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
www.freemansperspective.com

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.

(Available now on Kindle)

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

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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  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
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Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

It’s Time to Abandon “God”

AbandonGod

My apologies to anyone who feels hurt by my title. It would have been safer for me to avoid this subject entirely, but I’m convinced that it matters a great deal. So, let’s get to it:

The word “God” has become confusing, distracting, and counterproductive. It carries immense baggage, and it’s time we let it go.

Please understand that this is not an angry-atheist argument. I am not, in fact, an atheist. This is an argument for clear communication, for human understanding, and even for spiritual development. The word “God” is a problem, and I think it’s crucial that we face that fact.

And by the way, I think Jesus would agree with me.

Who Is God?

Ask a dozen clergymen to define God, and you’ll likely get a dozen different answers. Ask a random person on the street, and you’ll get a ball of confusion.

Is God the all-seeing being? Does he control every molecule in the universe? Did he merely put the universe into motion? Is God a he? A she? An it? Does God send people to hell? Does he merely allow them to go to hell? Does he forgive everyone? Does he save everyone? Does he decide in advance who is saved and who is damned? Does he share his complete nature with holy men?

A long list can be made of such questions, and all of them – as answered by both yeses and noes – are used to define “God.”

A word with no fixed meaning is a recipe for confusion and misunderstanding. And if we link to that word a choice between eternal torture and eternal bliss, those misunderstandings involve the highest stakes imaginable.

Can you see how this sows immense trouble in the world? Can you see how it poisons even well-intended theology?

Whoever’s to blame for making “God” unusable in our time, the word clearly is unusable. The only logical choice is to let it go. Forcing a single definition upon the entire world is a practical impossibility.

So, I think we should stop using this word. It’s fine as a generalized appeal to an ultimate – “God bless you,” “Thank God,” and so on – but it’s inadequate for meaningful discussion.

Jesus and God

Here are a few lines of theology to support this argument:

If you count all the times Jesus refers to “God” in the gospels, it comes to 173; for “father,” it’s 167, roughly equal. This is significant by itself, because the people Jesus spoke to expected him to say “God.” The scribes and pharisees, for example, almost never use the word “father.” Even the disciples seldom used it. Jesus alone used the word with any frequency.

But here’s where it really gets interesting: If you count only the times Jesus was speaking to his disciples, you get “God” 78 times and “father” 115 times. That’s a significant difference; when speaking to his students, Jesus used “father” roughly 50% more frequently than “God.”

So, when I say that Jesus didn’t much like using the word “God,” I have some basis for saying so.

Now, with that detour into theology complete, let’s return to the subject of retiring “God.”

What Then Shall We Say?

Laying “God” aside, what to say instead is simple: We say things that convey clear meanings. If we mean “creator of the universe,” we say “creator of the universe.” If we mean “controller of everything,” we say “controller of everything.”

Here are a few suggestions:

Creator: I like this one because it removes truckloads of theological implication. Our universe clearly came from something (unless we turn back to a belief in spontaneous generation), and nothing we see could have made what we see. So, saying “creator” may not describe much about the nature of this being, but it is very clear on the central act of the being. That provides a context for a conversation. If we specify “creator,” we at least begin on solid ground.

Father: Father is a reasonably good word, meaning “from whom we’ve taken our existence.” In a Christian context, this can also be used as in “Jesus’ father.” Again, it doesn’t imply too much and it provides a clear starting point.

Author of life: This is fairly close to “father,” but it focuses on all life – on the essence of life, whatever that may actually be – and not on any one life-form.

Source: Another fairly useful term, with a meaning like “father,” though broader.

Yahweh: For biblical conversations, this one actually works. It veers too closely to the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses for many people, but it does approximate the name that appears in the Hebrew Bible. Disagree with the Witnesses all you like, but at least this word refers to a specific being.

Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t suggest using “King” or “Lord,” since they imply some kind of violent dominator. I’d like to see humanity outgrow that.

So…

What you do with this will be your choice, but I think it needed to be said. Discussions centered on “God” are more or less doomed at their start these days, making discourse on spirituality an inarticulate mess, or even a minefield. Tradition isn’t worth that price. It’s time to let “God” go and get specific.

* * * * *

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Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

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…

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
FreemansPerspective.com

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?”

“Sure.”

“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!”

“Really?”

