It's interesting to see the expressions and conceptual vocabulary at the Amazon page.
Those who favor this book talk of "believers" and "non-believers", as though there are only two worldviews: the official Christian worldview and the non-Christian worldview. So what are those of the allegorist semi-suppressed but ever-arising tradition: believers, or unbelievers?
Another manipulative option-denying expression is "discrediting the authority of Christianity", as though there are only two possible views: Christianity has the official type of authority, or doesn't have any authority. What about the mystic-experiencing allegorist type of authority, the authority of the perennial philosophy that is expressed through the form of Christianity? That option is shoved under the carpet by the expression "discrediting the authority of Christianity".
Another manifestation of this false menu of two options is the idea that the Gospels are either valid in the Literalist sense, or invalidated.
The mystery-religions developed alongside Christianity and rabbinical Judaism. They all had their sacred eating and drinking, and all had their primary religious experiencing, and all had their allegorical mythic expressions and embodiments. They all grew directly out of the ground of direct religious-state experiencing, and all also influenced each other.
A book of this sort, written by a Literalist Christian, can hardly prove anything. Evidence is too malleable. Determined Literalists and determined mythicists could continue to churn out their respective books indefinitely, by adhering to different methods, assumptions, axioms, and goals -- different paradigms for viewing the world and its evidence.
Literalist Christians, especially those who haven't discovered the positive alternative offered by esoteric, higher Christianity, reach for these books with a certain desperate relief -- "please, save my rickety, crumbling type of faith!"
A similarly motivated book:
The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
by Craig L. Blomberg
July 1987, rank 28K (very popular)
"I had just previously finished a book by John Dominic Crossan, which threw me for a loop. Not only did my mouth drop about a foot, I had this empty feeling about all the things I have believed all these years. He and Marcus Borg seem to take a real liberal approach to interpretation of biblical history, to the point of invalidation. This book was a refreshing alternative to that previous one."
Notice that the main spirit of the battle right now is between the liberal Christian scholars and the Literalists. Although there is some flurry of contention about the fairly sophisticated esoteric-Christianity book The Jesus Mysteries, the mass of the argument is still stuck in a battle of the Jesus Seminar against Literalism. People don't yet grasp that there are three main views or reference points: Literalism, atheism, and esotericism.
The argument has a false and unprofitable flavor because only two of the three main positions are considered. I consider such books more in terms of what worldview they self-consistently inhabit, than the merits of their "arguments". http://www.egodeath.com/christviewstaxonomy.htm
In the worldview or paradigm of such books, there are only two alternatives: Literalism or atheism, the latter being effectively equivalent to paganism (the Greek mystery-religions).
In the esoteric worldview, which is ultimately centered so far from official Christianity that even Paul is understood as potent myth, there are three alternatives: Literalism, atheism, and esotericism, and atheism is inconsequential, so there are really only two alternatives: Literalism and esotericism.
Ultimately there are only two denominations: Literalist Christianity and esoteric Christianity, which Freke and Gandy call Gnostic Christianity. Although it is profitable to study the varieties of Literalism, the varieties of esoteric Christianity, and the varieties of combinations, all these can be analyzed in terms of their resonance with two ways of thinking: the Literalist supernaturalist way of thinking, and the esoteric or Gnostic way of thinking.
That's not to say that each person neatly falls into a perfect Literalist camp or a perfect esoteric camp, but that these form two definite, distinctive, exemplary, archetypal poles. For example, people looking for an anti-orthodox Mary Magdalene might hold that she is John, the Beloved Disciple, while other scholars may latch onto the anti-orthodox idea that the archangel Gabriel holds a Datura "lily" in the anunciation, while failing to discover the Mary "John" Magdalene anti-orthodox tradition.
Both of the above are imperfect or incomplete esoteric Christianity, having hold of one part of the anti-orthodox elephant. Nevertheless there is a whole standard elephant, even if each individual grasps only a part of it.
The main work now is to start putting the various anti-orthodox components and puzzle pieces together to build a more complete alternative, a full-fledged esoteric Christianity, which has manifested itself in fits and starts, sometimes rising up to take fuller form, then to be suppressed again insofar as Truth can be forcibly suppressed back down into the Ground from whence it keeps being thrust back up through the available forms of religious myth.
I am interested in analysis of the JesusMysteries discussion group and related things. I have different analyses than you, different criticisms, and different arrangements of the critical points than you, but we could have a highly interesting and worthwhile conversation. The JM group is an Interesting Problem. The moderators have a difficult task gluing all the camps together in a way that is at all productive.
I take issue with what you and JM have in mind by saying that the group
I would disagree with your ideal version of the JM group. You and I may have incompatible ideas of what the JM group ought to be.
A great critical technique is to ask whether the JM group is actually about what its charter claims it is about. The official posted rules are different than the actual rules of posting there.
>On the JesusMysteries list, what passed for a "scholarly" approach was nothing more than a set of unquestionable presuppositions and rules that guaranteed that the traditional Christian position would lose,
The expression "the traditional Christian position" is completely problematic. Whose notion of tradition? Modern official Christianity *claims* that it has the traditional position, but there's some indication that modern literalism was of minor importance prior to the Reformation. Supernaturalism is a modern degenerated notion of Christianity; before the Reformation, the main version of Christianity was mystic-state allegory, just like magic, alchemy, and astrology were more spiritual-allegorical than literal. You and I mean opposite things by 'spiritual': you mean supernatural-literalist; I mean mystic-allegorical. I divide conceptions of Christianity into these two camps:
o Modern literalism, whether supernaturalist or not.
o Mystic-state allegory; all the Christian figures are first and foremost symbols of things that are all in the mind, metaphors for phenomena of the intense mystic altered state.
What you mean by your phrase "the mystery position", I would criticize as being an affirmation of Christianity as Mysteries while completely failing to penetrate the experiential core of the Mystery initiations.
You divide the conceptions of Christianity into "naturalism" versus "supernaturalism" -- I wouldn't. I divide it into "literalism" versus "entirely allegorical mysticism". A useful distinction along the lines of the Dutch Radical Critics is supernaturalist literalism versus liberal literalism. The JM group is not at all interested in the extremes of your supernaturalist literalism nor my in-depth study of entirely allegorical mysticism based on the intense mystic altered state. The JM group is strictly interested in debating two particular middle-of-the-road positions:
o "Jesus existed as a single historical person who was the kernal for the supernatural legendary accretions."
o "Jesus didn't exist historically, but entirely mythically, where such myth is a form of the Mysteries. We can't have and don't need to look for the deep nature of these mysteries, in this discussion group."
