The Kingdom of God PART 4: The Teachings

As you’ll see, this new model is something Jesus came back to incessantly. I find 19 instances in the gospels (not counting duplicates), and the fact that I could assemble that many is highly significant. Set in a modern book format, the four gospels contain less than 40 pages of unique material, and most of that is narration.

Continuing from the Part 3.

As you’ll see, this new model is something Jesus came back to incessantly. I find 19 instances in the gospels (not counting duplicates), and the fact that I could assemble that many is highly significant. Set in a modern book format, the four gospels contain less than 40 pages of unique material, and most of that is narration.

So, to have 19 passages devoted to a single concept is really quite extraordinary. Here they are((Matt. 7:12, 12:37, 6:12, 6:14, Matt. 18, John 8, Matt. 5:7, Matt. 5:6, Mark 7:6, Matt. 5:20, Luke 11:52, Matt. 11:28, Mark 3, Matt. 25, Luke 12:57, Matt. 25.)):

  • Whatever you would have men do unto you, do so to them.

  • With whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged.

  • By your words you will be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

  • Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.

  • If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

  • The servant who was forgiven but refused to forgive others.

  • He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.

  • The merciful receive mercy.

  • Those who value righteous receive righteousness.

  • Their heart is far from me. They worship in vain, teaching the commandments of men.

  • Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom.

  • Woe unto you, teachers of the law… you have taken away the key of knowledge.

  • Come to me, all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Memorization, obedience, fear and guilt are heavy burdens.)

  • In Mark chapter 3 we see Jesus, who was known for healing people, encountering a man with a withered hand. Since this happened on a sabbath, when the law forbade all work, the rule-minded people watched to see whether Jesus would heal him. Here’s what happened:

  • Jesus is asked to heal on the sabbath, and is “grieved at the hardness of heart,” of those who objected, preferring the old “memorize and obey” model.

  • In the story of the three men given talents, they were each judged according to their own judgments. The man who did not use his talent lost it.

  • Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? (Judgment from self-reference.)

  • For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in. (Whatever you would have men do unto you, do so to them.)

  • What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?… therefore it is not wrong to do good on the sabbath. (Compassion overrides the old model.)

The implications of this new model are immense and even frightening((I explain in my subscription letter, FMP #44.)), but the model is ever so clear. Aside from a few stray comments about “give an offering as a testimony to them,” Jesus never endorses the old model and very heavily outlines and endorses this new model.

We are free to pass this by, of course, but it sits there all the same.

If This Is Correct

If this model of the kingdom of God is correct or even significant, it is something that stands ready to empower elevated instincts and morals in us.

Under the rules model, we degrade ourselves every time we “do the right thing,” since obedience subdues our own will and processes. Under the new model, we set our will and processes as generators of righteousness, creating a virtuous cycle.

It may be understandable for us to feel this is a step too far, but that is a result of our unfortunate surroundings and nothing more. Sadly, it’s not terribly different from the ghetto child who thinks all the world is like his or her little slice of barbarity. But if we lift up our eyes and allow ourselves to step into the operations of the heavens, our lives fill with magic and wonder.

I’ll close with a few words from Thomas Jefferson. This is the closest statement I’ve ever seen to the material we covered here. This passage is from a letter he wrote to Benjamin Rush in April of 1803:

The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. Jesus pushed his into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

Paul Rosenberg

The Kingdom of God PART 3: The New Model

But if this was the good news – if what Jesus did was to open up a way to live as they do in the higher realms – then we’d expect to see some teachings on this subject.

Continuing from the Part 2.

But if this was the good news – if what Jesus did was to open up a way to live as they do in the higher realms – then we’d expect to see some teachings on this subject.

And we have just that, in that Jesus explained, many times, how this process would work((We covered this in other Discourses, so I won’t go repeat everything here.)):

The seed will be sown in many people, but will grow in those that correspond to “good ground.”

The seed will start as a very small thing, but will grow into a very large thing.

It will be a progressive, organic process.

