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Jesus Christ and Christianity

From: ('the wickedest person in cyberspace')
Subject: Jesus Christ and Christianity
Date: Kali Yuga 49941011

....the man's name
was 'Yeheshua ben Yusef' or something like that.  It is not at all certain
that he lived; that the stories told about his life, death and rising 
are literally accurate; or that people are successfully following this
man's teachings.  Further, the term 'Christ' refers beyond this man to
a Jewish principle/teaching -- 'the Messiah' -- and is apparently a 
transliteration of this title, refering specifically to the anointing of 
the Sacred King in Jewish tradition, if not elsewhere (I'm no historian).

With this in mind, I'd suggest:

By the term 'Christian' we wish to mean any of the following:

1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based
   on his teachings.
2. Pertaining to or derived from Jesus or his teachings.
3. Manifesting the qualities of the spirit of Christ; Christlike.
4. Pertaining to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.

[5.] (informal) One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.
(Am. Heritage Dict., Second College Edition)

I'd also add one which includes the more esoteric, mystical aspects of
'Christ Consciousness' (though 5. may include this), perhaps something 

6. One who seeks for and hopes to attain to the Christ consciousness.
If one follows the history of the compilation of _The Bible_ one can see
that it includes only a small portion which purports to be the teachings
of Jesus of Nazareth.  Even these are four (at times varying) stories,
and my understanding is that they were apparently written well after the
time period in which the events that they describe are supposed to have 
taken place.  Given also that they were edited (by a council at Nicea if
memory serves), and it is understandable why anyone might have difficulty
with a tome written by men rather than instruction taken from God Himself
(and/or through His Son, Christ), not to mention possibly arriving at 
different understandings of God's wisdom no matter the form in which He 
manifests them to us.

Christianity per se is not a formal proposition so much as a composite of
sometimes quite disparate social institutions, practical disciplines and
theoretical principles.  

From: ('the wickedest person in cyberspace')
Subject: Jesus Christ and Christianity
Date: Kali Yuga 49941012 

Depends on what you mean by 'Jesus'.  If you mean an historical individual
then I'm saying that it is not necessary for us to know one way or another
whether that individual existed.  It may even be advantageous to presume
that he didn't (though it rattles the cages of many die-hard literalists).

If you mean a mythical figure - a pattern of human endeavor, struggle and
ascension - then that Jesus of Nazareth is that to which we may link.  We
can take apart ALL the various stories (from the popular Gospels to the
Gnostic heresies), compare them, figure out their advantages, strengths,
how our experience *compares* to that of Jesus, what type of formula he
these may portray, etc.

...'Christ' is the transliteration of a Judaic term 'Messiah',
through the Greek 'Xristos', or something similar.  The PHENOMENON
of the Messiah (see the lisan-al-gib/quisach hederak/muad dib in _Dune_)
is the issue, and one may argue the advantages and disadvantages of taking
any particular character (mythic, historical, whathaveyou) as representative.

...Jesus is only one of many Christs.

From: ('the wickedest person in cyberspace')
Subject: Christianity, Tolerance, Reflection
Date: Kali Yuga 49941013

any threat to the doctrines of the Church are classified as 'dangerous
heresy', even if the individual or group promoting them feel that they
have a direct, ongoing relationship with God.  One only needs to look to
the Albigenses of France or to Galileo for excellent examples.

...what is wheat for one may be chaff for another; 'one man's meat is 
another's poison', and love proceeds from acceptance of another rather 
than discerning error or sin about hir or hir path.

I prefer it when we express our deep feelings and thoughts about
various aspects of the topics we discuss, including, perhaps, what we
have found sinful or useless for *us*... yet not thereafter generalizing 
that what is so for us is so for all.

In fact I think that a large part of the violence expressed within the
Internet against Christianity (one only need go to alt.atheism, alt.satanism 
or alt.paganism to witness it) is in *reaction* to a perceived violation
by 'Christian' parents and Church.  The wounded strike out in their pain
and in doing so continue the cycle of wounding.  My own path at times 
involves becoming the target of such assault and stopping the cycle of 
abuse cold in its tracks (what I call 'turning the other cheek').
Subject: Christianity, Deities and Nonviolence
Date: Kali Yuga 49941018

While I'm not familiar with this literature or the performance of these
rites (I don't do banishings as I'm nonviolent) in my own work I don't
consider any gods 'non-Christian'.  This arrives from the supposition
that all gods are natural and therefore perfect in their place, and that
what makes something 'non-Christian' for me is my position with respect
to them.  That is, when that god is contrary to my energies (for a very
long time Yahweh (and/or) Allah were contrary to me and I could not
accept Hir, though now I've come to see Hir as the One God whom I adore).