In the JM group, you are permitted to compare those two positions only -- not your supernaturalist "spiritual" position, nor my truly mystical and mystery-literate "spiritual" position. You are too supernaturalist, and I am too mystical: those extremes are sacrificed, so that the debate concentrates around liberal-literalist secularized scenarios: there is a huge amount shared in common between the two permitted camps in the JM group. Whether Jesus existed or not, the background worldview style of JM remains the same: secular, despiritualized, literalist, modern.
>In addition, the list operated under an historical realist position, in which historical theories are not merely theoretical mental constructs and organizing tools useful for understanding things that we cannot directly observe. Rather, the historical theory was seen as describing "what really happened."
>the list really did have an anti-spiritual atmosphere. A rigid philosophical naturalism, enforced through the list rules, is rather like a large bomb; it not only takes out the intended target, but destroys everything else in the blast radius.
I would word this (anti-spiritual) slightly differently, though there is interesting similarity and overlap of our criticisms. Both permitted positions in JM group have a certain same character: litearlist historicism, fully alienated from your supernaturalist spirituality and from my Mystery-mysticism approach.
>Freke and Gandy's book was never intended by the authors as a scorched-earth attack on spirituality.
When you say "spirituality" here, you mean something mostly different from me, so it's hard to say that I agree or disagree with your statement. I think you misconceive and misrepresent what F&G have in mind about the nature of spirituality. F&G are pro-spirituality, but it's a type of spirituality more like my mystic altered-state gnosis regeneration than your supernaturalist literalism.
>But the aspects of spirituality that Freke and Gandy discussed in the book that the list was named after could not be discussed on the list; they were "off- topic."
I agree that the list's worst self-violation and insane self-contradiction is that is does not match the scope and approach used in the F&G books. The list has no right to label itself after F&G's book title.
>The JM list purports to be a "scholarly" list, but strangely enough the opinions of the great majority of New Testament and church history scholars were dismissed out of hand.
I wouldn't criticize that. The problem is that their scholarship involves endless study of texts and more texts, without understanding anything about how to read mystically. For all their studies, they don't even know how to read, or what type of reading they need to be doing. Their character of reading is from the start a misreading.
>Basically, the JM list clothes itself with the language of history, scholarship, and objectivity. But it actually just uses "history" and "scholarship" as an anti-apologetic in order to promote an anti- Christian ideology.
Anti-Christian is ambiguous. More precisely, it's an anti-supernaturalist and, in the end, anti-mystical ideology: the mystics would not recognize and affirm the presence of any mystic understanding in the group. The group says Christianity was mystical, gnostic, and Mystery, but the group doesn't have any substantial comprehension of what mystical, gnosis, or Mystery is essentially about.
>I think many of the people on that list have an emotional or psychological aversion to Christianity, feeling (perhaps rightly so) that they have been mistreated at the hands of Christians. They're on that list not for scholarship, but for payback. This is certainly not true of all list members there, but I believe it is true of many of them.
That's even more a great description of the Christ Conspiracy group (Acharya S' book). Massive, extreme, rabid, emotionally livid, anti-Christian motives, where "Christianity" is automatically and always defined as, and reduced to, the worst possible and most negative conception of Christian history; the only way that group conceives of Christianity is as the most vulgar kind of literalist supernaturalism mixed with the most abusive behavior, refusing to even consider the presence of any kind of legitimate spirituality.
>>>That's even more a great description of the Christ Conspiracy group (Acharya S' book). Massive, extreme, rabid, emotionally livid, anti-Christian motives, where "Christianity" is automatically and always defined as, and reduced to, the worst possible and most negative conception of Christian history; the only way that group conceives of Christianity is as the most vulgar kind of literalist supernaturalism mixed with the most abusive behavior, refusing to even consider the presence of any kind of legitimate spirituality.
Lostform wrote (paraphrased):
>>We should discuss the cogent points problematic in such a discussion. This would reward us with the problems associated with early Christian development. The Ethiopian Coptic Church raised some eyebrows.
>>What could be a differing view of their own spiritual values, as they received them, as it is speculated, only after their exposure to Greek thought, along with the residual training from surviving Essenes -- who basically introduced them to the cult of Isis, and such precursor views of the Egyptian hierarchy of the Egyptian thought, as it was expressed to them during the Crusades. These concepts were obscured purposefully.
>>A literalist position makes no real sense; literalists don't comprehend the symbology of Christian thought (pre-Reformation) any more than they can unravel the Greek Myths by Robert Graves.
In the prefix to volume 1 of Greek Myths, Graves asserted that he wished he had known about the psychoactive mushroom explanation and now definitely believes that the crazed Centaurs reflected the central use of psychoactive plants in Greek myth-religion.
All pre-Reformation religions centered around visionary plants and allegorical descriptions of these, whether Greek, Essene, Egyptian, Ethiopic Coptic, Jewish, or Medieval Christianity. So your specific question is answered as merely one case lost in a crowd of many. It's not a special case. What we need to say about it is simply what needs to be said about all the religions prior to the Reformation (as well as many aspects of many religions after the Reformation).
Instead of treating religions as all different from each other, we must consider them all the same in essence, being all essentially boiled down to various equivalent allegorical descriptions of the various standard types of mystic state phenomena induced by visionary plants.
Since _The Christ Conspiracy_ perfectly explains how Christianity is astrotheology, and _Jesus and the Lost Goddess_ explains how Christianity is Gnosticism and explains much of the religio-philosophy of Gnosticism, why should I bother buying and reading books about the history of established Christianity -- why bother studying the history of folly?
It's remarkable how little the Christ-myth scholars and entheogen scholars are aware of each other. It shouldn't take long to introduce them to each other. Then the main lacking point is perhaps my most central idea, on which I have the most claim -- that ego death and rebirth are most congently understood as a discovery, experience, and transcendence of determinism.