More than this, Jesus was very clear that he was instituting something new and radically different. In the 9th chapter of Matthew, teachers of the law complain to him that his students weren’t behaving in approved ways. He responded by saying this:

No man sews a piece of new (unshrunken) cloth into an old garment, because that new cloth will pull away from the garment, and the tear will be made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old wine-skins, or else the skins will burst, the wine will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Men put new wine into new wine-skins, and both are preserved.

There’s not a lot of distance between that and, “I’m teaching an entirely new model.”

So, Jesus clearly laid a foundation for this new way to live by describing how those who did what he said would experience this in their lives. And that might have been enough. “Here’s what will happen to you, and it will get you to your goal” is all that was really needed. Still, if I were present at the time, I certainly would have wanted more detail. And, as it happens, Jesus did give them more.

The New Model

While it has gone almost entirely unnoticed, Jesus introduced a new model of judging right and wrong. It’s been sitting openly in the pages of the gospels for a long, long time.

The old method is something we all reflexively assume these days. It was also the model Jesus faced directly in the Law of Moses. As we know, it works like this:

  • A set of rules are defined and ascribed to some higher power: A god, a king, wise men, the will of the people, etc.

  • People are punished if they do not obey the rules.

  • To establish themselves as “good,” people show that they haven’t broken any of the rules.

The fundamental concept of this model is that we must measure ourselves against an external standard. This seems very normal to those of us who’ve been raised this way, but rules operate on a different model than the human mind.

The rule model requires us to memorize data that we didn’t produce and may not understand. And we’re not good at that. Humans are great at recognizing patterns but bad at memorizing data. For us to remember things, we have to consider them meaningful in some way.

To state it plainly, the old model demotes our minds. It places our consciousness beneath the rule, subservient to it. The fascinating thing about Jesus’ new model is that it makes the opposite structural assumption and places human consciousness in the top position, not in the subservient position.

Jesus placed human consciousness and its natural operations as the essential component, moving past the rules model.

The new model that Jesus taught works like this:

  • A person knows what they like and don’t like.

  • By doing things to others that they would not like themselves, they condemn their own actions.

  • By doing things to others what they would like themselves, they justify their actions.

This is the Golden Rule model, and we do see it in the world, but mostly in private or at the fringes. Jesus, however, placed it as the only and ultimate model and tossed the old model away.

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The Kingdom of God PART 2: The Good News

The very first thing Jesus says in our earliest gospel is that he has wonderful news, that “the kingdom of God” has arrived. Jesus chose these words with intent. Nowadays people hear them and think “Yeah, yeah, Bible stuff.” Even when they hear “good news” they still think of “Bible stuff.”

Continuing from the Part 1.

The very first thing Jesus says in our earliest gospel is that he has wonderful news, that “the kingdom of God” has arrived. Jesus chose these words with intent. Nowadays people hear them and think “Yeah, yeah, Bible stuff.” Even when they hear “good news” they still think of “Bible stuff.” But Jesus really wanted to communicate how awesome this news was.

I prefer to render the passage like this:

The time is has arrived and the kingdom of God has come to you. Shift your consciousness and take in this good news.

The kingdom of God, then – whether by my rendering, the King James Version or any literal translation –  is something good that was present while Jesus was speaking. That is, by 30 AD or so. “The time is at hand” has a specific meaning after all.

Bear in mind that Jesus may have created this phrase. It never appears in the Hebrew Bible and I’ve yet to find it used prior to Jesus. Now, before we examine what Jesus meant by this, let’s clear out some of the underbrush:

  • If Jesus had wanted this phrase to mean something like “the end of the world and a thousand year reign with Christ,” he could have used “the end of days.” People would have understood that, coming as it does from the apocalyptic book of Daniel… a book that pretty much every religious person of his place and time knew.

  • If he had meant that he was now the agent of the great King of the universe and would be ruling on His behalf, he could also have used any number of royal or imperial terms. Those would have been immediately understood as well.

  • If Jesus had meant, “the great change or break in history,” he wouldn’t have taught (tirelessly) that this kingdom of God would be sown into the world, and that it would grow slowly, as do grains and herbs.

