Friday, April 13, 2012

Why Formal Religion Continues to Get It Wrong

What is the purpose of religion? 

This is a question that could be answered in as many ways and with as many voices as there are uncountable stars in the night skies.  And these various answers have often been the cause of the most heated controversial disagreements in the history of humankind.  It pins Catholic against Christian, Christian against Muslim, Muslim against Jew, Jew against Buddhist, Buddhist against Born Again, Born Again against Pagan.

But WHY?  For what reasons would someone care so deeply how another connects to divinity?

My opinion in response to that very question is simple -- POWER.

Share with another the very core of their beliefs beyond this physical world and you may but enslave them to join you against another of your peers who believes differently.  Grow your collection of these like-minded individuals and you might rule over their world. 

Sounds tyrannical for a reason -- it IS!  And the leaders of empires [if you journey back to consider days before the rise of Christianity] recognized the power in "sharing" the faith of its populations.  Why else might a ruling party get involved in what should be a personal connection between God and Self?  They were power-hungry then and it continues to this day.

So what was it that jump-started this world's longest-running power trip?  And how exactly did they do it so successfully?


PHILO JUDAEUS          [25BC - 47AD]

Philo was a Greek-speaking Jewish writer who was "born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. 

Philo was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He was there when the crucifixion [with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead] took place -- when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven.  These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him [Philo]." [The Christ by John E. Remsburg]

Why is it that Philo [who would have been a contemporary of Jesus Christ] [and who wrote extensively on the Jewish religion and area politics] documented not even a footnote on this supposed savior who was said to have been gathering a following and performing miracles along the Levant at this time?  And if the astounding birth and rise of Christianity's poster child is not historically factual, why was it crafted?  

Or was it?



Mithras, an Indo-Iranian deity of ancient Persia [linked to Zoroastrian beliefs and the later cult of Mithraism that ran through the soldiers of the Greco-Roman empire], predates Jesus Christ by more than a thousand years -- with first written accounts of him being mentioned in a Peace Treaty [circa 1400BC] between the Hittites and the Hurrian Kingdom.  [Journal of the American Oriental Society, 80.4, pages 301 - 317]  

Mithras was said to have been born of a virgin on December 25th, in a cave, attended by shepherds.  He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.  Mithras had 12 disciples, promised his followers immortality, was claimed to have performed miracles, and sacrificed himself for world peace.  Mithras was buried in a tomb and rose again [you guessed it] after three days.  Mithras was identified with both the Lamb and Lion and was called "the Good Shephard", "the Way the Truth and the Light", "Logos" [the Word], "Redeemer", "Savior" and "Messiah".   [The Mithras Liturgy, Marvin Meyer]  Oh, and the day set aside for worship of this "unconquerable Sun" God?  Yep, Sunday.  []

Sound familiar?  And let me restate that the deity Mithras of Persian mythology antedates Jesus Christ by over a thousand years.

So why then did the heads of the Roman and Byzantine Empires push so hard to spread what is likely an imitated story from another ancient belief system?  And why adopt the customs and rituals of even more faiths only to turn around and demonize those very religions?


"Constantine's Conversion" by Peter Paul Rubens
Early Christianity was but one of many religions existing in the Roman Empire.  Constantine [the Great] would be influential in sparking the spread of this, his chosen religion.  So what did he see in this little known belief system?  Constantine realized that initial persecutions had failed against the Christians. Instead it only resulted in disharmony, which he disliked immensely. []

Through the Church, Constantine controlled the Christians in his empire. " The bishops now found themselves serving as Constantine's principal advisors and following his will. Many bishops actually owed their positions to Constantine. In return, Constantine gave them religious and judicial powers."  []

It's also curious to note which Pagan God was most supreme in Constantine's eyes -- Mithras.  Say what?!  Yes, there are very simple explanations for why this Christ and this Mithras seemingly share the same life.  Early Christians made it so.  []

The Council of Nicaea, [a council of Christian Bishops convened 325 years after the claimed birth of Jesus Christ by the request of Roman Emperor Constantine I], met to "create" statements and doctrines with the intent being to unify the beliefs of those followers of Christianity. Constantine adjusted the laws of the empire to reflect his Christian values.

From here Christianity spreads with the Roman Empire, and then the Byzantine after that -- at times quietly absorbing the customs and rituals of other belief systems; occasionally forcing conversion through the persecution, torture and death of those that would not repent.

And with this the power of the Church grew immensely.  Take one look at the authority and richness that is Vatican City.  A wealth beyond measure in antiquities [and all the corrupt secrecy one could imagine from a lifetime of lies and cover-ups].  

FAST FORWARD... the United States today.  

Santorum & Romney
It's difficult not to see the relevance that religion plays in the American political arena.  Entire campaigns seem devoted to who is the better Christian.  And why?  What should it matter to me how you connect to divinity just as long as you know how to balance the nation's budget, manage our foreign policy with tact and keep employment and education numbers on the rise!  

It might be easier to swallow if in their hearts they truly connected with the values of this Christian Faith that they parade through the campaign trail, but considering the mockery they make of their personal faith during these media storms, I have my doubts about their sincerity.

When ulterior motives creep their way into a faith it becomes less about personal connections and more about personal agendas.  And this is why formal religions continue to get it wrong.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson declared that God has "unrestricted access to every soul, and conversely every soul has like access to all divinity."  One's spiritual connection should be through Self and not through the fattened pockets of pastor, priest or parish.

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