Yes, entheogens are involved in Christianity, as has not been previously recognized aboveground; yes the Christ-myth theory (that Jesus is mythic/mystic and not historical) is greatly helpful in overall understanding of Christianity... but these are not my innermost core ideas. They are almost the core, but not quite. On a bookshelf, you can't *quite* file me under Christ-myth or entheogens. There are Christ-myth scholars but I am different; entheogenists but I am different.
Looking through my volumnious theoretical notebooks from the 1980s, I was propelled by a mission that was not firstly concerned with entheogens or the Christian allegories. Like Augustine and the Paul figure, and like Watts' portrayal of frustrated Zen students, my mission was definitely centrally concerned with self-control: gaining self-control and stopping the lack of integrity of personal self-government. Entheogens and Christian allegory were merely instruments for that primary mission of gaining integrated self-control.
I don't read and reflect on ever more books to gain essential understanding of transcendent knowledge, so much as to just become able to express the knowledge to those who are familiar with existing systems of thought, and gain a richness of ways of expressing the same essentially simple set of ideas. On the other hand, I have long believed that I had the core set of experiences and ideas, only to fall across additional basic ideas that I would be embarrassed not to know about.
In this strange new ancient land, there are many mental constructs to explore, discover or rediscover, and map out in a map that makes sense to the diverse audience of today.
For example, I had tried without success until recently, to find an understanding of spiritual marriage that makes some sense in terms of the theory of cyber-death. It is one thing to know theoretical core ideas, but yet another to know the core ideas insofar as they relate and connect with other, peripheral ideas from other systems.
If you eliminate the connections between the core theory and previous systems, the core shinks to almost nothing and elicits only a cognitive shrug. The core ideas only become interesting and profound in connection with relating them to other systems and ways of thinking.
For example: core ideas include block-universe determinism with an eternally preexisting future, so that the ego logically is nullified since it is conceived as changer of the future, but the future is unchangeable. That core idea by itself, even if experienced entheogenically in loose cognition, is not very relevant or interesting. Within a system that connects to other systems, however, it then becomes relevant and interesting.
A problem with connecting cyber-death theory with conventional Christianity is that for some people, our understanding of Christianity is important, even the most important thing in the world, but for many people today, even Westerners, even USAns ("Americans"), the entire subject of such religions is of no interest at all and is merely completely irrelevant and inherently uninteresting.
From one perspective, Christianity is the most important reference point for any theory of transcendent insight and experiencing; from another perspective, Christianity can only be a pure distraction and obstacle to any super-interesting insight and experiencing. Perhaps I am giving too much weight to the values of uneducated and inexperienced youngsters who just want to explore loose cognition without a domineering religious framework being dragged in and erected over it.
I have been collecting wonderful picturebook histories of Christianity but when reading the Christ-myth books I often feel that the history of Christianity is the history of utterly missing the point, of failing to even come near the ballpark. Luther, Calvin, Reformed theology -- with almost no understanding of Christian entheogens, how could their theory of grace and enslavedness of the will possibly hold anything of any relevance?
Even their theology is completely self contradictory, since it asserts the reality of sin, true moral-agency sin, while denying that the will is free regarding the act of having faith, or being forcefully shown one's impotence of will and then forcefully injected with faith.
The whole idea of sin as moral reality utterly collapses into ruin; if our will is 100% impotent in the matter of "having" faith, and in general 100% impotent in everything, God being omnipotent, then all ideas related to sin and salvation *have to* be similarly re-indexed, redefined; if freedom of will is nonsensical, then at the same time, moral sin and moral salvation are in just that same way, nonsensical.
You can't have it both ways. Then all such Reformed theology becomes a doomed project of trying to have it both ways: trying to hold onto moral sin and moral salvation while denying the metaphysical freedom of the will. Sin and salvation must be meaning-shifted in concert with the freedom of will, and insofar as the freedom of the will is illusory and a confused idea, in just that same way must sin and salvation be illusory and irrelevant and confused ideas.
These are insights that are natural to the Gnostic entheogenic state of cognition -- called mystic experiencing. But Protestantism officially rejects mystic experiencing that would reveal their theology of "moral sin with impotent will" as a self-contradicting grotesque chimera, a monstrous self-contradiction.
Why then should a theorist of ego death and rebirth bother studying the history of the church of monstrous self-contradiction? Why are atheists more interested in the history of this religion of self-contradiction than the adherents of the religion? In the history of ideas, if you want to reveal a new way of seeing, you have to be able to connect thoroughly with the old way of seeing.
To teach a new language, know the old language. This means that a cybernetic theorist of transcendent knowledge has no option but to learn the history of self-contradiction: the history of Christianity.
Watts provides a good model -- he has an endlessly deep grasp of Christianity in light of Eastern religion and I continue to read more books in my Watts collection with amazement. He truly understands orthodox Christianity, and truly understands Eastern religion, and reveals fundamental, essential connections between them, required for explaining religious understanding in terms of the received religion -- mainstream Christianity as we have come to know it.
Christianity was designed to be self-contradicting; it reveals its truth by revealing its designed-in self-contradiction. It begins by being a religion of moral agency and simple literalism, a lower and degraded testament, but then when the initiate is ready, the true eucharist is ingested, and the religion of moral literal Jesus collapses and dies, in self-sacrificing deliberate self-cancellation, to bring something of more transcendent value: the religion of trans-moral, allegorical Christ, leading even to a marriage of the lower and higher, the deluded and enlightened, the make-believe and the truthful ways of thinking.
So self-contradiction is a rich potential to have in a religion. For example, one should wonder as the Catholic moralist church wondered, whether the Protestant reformers were in fact atheists who invented or discovered in the canon the moral and political and spiritual release that inhere in the self-contradictory nature of the doctrine of enslavedness of the will, or metaphysical and moral unfreedom of the will.
Maybe Protestant theology is entirely politics, pretending to be religion and yet still managing to suggest genuine religion: release from the self-contradiction of moral-agency freewillist thinking. When Luther and Calvin insist that moral sin is really real, and really moral and deserving of punishment, despite the enslavedness and unfreedom of the will, any sane thinker is forced to ask: are you serious?