One serious problem with traditional interpretations of this phrase is that they require the passage to come as part of a complete system. Many people, and many ministers in particular, have an emotional need for everything to fit into some sort, any sort, of big picture. And that, as it used to be said, is to put the cart before the horse.

To interpret this as “related to the kingship of God,” or anything else is to shove this phrase into a pre-existing larger picture. And that’s just bad interpretation. This phrase does not have to fit into someone else’s doctrinal model. What matters is what Jesus meant by it, not what religions about Jesus have to say about it.

And so we return to Jesus and begin by considering what Jesus may have meant by the kingdom of God.

After a moment’s consideration it seems obvious that he would not have taken the kingdoms of either Judah or Israel as models for this phrase. Both, after all, are arrangements that God specifically warned against((1 Samuel, chapter 8.)). As they were proposed, he orders Samuel to warn the people that it will have dire consequences for them. And once the people demanded a king anyway, God tells Samuel “they have not rejected you, they have rejected me.” This, then, would not have been a set of images that Jesus would promote.

The early years in Canaan couldn’t really be a reference either, not having been a kingdom at all. It was, rather, a tribal anarchy.

If Jesus was referencing an Earthly arrangement of any type it would have to be the time of Eden, or at least no later than the time of Noah. And there are two passages that mention “the way” in the early portions of Genesis. One notes “the way of the tree of life” and the other “God’s way upon Earth.” Those, whether Jesus had them in mind or not, would at least fit.

It is of some interest that the word Kingdom (basileia in the Greek) doesn’t mean a physical kingdom, but rather “the right to rule.” And we could, without too much stretching, see it as “a model of living.” That, combined with the point above, would have Jesus meaning something like “the way of life in the Garden,” but I don’t think we can make that case terribly well. The possibility, however, remains.

Another important part of this discussion is that Matthew purposely changes “God” to “heaven.” The author of this gospel knew all too well that Mark used God exclusively (he copied the Mark gospel almost entirely, after all), but he chooses to change it to heaven for some reason.

The most common explanation is that since Matthew was writing to the Jews, he didn’t want to offend them by using the name of God in anything but the most solemn possible way. That idea, however, falls apart right away. The “name of God” that Jews refused to write is not the one translated as “God,” but the one translated as “Lord.((God is Elohim. Lord is YHWH, often rendered Yahweh or Jehovah.))” And Matthew seems to have felt no compunction about using Lord; he uses it more than 70 times.

To understand this, we must start by looking at the word itself. And the Hebrew word – the one used in the Old Testament((The presumption in the sacred name argument is that Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew. No one today knows whether or not this is true, but with that possibility in mind – also that Jesus would have known the Hebrew term – I’m beginning my examination of this word with the Hebrew.)) – was shâmayim, and it meant the sky. By implication in some uses it meant the heavens, the realm of the stars. The Greek word from the New Testament is ouranos, and it has almost precisely the same meaning.

These words did not mean “God’s paradise.” No matter how ubiquitous that usage may be in the modern world, it is simply not what the scriptures mean.

The only other possibility I can find for Matthew using this word in this way is that a few writings from the time of the Maccabees use heaven as a euphemism for God. But since Matthew uses “God” more than 50 other times, that goes out the window as well.

My conclusion is that the author of Matthew used heaven (more properly “the heavens,” though not all translators agree) because he thought “heaven” or “the heavens” was truer to the original meaning.

To understand this phrase, then, we must combine these things:

  • The combined meaning of God and heaven, which gives us something like “the higher realm,” “the highest realm,” or “the realm of God.”

  • The meaning of kingdom. We can leave it as “kingdom,” of course, but since the Hebrew Bible rather rules out the typical meaning (1 Samuel 8 puts all earthly kingdoms in a bad light), we’re left with “the way of,” and we go back to the examples of Genesis 3 and 6.

  • We need to integrate this with the fact that Jesus described it as good news.

