Where Christianity went wrong?

During the last decades, the phenomenon of near-death experience (NDE) has become widely known all around the world. However, there are documented testimonies about NDE already in ancient Greece. This phenomenon has become more common when the medical science has become better in resuscitation people. Also, the knowledge of NDE has been spread widely thanks to the internet and books written by the experiencers. Scientists have documented tens of thousands NDEs all around the world. The most striking feature in these testimonies is the similar characteristics in them, regardless of the cultural or religious background of the experiencer.

The experiencers testify about entering the realm of peace, happiness and love. It is a realm sounding a lot like heaven. They are surrounded by light, a living entity, who they experience as the source of everything, the divine, God. This divine light is unconditional love. The experiencers are not judged by this divinity but by themselves. They get to re-live their lives and get to feel the pain they have caused other people but also the happiness they have brought by treating others lovingly. These live review is all about how the person has treated her/his fellow humans. It is all about love or lack of it.

Already the similarities and the vast amount of the experiences makes it plausible to conclude that consciousness continues to exist after death. These experiences also indicate that there indeed is a divine source of everything that we can call God, who is unconditional love. This God loves everyone regardless of their religion, or lack of it, and everyone will enter to the realm of love, peace and happiness after the body dies.

This means that the three biggest religions in the world, the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are all wrong in their teaching of the essence of God. For instance, Christianity teaches that all people are condemned to hell because of the original sin. The Christian God is an angry one, full of hatred towards people, a sadistic being who wants torture humans in hell in all eternity. Only those who convert themselves to Christianity are included to the salvation earned to humanity by Jesus when he died on the cross two thousand years ago.

The central gestalt in Christianity, Jesus, was a poor, simple carpenter. Writing about Jesus tell us that he was a kind man, full of love for the underdog in society; women, criminals, poor and sick. He spent time with people that the good and religious Jews avoided and despised. He healed the sick and comforted the sad and unhappy. He did not condemn the sinners but accepted them and encouraged them to live a better life. He was an ascetic who criticized the rich and greedy. His message was that God loves everyone.

Jesus was a radical. His teaching was in total opposition to the religion in which he was born into. Judaism was, and is, about exclusion, purity and moral conduct. Jews see themselves to be chosen by God, holy people. God loves only those Jews that live their lives according the laws of moral conduct and purity, and no one else. The life of a religious Jew is a series of acts of avoidance: of impure food, impure places and impure people.

Jesus teaching was in total opposition to the Jewish religion, it was all about inclusion. His message was that all people are welcome to the kingdom of God, that is not a kingdom on the earth but in the hearts of people. God loves everyone, regardless of their nationality, morality and actions. He taught that the only command that matters is “Do to others what you would have them do to you”, the Golden rule. The God he described is in in line with the essence of God as described by experiencers of NDE.

For many nonreligious western people the names of Jesus and Christianity have negative connotations. And no wonder when the teaching of Christianity is what it is! As the origin of Christianity is that of the teaching of Jesus, how come that it is so far from its source?

History teach us that people seem not to be able to take a new idea or ideology as something totally fresh and novel but they try to incorporate it as an appendix to the existing culture and religion. The first Christians were Jews and they understood Jesus to be a new prophet within Judaism. It is likely that they didn’t understand his message to have totally new values and ways of thinking.

Christianity became the religion of scripture, where a religious text, New Testament, is seen as a message of God, around which a religious doctrine was build. People seem to need a story, or even better, many stories.  There is too little for the priests to build a religious doctrine around on a simple message of an all loving God. Priests need a text to be studied, a holy scripture to be dissected intellectually. The obsession with texts that can be read and interpreted as words of the divine is perhaps a residual of primitive magical thinking, where words contain power, especially if these words are in a language not understood by commoners. If you utter the words right, magic happens.

The original message of Jesus became even more distorted when Christianity in year 313 became the state religion of the Roman empire. It was transformed to a tool for state politics, to a tool to control the behavior of the citizens, and lost its core meaning totally. The Catholic church was in the peak of its power during the middle ages, which is also called the dark ages, a time when ordinary people were totally suppressed and controlled by the fear of hell and tyranny of the church. The freedom of thought and wellbeing in the modern western world became possible only when Christianity and church lost its power with the era if Enlightenment.

It is first now because of the many testimonies of NDEs we start to understand that Jesus was indeed an enlightened being and full of the divine light and love of God. One cannot help but to ponder how different the past two thousand years of human history had looked alike if Christianity had been faithful to the teachings of Jesus?

Why did the divine light choose to show itself among the Jews? One can only speculate. Jesus said that those who are healthy do not need healing but those who are sick. Maybe the divine light needed to come to the geographical location that was the sickest of all? And still is, as we hear in the news every day.