Clearly, of course, sin cannot possibly have any sting if the will is metaphysically unfree. To the degree that the scriptures assert unfreedom of the will, they necessarily assert the unreality of moral sin, and sin has to be redefined as mere conceptual confusion, leaving no moral-type sinners, but only logical-type sinners, making mere logical errors of thought.
In which case Jesus can only be an enlightening figure and there is no need to support the church that sells increments of salvation through purchased masses for oneself and purchased incremental release from purgatory that is designed to cleanse us as moral agents of our moral guilt.
The scriptures read through the glasses of such Protestant theology teach that moral guilt is a confused idea and one can only be guilty of logical confusion, not moral sin -- in which case purgatory would become a mere school of logical instruction, rather than moral purging and purification.
The very nature of purification even loses its sting by the Protestant scripture-bound doctrine of unfreedom of the will. In the end, Protestant theology looks like nothing so much as a giant put-on to counter the giant put-on of the Catholic/Temple put-on of selling-people salvation from a kind of sinfulness that is a logical impossibility and chimera right from the start.
However, the era was still deeply endarkened and the theoretical doctrine of total depravity of the will (so that it is in principle impossible for me by my own will to have faith and be saved) took on a dark life of its own in the Gothic psyche.
The most obvious suspicion in the world is that the doctrine of total depravity is a strategic complete put-on designed first of all to undermine the Catholic rule by using scripture to undermine the Catholic church right in its innermost heart, a direct strike right through the very heart of Catholic doctrine on which the whole profit-driven salvation franchise was based: "We sell you increments of moral cleansing" is most directly and instantly killed by "The scriptures preach unfreedom of the will, so there never was a moral agent to cleanse in the first place. There is no market for your product, because there are literally no buyers in existence, no freewill moral agents."
Yet how could the Protestant strategists openly reject the entire concept of moral agency, even if the scriptures rather clearly do reveal, for those with eyes to see, such a plan of salvation through revelation of the message of already-completed moral-agent punishment?
The Jesus figure's entire strategy was about undermining the sin-cleansing scam of the (politically and spiritually) reigning temple, a temple which was equated in Jewish eyes with the very unwelcome rulership of the Romans over the Jews. This strategy idea in this story is not necessarily unique to the Jewish moral-transcendence allegory; a certain Iasos may contain the same story. "I the magic entheogenic trickster will bring crashing down your temple that's based on selling salvation, by revealing all sin as cancelled.
Just follow me, eat my flesh of God I offer, and you will know that all your sin is cancelled. In such way believe in me, for free, and I will finish for ever that endless sin-cancellation service which the evil priests pretend to do in their expensive perpetual sacrifices. Such salvation they offer is designed [like their continuing endless drug war] to be impossible in principle."
Entheogens, like this strategic political and moral-transcendence savior, reveal unfreedom of the will and thus show the illusory nature of moral agency so that we experience the cancellation of all our sins. The savior figure deliberately and strategically undermines the anti-entheogenic priestly franchise of endless sin-clearing-for-profit. "Why not simply stop *believing in* the efficacy of the priests to incrementally cancel your sins, and *believe in* my once-for-all sin-cancellation instead?
If you insist on believing in moral agency and sin, so that you are willing to pay men to cancel your sins bit by bit for you, why not switch belief systems so that my death or apparent death and magic-trick resurrection cancels all sin, instead? Then by believing in me instead of the Rome-installed temple priests, you can declare your sins cancelled for good, *for free* -- as opposed to *for pay*, repeatedly.
So the clever story, as story, was designed, to be told and experienced as allegory that expresses the same kind of sin-cancellation that we experience when we ingest the entheogenic flesh of God and experience the armageddon of moral agency (moral agency is a devilishly confused and grotesquely self-contradictory idea). Entheogens reveal the illusory nature of moral agency and so completely undermine the notion that we are culpable for moral guilt. Universal sin-cancellation is experienced in a glorious revelation (particularly potent if we were previously taught the "Jewish/Catholic" confused notion that we are moral agents, in the first place).
If a child was taught determinism and the unreality of metaphysical moral agency, they would never experience an awesome revelation. Only by teaching and installing or instilling the confusion of egoic moral agency and metaphysical freedom, the idea of the future being actually variable in itself and not just in our knowledge of it, can we set up a mind for a spectacular revelation of complete logical moral cancellation. This is the wonderful bi-fold character designed into Christianity.
This Valentinian bi-fold construction might not be unique to Christianity, but is certainly fundamental to the entire idea of Christian mystery and revelation -- and lo and behold, much of the revolutionary Protestant theology against the Catholic incremental moral-salvation franchise matches this same classic bi-fold structure. This bi-fold systematic meaning-switching was also present in the distinction between the initiated and uninitiated in the mystery religions, and in Greek attic tragedy wherein the perspective of Fatedness was cleverly, systematically toggled with the perspective of the will-wielding legally responsible agent and democratic citizen.
To the young and naive, without the entheogenic perspective, the worldmodel of the self-steering autonomous agency is a given by default -- it is the animal perspective given by "the flesh". Upon eating the flesh of God, one gains loose cognition, experiences and perceives unity consciousness, and "knows" as surely as we know anything, that metaphysical freedom, autonomous moral agency, and the open, variable-in-itself future are illusory, impossible, self-contradictory mental constructions.
Of these ideas, the connections I most strongly claim priority for are the idea of entheogen as loose-cognition key to mental comprehension and perception of determinism (specifically, the non-variability of one's future worldline, thoughts, and acts of will). Entheogens reveal fatedness: the non-variability of the future. Christianity hides and then reveals determinism, first building up egoic moral agency and then exposing it as an illusion.
The simplest way to utterly overthrow sin and guilt is by experientially and intellectually comprehending determinism. If Michael the Archangel (main messenger) is considered to be the revealer of the savior from sin -- the one who reveals the mystery of Christ -- this arrangement of concepts is ground zero of Michael's timeless revelation that happens wherever the end of time occurs in the mind.
Where there is the end of time, there is loose cognition, and where there is loose cognition, the mystery of the meaning and method of sin-cancellation is revealed. Then our lower pseudo-free self is sacrificed as the mind's ruling scheme, and yet that lower self escapes destruction and remains practically operational.