All told, we’re left with the kingdom of God meaning something like, “the way of the higher realm.” That matches the meanings of the words, and it would very definitely be good news. So then, we might render the Mark 1:15 passage this way:

The time is has arrived and the way of the higher realm has come to you. Shift your consciousness and absorb this good news.

This, of course, combines very nicely with the “advanced man” model of Jesus we’ve used in other discourses. It paints a complete picture, including the quality of the statement, that it was great news.

(Available now on Kindle)

The Kingdom of God PART 1: Introduction

I wasn’t planning on posting another of my discourses publicly, but the more I’ve considered it, the more I thought that at least one more was important.

Christianity and Western civilization have been together since their beginnings, almost as siblings, and no civilization in the history of our world has been better for mankind than this one, based on Judeo-Christian ethics. Nothing else has been remotely close. To simply let that civilization pass would border on the suicidal, and I will do what I can to prevent such a thing.

This, sadly enough, is where millions of people go irrationally bi-polar. They’ve been trained to find fault, reflexively and persistently. Huge swaths of the political class get and retain power by criticizing; without things to complain about, they would have no jobs. Others go in the opposite direction, reflexively defending the doctrinal Christianity they see as the only alternative to the culture of complaint.

As I explained in FMP #90, the obsession with deconstructing Western ways took form in the later Enlightenment and has damaged a great deal ever since. And it has very certainly deconstructed Christianity, to the point where the religion has lost adherents generation after generation.

Bear in mind, please, that Western civilization is not, and never was, perfect. It has always had flaws. The reasonable and honest thing to do, then, is to repair its flaws. What the political and academic classes have done, however, is to chop at the civilization, not to improve it((With exceptions, of course. I’m writing in generalities.)). A longish discussion would be required to explain this in more depth, but most of the parties doing this sought to wrest legitimacy from its previous holders, turning it into power for themselves.

As a result of this, the accumulated flaws of Christianity have been exposed and attacked. However uncharitably and even deceptively this has been done, the flaws were real. Centuries of perceived association with the divine corrupted Christian hierarchies, just as power corrupts all such structures.

And so Christianity has arrived at a crisis: The doctrines holding its hierarchies together are being pulled apart intellectually and Christian families are quietly walking away from them. Yes, there are exceptions and complications to all of this, but it’s also the way things are. And beneath it all, the doctrines that are being pulled apart have little or nothing to do with Jesus. They are based, in the main, on later ideas about Jesus; ideas so long taught that people assume they must have come from him.

Western civilization is also at something of a crisis point: The anti-Western teachings of the past few generations – taught by the ever-complaining classes – have beaten the better influences of Christianity out of the broader culture, replacing them with shallow psychology at best.

In the end, what has been extracted from the people of the West is cultural confidence.  Most westerners believe they are part of a monstrous civilization that has stomped on the rest of the world((Notably, they mistake the acts of states for the acts of the civilization. States, however, are not the civilization; they merely reap from it.)), while the converse is more true.

Western civilization is far from perfect simply because humanity is far from perfect. You can find fault with every culture and every civilization; that’s trivially easy. What’s far more important is to improve a civilization. Such work, of course, is among the least attractive to those seeking power.

And so I’m posting this discourse on the kingdom of God to help reset Christianity on Jesus himself, not on the surplus and power-serving structures that have been built in his name((Judaism, Christianity’s older cousin, needs mainly to be left alone.)).

(Available now on Kindle)

Seeking Refuge


A good deal of my life has been spent in a half-conscious search for places where a healthy person could function as a healthy person: places where health was accepted rather than resented, where it didn’t have to be hidden.

Such places have proven to be scarce. The healthy man or woman is all too often taken as a threat, rather than a friend to perhaps learn from. This stems from the status obsession that has infested mankind. By it, another person’s health undercuts your value as a person.

Perhaps the most common coping technique for this in our time is for people to overtly condemn anything they can brand as evil. (This is the root of polarized Blue/Red hatred in the US, for example. Each side is obsessed with the sins of the other.) Each time they can condemn evil, people feel they are rising incrementally up a moral status hierarchy. But in so doing, they are centering their minds on evil and corruption, which is toxic.

