Posts Tagged ‘kung’

The Noble Lie

June 18, 2010

You have most likely read about the woman who came to Siddhartha Gautama (the historical Buddha of 6th century B.C.E.) and told him that she was afflicted with a great sorrow. He told here of a magic talisman which would without fail dispel all sorrow from her life, but this talisman require merely that she bring to him one grain of rice from a household that had never known sorrow. She traveled the land far and wid, knocking at every door seeking that single grain of rice and was greet with many accounts of sorrows far greater than her own. When she finally gave up her search and returned to the Buddha empty handed she WAS cured of her sorrow. What the Buddha had told her was a “NOBLE LIE.” Whenever we read about the “noble lie” in Plato’s Republic we all concentrate on the word “LIE” and give no thought to the possibility of NOBILITY. The Roman Catholic doctrine of Papal Infallibility is the same kind of noble lie. It is a noble and functional as Siddharthas grain of rice talisman since it is successful in achieving the highest degree of liturgical and doctrinal unity of any Christian denomination (and Jesus prayed for that unity in Gesthemene.) Both Hans Kung and Carl Ratzinger are intellectual giants of equal stature. Ratzinger in his heart understands the validity of Kung’s criticism but does not have the freedom to acknowledge that validity and also be Pontiff. What other “noble lies” can you think of that make possible self empowerment?

Handwriting On the Wall- Weighed & Wanting

April 2, 2010

diogr49: folks were chatting while you read but i let them be free

diogr49: and I noticed a few Amens

dio mio_2: i am nobody

diogr49: well, BUT, you were reading about a Somebody

dio mio_2: they let me pray the office in the different rooms

dio mio_2: yes

diogr49: but it is not good for me to be a Catholic Nazi

diogr49: ha ha

dio mio_2: its a big time right now fir us catholics

dio mio_2: catholic fascist?

diogr49: you know, strict,

diogr49: chastizing others

dio mio_2: i was chatised right of a big room once

diogr49: God moves whom He will and God is sufficient

dio mio_2: it was my loss

dio mio_2: sounds like st theresa of avila

diogr49: the more judgmental people are the more they seek to hide their own uncertainty

diogr49: in the final analysis, there IS no analysis; all is subjective

dio mio_2: but you dont have rules and norms law and order universal teaching where are you?

diogr49: everything stands or falls in the final I-Thou relationship

diogr49: well, the world is filled with laws as it is filled with transgressors

dio mio_2: the i thou relationship i havent hears that expression for many a year

diogr49: one cannot legislate morality

diogr49: it just popped into my head

diogr49: our minds can be conduits if we become quiet

dio mio_2: my father confessor talked of the i thou relationship

diogr49: like wi-fi routers or hot spots

dio mio_2: he was fransiscan

dio mio_2: whats a conduit socrates?

diogr49: Carl Rogers used an interesting technique, of serving as a MIRROR to the other

dio mio_2: please explain

diogr49: well, we cannot know what conducts us

diogr49: from the good treasury of the good heart the good person brings forth good things

dio mio_2: i see

diogr49: but we are judged by every word

diogr49: and presumably every thought

dio mio_2: it all become a bit much fo r us to bear

dio mio_2: scrupulosity is not good

diogr49: for there is only one “knower of the heart” as Prophet Samuel was informed when he was sent to find king David

diogr49: there is among the Greeks economia and akrivia or exactness

diogr49: so by strictness we do one thing, and by economy we tolerate other things

diogr49: things which deviate from strictness

dio mio_2: yes i suppose so

diogr49: so “If you would be PERFECT then go and do these most difficult things and take up your cross”

dio mio_2: i would not be perfect

diogr49: BUT if you would simply gain eternal life, then at least observe THESE things

dio mio_2: i will try

diogr49: ah, but Jesus said those words to one person, so, they must serve some purpose

diogr49: not to all, but to a few at least

dio mio_2: yes diogr

diogr49: one man wanted to follow the disciples but was gently turned away

diogr49: and the Spirit in Acts forbade preaching in a certain region during that season of time

diogr49: the sheep know their masters voice, but as the Greeks say, we are LOGIKA PROBATA (logical sheep) so we must listen and discern.. for faith comes by hearing (listening) and hearing by the Word

diogr49: and we pray that bishops RIGHTLY DIVIDE or interpret the word

dio mio_2: are you copying this from a book?

diogr49: but, we are all vessels of clay

diogr49: no, i speak from my thoughts extemporaneously

dio mio_2: gbu

dio mio_2: but you have so many thoughts

dio mio_2: is not one enough to ponder for a lifetime?

diogr49: if you read “The pilgrim” by an anonymous russian, who says the prayer of the heart, then you notice that the pilgrim internalizes the scriptures until it becomes his nature

diogr49: but you see i am a parrot whose cage has been in some interesting parlors

dio mio_2: ok

diogr49: so, i repeat what i have heard many times

dio mio_2: yes i am nothing but a clever monkey ot parrot myself

diogr49: but, through the alembic of my memory and personality, it is transformed and seems fresh

diogr49: Yeats prefaces all his poems with one line from Augustine

diogr49: Oh thou Beauty most ancient yet most fresh! Far and wide I did seek thee, and all along, Thou was withing

dio mio_2: very good

diogr49: in Euclidian geometry if point A is distance X from point B, then B is equally distance X from point A

diogr49: BUT in spiritual geometry, though we may be distant from the divinity, the divinity yet dwells within us, very near

diogr49: Paul said something like this

dio mio_2: gbu diog

diogr49: the ancient Greek prayer “O Thou who are everywere present and fillest all things COME AND ABIDE with in us”

dio mio_2: thankyu for a wounderful retreat

diogr49: how strange that we beckon that which is every where present to come and dwell within us

diogr49: but, you see, though we journey through many lands far and wide, we call only one place home

dio mio_2: i wish i had had time and no fear so i could have read and thought too

diogr49: so when the two apostles followed Jesus, and he showed them where he dwelled, the were quite amazed

diogr49: but why should they be amazed by a simple bed and table and chair

dio mio_2: i wish i had been to school

diogr49: but when Solomon completed the temple, he said “how can God, whom the universe cannot contain, dwell in this small temple

diogr49: Faith is a gift, given to each of us, as much as is necessary for the individual who has GIFTS DIFFERING… and from faith proceeds understanding, but only as much understanding as is necessary to be salvific

dio mio_2: yes diog

diogr49: but you see, this is not me speaking, but centuries of tradition

diogr49: which i have simply internalized

dio mio_2: it is you speaking

diogr49: birds sing, but it is not their song they sing

diogr49: well, yes, it is words on a screen

diogr49: words are sounds

diogr49: simply sounds

dio mio_2: its effort and heart

dio mio_2: its a will to share

dio mio_2: its self realisation

dio mio_2: actualisation

diogr49: habits can be our best friends or our worst enemies

diogr49: exactly

dio mio_2: its evnegism

dio mio_2: evangelism

diogr49: we choose through our free will

diogr49: nothing may happen without the individuals freewill consent

dio mio_2: one must be able to have a freewill

dio mio_2: that is not always possible

diogr49: Kierkegaard pointed out that it was Abrahams will to choose to empower the voice he heard as Gods voice and not some idle imagining

dio mio_2: maybe he was right

diogr49: Samuel as a youth heard a voice, but only when instructed by that elderly high priest did Samuel understand how to respond to that voice

diogr49: Eli, i forgot the high priests name for a moment

dio mio_2: without knowledge we are nothing

dio mio_2: or at least less tha n it

diogr49: Samuel was consecrated as a prophet before his conception, when Hanna his mother was praying

diogr49: and Samuel was sent to rebuke and reform the wayward sons of Eli

diogr49: and yet, aged Eli, failing in eyesight, was the vessel which preserved the tradition to guide young Prophet Samuel, now to respond to God’s voice

diogr49: so, in that very drama we see the problem and the solution

dio mio_2: whats the time with you there diogr?

diogr49: the problem is our fallen earthen nature, yet we are vessels which transmit the solution to all future ages in the form of tradition

dio mio_2: would you pray the divine office with me?

dio mio_2: evening prayer?