Acharya's astrotheology explains much, but falls well short of ground zero for revelation, lacking entheogenic experience of determinism and its sin-cancelling effect. Freke and Gandy's lucid explanation of Gnosticism asserts determinism but lacks even the one page about the entheogen theory found in Acharya's _The Christ Conspiracy_, and fails to convey how determinism cancels sin -- they also omit from _Jesus and the Lost Goddess_ the wonderful contrast between the low and high halves of the bi-fold Valentinian system, from Pagels' book _The Gnostic Paul_.
Michael the Chief Messenger, to fulfill his role, has to explain how Christianity misleads and then reveals, implies freewill and then determinism, withholds and then provides the entheogenic mind-loosening sacramental flesh of God, preaches and then undermines metaphysically free moral agency.
The pieces of entheogenic flesh and determinism and bi-fold meaning-transformation are present in these Christ-myth scholars, but they are not coherently brought together to form an airplane that can fly. After reading their Christ-myth books, we are left only with several completed structures, but the core engine doesn't come together.
I have here presented a complete system of entheogenic revelation based on the allegory of Jesus Christ, with nary an explicit reference to astrotheology. That is why I consider astrotheology to be merely a framework supporting the more important allegory of Christ, and why I consider the details of astrotheology largely irrelevant.
The astrotheology theory shows where many Christian mythemes come from or one way of tying them together, but understanding the story of Jesus without reference to explicitly astrological allegory is where all the real action is at for us in this received-Christianity world. For the ancients, it may have been enlightening to also weave in complex connections between ego death and astrology -- such as the sun ceasing to move for 3 days -- and connections between astrology and the Jesus-type mythic stories, but I consider astrotheology a separate allegorical framework distinct from the Jesus story, though related.
Just as Freke and Gandy have made a resounding success of explaining a Gnostic kind of original Christianity which no one cares about today, so has Acharya been victorious at explaining an astrological kind of original Christianity which no one cares about today. Those are side-shows, as crucially important as they are, whereas understanding the egodeath allegory that is simply and directly embedded in the received kind of Christianity as we know it today, is the main act, the central ring in the Christian circus of meaning, exegesis, and revelation.
Jesus is the sun, people worshipped the sun. Fine, but we Christians don't care about the sun. We care about Jesus of the non-explicitly-astrological stories; we want to discover the full revelation as holographically-in-full reflected in the familiar Jesus story without dragging in alien astrology connections and alien Gnosticism forms.
Surely if astrology and the Jesus stories and entheogenic egodeath revelation are all connected, we should be able to sever astrology while still having what is to us a complete revelation. Ultimately these scholars are organizing the surrounding context, but have not been able to locate the heart of the hidden temple, the main point, the central sanctum.
Their work helps greatly, because when you gather enough knowledge of nearby topics, the central topic is more likely to be found at last. However, showing that Christianity used to be Gnosticism or used to be astrology doesn't reveal anything about the most central mystery that resides within the Jesus story-set *as we know it*, and what do we care if revelation is present in some *other* thing that is some alien planet's Christianity but not in what we mean by "Christianity"?
Is revelation fully reflected and holographically present in its stunning completeness, as a potential revelation in present-day Christianity, or not? If so, then out with it, what is the revelation? That the Jesus figure is an astrological allegory for the sun? No, that is no revelation, that is just pushing the problem from here to there.
That the Jesus figure is an allegory for the rescuer of consciousness, Sophia? What can the self-professed Christian of today reply but "to hell with Sophia, never heard of her, she's someone else's character. We want to know the revelation of our main man, Jesus Christ. Asking us to give a damn about Sophia is asking for blood from a rock. She in principle cannot possibly be a revelation to us. We want only one revelation: that of who we are programmed to await, none other than Jesus Christ."
Revealing that Christianity "is" astrotheology doesn't really reveal anything about religious experience and revelation about the dying/rising claimant to sovereignty. Linking Christianity and astrology while mostly leaving out religious experiencing, like _The Christ Conspiracy_, connects a periphery together while still leaving the central ground terra incognita.
Yet certainly, there are some potential profitable connections between astrology and cybernetic ego-death. Sun worship: the sun is too bright to look upon. The control-core vortex of self-control breakdown is too destabilizing to look upon when in loose cognition; if you tempt your self-control breakdown by daring to consider it, control crashes, which is cybernetic death of the controller agent. Superwhite meta-perception feedback also occurs in this state of loose cognition.
Ironically, entheogenic Christianity is more relevant to today's Christians than Sophia, or astrology, because of the taboo that fits like a glove and proves efficacy as the true sacrament, the flesh of Christ. Determinism and entheogens and self-control: those are truly *native* elements of today's world, better candidates that the elements from the world that used to be the backdrop for what Christianity used to be.
Astrology has not lasted as well as entheogens as a component of an approach to producing compelling religious experience. We have turned our back on the stars through mere unawareness of them, not by somehow mastering or transcending their power of fate over us."
Daryl wrote that per Freke & Gandy:
>[They postulate parallels between the New and Old Testament mystic storylines:]
>Finally, the death of the old self is the death of Moses, who is succeeded by--Yeshua( sound familiar?) who receives the spirit of Sophia and crosses into the Promised Land. Just happens to cross the Jordan first.
>With the man we know as Jesus (but doesn't mind if we call him Yeshua, Joshua or Iesous), the stages are:
>Being called out of Egypt
>Purification--Baptism in the Jordan (call back to the prev Yeshua. This would have been obvious without the name translations)
>Followed by 40 "days" (he works quicker than his ancestors!) of doubt and confusion in the wilderness
>Death of old self--crucifixion
>Realization of gnosis--resurrection
I would say "resurrection and ascension", keeping in mind the Old Testament figures and Jewish mystics who ascended into the heavens, and Hermetic/Gnostic astrological-experiential ascent penetrating the cosmic sphere of the fixed stars.
The modern, mystically challenged, demythologizing instinct tends to unconsciously omit the important "ascension" part of the traditional Jesus story-cycle, leading to literalist interpretive frameworks such as the theory that Jesus was resuscitated and retired to India.
Instead of recognizing the idea of "crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension" as itself mystical, the modern conceptual framework literalizes the crucifixion, literalizes the resurrection as a physical resuscitation and bodily rescue, and then -- inconsistently -- has Jesus literally go to India so that we can *then* confidently pronounce him to be involved with mysticism -- after we've just thrown into the rubbish bin all of the initial mystical metaphorical system.