But please understand that, by “centering on evil,” I do not mean that people are striving to be evil. What I mean, rather, is that they are arranging their minds and lives in reaction to evil. They endlessly uncover, define, catalog, and condemn all the evil in the world, and by doing so, darkness, fear, and threat become enthroned at the center of their minds. They see evil on every side and cannot conceive that a health-centric mind is even possible.

I am fully convinced that this is a devolutionary mentality. At first I grasped at this concept instinctively and intermittently, but now, at length, with some understanding.

Who’s Healthy?

It’s not all that hard to define who is healthy and who isn’t. A healthy person is kind, benevolent, curious, reasonable, and acts with integrity. An unhealthy person is conformist, legalistic, takes advantage of others, and enjoys belittling people and things.

We might add to these lists – and people do move between the categories at times – but I think a basic healthy/unhealthy divide is easy enough to see.

Fortunately for us, far more of us are healthy now than in the old days. Slavery is gone, justifications for cruelty are mainly gone((Justifications for the cruelty of the state remain, but these too are weakening.)), and people are simply better than they were centuries or even decades ago.

For this we should be thankful, but it also remains that millions of people, especially any who are noticeably healthier than their neighbors, are to one extent or another punished for their virtues.

Refuges, Old and New

For all the flaws and abuses of the churches of the West, it is true that churches have often been refuges for the healthy. Operating within a church, or at least by being associated with it, people could do exceptional things without being overly exposed to consequences. This was especially true during the most decentralized periods of Western history, including the eras when great talents were supported by clerics and nobles.

Even in modern times, church has been a safe training ground for exceptional musicians. In church, for example, the great singing voice was treated as a gift from God, rather than a threat to those less gifted.

Radical Christian groups have sometimes served as refuges, but only those that were sharply dedicated to following Jesus, “walking in the spirit,” and so on. Put in nonreligious terms, those pursuits are simply “striving to become healthy.” (Debating doctrines and rules are fundamentally otherwise.)

Some nonconformist groups were refuges as well. You can find coverage of this in issue #16 of our subscription letter.

Many good families have provided refuge of course, but existence apart from the family is necessary too.

The ability to be openly healthy (or at least smart) was often an underlying appeal of the cypherpunks.

The internet, particularly in its early days, provided a safe way to be healthy. It was far more anonymous in those days; as the joke went, “No one on the internet could know if you were a dog.” Anonymous forums now serve the same purpose.

And finally, we now have a large and thriving cryptocurrency community, where talent is welcomed rather than resented. It is therefore no surprise that healthier-than-average people are gravitating toward it.

Last Words

The status model destroys us all by inches, but the healthiest among us far more than others understand. Simply from a species-preservation standpoint, this is a horrible error.

Status, I maintain, is not hardwired into us. I think that’s a false belief, and more than that, I think it’s an excuse. We are better than that, and it’s time we started acting like it.

So, find refuge as you can, my friends, but whether within or without a refuge, strive not to diminish yourselves.

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Paul Rosenberg

Please Do NOT Support a Candidate

candidateANY candidate.

Here’s something I wrote in my subscription newsletter a few months back:

I’ve watched people work for political progress since the 1960s. Back then, I saw decent, well-meaning people struggling to eliminate war, financial insecurity, welfare, racial animus, and police brutality.

Fifty years later, their children and grandchildren are spending oceans of energy fighting… war, financial insecurity, welfare, racial animus, and police brutality.

I take no pleasure in saying that all those people wasted their time – my own family and friends are included in that group – but the truth is that they did waste their time. Those people had good intentions, but their efforts were of no significant effect. They would have been better off gardening.

I’m dead serious about this.

Instead of sending money to politicians… instead of spending endless hours arguing about Candidates A, B, C, D, and E… tend a garden or plant a couple of fruit trees… these things will supply your family with good food, probably with some left over for friends and neighbors. Learn a skill. Teach a skill. Read good books. Bless the world and the good people in it.