If it makes it easier to comprehend work, consider the possibility that
all gods are expressions of the One and that dealing with such expressions
is one manner of having relationship with the One Source from which they
all spring.  Alternatively, as I tend to do, dispense with differentiating
absolutely between Source and Manifestation, God and gods, and (if you're
really good), self and other.  Life thereafter becomes ritual, magick
thereafter is manifest in every action, and the Holy Spirit is revealed in
dedicated consciousness.

Subject: God and Deities
Date: Kali Yuga 49941018

I enjoy rejecting the notion that the One God subsumes and comprises in
total the various important deities of the world.  I understand that some
find value in this, yet I find in it not only a very beautiful teaching
about *attitude* but also a horrible homogenizing force that will separate
us from the Many in exaltation of the One.  Personally I find that
unbalancing and prefer to acknowledge and worship both One and Many, Unity
and Diversity (as well as their relationships).

I also personally find as much value in the Creation as in
the Creator, as much in the Creator as the *Destroyer*.

Subject: Re: Christian community vs. magick
Date: Kali Yuga 49941018

This is one reason that I do not accept _The Bible_ as an authoritative
document in the same way that many Christians do.  I see it in too many
ways being used as a political constriction-device, to which I alluded
previously when commenting on quotes as projectiles.

Why is it so dangerous to challenge God's oneness?  What is the value
in preserving the notion of monotheism as compared to polytheism or
pantheism?  Suggestion: isn't a greater Unity created by accepting
monotheism, polytheism *and* pantheism (along with any other theism)
as valid perspectives on the divine?

I see that _The Bible_ text as *recommending 
against trying to guess the divine thoughts*.  That is, it isn't so 
much for me a prohibition as it is a warning that to attempt to 'divine 
the future' (engaging in 'fortune-telling') will likely lead to ruin.

I have found this principle to be true in my life.  Not only does focus
upon the future detract from my experience of the present/ce, the attempt
to use a tool to divine this has a built-in trap of beginning to associate
myself as cause and/or determinant, whereas the divine thoughts are much
more complex than I shall ever be able to understand with my puny mind.

I consider divination a 'Conversation' of myself and All.

...It is not INSIGHT, but attempted prognostication
which is being warned against, especially through the utilization of a
tool rather than through diligent discipline that prepares one for the
blissful revelation by the Grace of God.  Such knowings are as much insights
into nature as they are viewings into the system of potential future events.

This latter 'Sight' is what Myrddin/Merlin is said to have had, and I
imagine (in my heathen ways) that this is precisely the experience and
lifepath of the Biblical prophets.  As Myrddin was born of a daemon and
a nun and emerged in another time and place, he did not appear in the
scriptures of _The Bible_. (::grin::)

Kali Yuga 49941020
Subject: Materialism and RPGs

the materialist perspective is detrimental to not only to the magical
but the religious elements of human experience.  What if the scientists
proved that the Christ tale was based upon old Osirian mystery-stories,
the Holy Book a work of fiction as much as hearsay and the political
structure of the Church some sort of pyramid-scheme?  Would this then
be 'real Christianity'?  I hardly think so.  I'd still find the value
in attending Mass, since it can't be described in these (mechanistic)

[re: RPGs]

I've always felt that they allowed us to feel like we were the central
figure in a story developed just for us (if the player) or to feel like 
we were God, developing the whole thing from scratch for the benefit of
beings which we allowed to have free will (if the GM).  In other words
I always got the feeling that it was quite a mainstream *Christian*
activity to engage in this activity, whatever its imaginational content,
since it sets up a pattern of game play which appears to proceed directly
from much of the foundational cosmology inherent to that religion - the
telling of a Story/Logos by God/Creator/Writer.

When I wanted to buck this type of thing I started to make games wherein
players could discover that there were actually no rules and that, in
discovering this, they could co-create the game with me; or games in which
suddenly as their character died it transformed, via some magical object,
into an exact replica of their nongame self (the other players deciding
on their characteristics :>).  I started to merge the nongame and game
worlds and in this way break down that God/Creation mythotype, or perhaps
at least bend and twist it.
Kali Yuga 49941026
Subject: (personal email, various)

We need at times to give ourselves away to God.  Sometimes God returns
our gift with a new challenge.  Sometimes with the Grace.  Sometimes the
challenge is the Grace. :>  See the story of Job, for example.

Demanding things from God?  :>   I've heard that some think this is
a beneficial tack to take.  I've tended to simply ascribe Hir with
an understanding beyond which I have the capacity to approach and
scrabble upon my meager ledges.  That is, perhaps God wishes you to
know the aloneness of the divergent path as I have found it.  It can
be a cold and solitary walk, though its adventures are quite amazing.

