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This doesn't discount the fact that Jesus may actually have existed; it simply calls into question whether the widespread astrotheological beliefs of the ancient Middle East and later Rome were superimposed upon a historical man who was the descendant of King David and rightful heir to the title King of the Jews, and that then superimposed onto religious, spiritual and moral philosophies and commandments.
Heretical? Yes. True? Could be. It vibrates as truth to me.
I live in the country, where the lights of the city don't block out the stars at night. I sit outside in the evenings regularly, basking in their shimmering, subtle rays. I can't observe a sunrise or sunset, or watch the motion of the Moon, Venus and the constellations without the overwhelming feeling that humanity has been doing the same thing for eons, watching the sky with a curious amazement, creating stories to explain what they see.
In today's world, we seldom look up. We take the Heavens for granted. To most of us, space is just a place we send satellites and shuttles, and a setting for sci-fi soap operas and shoot-em-ups.
I stood in awe a few months ago, watching a perfect lunar eclipse just after sunset, with hundreds of unaware people near me, first outside a scouting function I was attending at a local elementary school, and then in a Wal-Mart parking lot.... A few scouts came out to watch with me, but to my knowledge, no one there even knew the eclipse was happening until I mentioned it to a few people who then joined me outside. Later, at Wal-Mart, shoppers bustled through the parking lot, not noticing the magnificent light show in the sky, as I leaned against my car watching for another half hour.
Is not the Sun the Giver of Life? It shines upon us, warms us, and feeds us. It is the Light without which we would die. Humanity figured that out long ago, and deified it, calling it (or its human, often kingly "son") Jupiter, Zeus, Apollo, Ra, Osiris, Mithras, Deus Sol Invictus, and finally, Jesus, the Son of God. Some Hindu teachings have 12 names for the Sun, one for each month. Sun-chariots are pulled by 12 horses. Its disk shape is the All-Seeing Eye of God to Freemasons, and together with the (apparent) same-sized Moon disk, it is the Eye of Horus, the child of Osiris and Isis. The child is or becomes the parent, just as Jesus, the Son of God, is also considered God the Father.
It's not easy making this "leap of faith," that the Jesus story as we usually hear it is a myth. I'm as steeped in Christianity as any one of you reading this, perhaps moreso. Sunday School threats of eternal damnation for disbelief still rattle around in my brain, I guess.
But it's never made sense to me. Jesus, the scapegoat. God killing himself on a cross because He loves us, but damning us if we don't believe it. Paul, the former Christian-hater, writing all the rules of Christianity, right down to silly requirements about women wearing hats to church that most Christians ignore. Judas died either by hanging himself, or by falling off a cliff, depending on which book of the Bible you read. Walking on water. Raising the dead. Miracles....
These things are illogical and in most cases impossible, and if someone told you any of this happened in modern times, you'd laugh and call them a kook. Because people don't rise from the dead or fly or walk on water, except in movies and comic books. And myths.
And don't even get me started on the Old Testament Yahweh, the baby-killing, nation-smiting, jealously insecure God in a Box. That God certainly isn't "love."
I read recently there are 30,000 different sects or variations of Christianity on the planet. If any one of them is "right," the other 29,999 are wrong by definition.
But... if it's all metaphorical, allegorical, symbolic — then and only then does it resonate rationally within me.
There you go.... There's my "testimony" as it stands today. I don't expect I'll be invited to give it at the local Baptist church, but so it goes.
Have I been duped by the Devil, doomed to Hell for my non-belief in today's "standarized" version of an age-old world mythology? I don't think so. It doesn't seem that way to me. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay "On Self Reliance,"
On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, — "But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the devil’s child, I will live then from the devil." No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.None of this means I don't necessarily believe in a God, or a Great Architect of the Universe, or a Higher Power, or the survival of the soul or survival of the personality after death, nor does it deny the desirability of being moral, upright, compassionate or spiritual. It's simply my attempt to shake off the shackles of a twisted theology based in fear, foisted upon me at an early age, and to replace it with something of value that makes sense.
This, for now, is my Truth. I don't ask that it be yours.
You might enjoy the video below. You can watch it here, or on YouTube.com.
Image: Sunrise over the Atlantic, taken on the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida, July 4, 2005. Released into the public domain.
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