“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
FreemansPerspective.com

Proof that the Bible is Anti-Government

anti-government religionsJudaism and Christianity are, at their cores, subversive, anti-government religions. This is strongly reflected in the holy books of these religions, a.k.a. the Bible.

So, I’m going to provide a quick cheat sheet for biblical anarchy – a list of passages that make a clear case: The God of the Bible has nothing to do with the governments of Earth and, in fact, considers them evil.

This list may offend people. But their anger doesn’t make it any less true.

The List:

Starting with the Hebrew Scriptures, then moving into the Greek, here are the relevant passages:

In Exodus 1, Hebrew women openly defied the king of Egypt:

And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives… when ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools, if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

You can find other defiance passages in Daniel 3 and 6.

The classic passage on rulership is from 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites, then living in a tribal anarchy, go to Samuel the prophet and request a king. Samuel was displeased by this, but prayed to God anyway. God tells Samuel to warn the people how badly their king will abuse them (He gives him a detailed list) and then tells Samuel:

They have not rejected you, they have rejected me.

Another great story involves King David: God hand-picks this young man and says that he possesses a “heart like God’s own.” After a few years in power, however, he is corrupted and kills one of his soldiers, in order to steal his wife. This is the great example of “power corrupts.” (2 Samuel 11)

Neither Abraham nor Moses gave Israel a king or a government, and they were fully aware that such things were the way of the world. The Hebrews lived in their own land, with no ruler, from perhaps 1400 BC to 1000 BC. Then came the 1 Samuel episode mentioned above and lots of trouble.

What people sometimes fail to grasp about the Hebrew Scriptures is that they initiated a permanently subversive concept: Placing justice above the ruler. That concept alone undercuts every government on Earth.

But, But, But…

Leaving the Hebrew Scriptures, let’s continue by addressing the great refuge for statist Christians, a few verses in the 13th chapter of the letter to the Romans. The passage says:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.

To interpret this as referring to presidents and princes, every one of them would have to “be a terror to evil works” and not to good works. Shall we apply that to Stalin? To Mao? To Pol Pot? To Nero?

If “there is no power but of God,” and if these powers are Earth’s rulers, we have to say that Hitler did good works, and so did Vlad the Impaler. That cannot be honestly argued. (Though it can be blanked-out.)

Was it right for the Christians of Germany and England to kill one another in WW1? Will we really say that God orders his children to destroy each other?

Beyond this, nearly every major figure in the New Testament defied their rulers. For example:

  • Jesus refused to answer any of Herod’s questions (Luke 23:9).
  • An angel broke Peter out of jail in Acts 12. (And Paul and Silas in Acts 16.)
  • In Acts 5, Peter and John defied their rulers and ended up telling them, to their faces, “We should obey God rather than men.”

Now, with that silliness behind us, let’s move on.

Back To Our List

The government of Judea tried to kill Jesus as soon as he was born. An angel had to appear to his father and tell him how to evade the government. (Matthew 2.)

In Mark 8, Jesus tells his students to “beware of the leaven [the teachings] of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” In other words, “Don’t believe the religious people, and don’t believe the government.”

In Luke 4, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the Earth and says, “All this is mine, and I give it to whomever I please.” He offers it to Jesus, who considers it a legitimate offer but rejects it.

Jesus said on two separate occasions that Satan is the ruler of this world. (John 12:31 and 14:30) So writes Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Jesus flatly denies any association with the rulers of this world in John 18:36:

My kingship is not of this world.

Jesus warns his students not to be like rulers in Mark 10:

You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6, warns Christians not to use government justice systems.

I’ll conclude this section with the big one, from Luke16:15:

That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

So, what is “highly esteemed among men”? That’s easy: The entity people give the right to take their money, to order them to be punished, and to kill. Nothing on Earth is more highly esteemed than government.

And yes, this passage says that government is an abomination. If you don’t like that, blame Jesus, not me.

“Wait! There’s Another Scripture!”

People always grasp for reasons to ignore what they don’t like. For anyone so minded, here’s your “gotcha” list: Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22; 1 Tim. 6:1; Tit. 2:9; Tit. 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-15, 18.

After everything I’ve pointed out above, I’m not going to waste my time on desperate objections. People determined to hold their current beliefs won’t change their minds anyway.

The Truth

The hard truth is that people want to align God with government, because they want an easy way out. They don’t want to suffer for righteousness’s sake.