Perhaps God is communicating to you in a way which you have not yet
been able to perceive.  I've spoken with Hir via the tarot, for
example, and through many of what I call (in my Muslim ways) 'prophets'.

[Re: JCSprstr]

I also found 'The Last Temptation of Christ' valuable.  I think that both 
of these depict a very important aspect of human experience.  Walking fully 
within the path of Christ is what I know to be 'magick'.

We are all Children of God.  We are all cared for by our Parent.
Yet God has a wider scope of vision than the Heart of Hir love.

The role of Judas in both JCSprstr and TLTmptnChr is what inspires
me most about them.  Judas is protrayed as a sincere aspirant, walking
the Path as he knows it.  It can be said that each of Christ's disciples
is a symbolic pattern of perfect devotion, beacons of light with which 
we may see ourselves.  Some will walk the path of the Outcaste.

Very often we would wish to abandon what seems to us the harshness of the
human condition, imagining ourselves wholly spirit or away in a far off
Heaven.  I contend that the only heaven there is may be found here and
now or never at all.

This is one of the benefits in the stories of Christ in popular media which
give him a more human portrayal.  It allows us to come to see that we
are also the Children of God and that Christ was in a sense a prototype
for martyrdom (living the Way of God unto death).

My experience is that there are many different verbal versions of the
principles of Christianity.  When I find that my own experience does
not resonate with the teaching I am receiving through one source, I
sample until I find what suits me and what sounds 'true' to me.  This
is part of what it means to me to have a 'commitment to truth'.  My
most favorite source, of course, is a direct communion with God and/or
Christ, though I'm not always able to achieve this.

Gradually, as I found particular teachings which had value for me and
gave me the support I needed, I was able to attempt to reconcile the
different perspectives at least between some religions and also to a
certain degree within the many Christian expressions.  I've had some
very wonderful discussions with Christians of all stripes, from
Jehovah's Witnesses to Catholic nuns, and in all I sensed the truth of
their conviction and, often, of their words.  The ways that God
expresses Hirself are infinite, and if one path does not suit you, I'm
sure that you can find another.

Part of what may be giving you difficulty is that you may be running
into very many contradictions between what you need and what you are
finding.  In this case, it is at times beneficial to look deeply within
yourself to discover what sort of teaching you need, perhaps after some
small general sampling.  Given this you may be able to come up with
some criteria of a path which suits you.  If you cannot find it, then
work with Christ to develop it *yourself*.  You will be assisting others
while forging a very unique and important Way to God.  Truly Christian,
in my estimation.

Subject: Re: Christian Magick Ethics
Date: Kali Yuga 49941027


Important words to consider within my vocabulary: 'moral'; 'ethic'.  When
I say 'moral' or 'morality' or 'moralism' I intend to mean an association
with social judgement and behavior-prescription-schemes.  When I say 'ethic'
or 'ethics' or 'ethical' I intend to mean an association with personal 
feelings and/or personal systems of self-restraint.  Thus 'amoral' to me 
merely indicates withdrawing from judgement on another person's affairs, 
while 'unethical' indicates to me that a person has no sense of what is right
for them.  I think it important to consider that some (like myself) don't
engage morality and may not construct a system of ethics, following our
intuition and the feelings of our heart.

Meat (:>)

Comments in reaction to Lainie's post follow.  She referred to the following
phrases, popular within the occult and religious communities.

1. 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.' is a quote from
   _The Book of the Law_, a text claimed to have been received by Aleister
   Crowley in April of 1904.  Out of context this phrase has been used
   by all manner of individuals for a variety of reasons.  Some see it
   as an indicator of a new system of ethics of which they are proponents,
   some use it to identify themselves within a social movement given
   its initiative by Crowley, and some intend to duplicate Crowley's own
   usage of these words as what he called 'Thelemic Greetings' (that is,
   a magical commitment of energy and dedication expressed within social
   circumstances; possibly equal to self- and social-programming).

   As an indicator of a system of ethics (or lack thereof), there is no
   absolute and pre-defined meaning for the phrase, even when taken in
   context.  Crowley himself, when providing an overview and reflection
   of the phrase, claimed that all meanings are true if but the reader
   be illuminated.  I think it imperative to note that within the Thelemic
   community itself there is a quite healthy debate over the meaning of
   'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.', along with very
   many other similar and related phrases.