dio mio_2: we could take it in turns

dio mio_2: each reading a psalm or canticle

diogr49: how would i bring up the text

dio mio_2:

diogr49: yes i have mic, please give me link to reading

dio mio_2: vespers

diogr49: and instruct me when to read

dio mio_2:

diogr49: i was thinking of that verse, 2 or 3

dio mio_2: which was that dio?

diogr49: wherever 2 or 3 are gathered together

dio mio_2: you are something of a thinker which i am not!

diogr49: that is why 3 bishops are ideal to consecrate a new bishop, by akrivia exactness, but 2 are sufficient by economia

dio mio_2: ys that happens

diogr49: among the greeks and russian

dio mio_2: the greek and russian orthodox churches frighten me

dio mio_2: the universal does not

diogr49: what we do not know or understand frightens us

diogr49: we are frightened by the unknown

dio mio_2: yes true

dio mio_2: yes and by our own sin too

diogr49: and when we know all ways then we are at home and at peace with the world

diogr49: the truth is one, but the paths to it are many

dio mio_2: its most terrible to contemplate that our father in heaven saw us think and do our evil

dio mio_2: he was watching us

dio mio_2: that frightens me

diogr49: well, consider what it means to “hunger and thirst after righteousness”

dio mio_2: but e is ever merciful and loving

diogr49: normally we thirst long before we hunger

diogr49: yet, the bread is first, and THEN the wine

diogr49: only when flesh is pierced does blood flow

diogr49: and throughout the old and new testament, the phrase hunger and thirst appears NINE times

dio mio_2: ok

diogr49: but nine is a unique number, 2 times 9 is 18 but 8 plus 1 is nine

diogr49: 3 times 9 is 27 but seven plus 2 = 9

diogr49: so, 9 is like God… it mingles through the universe yet remains unchanged, untainted

dio mio_2: ok

diogr49: 9 is like God become man so that, as 4th cent. Athanasius said, man might become as God

diogr49: which is the divinization of mankind

diogr49: which is a Greek theme of the Christians of the first several centuries

diogr49: i was in a russian monastery and then a greek monastery in the 1970s

billy_b0777: dedication

diogr49: i was a novice for 13 months in the greek athonite monastery in brookline mass.

diogr49: nice

diogr49: may I have the link to Chrysostom’s homily, please

Reading From the Catecheses by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop
The power of Christ’s blood
If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish,” commanded Moses, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors.” If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.
If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy Eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.
“There flowed from his side water and blood.” Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolised baptism and the holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit,” and from the holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.
Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.
(end of homily)

diogr49: i just now realized

diogr49: Adam slept during creation of Eve

diogr49: Abraham was in trance before God came with vision

diogr49: and the apostles slept in Gethsemane while Christ worked part of the salvation

diogr49: so, three sleepings

dio mio_2:

diogr49: and three marriages

diogr49: marriage of male and female

diogr49: marriage of God and chosen people

diogr49: Marriage of Christ and Church

dio mio_2: wow diogr

diogr49: interesting

dio mio_2: you are very thoughtful

dio mio_2: very good

Alert: fitzy5729 reddotted by: diogr49

diogr49: i suspect bad intentions

diogr49: in that fellow

diogr49: he wants to bait us

dio mio_2: we are all sinners

diogr49: and Paul says not to fall to vain disputation

dio mio_2: i am the worst here

diogr49: if he has internet, he can easily seek meanings

billy_b0777: well dont take bite

diogr49: so, he lies,

dio mio_2: good billy!

diogr49: i knows perfectly well how HE wants to understand it

billy_b0777: yep

dio mio_2: hi billy

diogr49: i might be a fool but i aint born yesterday

billy_b0777: now that is funny

dio mio_2: i continually get it all wrong

diogr49: the russians always have “fools for Christ” but this is rare among greeks

billy_b0777: who ???

diogr49: a fool for Christ is someone who crucifies themselves with foolishness for Christs sake

billy_b0777: please

diogr49: whenever one visits Russian monasteries, one will often see someone who is child like and cared for by monastery

diogr49: seemingly devoid of adult reason

diogr49: if you google on RUSSIAN “FOOL FOR CHRIST” you will find much

diogr49: i am sure

dio mio_2: i am staying with Rome and the west DIO

dio mio_2: gbu


billy_b0777: good

diogr49: i have spent my life studying all world religions

dio mio_2: i have wasted my life

diogr49: but, even in waste, we spend

diogr49: we expend

dio mio_2: i am a beggar for gods help and mercy

dio mio_2: thats all i am really

dio mio_2: i am not much good to anyone

billy_b0777: good thing to me

diogr49: there is a story about a man in a flood, who climbed upon the roof and prayed for God’s help

diogr49: a boat came by, and offered him help but he said “i will wait for God”

diogr49: then a helicopter came, and offered him help, and he said I will wait for God

dio mio_2: yes thats a good story

diogr49: he finally died and came to heaven, and saw God and said, Why didnt you help me

diogr49: God said “I sent you a boat and a helicopter”

dio mio_2: poor me!

diogr49: we must be able to discern the help

diogr49: we may lead a horse to water but cannot force the horse to drink

dio mio_2: yes diogr

diogr49: Rumi said “seek THIRST for without thirst, water is of no value”

diogr49: so, i can say to you SEEK THIRST, but you must decide for yourself what is pure water, and what is muddy water

dio mio_2: diogr has been saying some great things

diogr49: pure water is never drawn from a broken cistern

diogr49: or well

diogr49: the early Greek bishops called a misguided pastor a broken cistern

diogr49: consider the 5 wise virgins and the 5 foolish

diogr49: they were ALL VIRGINS, all pure… purity is necessary but not sufficient

dio mio_2: we all live with that today

diogr49: the foolish lacked OIL, which in Greek is a pun on charity, works

catfishjim2000: were in the book that tell you diogr?

diogr49: oh, the Greeks have spoken of all this for centuries

catfishjim2000: as l have not come across it

dio mio_2: amazing diogr

catfishjim2000: have not

diogr49: in the Greek monasteries, these are old logs to the lumberjacks

dio mio_2: james diogr has lived in monesteries

diogr49: well, you might read the Philokalia

diogr49: the philokalia was composed by 70 authors from 3rd century to 11th century

catfishjim2000: l be too monesteries

diogr49: but the bulk is written by Maximos the Confessor

catfishjim2000: for a day

dio mio_2: i visited too james

diogr49: aha, but orthodox monasteries are a different world

dio mio_2: benedictine

dio mio_2: how so diogr?

catfishjim2000: its was very cold up there

diogr49: well, you must read the philokalia to begin to understand

catfishjim2000: l went in the december

diogr49: just as Protestants refuse to read the Apocrypha, and then complain that they do not understand

dio mio_2: i cant read with respect to you diogr

diogr49: Isaiah said “unless you believe, you shall not understand”

dio mio_2: i dont refuse its a matter of physcology problems

diogr49: i guarantee you that Chrysostom would drink from the well of the Philokalia

dio mio_2: i believe you

diogr49: and the monastics over the centuries drank from the well of Chrysostome

diogr49: i do not offer you poison

diogr49: but only you can take the medicine

diogr49: i would suggest to anyone that they acquire Jaroslav Pelikan’s 5 volume paperback history of development of Christian Doctrine

diogr49: he was a Yale Sterling professor of History

diogr49: he is quite readable for the layperson, and quite unbiased

diogr49: i mean, no hidden agendas

dio mio_2: i am staying with our bishop diogr lol

dio mio_2: i am a simple fool

catfishjim2000: well we be to church today

diogr49: i guarantee you that Pope Benedict has read all such things

diogr49: as well as Hans Kung

diogr49: but the choice will always be yours

dio mio_2: i dont want to get confused its all far too much for my tiny mind to imagine

catfishjim2000: ok

dio mio_2: i am in WALES

diogr49: my wife now gives me chores to do

diogr49: i will stay logged in

dio mio_2: diogr are you eastern orthodox

diogr49: i was Greek Orthodox for 20 years, and afraid of Catholicism, i looked at Hans Kungs books like vampire sees a cross

diogr49: you are a good man, and good men are hard to find

diogr49: maraming salamat po

dio mio_2: diogr49 do you go to a church now?

diogr49: as Gen Douglas McArthur said “I shall return”

diogr49: i thought i was just in church with you, n’est pas?

diogr49: you and i are the church for a moment, no?

