The Greeks, the Romans, and the raggedy bunch of ex-pat Jews who took up Christ did not have the same kind of central temple, tribal loyalty, nor theological and philosophical foundation as a group, as basis for the most faithful representation of Jesus' actual gospel, as free as possible from superstitious barnacles.

Needless to say, the new religion also suffered from a lack of the continuing presence of the Teacher, at least in the flesh, to guide new understanding and weed out error, as he might have done for decades if he had been permitted to live, accepted and appreciated by his people.

What errors of Christianity are relatively harmless and which are dangerous surely varies from Christian order to Christian order, from congregation to congregation, from Christian to Christian. Some have flotsam of belief which are not required for faith, but which keep their faith afloat for now, and to take that away can only be done by showing first that one is safely on dry land. Some have exclusivist ideas which I deem Jesus would disapprove, and which they will cling to, unto death; not their death, but maybe yours if you try to correct them, depending on the century and location.

What if there is a flaw in Christianity that is so fundamental it must be addressed, for the sake of Christianity's very survival as the messenger of Jesus' gospel? What if teachers of a better way, not the many who think they have a better way when they really only bring more old baggage, but a true new and better way, what if such teachers came to Christianity today? Would Christianity learn from history? repeat it?

What if the prime error of Christianity is its purported prime tenet? What if Christianity is in effect two religions, admixed, the teaching of Jesus, and the beliefs of men, and the time has come for purification, enhancement of truth and disavowal of faith- and gospel-encumbering error?

Would the preponderance of Christian authority conspire with state authority to effect the annihilation of the new truth and its adherents?

Nawww. That kind of thing never happens.

Best of Spirits

Josiah the Blind

Suddenly, there was mud on his eyelids.

There wasn't much for a blind man to do but beg in those days.

Josiah, at least, had a good high-traffic spot near the healing pool.

Blind from birth, Josiah didn't complain about his lot. Could be worse. At least he didn't have leprosy.

One day, Josiah overheard some strangers talking nearby, one saying he proposed to use Josiah. Suddenly, there was mud on his eyelids. "WTF?" thought Josiah, "That's spit!"

He got up, stumbled down the steps to the pool, washed off the mud, and discovered he could, for the first time in his life, see!

Josiah washing in the Pool of Siloam
He didn't ask for it. He didn't know who his benefactor had been. Some guy named Jesus.

He didn't even know what to do, so, at first, he went back to his usual begging spot, but folks pretty quickly took note that the old blind guy could see.

Word got around. The authorities heard about it. They dragged him into court. They interrogated his parents. They accused him of fraud. Even though they all knew, at heart, that the blind had been made to see.

Josiah gave great testimony.

He simply told the facts. "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."

Then he told the truth. "Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing."

They couldn't handle the truth.

Jesus picked a pretty good messenger.

They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

When Josiah learned that he had been cast out of the synagogue, he was at first greatly downcast, but he was much encouraged when Jesus directed that he should immediately prepare to go with them to the camp at Pella. This simple-minded man of Jerusalem had indeed been cast out of a Jewish synagogue, but behold the Creator of a universe leading him forth to become associated with the spiritual nobility of that day and generation.

And now Jesus left Jerusalem, not again to return until near the time when he prepared to leave this world. With the two apostles and Josiah the Master went back to Pella. And Josiah proved to be one of the recipients of the Master’s miraculous ministry who turned out fruitfully, for he became a lifelong preacher of the gospel of the kingdom.

Why did Jesus put spit on the blind man?
by chrissythehyphenated at PoliNation

Turkey and Cheese Omelette Breakfast
What We Eat #1. 2014 Feb 13
Breakfast of Turkey and Cheese Omelette
with toast, coffee, and juice

I didn't feel much like fussing with bacon, so when I looked in the refrigerator drawer and saw sliced turkey, I was happily inspired to make a Turkey and Swiss Omelette. A tasty recipe to be repeated.

The plate may look a little bare as a result of no side dish other than buttered toast, but the omelette has all the goodies, including oregano, cumin, and cilantro, and a dollop of our own Santa Fe-style hot green chili sauce on top. Orange-peach-mango juice with a dash of cranberry. And coffee. Mmm.

Photo: Mindful Webworker