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Here is the link to a video presenting some interesting ideas about Jesus in the light of NDE by David Sunfellow, the president of the organization New Heaven, New Earth.

https://youtu.be/qNT7sU174HU

If you want to study in-depth the Hebrew Bible, a high standard academic lecture series at Yale University can be followed in YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo-YL-lv3RY&list=PLh9mgdi4rNeyuvTEbD-Ei0JdMUujXfyWi

 

Christmas every day

caravaggio-adorazione-dei-pastori

God watched the people in the game of life he had created and was sad. No one seemed to be happy. Poor people were suffering and desperate in their daily struggle trying to make ends meet, when those in power exploited them mercilessly. You could think that the rich and powerful were happy, but no: they were constantly anxious in their intrigues and conspiracies. They couldn’t trust anyone, not even their own family in their fear to lose their riches and to be killed.

“Why can’t people understand what happiness is made of?” God thought. “Should I send someone there to teach them?” Hundreds of years went by on earth when he deliberated with the lords of the universe if an intervention was possible within the framework of the rules of that universe. Finally, the lords gave God permission to make an intervention, but only a very subtle one. After all, people on earth were entitled to form their life and the planed as they wished.

They suggested that God could once more influence a person to became a prophet as he had done several times before. This was after all the method that was totally acceptable within the rules. But God was not very keen of this solution. He had often been disappointed in the prophets when they forgot their mission and fell in love with power. Almost all of them became interested in making a religion through which they could control people. Instead, he wanted to send his trusted angel, Gabriel, to teach what is important but the lords of the universe could not accept that. An angel is not a very subtle being, the lords protested: it would have been too obviously a divine intervention, and that was for sure against the rules.

“Could you trust me to go to the earth?” The lords and angels in heaven were surprised once more that God cared so much about these carbon-based beings. They laughed “Would you say that would be a subtle intervention? Like last time, when you showed yourself for Moses?  You must excuse us God but it seems impossible for you be discreet.”

“I can’t trust humans to be reliable prophets and I can’t go to earth myself because of my essence. Why about the solution in between. I mean, I would go to earth myself using its own mechanisms by being born as a human being and living like one. That must be within the boundaries of the rules!” God was very excited about this new idea of his. He was very keen to experience life in flesh. The lords were so surprised about this suggestion no one had ever thought before. They started to argue with each other eagerly. After a while they became silent. Then lord Lucifer, whose domain the earth was, spoke: “We give you the permission to be born to earth but only with the condition that you are very discrete and live the life truly as a human being.”

And God was born on earth as a boy called Jesus. God kept his promise to the lords of universe and lived a very ordinary and quiet life toiling for his daily bread. He did not experience himself as God, but as a son of God. He constantly discussed in his mind with his own divine part he called father. When he became a grown man, he started to teach. His message to the people was very simple: love is the only thing that matters. Commodities everyone needed to live and to make life easier and more comfortable could never alone make them happy, only love could do that. If people want to live a happy life, they must learn to respect and take care of each other instead of exploiting each other. He lived his life as an example of this. He was friend with those the so called good people avoided: the outcasts and sinners. He healed the sick, gave food to the hungry, discussed with everyone and accepted ordinary workers and even women as his followers.

He had chosen to be born in a culture that had turned the rules of good living for rules of sin. People watched each other’s behavior and functioned as judges for each other dealing cruel punishments. They believed they needed to conciliate God with sacrifices to get forgiveness for trespassing the rules. Since God had promised to live on earth in accordance to its rules and he wanted people to stop these silly practices, he decided to make the ultimate sacrifice after which no sacrifices were ever needed. He sacrificed his own body.

While in flesh he had learned that people were taught by so many prophets about with each other contradicting things that they rarely believed in any of them. On one hand God found this as a very healthy sign, on other hand this made his mission almost impossible. People needed something more than teaching and healing to believe how important the message of love was. He needed to do something that really woke them up. And he certainly woke them up by showing himself to them after his dead. The lords of the universe were not very happy for this “ridiculous” spectacle, as they said, but in other respects they gave him credits of being reasonable discrete in his mission.

More than two thousand years later people on earth had evolved enormously and created a prosperity never seen before. But the situation was still much the same than before: prosperity was not for everyone and many of those who had it were unhappy.

This enormous material wellbeing was the result of scientific approach on things. People had learned to use their intelligence to gain knowledge of their environment and how to use its resources. They had become eager to study and measure everything. Thus, they also measured which people were happy and why. A surprising result emerged. The happiest people lived in those parts on the planet that were considered the most hostile ones for human life: in the barren north were cold and dark winter lasted seven months. How come?

The scientists found that people were happy, because they lived in a peaceful, safe and caring societies. The streets were safe to walk even at night. There was crime, of course – after all we talk about human beings – but not that much that it would make people fearful and could restrict their everyday life. The nature was beautiful and clean of pollution. Everybody had the right to walk freely in the forests, to swim in the clear waters and hike on the wilderness of mountains. The society gave medical care for everyone. It gave equal opportunities for both men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, poor and rich, and in cities and on countryside to love who they desired, go to school and try to become whatever they wanted to be within their abilities. They had a multitude of affordable free time activities and hobbies to choose among to make the life even richer. There was a well-organized system to take care of those who couldn’t cope by themselves, so that no one needed to starve or freeze to death.