By doing any of these things, you’ll be far better off than you would be after blowing your time and money on filthy politics. (Don’t we all complain that these people are liars and thieves?)

A new American Presidential Circus is rising up from the netherworld as I write this. It will be the 13th that I can remember in detail, running back to 1968. And they’ve all been the same: lots of propaganda, lots of fear, ‘gotcha’ debating games, flashing TV ads, loud radio ads, and so on. And what has it all changed? Almost nothing. Consider:

  • In ’68 we had an ugly war that half the country thought was God’s Will. Now, we’ve had the privilege of watching two wars that accomplished nothing, with half the country even more convinced that it was all God’s Will.

  • Then there were racial problems; now there are racial problems.

  • Then there was police brutality; now it’s probably worse.

  • Then there were economic problems; now they’re definitely worse.

It was all useless. All the magic candidates have fallen flat, just to be followed by other magic candidates, who assure us that they will – really, really, really, they pinky swear – finally do all they promise.

Seriously, it’s time to accept the obvious: It’s all been a cruel farce.

“But if We Don’t Get Involved, It Will Get Worse!”

Friends, that’s just naked fear. Don’t feed it. Don’t pass it along.

We are intelligent men and women; we shouldn’t be reduced to acting like terrorized children, tossed about by every shiny suit with a scary story to tell. We need to do better than that.

The truth is that the rulership we’ve been living under is long past its expiration date. It’s holding us back from a better future.

The Relic from 5000 BC

Almost nothing in human life remains as it was in 5000 BC. We drive cars; we live in automatically heated and cooled homes; we eat foods from around the world; when we need to travel long distances, we fly; and we can cure most diseases. Nothing we do is the same way they did it in 5000 BC… except for one thing:

Morally deficient men still rule over everyone else, just as they did 7,000 years ago.

And that’s just the way it is, stated clearly.

And it’s the way it has been, through all the monarchies, theocracies, principates, democracies, republics, and hybrids. Through them all, the same relationship between ruler and ruled has been maintained. (And is it any comfort that we’ve added morally deficient women to the mix?)

By about 5000 BC, the perpetual suite of governance was taking shape, built on these pillars:

  • Order

  • Tax accounting

  • A state-aligned intellectual class

  • Surveillance

  • Fear

  • Government buildings and monuments

  • Competition and prestige

  • Reassurance mechanisms

  • Collective identity

And all of these things remain as daily functions of governance, just as they did for the Romans, the Greeks, the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and a hundred others.

It’s an old, old game that goes nowhere. Right now, we’re living with space-age technology under bronze-age domination. It’s all but insane.


So, please do not support a candidate. It’s primitive, it’s barbaric, it’s useless, it’s self-enslaving.

Instead, send the money to some kind person from your past. Spend time tutoring the neighbor kid. Plant a tree. Nurse the sick. Mow an old guy’s lawn. Repair your aged aunt’s car. Do something that blesses the world.

But please, do not pour your time and money down the filthy sewer called politics. It only prolongs the bronze-age barbarity. The game ends if we stop playing it… and it really needs to end. 7,000 years of this has been way, way too much.

I’ll close with a quote from Buckminster Fuller. It’s worth taking to heart:

The Dark Ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear… We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.

It’s time to start thinking differently.

Paul Rosenberg

The Price of Freedom™

freedomSomehow, and I had no idea how, I found myself face to face with a man I first mistook as a mobile home salesman. But he wasn’t trying to sell me a double-wide; he was trying to sell me a gaudy package labeled Freedom™. He stood in front of me, smiling too much and waiting for me to comment on the beauty of his product.

“Tell me about this Freedom of yours,” I finally squeezed out. “And why does it have the trademark symbol on it?”

“That’s because our freedom is the best kind.”

“So, freedom isn’t just freedom?”

“Heavens no,” he assured me. “Those other freedoms are poor, poor imitations.” Then he leaned in toward me and spoke in a lower voice, slyly. “You know what I mean, don’t ya?” He elbowed me in the ribs.