>>In my experience of a few years in the JesusMysteries Yahoo discussion group, any and every flavor of Christianity was disliked -- fundamentalist, liberal, mystical, such distinctions did not matter. Christianity was generally perceived as a great evil, as perhaps even the greatest evil ever to afflict the earth. People on the JM list talked about Christianity in the same tone that they might talk about nuclear fallout or illegal toxic waste dumps. There was simply nothing good about it, and nothing good could or should be said about it.
That's a good description of the spirit of the Christ Conspiracy discussion group, but in comparison, I hardly see the JM group being negative in that way. The only problem I notice is that they discuss endless texts after texts, with the most limited grasp of the esoteric mode of reading them.
>>On the JM list, the supernaturalist position could not even be discussed. A person couldn't even raise the issue as that would be a violation of list rules. It seemed werrd to me that that position was excluded from the discussion. But then the claim was made that there was "no evidence" for that position.
>>So the negative, anti-supernatural position could be presented, but the supernaturalist position was prohibited because it was a personal philosophy or personal religious belief. Whether or not the supernaturalist position is sound, why did the list rules specifically prohibit the presentation of that position, while placing no such restriction on the contrary position?
>>>I divide conceptions of Christianity into these two camps:
o Modern literalism, whether supernaturalist or not.
o Mystic-state allegory; all the Christian figures are first and foremost symbols of things that are all in the mind, metaphors for phenomena of the intense mystic altered state.
>>So I assume that you would see, for example, fundamentalism and most modern liberal scholars in the same camp, because they both operate from the position that the gospels are historical, at least in general, if not in all the particulars?
As far as the most important aspects -- esotericism and direct experience of regeneration and the Christian brand of gnosis -- modern fundamentalism and modern liberalism make the same main mistakes and thus in this sense are in the same camp, as they are both founded on literalist reading in the ordinary state of consciousness (Pentacostals excepted) rather than on mystic experiencing and pure allegorication description of those experiences.
>>>What you mean by your phrase "the mystery position", I would criticize as being an affirmation of Christianity as Mysteries while completely failing to penetrate the experiential core of the Mystery initiations.
>>By "the mystery position" as the only view the JM group permits, I mean the proposal that Jesus is Horus, Buddha, Dionysis, Perseus, Osiris, and anyone other than a first-century Jew.
There's much potential agreement between you and me here. Somewhat in the spirit of Alter's book on Bible as Literature, we ought to look at what the scriptures are as we have received them, and look at the Jesus figure as a distinct brand. F&Gandy "explain the meaning" of Jesus by treating not the Jesus known by official Christianity, but some other fellow. They fail to reveal esotericism that is encapsulated in Christianity as we know Christianity; they act as though received Christianity doesn't encapsulate esotericism and mystic enlightenment.
They reveal esoteric enlightenment in an alien, gnostic version of Christianity, proving that they are incapable of recognizing the esoteric enlightenment which resides in the official version of Christianity. If official modern (Reformation and later) Christianity didn't encapsulate esoteric enlightenment, it wouldn't have thrived. The task for the Church was actually to gather esoteric enlightenment and take control of it -- *not* to eliminate it.
Esoteric enlightenment lies in plain sight in official Christianity, for those who have learned to recognize it there, unlike Freke & Gandy. Jesus is a Jewish version of Osiris; he cannot be reduced to Osiris with another name. It's like the difference between going to heaven and ceasing reincarnation: these are in fact different things on the surface, and the one cannot be treated as the other on the surface, such as saying that "going to heaven" is the idea of "ceasing reincarnation" relabeled, as F&G might say that Jesus is just Osiris relabeled.
Yes, underneath these surfaces, Jesus and Osiris are the same thing: descriptions of the phenomena of the intense mystic altered state. But in packaging, there are distinctive factors. Jesus is the allegory of mystic experiencing, sent through the Jewish symbol-system filter. Osiris is the allegory of mystic experiencing, sent through the Egyptian symbol-system filter.
Jesus is allegory of mystic experiencing cast in the form or guise of a first-century Jew. He is not cast in the form of Egyptian Osiris, though of course of necessity he must have much in common with Osiris.
>>>You divide the conceptions of Christianity into "naturalism" versus "supernaturalism" -- I wouldn't. I divide it into "literalism" versus "entirely allegorical mysticism". A useful distinction along the lines of the Dutch Radical Critics is supernaturalist literalism versus liberal literalism.
>>I think what you call literalism I would call "narrativism," for lack of a better word. In other words, the gospels have a certain narrative structure. They talk about a fellow who has a certain kind of personality, who comes across as a specific person, whose life has a certain direction to it. In other words, the gospels may have been assembled from various sources, but they still have coherent narrative structures.
I criticize F&G because they ignore the received narrative and act as though it is not isomorphic with mystic-state allegorism, as though if you want gnosis you must discard Christianity anything like we know it and run to some completely different, alien version of Christian narrative structure, as though the rising through the gnostic planetary spheres is a coherent allegory for mystic-state experiencing, while the familiar Christian narrative is not a coherent allegory for mystic-state experiencing.
I was saved, rescued, redeemed, enlightened, and spiritually regenerated purely within the orthodox familiar Protestant Biblical narrative framework, demonstrating that it is a fine and satisfactory allegory-system conveying the perennial universal esoteric revelations about the relation between time, self, control, and world. There was no need to go running after some Egyptian Jesus.
It's fine to recognize the parallels and underlying full mystic equivalence of Osiris and Jesus, but F&G imply that the official Jesus and the gnostic Jesus are different as though only the latter is equivalent to Osiris. I'm against running away for enlightenment in the foreign. If Americans are incapable of seeing esoteric revelation and enlightenment in their own religion as it is received with its native narrative structures, then it is completely futile for them to look instead in an alien religion.
Lenson's book On Drugs makes the same sharp criticism regarding 60s drugs and the resulting spiritual quest: everyone ran away to the American Indians, ran away to India, ran away to Japan, but they are not enlightened -- if they were, they would see that there is no need to run away, when the native culture -- modern Western Christian culture -- contains already a full-fledged system of esoteric allegory. Such running away only demonstrates to me that these seekers have failed; their fundamental assumptions are incorrect.