dio mio_2: diogr stop avoiding my question

diogr49: if the church is not you and i just now,… then where is it

diogr49: pride is a great enemy

dio mio_2: you are being devious

diogr49: and now, again, fear

dio mio_2: i am disapointed

diogr49: you desire disappointment… and we find what we seek

dio mio_2: its been great being with you diogr

dio mio_2: gbu

diogr49: the saint can see saintliness even in the worst sinner, but a sinner sees sinfulness even in the holiest of saints

dio mio_2: i am not looking for either in you

diogr49: you are trying to convince yourself

dio mio_2: i was only wondering if you were roman catholic

diogr49: because you are uncertain and afraid, that is my conjecture

dio mio_2: i am bt not concerning you

diogr49: but only you can know what is in your own heart, and it is not for me to inquire or understand

dio mio_2: ok

dio mio_2: lol

diogr49: you are so close, yet so far

dio mio_2: ok

diogr49: one never sees a smiling icon

dio mio_2: nice to meet you

dio mio_2:

dio mio_2: catfish why are you going to work in hpspital

diogr49: i speak of spiritual distance, not geometric

diogr49: the famous “handwriting on the wall” (mene mene shekel uparsin) “you have been weighed and found wanting”

dio mio_2: you are very knowledgeable and respectable diogr49

diogr49: but no one could understand until Daniel interpreted

diogr49: if i remember

diogr49: the handwriting was metaphorical, not literal

diogr49: Chrysostom was metaphorical, but modern denominations are literal

dio mio_2: mene mene shekel uparsin

diogr49: Bible based… but the first epistle was only written in 55ad, and the Gospels were not completed until 100ad

diogr49: so, where was the Bible based church for 30 years

diogr49: few people consider that

dio mio_2: in the memory

diogr49: tradition produces scripture, scripture does not produce tradition

Cranmer’s Anglican Book of Common Prayer

February 3, 2010

Original article:

The Anglican use …..another view…Anglicans who do not want an ordinariate or a revised Cranmerian Prayer Book.

The establishment of an Ordinariate for converts from the Anglican Communion has little if no attraction to some Anglicans. As a former Anglican from the evangelical wing of Anglicanism, and some one who was very familiar with the theology of Thomas Cranmer, I find it very difficult to accept a regurgitated and rehabilitated Cranmerian Prayer Book, as The Book of Divine Worship is.

I fully accept the the Catholic Church has maintained the validity of the Mass, by insisting on the Roman Canon in place of Cranmer’s heretical Holy Communion “consecration “ prayers. However other things left in the Book of Divine Worship ( henceforth BDW) disturb me.

For instance Cranmer regarded the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass , as the weed that “choketh the Gospel. “In 1549 he was instrumental in having 19,000 consecrated altars throughout England,Wales and later in Ireland destroyed. They were replaced by shabby wooden tables or trestles, and the broken up altar stones used for Church paving. It was in the same year that he composed his first Book of Common Prayer , which included his Holy Communion service ( stripped of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass ) and which included his prayer of Humble access.

The prayer opens with the words “Lord we do not presume to come to this your table trusting in our own righteousness….” Whilst the word table can be used to describe the altar of the Lord and is used so legitimately in Scripture, the word table in Cranmer’s prayer book and context is deliberately worded to exclude the idea of an altar on which a propitiatory sacrifice is offered. In his critique of Cranmer’s 1549 Prayer Book, the Protestant reformer Martin Bucer pushed Cranmer to revise the Humble access prayer and the words “ in these mysteries “ were removed from the revamped prayer in his 1552 revised Payer Book. Ironically the Anglican use has retained this Protestantised revision. It would choke me to use this prayer in the context of the Mass, as I know it was meant to refer to the communion tables that Cranmer replaced the altars with in the Parish Churches.

Another example of Cranmerian error is the inclusion of his phrase in the BDW of “our only Mediator and advocate. “Whilst the lord Jesus Christ is our mediator and advocate, Cranmer used this expression to exclude the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints, and the fact that in catholic teaching, the Saints can share in Christ’s mediation and advocacy.

Furthermore in the context of a funeral trite in the BDW, it includes Cranmer’s phrase, “ In sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life. This is said at the graveside and is totally inappropriate for a Catholic Requiem as it reflects Cranmer;’s skewed view of salvation, based on the false doctrine of justification by Faith alone. Here is absolute assurance of salvation.

Also in the funeral service prayers are included from the modern Episcopal Prayer Book which
includes the phrase, “ Grant we beseech , to the whole Church in paradise and on earth thy light and peace. “ This specifically excludes the Church suffering in purgatory as paradise is not purgatory. For if the souls of the departed in paradise, why should we pray for them. In catholic theology purgatory is never described as paradise.

Another problem I would have in using the BDW is that the thanksgiving prayers after the Mass is taken from the very words that Cranmer used to replace the propitiatory oblation in the Roman Canon of the Mass. A Catholic using the BDW recites prayers which were used by Cranmer to substitute,where the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice had occurred, with a self offering of the faithful.

The keyword here is “spiritual food”. Yes the Eucharist is our spiritual food, but Cranmer uses the word , as he describes , “ For figuratively he is in the bread and wine, and spiritually he is in them that worthily eat and drink the bread and wine, but really carnally and corporally he is only in heaven , from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. “ Thus a person attending an Anglican Use Mass, is giving thanks using prayers which Cranmer devised to express his belief in a real absence and receptionism. Granted that the BDW foes take out the Cranmerian receptionist phrase, “having duly received. “

For as Cranmer asserted to Bishop Gardiner“ I teach not, as you do, that the body and blood of Christ is contained in the sacrament, being reserved, but in the ministration thereof we receive the body and blood of Christ, where unto it may please you to add the word spiritually. “It should also be noted that most modern Anglican revisions ( like The Church of England Common Worship) leave out the adjective spiritually in the thanksgiving prayer, but the BDW retains it!

There are other serious errors which I document in my pamphlet, The Book of Divine Worship, a Catholic critique, but my rejection of the BDW is because, I am aware of the historical and theological context of these prayers. I feel their retention mocks the Holy sacrifice.

In Catholic theology a person cannot be divorced from their works. Cranmer’s shadow haunts these prayers. However is it legitimate to overturn his theology and adapt it for Catholic worship. As Anglican liturgist Gregory Dix commented on the Cranmerian Communion service.. “ it is the only effective attempt ever made to give liturgical expression to the doctrine of justification by Faith alone. “

It was the Catholic Church who handed Cranmer offer to the civil authorities to be burnt. For the very heresies which are now still included within the BDW. Whilst the BDW has been a failure in winning American Anglicans ( considerably less than one tenth of one percent of US Anglicans), the rite attracts many cradle Catholics. It is sold to them as one Anglican use priest describes in this manner…”Thomas Cranmer published the first edition of his book of Common prayer, a rite in the vernacular to serve the Church of England ( note no mention of his hatred of the Mass.. reading this one would imagine it was just a vernacular translation of the Mass)….. Cranmer’s work seemed to mould the piety and spirituality of Anglican Christians and for that reason the preservation of this liturgical tradition is an important part of the life of the Anglican Use. “

Another advocate of the BDW states, “Archbishop Cranmer wrote lovely prose.. the familiar cadences of the Book of Common prayer served as a vehicle for beautiful worship for generations of English speaking Christians. “

Yet it was the same Cranmer who robbed them of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the priesthood, the Apostolic succession, prayers and veneration of the Saints, ( How ironic that one Anglican use parish is named our Lady of Walsingham, when one considers Cranmer had the original statute of our lady Of Walsingham burnt at Smithfield.)prayers for the dead and the sacrament of Extreme Unction. No worship that excludes the Sacrifice of the Mass and the gift of Our lord in the Blessed Sacrament is in reality true worship. matter how beautiful the language!

It was Thomas Cranmer who said of the Holy sacrifice of the Mass that it was , “The greatest blasphemy and injury that can be against Christ , and yet universally used through the Popish Kingdom, is this that the priests make their Mass a service propitiatory, to remit the sins as well of themselves as others, both living and dead,..”