“I’m not sure I do.”

He leaned very close now. “You know. We’re kind of too humble to say it outright, but we’re…” He wanted me to complete the sentence, but I didn’t know how. He looked at me like a schoolboy who couldn’t come up with the answer to two plus two. “You know… we’re God’s favorite.”

“Are we?”

He pulled back, incredulous at my ignorance. “But of course!” Then he gave me a good looking over. “Ah, I can tell, you’re from one of those northern, liberal places, aren’t you?”

“Well, I’m from the north, yes, but no, sir, I’m definitely not a liberal. Actually, I’m—”

“Listen son, we’re the one indispensable provider of freedom. Without us, the world would have been a cinder a long time ago; and nothing can live on a cinder, can it?”

“No, I wouldn’t think it could.”

“Darned right, it couldn’t. Now, you just talk to any preacher south of your northern city and he’ll confirm that I’m telling you the truth!”

“Well, I—”

“You listen to talk radio, son?”

“Not in a long time, but I used to like certain interview shows, and when I used to drive a lot, I listened to Rush Limbaugh.”

“Ah, did you pay attention to him?”

“Sure, he said some things I really liked, and he was fun.”

“Well then, you have your answer!”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but rather than climbing further into his rabbit hole, I decided to move along to the price of this trademarked freedom. “And what, sir, does this finely wrapped package cost?”

“Well, it’s not a fixed-price thing.”

“Very well, but it must have some cost, no?”

“Certainly. Freedom isn’t free!”

“Okay then, what exactly is the cost?”

“Well, it’s whatever the government says it is.”

“The government?”


“Look mister,” I said, “It was tax season recently, and I counted up everything they take away from me, and it’s a hell of a lot of money.” The salesman stood stone faced. But he had hit a sore spot in me, so I went on.

“The Feds take income taxes, payroll taxes, and Medicare taxes, which I don’t even use. And then I get hit for property taxes, state income tax, sales taxes, taxes on electricity, on gas, on telephones, gasoline taxes, and taxes on watching television. That accounts for more than half the money I work for… not to mention all the taxes paid by the people who make my bread, cars, computers, and clothes – all of which are rolled into the price I have to pay.”

“Look,” he said, putting his arm around my shoulders, soothing me and walking me across the display case so I’d see his package from a different angle. “Everyone pays that, son.”

But I wasn’t done. “The government also claims ownership of my children, you know!”

“Ah, son, don’t be silly. Why would the government want to hurt your children?”

“I don’t know or care, but if their agents decide to take an interest in them, they are authorized to take them away!”

“That only happens to bad people, son, and you’re obviously educated. You don’t have to worry about things like that.”

“And if their armed men tell me to fall down on the ground in front of them, are you saying that I don’t have to prostrate myself?”

“Well, of course you do, son. But it’s always for your own safety. And like I say, they only do that to really bad people.”

“And how can they be so good at telling the difference between me and a less ‘educated’ guy?”

“They know, son, they know. It’s in their training.”

And then, I must admit, my mind fell blank. What kind of magic training could they have?

Quickly, he put his arm around my shoulder again and walked me back toward my first position, stopping me where the lighting was perfect.

“You’re looking at this all wrong, son. You need to forget those details.”

“They seem like rather large details to forget.”

“That’s because you don’t know what’s packaged in with the deal. That’ll make you forget ’em!”


“Of course! Guaranteed!”

“Then what’s in the package deal?”

“Ah, the best, son… the very best!”

“Which is?”

He leaned close again. “Have you ever felt insecure, son?”

“Sure. Hasn’t everyone?”

“Indeed, son, indeed. And have you ever felt small, afraid, confused, and powerless?”

“Well, yeah, though not so much since—”

“Things of the past! All things of the past!”

I was incredulous. I worked long and hard to grow out of those things, and I couldn’t see how there could be such a fast, easy fix. Still, I had to ask. “And how’s that?”