>>Once you lose that structure -- once the gospels are looked at not fundamentally as narrative wholes albeit assembled from various sources, but simply as textual fragments that have no particular logical relationship to each other -- at that point anything goes. Once you lose the narrative structure you lose the person.
Yes, then we are no longer talking about Jesus, but someone else.
>>The result is complete chaos as an unlimited number of mutually incompatible "scholarly" or speculative theories are advanced. Jesus was married. Jesus was gay. Jesus was fictional. He was a cynic philosopher. He was a Buddhist. Jesus was -- well, anything.
"Fictional" doesn't belong in the list above. One issue is, what was the original main narrative conception of the Jesus figure; a distinct issue is whether that particular narrative version of Jesus literally existed as a single, lone, actual person. Liberal scholars take for granted that a single actual Jesus existed; this assumption sort of causes them to then go scrambling about looking for the thousand differing types of Jesus narrative that were gathered together to compose the hyperactively busy Jesus character whose over-charged, bloated narrative we have received.
We should study the full range of Jesus lifestory aspects that are present in the official version of Jesus, treat that dense narrative, and identify the gnosis allegory of enlightenment that is symbolically coded into *that* busy narrative. In contrast, any given liberal version of Jesus selects only one of the hundred threads that formed our official Jesus narrative lifestory, and reduces the Jesus character to that one thread, rejecting all the others.
Every liberal scholarly book explicitly reproduces this same move: they all begin by deriding the overabundance of Jesus versions put forth by their peers, and then they put forth yet another reductionist Jesus where Jesus is reduced to only being a magician, or only being a healer, or only being a cynic/stoic ethics teacher, or only being a revolutionary king. The fact is, the received Jesus narrative comprises all these personas, and that is the Jesus figure whose historicity is a significant worthy topic of debate.
If actual Mr. Jesus was strictly a healer, but not an exorcist, prophet, etc., then immediately we can say that there was no historical Jesus, or "Jesus didn't exist".
A good criticism at length of liberal scholarship of Christian origins ("the liberal Jesus cult" of scholars), from the Radical Critic camp, is:
Does Jesus Live, or Has He Only Lived? A Study of the Doctrine of Historicity
van den Bergh van Eysinga, 1930
>>>The JM group is not at all interested in the extremes of your supernaturalist literalism nor my in-depth study of entirely allegorical mysticism based on the intense mystic altered state. The JM group is strictly interested in debating two particular middle-of- the-road positions:
o "Jesus existed as a single historical person who was the kernel for the supernatural legendary accretions."
o "Jesus didn't exist historically, but entirely mythically, where such myth is a form of the Mysteries. We can't have and don't need to look for the deep nature of these mysteries, in this discussion group."
>>In the context of the JM group, I would say that the second option is the [group's pet preferred] position, whereas the first option is seen as a renegade position that has to be hunted down and eliminated from serious consideration.
I commend them for focusing attention on the profitable position, the second option above, but I criticize them for doing such a completely bad job of it, of comprehending what mythic allegory and Mystery initiation is about.
The JesusMysteries Yahoo discussion group leans toward an entirely mythic position, but sits forever on the fence although it is by now irrational to do so -- after reading a bookshelf on the subject, it is irrational to continue assuming the essential "kernel-historicity" of Jesus. The reason the group is still so filled with such agnosticism, so ready to still consider Jesus as historical, is that their "myth" theory doesn't go nearly far enough, doesn't go nearly deep enough.
They don't know what the nature of "myth and Mystery" is in the first place, so their "Jesus as mythic Mystery figure" position remains far too vague to convince them to finally ditch the agnostic possibility of a historical Jesus. By now, the group has accepted that there was no historical Jesus in any significant sense; the Jesus character was very loosely based on many actual individuals and many mythic figures, but isn't dependent on any one of them.
The historicity of Jesus is no longer an in-scope topic of discussion at JM; the entire center of gravity there is now to detail the scenario of how Christianity actually arose, given that there was no historical Jesus in any meaningful, significant sense. The position "Jesus existed as a single historical person who was the kernel for the supernatural legendary accretions" is no longer an accepted position to defend and advocate in the JM group.
If anyone enters the group maintaining that Jesus existed as a single historical person who was the kernel for the supernatural legendary accretions, they are forcibly eliminated from serious consideration, on the basis of previous discussions, including points I worked hard to make and clarify and define. Now the fulcrum of debate lies in *which* no-Jesus scenario actually happened, and *why* (and when) the literal, hyper-reified Jesus figure came about, at which late date.
This is why the leading group member Peter Kirby has abandoned his domain name "DidJesusExist.com" and is now concentrating his energy from a more productive basis, "ChristianOrigins.com". He did this, first thing after his scholarly conversion experience to the no-historical-Paul position or interpretive framework. The real and meaningful issue is not whether Jesus existed -- that approach is obsolete and vague -- but rather, how Christianity actually arose, and who the influences and players were.
It's basically meaningless to discuss whether Jesus existed; the substantial question is just what figures served as a partial basis for the Jesus figure.
>>>In the JM group, you are permitted to compare those two positions only -- not your supernaturalist "spiritual" position, nor my truly mystical and mystery-literate "spiritual" position. You are too supernaturalist, and I am too mystical: those extremes are sacrificed, so that the debate concentrates around liberal-literalist secularized scenarios: there is a huge amount shared in common between the two permitted camps in the JM group. Whether Jesus existed or not, the background worldview style of JM remains the same: secular, despiritualized, literalist, modern.
>>I suppose in your definition I would fall into the literalist camp. But it is interesting to me to read the early church fathers in this regard. They obviously thought that Jesus was an historical person. But at the same time there is an appreciation in many of their writings for the mysteries that they were dealing with. For example, Origen said that the Incarnation was a mystery so profound that no one, not even the apostles could understand it. In other words, the literalist and the spiritual positions are not necessarily in conflict with each other.
Ancient literalism is feeble compared to modern literalism. Everyone really needs to read this distinction in Eysinga's article.