Knowledgeable Therefore as a former Anglican, of the English reformation I find it hard to use the BDW as it is at best a a hotchpotch of Cranmer and the Mass.. It is essentially like mixing oil and water. It is neither authentic to ancient Catholic liturgy or the Protestant theology of Cranmer’s Prayer Book. It is a re-hash of Cranmer, who never intended his liturgy to be used in a “Popish” context, and cannot certainly be described as Anglican liturgy. For if the Patrimony of Cranmer is so good, why has it had to be so mutilated to fit the Holy Sacrifice of Mass? The real patrimony of Anglicanism is surely not in the heresies of Cranmer, but in men such as Keble, CS lewis and a host of others, who through no fault of their own found theselves out of Communion with the Cattholic Church, and tried to live out Christian lives according to their lights?

Robert Ian Williams MTH , University of Wales

My replies:

Fascinating article! “Sure and certain HOPE” is a striking oxymoron. Cranmer seems like an evil fellow. I think I will google on Cranmer.

Here is something interesting in wiki:

A study of Cranmer’s marginalia reveals an early antipathy to Martin Luther and an admiration for Erasmus.

Here is some interesting trivia about the Reformers growing beards: Cranmer mourned Henry’s death and it was later said that he demonstrated his grief by growing a beard. The beard was also a sign of his break with the past. Continental reformers grew beards to mark their rejection of the old Church and this significance of clerical beards was well-understood in England.

It is so wild! After 1054, the West shaved. After the Reformation, the Protestants grew back their beards! David Christie-Murray, an Anglican, spent 20 years writing “On the History of Heresy.” He vaguely refers to “something” which Henry the VIII did which may well have broken the link of Apostolic succession, but he would not … See Morespecify exactly what. Now I think I understand. David Christie-Murray was so transformed by his study that he became a Quaker. I see Cranmer as in error.

The Korean Buddhists REVERSED the direction of the Hindu Swastika. Prophet Mohammad commanded that the Kaaba be circumambulated in COUNTER-CLOCKWISE motion which is the reverse of Hindu and Buddhist clockwise circumambulation of a holy site, mountain or stupa. There are similar reversals of the hand mudra for Jain meditative figures vs Buddhist meditative figures (left hand underneath right vs. right hand underneath left). The reformers always strive to be different from those they reject.

Here is an interesting article on Cranmer from The Anglican Journal

The enigma of Thomas Cranmer
Ron Csillag
Dec 1, 2003… See More

Believing it is the King, not the Pope, who is head of the church, Cranmer came to see papal authority as false. “He thought God was clearly on Henry’s side,” Mr. MacCulloch said. “That meant the Pope was not the Holy Father. Sometime around 1529 or 1530, Cranmer turned away from the Pope. The Pope was now the enemy of the church.”

It is inaccurate to label Cranmer a Protestant. Rather, he was an “evolving evangelical” along Lutheran lines. And like fellow reformer John Calvin, said Mr. MacCulloch, he believed in predestination and in the need to rid the church of its corruption and opulent excesses.

“He had no concept of a Church of England, but of an international Protestantism. He was the reverse of an Anglican.”

He also altered his view of the Eucharist, from belief in the real or true presence of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine, to its spiritual presence experienced only by the believer.

Besides translating liturgy into the vernacular and abolishing superfluous saints’ days, Cranmer reduced the Offices of the Church from eight to two: Mattins and Evensong.

In the end, said Oxford professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, Cranmer had soured on royalty, believing that “ultimately, we are the custodians of our own conscience.”
49 minutes ago

Notice in Cranmer’s bio (above) that in his early days he
disliked Luther and favored the Humanist, Erasmus.

This is an interesting read:
… See More
Life-bringers: the Protestant Reformation

James Atkinson
(obviously from a Protestant viewpoint)

Luther had been taught that God was far from mankind, and that by dint of intellect, good works and spiritual exercises men and women must struggle to him. He discovered that it is quite the other way. Mankind is far from God, and in love and forgiveness God came all the way in Christ, and continues so to come. No one has ascended to heaven, but God in Christ came from heaven to earth.

[remember that Augustine was seen as laying the foundations for the Reformation. And Augustine said regarding the Eucharist “BELIEVE and you have ALREADY EATEN.”]

Zwingli brought new life into the church. He preached against tithes supporting an excess of clergy, against his countrymen fighting other people’s wars as mercenaries. There soon followed attacks on purgatory, the invocation of saints and monasticism.

The papists resisted, but Zwingli called them to two public debates in 1523, where they were ignominiously silenced and routed. The sole basis of truth was the gospel, and once this was granted, the authority of the pope, the sacrifices of the mass, the invocation of saints, times and seasons of fasting, and clerical celibacy were rejected.

Calvin settled in Basel, a city peopled by learned HUMANISTS and theologians of the reformed persuasion, such as ERASMUS, Myconius and Bullinger.

When Calvin came to formulate an evangelical doctrine of the church there were three views abroad. The Roman view was hierarchical: to be a Christian was to be in communion with Rome, the guardian of truth and morals. Luther saw the true church as the elect of God: a community known only to God, though manifest in the worl(l nevertheless, and which had for its head Christ alone. The Anabaptists conceived of the church as a society of the redeemed, gathered out of the world, and keeping itself pure by excommunicating the disobedient. An important aspect was how these three views saw themselves in relation to social authority. The Roman position was rather ill-defined; its authority was closely allied with the civil authority, but in fact superior to it. Luther rested authority not in the church but in the prince: there were two kingdoms, never to be confused. The Anabaptists repudiated any and every relation with the state or with secular society.

It was not until the reign of Edward VI (1547-53) that the great change took place. Cranmer’s Homilies appeared, ERASMUS’ Paraphrases were set up in the churches, and further Injunctions issued to the clergy, and Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer. Many other changes were made such as the dissolution of chantries, the setting up of schools and hospitals, the destruction of images and the abolition of catholic devotional practices. Cranmer was clearly looking to reform Catholicism.

In 1556 Cranmer was ordered to make his recantations public prior to being burned at the stake. Before his execution, however, Cranmer announced to the gathered crowd that he would not recant, declaring again his rejection of transubstantiation and labeling the Pope an antichrist. His death by burning made him an early Protestant martyr.
(end excerpt)

So, how can one hope to use services written by an enemy of Rome in the Mass and not have problems with theological, doctrinal implications of those prayers.

Rome has always bent over backwards to allow many and various “orders” such as Augustinian, Trappist, Marian Brothers, Mother Teresa’s order, etc. permitting flexibility in exchange for obedience to Papal supremacy (and the Eastern Rite Catholics was just such a compromise). The Eastern Orthodox, by contrast allow ONLY ONE order of monasticism, and there is constant tension between Russians and Greeks over minor differences in the expressions of that monasticism (Athonite vs. Russian; little schema vs great schema). The Eastern Orthodox have always preferred to split rather than to compromise, while Rome has always preferred to compromise rather than split.

I know one RC monastery which alternates and Masses on certain days of the week USE the filioque while Masses on other days of the week OMIT the filioque. Obviously this is done with the intention to please all rather than to appear self-contradictory.

At some time after Vatican II, some Encyclical was written which “tips its hat” to Lutheran notions of “sola fides” (by faith alone) as a gesture of compromise and political correctness. Hans Kung sees the Vatican II encyclical Nostra Aetate as a 180 degree about face over the Council of Florence which stated that there IS NO salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church (and Kung speaks at length about this in Ch. 3 of “On Being A Christian.”)

One cannot have their cake and eat it too. Every gesture of compromise is going to lead to doctrinal and liturgical ambiguity. Every struggle at strictness of doctrine and liturgical practice will invite discord and schism.

Here is the way I see it, and I may well be mistaken. When Martin Luther first broke with the Catholic Church, Luther was very much inclined towards Marian devotion and Luther viewed the Eucharist in much he same was as the Roman Catholics. If Luther appealed to kings or princes or government, it was to find some kind of support and shelter and survival and was NOT driven by political motives to subordinate the church to the authority of a monarch. That is why it is important to realize that in Cranmer’s early days he DISLIKED Luther and favored Erasmus. So Luther was not really an enemy of Rome per se but simply sought some manner of reform in a liturgy and theology which he basically accepted. BUT, by the time Henry the VIII came along, there were power advantages to denounce Rome and its prayers and practices as something totally corrupt. This is perhaps the Reformation as driven by political designs of hegemony rather than simply a desire to reform corruption within ancient and acceptable practices. Hence, given this new political motivation, it was advantageous to totally change the language of the Eucharistic service, destroy altars, etc.