Which of the prophets weren’t abused? Which righteous man didn’t suffer for his righteousness? Cowardly believers are simply trying to avoid this.

Here are a few of Jesus’ comments on the subject:

  • You shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. (Mark 13:13)
  • You are blessed when men hate you, when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of me… Their fathers did the same to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)
  • If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:20)

By turning the state into a polished fantasy and inserting it into “God’s plan,” people convince themselves that there is no need to suffer. It makes for a cheap, painless (and spineless) religion.

Jesus, however, says that this is false. So do Abraham, Moses, Samuel, the prophets, and the apostles.

If you’re not willing to suffer for your beliefs, you’re not much of a believer.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Have the Atheists Become the Gorillas?

atheistsEvery time I write an article that mentions god – even if used as a descriptive reference to “the gods” – I get insulting and arrogant comments from atheists. And it’s not just me; you can see the same thing all over the Internet.

To put it simply, these people are bullies, striking unbidden with fast, hard blows. It’s not about truth; it’s about dominance.

Not all atheists do this, obviously. I have quite a few atheist friends who are decent, kind people. But an abusive strain of atheism has taken root in recent years, and I think it’s time to confront it.

Here’s the key:

The goal of these bullies is not to find truth or even to defend it; it’s to put down other people – to insult, humiliate and laugh at the fools who believe in any sort of god, even people who use references to god.

These people slash and burn. They labor to destroy, not to build.

I used to have a standing offer: that I would publish any atheist book that did not criticize, but instead told people how atheism would make their lives better. The result? No one ever submitted a manuscript.

The Irony of It All

Last week I wrote an article entitled Are you a Gorilla or a God? In it, I explained that the worst of human behavior is gorilla-like and the best god-like. I went on to explain the gorilla side this way:

Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them.

In response to the article (which mentioned gods!), I received the business end of that atheistic slash and burn. But these people never realized that they were placing themselves precisely into the position I had assigned to the gorillas: slapping and biting smaller animals to make themselves dominant.

A Defense of Atheism

I don’t have a problem with atheism per se. I was actually raised as an atheist, by a mother whose love I never for a moment doubted. And, as I say, I have friends who are atheists. The opinion, by itself, doesn’t bother me.

I think atheism is a valid opinion. I happen to disagree with it, but I disagree with a lot of things – that doesn’t mean I go about to destroy them all. Our goal should be to improve people, not to chop them up.

One essential flaw I find with strident atheism is that no one can know enough to make that pronouncement. Here’s what I mean:

  • I think it is 100% fair to say, “I’ve never seen evidence of a God, so I don’t think there is one.”
  • What I don’t think is fair, is to say, “I know there is no such thing as God.” This is especially true regarding the Judeo-Christian God, who is said to exist beyond our universe. Until they can look beyond the universe, no one can say for sure.

Some atheists will say that putting God outside of the universe was merely a trick to avoid evidence. But even if it did begin as a trick, the idea stands on its own, and saying, “I know that there is no god at all, anywhere,” is unsound.

But, again, to say, “I see no evidence and don’t think there’s a God” is an entirely fair and rational opinion.

The Unfair Atheist Argument

You’ve all seen the technique: The aggressive atheist picks their spot and pounces with references to the very worst examples of theism, and implies that all believers are that way.

But most believers have no desire at all to burn witches or stone homosexuals. To paint them as being that way is not only unfair; it is abusive.

These atheists will, of course, pull together abstract arguments, saying, “Your book says that, and you say you believe the book, so you defend burning witches.”

The truth, however, is that modern believers want nothing to do with burning witches, inquisitions, or any other horrors. (In fact, they would oppose them strongly.) The atheists know this, of course; they’re just trying to slash and burn.

A kinder, better atheist would say, “You believers really should explain why you no longer accept some of the things written in your book.” That would be honest and helpful.

Can We All Get Along?

Yes, of course we can. Only one thing needs to be absent (on both sides): the desire to injure and dominate.

Atheists and theists can be friends and co-travelers. I’ve spent pleasant hours with evangelists for atheism. We disagreed, we got over it, and we enjoyed each other’s company.

It really comes back to the basic principles that we learned as children: You don’t try to bully them, and they shouldn’t try to bully you. Play nice.

It isn’t that hard.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com