For centuries, these societies had been poor. The cold and harsh environment had thought the people that they couldn’t survive without help from each other. When ingenious individuals started industrial production in these parts of the world they organized the life of their workers in this spirit. The industrial community gave schooling to the children of the workers, help for the elderly and medical care for the sick. These communities functioned later as the model for the good society which people wanted to create for themselves and for generations to come. And when a century had passed, these people in the harshest part of the planned had become its happiest ones.

It had taken more than two thousand years for human beings to understand the subtle teaching from God of what happiness is made of. The message of Christmas: the message of love and caring. God’s fear that the prophets would engage more in their theories of religion than spreading his message had once more come true even in the church called after Jesus. The priests couldn’t keep their fingers off from the deliciously orgiastic ideas of sin, condemnation and threat of hell. They never could.

And it became so that the worldly society, condemned by church, fulfilled the teachings of Jesus better than the church itself. God was very happy: people were on the right track, finally.

Lunch with hobbits

hobbits-eating

The tables are long in our workplace restaurant and one day I sat on the other end at one of them. While I was eating, more people came and sat at my table. They looked a bit different than most other diners, which were professors and scientists from different departments at the university. Even though many of the researchers look and behave a bit eccentric, these were nevertheless different. Thick eye classes are quite common accessories at the university campus. Somehow these bunch of middle aged men and women made me think about hobbits. Some of them wore home knitted woolly, others seemed to have bought two numbers too big trousers and others seemed not to have given any thought at the colors of their clothes that morning. They were all very glad and discussed lively. It seemed that more than one of them had some type of speech problem, such as slight stammer and lisping. This didn’t obstruct them at all.

I could not help to hear what they said. Slowly I understood that they were not only work mates but also travelled together. They were eagerly discussing their travel plans, who could join to which city and who couldn’t. Which museums and art exhibitions they would visit. They were also recalling their past travels, what they had seen and who had been in the group. As I sat there and listened their very lively discussion, I couldn’t help to envy them a bit. They seemed to be so happy. At a work place!

When I returned to my office at the university economy department, I could help thinking the difference between my well-dressed, restrained and very well-paid colleagues and those I had seen at the restaurant. My colleagues are considered to be the elite of the society; successful and envied by many. We only saw each other at the work and we never discussed anything other than work with each other.

I thought that I had rather belonged to the group I met at the restaurant. They seemed to have such a good time also at the work and to be so much happier.

Did you already guess where these people worked? At the library, of course!

The first time

The first time

An old woman died and came to heaven, where she was greeted by God.  God smiled and embraced her in his arms. After a long life with many hardships all this love was too much for the woman, who started to cry.

“Why are you crying, my child?” asked God.

“Why! My life was full of hardship and suffering. I had to support my children all by myself, when you took my dear, dear husband away from me. I had to have two jobs to be able to feed my children. And then the youngest got ill and died, which broke my heart totally. And the war started with hunger and all that fear.  People around me were tortured and killed. I was afraid all the time, nor only for myself but for all my children and grandchildren. And I have been sick and tired so long, the life was unbearable. That’s why I am crying. Why did you sent me to such a horrible place for so long time and gave me so much hardship? What bad have I done to you, my God, to deserve that?”

“Do you remember when you as child slept outdoor in the desert for the first time and saw the Milky Way and all the stars on the blackest of black sky? Do you remember the amazing sunset colors on the sky after a hot day? Do you remember the vibrant green of the plants and the smell from the first flowers in spring morning, after long, gray winter? Do you remember when you laughed with your siblings for something silly, so that tears run from your eyes and your stomach ached?  Do you remember how it felt to dance the first time to a music that filled your heart with joy? Do you remember how it felt to fall in love when you met your husband? How the years with him filled you with almost unbearable happiness? Do you remember the feeling when you held your first-born in your arms the first time? “

“Yes, I remember those moments. I was so happy. But those moments lasted only too short time, and the bad things lasted so long.”

“Do you know that you are part of me, that I have experienced the life on earth through you?”

“No, that I didn’t know. But why?

Why do you want to experience so much unhappiness?”

“My dearest, the world where you lived is only one of many and those things that you felt as something bad are just the consequence of the design of the life on that planet. Life there evolves constantly to something new by forces that may feel gruel to you. It evolves through hardships, illnesses, by one living thing killing and eating the other. This design produces new ways to live all the time. And each these new living things experiences the life a bit differently. That means that I experience the life differently. It gives me big satisfaction to feel not only the happiness but also sorrow and suffering. I want to feel. My dearest, the life is after all quite short, isn’t it? And everything is best for the first time, don’t you agree? You remember the awe of first experiences forever. Therefore there needs to be death:  so that you can start from the beginning again.  Do you want to go back there to experience the sunsets, stars, nature, music, dance, love, joy and birth of a child again? Or do you wish this time to experience how it is to be a swallow?”

“Thanks God; I have always been a little jealous for the swallows. They seem to have a wonderful time flying so freely and wildly on the sky. May I consider this offer for a while? Earth was just so exhausting experience, I think I must rest for a while. “

“You know you can stay here for all the eternity if you wish, my dear child. “