Consider the controversy regarding the phrase in the consecration “shed for many” vs. “shed for all.” This following link sums up the controversy nicely:

C.S. Lewis states that he declines to join with the Catholics not because he does not believe what they believe BUT because he cannot consent to believe anything which Catholics might believe in the future based upon Papal decree. (I am paraphrasing what Lewis said from memory).

Evelyn Waugh stated that he chose Catholicism because he saw it as a choice of order over chaos.

The above link ends by stating:

“The pope alone has the authority to introduce and approve new rites. Private individuals even if they be priests or bishops (clerics) have no right to decide for themselves in such matters. In our present situation we have a pope who made modifications to the Mass. He was supported in this by every pope that followed him. On the other hand we have a movement started by a bishop and some priests who say that the popes are wrong. I think it is safe to say that the Traditionalists are clearly in error. When we consider what both “Quo Primum” and “Mediator Dei” have to say, we can easily see that Pope Paul VI acted well within his authority when he promulgated the new mass.”

So each individual must decide in their heart what their priorities are; how much they are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the strictness of their beliefs. Most people have families, careers and pastimes which leave no room for deep theological investigations (and perhaps their intellects are not suited to such scholarship.) Hence, those people make some choice about which sort of denomination or house of worship they will attend and how deeply their participation will penetrate into the fabric of their lives. And it seems evident that the majority of the worlds population becomes more secular, syncretistic and pluralist with each passing decade.

Harold blows me away with this post:

It is “meet and right” that we, the Church should be wounded by the departure of our precious separated brethren. We must do penance for them and for the willful blindness to which our failures and vices tempted them.

And so, I think, we should mourn, we should feel their loss. The enthusiasm of Pentecostals, the zeal of Calvinists, the warm piety of Baptists and Methodists, the stolid reliance on God’s grace of Lutherans, these are all lovely in themselves, and made unlovely only in the context and under the consequences of schism. These are our family, part of our very body in Christ. And they have chosen to be separate from us. It as if I lost fingers, or my hearing in the high registers.

When I am especially upset, as I often am, at some dumbed down and politically corrected hymn, I try to remember that if I, in my brethren, had been less of a luxurious scoundrel, had been more patient, had been more thoroughly devoted to Christ and the sheep for whom He was content to die, perhaps this aesthetic abomination would not be inflicted on me…. See More

You know, at SJC the people who made my heart sing were Aquinas and Dante, far more than any other people we read. And yet it never occurred to me that God might be telling me something there.

My own forwardnesss, my own unwillingness to add two and two, these have called down on my head the dreaded Green Gather and the fathers who think that beauty and elegance must cede to gender neutrality.

I have deserved the punishment, and far more. Sure, I enjoy complaining. To me a good complaint is almost a work of art, and one which evokes laughter which is almost always good.

But that fact that our Lord does not strike me dead when I dare to approach Him in the Blessed Sacrament is miracle enough to help me tolerate a thousand banal hymns and Masses.

He is there. He allows me to approach, to touch, to consume, to swallow.

I will not stop complaining. It would be like stopping breathing. But He will know I am smiling through my tears.

Facebook discussion of Hans Kung

November 27, 2009

For the want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost. For the want of a horseshoe, the horse was lost. For the want of a horse, the battle was lost. For the want of a battle, the war was lost. For the want of a war, the Kingdom was lost (and all for the want of a nail). For the want of an “s” I stand corrected! Thank you Edward. Now, tell me, what are your thoughts, if any, regarding the life and writings of Hans Kung? I rather admire him for his courage to pursue his thoughts and risk retribution. And yet, I have come to admire the notion of a “magisterium” as a kind of necessary “noble lie” if one wishes to see any measure of the unity which Jesus prayed for in Gethsemane “may they be ONE even as you and I are one.”

——– my comment in IRC ##club-ubuntu at

The irony is simply that, IF we attempt to DEFINE chaos, we cannot avoid our instinct to do so in terms of definition and order, and in so doing we impose order upon chaos, and hence it becomes slightly less chaotic, though every so Quixotic.

the first verse of Genesis mentions, in Hebrew “tohu va bohu” which is the darkness and void, the chaos… followed by the Vulgate Latin “FIAT lux” (from whence we get our expression “by FIAT”)

Capitalizing the G in God

November 17, 2009


this is my first day getting ubuntu to run on a 250gig old tower machine with wifi

took me literally 40 hours of experimenting cause documentation is poor and installation programs are not intuitively obvious


Linux is for Enterprise, not entertainment
more stable than windows
when I worked at FriendFinder it was a 24/7 shop and it took over 3 months before I saw a box crash
at least they finally adopted a GUI for installing programs, not too many years back it was all done via the Command Line

just now i succeeded in getting into paltalk in ubuntu with foxpro, and it supports mic and headphones
i couldt do that with Wubi Ubuntu intalled on WIndows
but this is a pure Ubuntu system

wanna field test VivaVox on Ubuntu?

6:25am William
hmmm…. interesting…. i wonder what or IF it will install on my ubuntu
Kamal would know
good questions
try to invite me, and we will see

6:26am William
its installing now
vivox is not compatible with my build of firefox
thats the message i got

6:28am Nyc
bummer, Kamal needs to know that

6:31am William
i just tried to message him and firefox crashed
it restored this session

6:31am Nyc

6:31am William
but you know, i updated TODAY an hour ago
so, i must have the latest firefox ubuntu build

6:31am Nyc
try a complete restart

6:32am William
good idea… i just sent Kamal the message

6:36am William
i just reloaded firefox, but still no install, and this time i got valuable info about the linux build

so i need to tell Kamal

6:37am William
you know, everything is so much faster in this ubuntu
i am amazed
i think windows has too much overhead with antivirus firewalls etc
of course, i never could get one single person to try out vivox with me under windows
so, i dont think I will cry too hard

6:51am Nyc
I’m running Snow Leopard, Ubuntu and xp on this box, with has 2 quad cores running at 2.66 and 16 gigs of DDR3 RAM, so overhead isn’t a problem

6:58am William
I had a LONG talk in that EMPATHY chat client with my long time friend who is a doctor in Tehran
and it is SUPER FAST
cause I was also chatting with a woman in nyc, and a long time friend in Singapore

7:00am Nyc
was in Berlin last week for the Last Hurrah of the West

7:00am William
oh right
pbs is showing some documentary about how the Beatles helped to defeat the Soviet Union

7:01am Nyc
google ‘Plastic People Of the Universe’ + Hungary

7:01am William
this is so fast and it is only WIFI
I couldnt get ethernet to work

7:02am Nyc
The Velvet Underground had more to do with the collapse than the Beatles

7:02am William
but cabled Ethernet is supposed to be faster than wifi

7:02am Nyc
I used to be able to buy Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ in the DDR’s hard currency Intershops as a child
on vinyl. The State allowed it because it was in keeping with their Principles

Socrates and Jesus died over principles. Principles can be rather toxic at times.
Im so clever I scare myself sometimes, ha ha

I’ve always believed that both those characters are fictional products of Plato’s Academy
sucker existed for 900 years after Plato’s death

I spend a lot of time in Paltalk Catholic chat, because the average age is 50, so it is some companionship
but some of the people really irritate me
but its better than the other chat rooms

no doubt

but this one guy gives everyone a hard time if they do not capitalize the g in God
so I lectured him that he will go to hell for missing the message of the Gospel
I said that in ancient hebrew and greek there was NO LOWER CASE
lower case was a recent innovation

logic doesn’t enter into it with the indoctrinated

so i said he would be in the crowd who says “Lord Lord I worked miracles in your name
and Jesus said “go away I never knew you
I told him that he misses the entire point of the Gospels which is HUMILITY
i said that’s why Jesus washed everyone’s feet
he said he just wants to show God respect
I said that he is a control freak who judges others
ha ha, he had a hard time dealing with what i had to say

Have you read ‘Jesus Is A Jerk’ ?

then this other goody two shoes preacher type started to say to me “… my friend”
so i told him that i NEVER trust anyone who uses that phrase “…my friend”
and i don’t
i said that in life friends are few and far between, and don’t need to be told “my friend”

all the Paki Muslims that argue with me always, without fail, say “my friend” and “my dear”