   To illustrate the range of possibility here, some consider that the word
   'thou' indicates the divine and that 'what thou wilt' is equivalent to
   'the will of God'.  Thus if one were to take 'do what thou wilt' as a
   dictum within these meanings, one would hear 'do the will of God'.
   Of course the other end of the spectrum, and perhaps that which is most
   popular among the *individuals* aligning themselves with these words,
   is that 'do what thou wilt' is very literal and simply implies that what
   is spoken of here is the ethic of doing whatever one wishes to do.  The
   more perspicacious among us will of course point out that it is somewhat
   important not to overlook the balance of the phrase ('shall...').  In
   any case, rest assured that, as with most religious and philosophical
   speculation and doctrine, there is no widespread agreement as to what
   constitutes the meaning of this phrase as a foundation of ethics.

   It should also be noted, however, that (perhaps expectedly) organizations
   which promote themselves as 'Thelemic' take a rather more conservative
   perspective on the meaning of that phrase when they offer any interpre-
   tation at all.

Personally, I understand that phrase as an observation of Natural Law, in
that we shall always do what we will no matter the consequences, and as we
accept this as the context of our actions so is our life made more peaceful.
>From there of course we may wish to set about devising all sorts of moralistic
and ethical systems to guide and constrain us to 'proper behavior'.  I don't
choose to participate in these last, of course. :>

2. 'An it harm none, do what thou wilt' (and its variants) is often referred
   to within the Neopagan community as 'the Wiccan Rede', and it is quite
   important that it has this designated title.  While the more conservative
   will conveniently forget and the novices will perhaps be unaware, a 'rede'
   is merely a guideline, a recommendation.  It does not participate in
   moralism in the slightest, and those who use it in this way can be said
   to be interpreting the rede as a law where their predecessors did no
   such thing.

   There is some controversy about the meaning of 'harm' within the Wiccan
   community and the Neopagan community at large.  Those unaccustomed to
   philosophical speculation on the meaning of the Rede are quick to include
   all manner of damage to all of life, therefore making the guideline use-
   less except for suicidal ascetics (since we must kill to survive).  Others
   are more conservative and maintain that 'harm' need only mean unnecessary
   suffering, bringing into question what actions are 'necessary' and when
   an animal or plant 'suffers' prior to our consumption.  Needless to say,
   there are a few Wiccans who maintain that in order to abide this rede one 
   must become vegetarian (if they have any ecological background), though 
   I'm not aware that such is a trend among either Neopagans or Wiccans.

   Seldom is the word 'thou' used as a pointer toward 'the divine' unless it
   be 'the Goddess', since many Wiccans are formerly Christian with a dislike 
   for anything resembling their upbringing, and when they accept 'God' at 
   all, most are likely to identify this with the agrarian Lord of the 
   Animals and Sun King and reject the transcendant divine altogether.  Thus 
   'thou' is usually interpreted as implying the individual Wiccan.

Personally I see the Wiccan Rede as one of the most useful of ethical guides,
and I understand 'harm' to be intentional action or inaction which violates
or coerces another being outside the parameters of the necessities of self-
sustenance.  I have difficulties with the way humans treat other living 
beings, as I've mentioned before on this list, and I think that that issue 
is representative of the controversy within the Wiccan and perhaps Neopagan 
community over what actions need be taken in order to completely follow the 
Wiccan Rede.

3. 'That which you would have done unto you, do also unto your neighbor.' or
   one of the many variants on this phrase (the Golden Rule) is quite common
   amongst the doctrines of the world religions.  It is quite often taken
   as a moral and ethical rule, and for this reason I think it differs quite
   markedly in character from the two previous phrases.  

My own impression is that it is only of limited use, for our tastes from
culture to culture and even home to home may not make this a worthwhile
rule.  Example: I am depressed and want someone to kill me.  By the Golden
Rule I ought go out and kill.  Another: I take great pleasure in being
flogged with a cat-o-nine-tails (whip).  By the Golden Rule I should go
about flogging people.  Obviously these are extreme exceptions but they
do point out a problem with it as the basis for a system of ethics.

4. .  I have often thought that these and 
   the teachings of Jesus Christ were the basis for the Christian ethical
   system, and that this was true *regardless of context*.  That is, it
   does not matter whether one is engaging politics or magick, these moral
   proscriptions and prescriptions are sufficient to guide one along the
   Righteous Path.

My own preference is to interpret these as I'm able (which I gather is
somewhat encouraged by Jews at least, regarding _Torah_), and to place
what bits of wisdom I may have received directly from God BEFORE these
teachings, so I have little use for systems of morality or ethics at
all.  I therefore see these as very important social rules which steer
the behavior of those who do not yet have a deep relationship with Christ,
and while I tend to follow them within my daily activity (as I understand
them), I do not always think that they apply to me.

I'd love to hear comment on any of the above and would gladly engage
discussion on same (preferrably within the list and maintaining the
connection to Christian magick).  Thanks.



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