“When you buy this here package, young man, you join yourself, heart and soul, to something larger than yourself! You make yourself part of the Jolly Red, White, and Blue Giant! He’s got the ass-whoopingest department of kill-people-and-break-things on the planet, and you get to become part of it!

“After that, the next time you feel afraid or small, just wrap yourself in his colors. Proclaim your allegiance and you become part of him, son, and you’ll never feel weak or vulnerable again. Just pull out your colors and sing his song. You’ll feel it, son, you’ll feel it! After that, you’ll pay the cost over and over and over.”

Maybe I’ve read too much history, but I can recall too many people who fell for that line and ended up squirming in an ash heap. I started looking at the other display cases, then down the aisle.

“Listen, sir,” I finally said, “this Freedom™ seems awfully expensive. Is there another brand I can look at?”

And then… for a horrifying quarter second or so… I thought I saw the salesman turn into Agent Smith.

And then, finally and gratefully, I woke up, and swore off holiday barbeques forever. Next time I think I’ll stay home and read.

Paul Rosenberg

Are You a Gorilla or a God?

god or gorillaHumanity stands about halfway between gorillas and gods. The great question that looms over us, is this: “Which will we incorporate into our lives? Gorilla things or God things?”

The choice is ours. Yes, various choices are thrust upon us all our lives, accompanied with various levels of intimidation and threat, but at some point, all of us find ourselves able to choose freely. And it is then that we go in one direction or the other. We are able to change directions of course, but every time we choose, we move a step in one direction or the other.

What We Are

Please understand that I am not endorsing any specific theories here – religious, scientific, or otherwise. I’m merely describing the situation in which humanity finds itself. We are halfway between gorillas and gods: The worst things we do are gorilla-like, and the best things we do are god-like. Either direction is open to us.

Strange as it may seem, we are a lot like apes. Our bodies are built in the same ways, our body chemistry is nearly identical, and the worst aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the worst aspects of primate behavior.

We are also a lot like gods. We transcend entropy; we create. We can touch the soul in others, and the best aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the best characteristics attributed to the gods.

This is not what we can be; this is what we are. What we become in the future depends on whether we choose gorilla things or god things, here and now.

What Are Gorilla and God Things?

Gorilla things are those which operate on a dominant/submissive model. Hierarchy (high-level individuals controlling lower-level individuals) is the blueprint of the gorilla world. Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them (females, juveniles, etc.) and to avoid punishment. They are servile toward the dominants and cruel toward those they are able to dominate. Females trade sex for favors.

God things operate on a creative model. Blessing is the blueprint of the god world: distributing love, honesty, courage, kindness, blessing, awe, gratitude, and respect into the world and to other humans.

Gorilla things are these:

  • The desire to rule.
  • The desire to show superiority and status.
  • Servility.
  • Avoidance of responsibility.
  • Reflexive criticism of anything new.
  • Abuse of the weak or the outsider (women, children, Gypsies, Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, etc.).

God things are these:

  • Producing things that preserve or enhance life.
  • Invention and creativity.
  • Expressing gratitude and appreciation.
  • Experiencing awe and transcendence.
  • Adaptability and openness.
  • Improving yourself and others.

The Two Wolves

You’ve probably heard the old story of the two wolves: A young boy becomes angry and violent, and then feels guilty about his violence. He goes to his grandfather for advice. The old man says, “You have two wolves inside you: one of them is nice, the other is dangerous, and they’re fighting inside of you.”

The boy then asks his grandfather, “Which one will win?” The old man replies, wisely, “Whichever one you feed.”

In the same way, humanity becomes like gorillas or gods depending on whether we put gorilla things or god things into our lives.

I’m not going to tell you this is always easy, but the difficulty hardly matters: Somehow, we’ve been given a choice between becoming gorillas or becoming gods. No other creatures in this world have been given such a choice.

Bring god things into your life, and reject gorilla things. It doesn’t matter if these things are hard – you are defining your own nature between two wildly different options, every day.

Leave gorilla stuff to the gorillas.

Building god stuff into your life is your job, my job, everyone’s job.

Paul Rosenberg