I told the preacher guy why i despise all the radio and tv ministers
the fact is that all this “personal relationship with Jesus” is an innovation of the 20th century

all the hot dog vendors in NYC say ‘my friend’

because in the 19th century in America, in the 1st and 2nd GREAT AWAKENINGS of the revivalists
the most famous sermon was ‘in the hands of an angry God
and it was all Calvinism
Jesus wasnt your “buddy pal”

found it:
have you seen ‘Dogma’ ?

even Jesus said “you are my friends IF you do as I say”

The ‘Buddy Jesus’ plays a role in that movie

there is no place really in the bible which says “yes, Jesus loves me”
like that old song “the bible tells me so”

I searched long and hard, and there is only ONE passage in one gospel that vaguely substantiates Jesus loving someone

and i know a protestant would rebuttal with “greater love hath no man than to give his live”

well, stop and think about heros like Patrick Henry

The Buddy Jesus:

or posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor winners

I met a direct descendant of Nathan Hale in DC

yes, they have great love, to give their life for their country, but they do not have a PERSONAL relationship with those for whom they sacrifice

If I gave up my life tomorrow to help the suffering people in some African nation… it is an IMPERSONAL act


and the whole Protestant reformation twists the rhetoric to argue that we are SAVED from our just punishment by our lipservice faith
yet, the epistle of James (which Luther HATED) says, “the devils believe, and tremble”

So, obviously demons had faith and knew who and what Christ was, but that didnt save them

The Koine New Testament was the Fox News of its day

and the most christian person of the 20th century was Gandhi, who rejected Christianity as his personal religion

an Athenian in highschool today has an easier time understanding Xenophons greek than Koine greek

and in the gospels where is says jesus took the bread and broke it…

the word is “artos EKLASE”

Which was the koine for break KLASO

but in modern Greek it means HE FARTED

LIKE broke wind

same root

and britches is related to BREECH of a gun, and the root means NOISE

i.e. fart

so, the peasants in church when the gospel is read in koine greek, they cant understand it


so, the priest in the sermon usually gives an elaborate explanation
well, a greek priest came to our monastery, and gave a sermon like that, and afterwards, apologized
because he forgot that we all knew koine greek
he was used to the villagers who needed a synopsis recap

what are the odds of a congregation being fluent in koine in the 20th century?

well, unless they studied like we did, they wont know
when i recite church slavonic to russian speakers, they cant understand a word
only people who STUDY church slavonic understand it, even if the speak a modern slavic language

i mean, if you read the entire Philokalia, which was written by 70 authors between 300 ad and 1100ad
you will not see a single HINT of protestant piety



Kalia means?

is a collection of writings for monastic life on Mt. Athos

Kalia means wholesomeness

got it

in modern greek “kalos kagathos” means a fine gentleman
fine and dandy
but, it is honorific, not pejorative

great song

kalos kai agathos
a contraction to ka’gathos
so philo-sophia is contrasted with philo-kalia

like Paul, on that hill of mars…
the greeks seek after some new idea


that sort of thing

hope i didnt gross you out with all the theology
but, that is my lifelong thing, comparative religions
so, when you look at someone like Hans Kung
his mental feat was like climbing mt everest
so, after years of study, he is at the top, and he gets this panoramic view

So, he shouts down to everyone on the ground what he sees
EXCEPT, they cant understand, unless and until THEY climb a mt everest

right you’ve mentioned that before

and they cant really hear what he is really saying up there,k because of the distnace,

i deal with that everyday

so they dont even know WHAT he is saying, much less WHY

same with Kurt Godel’s indefiniteness proof
very few know OF it and its import
but only a handful are cabaple of FOLLOWING IT
and they say that IF You can follow it, it is like an ecstatic revelation
king of like mastering Euclids final theorem where he inscribes all the perfect solids in a sphere
except 1000 times more difficult
which MEANS that most of us take such things on FAITH
LIKE relativity quantum heisenbergs uncertaintity, schroedingers cat
or dna, quarks muons, even atoms

65% of all humans alive lack the ability for abstract thought

just like Karl Popper says… we CANNOT Know that every atom of copper in the universe conducts electricity, because we cannot TEST every atom of copper

that’s been true for our entire history that we’ve skittered about on the face of the Earth


and much to the chagrin of Noam Chomsky, there is a tribe of 500 in the Brazilian rain forest who speak a language that has no RECURSION

and Chomsky’s big theory is that every language is recursive

So when I say, “yesterday, I saw a man walking down the road wearing a red hat” that is a recursive linguistic structure

The Pidaha tribe (pronounced Piranha) would say “last day. man walking. walking road. has hat. hat like blood
and they dont have words for colors like red
or numbers the way we understand number

Cool stuff
but only cool to the really cool few, sadly

I wish I could die on a cross so that all future generations would enjoy such realizations, and i would do it out of LOVE, but not personal individual love, as in a “personal relationship”, but an abstract kind of love.


Would you be offended if i posted an edited version of this chat in my facebook notes.. just curious to see what some of the catholics say.

its cools stuff
that only comes out during discourse

sure, i was thinking the same thing

great, and i am editing out the parts where you admit to masturbating and picking your nose
ha ha , just kidding

leave those in, they’re key

imagine having lunch with ratzinger and kung, and your first question is “have you ever masturbated or picked your nose”
i know everone picks their nose
i am not certain about the universality of masturbation

and Sartre points out that it is utterly impossible to pick your nose AND masturbate simultaneously with the same hand, UNLESS your dick fits in your nostril, in which case it is so small as to be a mere pecadillo

i had an encounter at the EPA Building in DC where a guard pointed out the cameras in an attempt to intimidate me, so I faced the cam picked my nose and ate the booger

you do realize that just now i reached a height which surpasses even Seinfeld and Family guy. This may be my apotheosis


thanks for the reminder
downloading the Seinfeld reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm right now


I figure mortality and discord are two survival traits of our species
in theory an individual could be immoratl,… but then the species would not be flexible, to adapt to changing circumstances
and, if we all saw things the same way and agreed, then, there would be no diversity,
you would not have some desert dwellers, some mount dwellers, some sea-farers, some rain forest people
we would not have spread out to occupy diverse ecological niches
our survival trait means we will always be divided on key issues
so, if we used weapons of mass destruction to eleminate all our ideological enemies… why in a few generations,
more sectarian and partisan divisions would arrise

there have already been 5 extinctions in Earth’s history. I fail to see what makes humans more specialer than any other species

Good, Evil and Ideas Which Transform

September 9, 2009

Good, Evil and Ideas Which Transform

[added February 5, 2011

I am often AMAZED at all the people who spend hours in religious services and reading volumes of books and never in their daily life stop and ask themselves “what would JESUS do right now” which I am certain Gandhi asked, and Gandhi rejected Christianity. Folks, its not rocket science. You KNOW what the Fonze would do, and Homer Simpson and Jackie Gleason. Think of it as SHOWBIZ!

The notion of religion was INVENTED in India, and only those people REALLY understand it… and it is closely related to show business… so there are people there (Gandhi was one) who would say “what would Ram” do in this situation… it is like role playing …. there are people who say “What would Ayn Rand or John Galt do or say”…. that is what shapes and empowers us, for better or worse, good or evil ]

When we are wronged, we demand justice. When we are harmed, we cry out for mercy. No one doubts or denies the existence and reality of such qualities as justice or mercy or love. Yet such qualities cannot be seen, but exist only in the context of living human consciousness and discourse. There is one verse in Scripture which states: “God is love.”

(I Jn 4:8. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. )

Yet, we are not satisfied with the notion that God is merely a personification of Love or Mercy or Justice. We yearn for a real, palpable, detectable, provable, demonstrable, existent, personal God who will relate to us as an individual.

If God is the source of being and non-being, and therefore prior to being and non-being, then what would it mean to say that God “exists”? If God is prior to good and evil, then what would it mean to say that God is “good”? We do not realize that by such language we actually demean God because we cast God conceptually into His own created realm of dualities and antinomies.
We cannot really prove to anyone else that the Universe exists, yet we do not doubt the universe because of that lack of proof, since we may touch and see and feel the universe with our senses. We tend to seek the sacred within sense perception itself.

Schopenhauer can be credited with one of the most famous opening lines of philosophy: “The world is my representation” [§1, p.3].

Schopenhauer begins one of his chapters in “World as Will and Representation” by pointing out that the swirling gases of outer space produced countless revolving and orbiting stars and planets and that upon the surface of at least one of those planets, a film or layer of water and soil formed which evolved first animal consciousness, and later human consciousness and speech, and that it is only within the context of that human consciousness and discursive speech that such notions as truth and goodness and evil abide.

The harsh vacuum of outer space may appear as an evil to biological life, which requires atmosphere and moisture and gravity in order to survive, yet such a seemingly inimical void of outer space is a nurturing womb for an evolving nebula or galaxy.

Consider the atmosphere of an ordinary room, a living room or parlor, in which we are comfortably seated. If a scientist were to place the atmosphere of that room in a centrifuge, we would discover that the comfortable room-temperature air is actually composed of a minority of very high energy molecules and also a minority of very low energy molecules. When that minority of high energy molecules are segregated by the centrifuge and concentrated into one small area, they form a heat which is hot enough to injure us, while the minority of low energy molecules segregated and concentrated in a small area, form a freezing cold intense enough to cause us discomfort.

Imagine, if good and evil were analogous to those high and low energy molecules in the atmosphere. A certain balanced measure of both constitute a normal atmosphere while an imbalance creates a moral dilemma.
I am very fond of an old saying from India: “The cow and the bee and the viper all drink the same water from a pond, and yet the cow transforms that water into soothing milk, while the bee transforms the very same water into honey, yet the viper transforms the water into a deadly poisonous venom.” How may we see molecules of good and evil in the water which surrounds us, and in what manner do we personally transform the world around us as we pass through this life?

We often ignore the fact that ideas themselves are as palpably existent as matter and sense perception. We must bear in mind that the very IDEA of Christ’s life as described in the Gospels, the very IDEA, notion concept that God should take human birth and lead such a life of humility, obedience, subjugation and surrender, that very IDEA ITSELF is potentially sanctifying and transformational for those who embrace it and internalize it and imitate it and become confirmed in it, quite APART from the issue of the truth or falsehood of the Gospel accounts or the actual historical Jesus.

We may doubt or deny the existence of God if we so choose, but we cannot doubt or deny the existence of such ideas as the life of Christ, and the changes which such ideas have wrought in the world and in individual lives during the past two millenia.

Einstein once pointed out, in a tribute to Gandhi, that generations hence, people might well read accounts of Gandhi’s life and scarcely believe that such a person actually walked the earth in the flesh. Carl Sandburg has eulogized and lionized the life of Abraham Lincoln in several volumes with such flower speech that it becomes difficult for the reader to separate the real person of Lincoln from the legend of Lincoln. But the fact remains that such personalities as Gandhi and Lincoln did walk the earth in the flesh and the IDEA of their lives CONTINUES to walk the earth in the pages of books and in our imaginations, and that IDEA of their lives continues to inspire and transform the live of future generations.

There is a wonderful Roman Catholic scholar by the name of Boadt who wrote a large book on the study of the Old Testament. I was able to meet him once, briefly, after a lecture, some years ago. I was recently mistaken in my recollection that it was in one of the early chapters of that work that Boadt quotes a thought-provoking passage from Deuteronomy.

No, I am mistaken about Boadt and Deuteronomy. I actually read the passage in a book by George Martin entitled “Reading Scripture as the Word of God” (ISBN 1-56955-061-1) and the passage is from Isaiah, Chapter 55, and not from Deuteronomy.

Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

This passage raises an interesting thought with regard to some things which Moses Maimonides writes in his famous work, “Guide for the Perplexed.”
Moses Maimonides is considered to be one of the greatest Rabbinical writers of all times. Maimonides died a mere twenty years before the birth of Thomas Aquinas. In some sense, Aquinas may have been attempting with his writing of the Summa Theologica to accomplish for Christianity what Maimonides had accomplished for Judaism in systematizing matters of faith and interpretation.

Maimonides, in the very middle of his “Guide for the Perplexed”, emphatically states that God does not intervene in ordinary matters of cause and effect, the causal nexus, in the universe. Maimonides gives the amusing example of a man who spits, and the spit startles a frog, who jumps and splashes, causing a bird to take flight which in turn causes an archer to take aim, fire, and miss, accidentally slaying some innocent bystander. This example which I give may not be verbatim the exact example which Maimonides cites (since I am paraphrasing from memory), yet my example is very similar to his example. Maimonides makes the point that God does not intervene anywhere in this slap-stick, Rube Goldberg example of a chain of cause and effect.

Maimonides sees the created universe as something set in motion by God, operating by its own laws and principles, much like the comical Energizer Bunny which we see in the Duracell battery commercials.

Many Centuries earlier, the writings of King Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9, Verse 11, confirmed the validity of Maimonide’s notion when he writes: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Modern Orthodox Rabbinical thought agrees with Maimonides that God only intervenes in causality in the form of “Divine Overflow’ in the life of a Zadek or righteous man.

But if we look back to our passage in Deuteronomy about the rain and the snow and their analogy to the “Words” which God sends into the world to accomplish a certain work, we may see some agreement and confirmation of Maimonides understanding of the role which God plays in causality.
Jesus said to “search the scriptures” (the words of God) for “therein we shall find Eternal Life”, but Jesus does not point to any particular chapter and verse. When the two Apostles say to Jesus “Where do you live”, He replies “come and see” (an invitation to a subjective experience) but Jesus does not give a street address. Jesus tells one man “You are not far form the Kingdom” but Jesus does not say how far or give a longitude and latitude for the Kingdom’s location.

What we see, I suspect, is the invitation to a subjective individual dialectical experience.

Rabbi Kook, the first Ashkenazie Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, quotes a Rabbi of old, Nahman from Bratslav regarding the 3rd chapter of Malachai (which is the last book of the Old Testament). The verse in Chapter 3:16 of Malachi reads: ““Those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them. A book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His Name.”

The Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav comments that “Two men who live in different places, or even in different generations, may still converse. For one may raise a question, and the other who is far away in time or space may make a comment or ask a question that answers it. So they converse, but no one knows it save the Lord, who hears and records and brings together all the words of men, as it is written: “They who serve the Lord speak to one another, and the Lord hears them and records their words in His Book” (Mal.3.16)

This is the Talmudic dialectical process.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810 C.E.)

The great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (sometimes called Bratzlav, Breslau or Bratislava) was the founder of the Breslover Chasidic sect. Breslov is a town in the Ukraine where Rabbi Nachman spent the end of his life, but some say the name Breslov comes from the Hebrew bris lev, meaning “covenant of the heart.” He emphasized living life with joy and happiness. One of his best-known sayings is, “It is a great mitzvah to be happy.” Collections of his Chasidic tales (or tales attributed to him) are widely available in print.

In Genesis, we see that at the end of each day of creation, God looks and sees that “It is GOOD”. But when the entire work of creation is finally completed, God looks and sees that “it is VERY GOOD”. Jewish tradition sees within this “very good” the “yetzer harah”, the natural human tendency or inclination towards evil which may be spiritually harnessed as an energy and redirected towards GOOD. For example, the man with a tendency towards greed may become greedy for Torah knowledge or spiritual wisdom.

R. Nahman said in R. Samuel’s name: BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD refers to the Good Desire; AND BEHOLD, IT WAS VERY GOOD, to the Evil Desire. Can then the Evil Desire be very good? That would be extraordinary! But for the Evil Desire, however, no man would build a house, take a wife and beget children; and thus said Solomon:

“Again, I considered all labour and all excelling in work, that it is a man’s rivalry with his neighbour.” (Koheleth/Ecclesiastes IV, 4)

The translators have rendered yetzer hara literally, as “evil desire,” but as a recurring concept from classic texts, I would think of it as “selfish” or “egocentric” rather than “evil” in its ordinary sense. Thus the midrash works something like this: all of creation is “good” in that it fits together in a harmonious scheme, and is beautiful, bountiful, and reflective of its Source. Basing itself on two textual variations from the other days- the “and” and the “very” – R. Nahman points out that humans have an extra or additional aspect, different from the rest of creation. We have the capacity to be altruistic or selfish, good or evil, generous or stingy. Human beings are neither inherently good nor bad, but are given the impulse and desire for either direction.

If the midrash stopped there, we’d have a fairly straightforward point: humans possess a moral consciousness that animals don’t, and are thus morally responsible for our choices. R. Nahman, however, goes a step further, and points out that things that we might think of as self-centered can actually produce great things. The human drive for achievement might be based in ego, but without it, the world would be poorer.

R. Nahman in his example is acknowledging that human relationships contain elements of both selfishness and selflessness; perhaps he is even suggesting that without the personal satisfaction of intimate relationships, the hard work and emotional struggle just wouldn’t be worth it for many people.

R. Nahman is certainly also challenging the views of those religions that posit poverty and celibacy as the spiritual ideal- in his midrash, God directly approves of personal fulfillment in worldly relationships. Again, this is not about hedonism, but balance. No reasonable reading of Jewish sources would produce the idea that personal, self-centred fulfillment is the ultimate goal of life. On the other hand, this reading of the story of Creation seems to teach us that we are meant to enjoy life and find it good. Hard things can happen, but the challenge is to see the world through God’s eyes, making the choices and connections that raise the material world, which is good, to the level of spiritual fulfillment, which can be “very good” indeed.

From the Sufi’s, we read the following:

“What is Fate?” Nasrudin was asked by a scholar.

Nasrudin answered: “An endless succession of intertwined events, each influencing the other.”

The scholar objected, “That is hardly a satisfactory answer. I believe in cause and effect.”

“Very well,” said Nasrudin, “look at that.” He pointed to a procession passing in the street.”That man is being taken to be hanged. Is that because someone gave him a silver piece and enabled him to buy the knife with which he committed the murder or because someone saw him do it or because nobody stopped him?”

The above is from Sufi stories about the wise fool Mulla Nasrudin. The Sufis believe that intuition is the only real guide to knowledge and use these stories as exercises. The stories can be applied to many different situations,
The source for the Sufi stories is Indries Shah’s The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin (ARKANA Penguin Books, reprint edition 1993).

On page one of Hans Kung’s work “On Being Christian”, Kung raises a profound question:

“Why should one be a Christian? Why not be human, truly human? Why, in addition to being human, should we be Christian? Is there something more to being a christian than to being human?”

I might paraphrase Kung’s words by asking “What is there to prevent us from leading good, humane lives if the Gospels had never been written and we had no knowledge of Christ?”

The psychologist Alfred Adler was once asked by a student during a question period, after one of his lectures, “And what of God, Dr. Adler? What are your thoughts on God and Religion?” Adler simply replied, “I would hope that, if there is a God, that he would approve of the manner in which I have conducted my life.”

It has been said of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that during the last years of his life, he became increasingly concerned with the a question, “What does Christ mean in our life TODAY, right NOW?”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was safe in America, but chose to put his life in jeopardy by returning to Nazi Germany, and there met a martyr’s death after his unsuccessful attempt to stop Hitler. Social activism and protest was not a part of the Lutheran tradition in which Bonhoeffer had been raised.

“Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.”

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like the cheapjack’s wares. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

–Quotes from Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, first published in 1937.

By the way, Hans Kung ends his 600 page book, “On Being Christian”, with these words:

So we have asked: why should one be a Christian? The answer will certainly be understood now if we reduce it to a brief recapitulatory formula:

By following Jesus Christ, man in the world of today
can truly humanly live, act, suffer and die:
in happiness and unhappiness, life and death,
sustained by God and helpful to men.

Someone wrote to me, saying:

The part that stood out for me was the part about the rain and water going down to earth and when it completes it’s task it returns to the heavens. It reinforces the idea that there is a purpose for things.

How do your ideas relate to atheist writings?

It is helpful to read things which have contradictory views.


Sitaram replies:

Read many things. Read all the religions and philosophers and poets.

Smorgasbord/Buffet is really good, because you pick and choose and sample, and eventually you may find something you really like and have your fill. Our postmodernist “restaurant at the end of the universe” matches the appetites of freewill.

Regarding the essay, think about the part where it says something like “the very IDEA itself, apart from its truth or falsehood or historical accuracy, has the power to transform us.”

Ideas have an existence and a reality all their own, as does the imagination. Some ideas are immortal.

Regarding the rain and snow and purpose (teleology), think of the Existentialists who see the world as absurd, but create THEIR OWN PURPOSE in that absurdity, and find meaning by that means and fashion.

Think of Sisyphus learning to be happy.

Originally Posted by Camus
Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them. As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screw ed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by sky-less space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain.

It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.

Religion is being stronger than your rock.

If you can be stronger than your rock, then I shall call you Peter and give you the Keys to the Kingdom.


God’s Party Game of Souls

Perhaps we are all some grand experiment, to see what conclusion conscious beings will come to about the purpose of existence if the true reality is hidden from us. The all powerful God made himself known to all beings…. but then, just like the devil in Job, someone challenged God to test a group of beings in a world, to test unaided blind faith.

We are part of the ongoing experiment.

Each of us holds a piece of the puzzle, an aspect of the truth: the fool and the philosopher; the beggar and the king; the harlot and the renunciate. The Truth is too big for any one person, or to be put in “layman’s terms”.

I am very fond of this anecdote (which is a modern day version of “Divine Lila”):

God’s Party Game: a theory of the origins of souls

Once upon a time, there was a large group of powerfully divine creatures. After doing everything they could do, they got woefully bored. Then someone had the bright idea (writer’s interjection: “I’m going to strangle this person when I find him”), namely, to lock a whole lot of ourselves into a box, except we wouldn’t know it was a box, and we wouldn’t be ourselves, but a tiny shade of our divinity, eking out an existence in this world, given a brief lifespan before our memories are washed away and we would have to start all over again.

To be really bright, you’d have to:
a)realize you were in a box
b)get yourself out of the box and
c)get everyone else out of the box, and the end of which, we’d have this really great party whilst we talk about all our experiences of being different people.

One person would have to oversee the operation, and this person would be, for all intents and purposes: God. God would do his best to keep us in the box (maybe there’s a time limit or maybe not) by modifying things, but basically he’d be part of the box too, and be locked into it as we are, playing by the rules.

These two stories could be the same story, seen by different people.


“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes”, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

-The Velventeen Rabbit, Margery Williams


Let us say that Divinity is Consciousness; Consciousness is divine, imagination is an aspect of consciousness, and within the realm of imagination dwell all things, and at imagination’s borders, all impossibilities, absurdities, unicorns and horned rabbits, await admission and entrance. Hence, Imagination is the threshold of existence, and the unimaginable is non-being.

Let us look about in the world, and behold all the anguish and bitterness in people’s hearts concerning the uncertainty of why the universe exists, why we are in it to suffer, desire, and aspire and what is the relationship between our own personal individuality and that ultimate cause of All: THIS is RELIGION.

Each of us is a complex sum total of our life experiences, triumphs and frustrations. As some sage in India might say “God wears many masks of Good and Evil.” Perhaps the Universe is a reflection of God, or perhaps human concepts of God are a reflection of ourselves and the Universe. But certainly humanity reflects all of this, itself donning many masks of Good and Evil, kaleidoscopically, as we morph from sinner to saint, back to sinner, struggling in this Divine Drama to emerge from the pupa of our egos and spread our wings of selflessness and equanimity.

We read a line a thousand times. We look and do not see. Then, suddenly, one day, we read and see and understand, as if we had never read before. The verse has always been the same. It is we who have changed, ripened, become ready, receptive.

The human problems which we deal with are unchanging. No matter how fast computer chips might become, patience will always be a virtue. The more powerful and effective weapons and missiles become, the more essential it is to learn meekness and nonviolent methods of resolving disputes. No matter what progress science makes in birth control, genetics and cloning, our primordial sexual desires will always present a profound challenge to us as a source of temptation, misconduct and addictive behavior. No matter how many continents or planets we conquer and colonize, we will always have to face the emptiness and loneliness of a Universe in which we seem out-of-place and extraneous. No matter how wise and ancient we become, medically and genetically extending our life span indefinitely, there will always remain buried somewhere deep within us a weeping child seeking the consoling love of a heavenly parent.

A theory or hypothesis is a “story” which is SO GOOD that it HAS to be true, and if it isn’t true, then a Universe should be created in which it BECOMES true. Faith is telling that story, and hearing it, again and again, with perennial freshness and joy. In the heart of the devotee, Christ is ever arising, Buddha beholds an unwaning Morning Star, Ram is always returning to Ayodiya; there is always a “Festival of Lights.”