Eysinga claims that the early official Church advocated the doctrine of a fleshly non-docetic Jesus, as a spiritual doctrine, not as a plain modern literal fact. There are shades and types of literalism, which is why I specify "modern literalism", which exists within a whole framework of ignoramus ignorance about experiential gnosis.
Modern literalism is part and parcel of the wholly unspiritual and inexperienced, ordinary state of consciousness, modern conception of Christianity. Ancient literalism was essentially different in character, because it existed within a spiritual framework that was rich with the direct gnosis experiential state, in abundance.
>>One can hold a belief in the soundness of the general narrative structures of the gospels, while at the same time seeing them as fundamentally expressing spiritual mysteries. It can be both/and, not just either/or.
Ancient Jewish Alchemy and renaissance alchemy was not just spiritual allegory as extreme spiritual theorists claim, but was also treated often as practical knowledge applicable to medicine and prediction. To deal with this problem of multiplicity of conceptions, I state that the *best* of the mystics, Christians, Jews, alchemists, and hermetists took a purely allegorical mystic position, the worst of them took the most vulgar literalist position, and those in between had a hybrid view.
That is a main outcome of my study of the complex combinations of literalism and mystic allegorism in traditional Christian mysticism:
Taxonomy of Christ Views
The Middle Ages Christian mystics were generally both literalists and full-on mystic-state allegorists. There never was a single Jewish religion, a single orthodoxy against which all variants were heresies. Similarly, in Christianity, there was never just one single version, no single all-dominant orthodoxy: instead, wars between multiple different "orthodox" versions of Christianity in the plural, with many thriving versions that we called heretical by some, but often not by others.
There was not a simple divide between literalism and mythic/mystic allegorism, but various combinations and versions. Still, theoretically, the key and most useful distinction is between literalism and allegorism.
>>>Freke and Gandy are pro-spirituality, but it's a type of spirituality more like my mystic altered-state gnosis regeneration than your supernaturalist literalism.
>>Yes, that's true. When I read F&G, I saw them as offering a critique of the received tradition, but that critique was not an end in itself.
F&G's books Jesus Mysteries and Jesus & the Goddess are two volumes of a single work. Jesus Mysteries refutes the official version of Christian history (the negative half of the project), and Jesus & the Goddess defines the alternative gnostic version of Christianity and Christian origins. I criticize "Jesus and the Goddess" as failing to see just how strong esotericism is in the official version of Christianity (such as Protestant Bible-based Christianity), and failing to see how strong that esotericism has been all throughout Christian history.
The official Church pretends that it has fully taken over and suppressed the esotericists, powerfully clamping down on the mystics, but the mystics, gnostics, and esoteric Christians have always been a strong half of driving force behind Christianity -- it was a constant ongoing tug-of-war between the allegorical mythic mystics and the official Church; the Church was not triumphant although it inflated its claims of being so.
Scholars of visionary-plant history and scholars of religious history make the same mistake together, acting as though Middle Ages Christianity was nothing but modern literalism and the modern type of fundamentalist supernaturalism. The truth is the opposite: Middle Ages Christianity was predominantly esoteric and mystic, colorful, mythic-allegorical, centered in that mode and *not* centered in modern literalist fundamentalist supernaturalism as the modern Church has claimed since the Reformation was established.
>>Rather, F&G felt that the critique of the received tradition opened up more fundamental and profound spiritual possibilities. I don't really agree with them on many points, but I never felt that they were simply on a mission to "diss" Christianity in all of its forms.
Freke & Gandy are advocates of Christianity as one version of esoteric enlightenment among many. They are enemies of non-spiritual, non-mystic Christianity. The define a general Gnostic Chrisitanity against a general Literalist Christianity, matching my advocacy of mystic-state allegorical Christianity against ordinary-state literalist Christianity, whether the latter is supernaturalist/fundamentalist or liberal.
I basically agree with Freke & Gandy but clarifying where I disagree with them is profitable for all of us. Similarly, I agree with most of Alan Watts, and most of Ken Wilber. All profitable progress comes through specifying and clarifying what is weak and bad in Watts, Wilber, and Freke & Gandy, and Acharya S. They all need to put far more emphasis on the key points I've thus formulated:
o Experiential insight of timeless block-universe determinism, with a single ever-existing future stream of thoughts and acts of will for each person.
o Visionary plants as the perennial wellspring for religion in all eras, all regions, all religions -- not just at the start of a few religions
o Esoteric-driven Middle Ages Christianity, anti-euhemerism (no historical Paul, Jesus, Maries, Buddha, and so on)
o The rational comprehensibility of enlightenment: enlightenment, satori, regeneration, and revelation is neither difficult nor complicated; it's essentially simple to grasp and explain, including the "unknowability" of God".
>>Though I disagreed with F&G, I always felt that they had a larger and respectable purpose in mind.
This is the insult and travesty of the JM group: they name themselves after a truly spiritual book but forbid a serious and essential requisite investigating of the nature of the "mysteries" and "gnosis" they are presumably proposing as the nature of the Jesus figure. It's a joke to name the group Jesus "Mysteries" and then forbid researching and theorizing about the nature of the Mysteries. The group is trying hard, while forbidding investigation of the main issue -- so they make slow, tedious, inefficient, halting progress on finding viable models of Christian origins.
The JM group is not respectable; it is clueless uptight scholarship proceeding in ignorance of the most key aspect of what they claim to be talking about, but forbid talking about. The moderators can only be slightly forgiven, given the great difficulty of managing a discussion group of this nature. They are perfect ignoramuses about the very thing they name themselves for.
What can we call the group but the JesusAnti-Mysteries discussion group, or the JesusMysteries non-discussion group, in which they prevent discussion of Jesus Mysteries by claiming to discuss it, while actually forbidding discussion of it. It actually began by being the "Doherty Jesus Puzzle Did Jesus Exist" discussion group in practice, and now has become the "True Christian Origins except for Mystery Initiation" discussion group or "the JesusMysteries non-discussion group"
>>>I agree that the list's worst self-violation and insane self- contradiction is that is does not match the scope and approach used in the F&G books. The list has no right to label itself after F&G's book title.
>>I think that follows from the list's naturalist and realist biases with respect to the nature of scholarship.
It follows from its modern essentially literalist and ordinary-state of consciousness bias. Where you see malignant naturalism, I see the ordinary state of consciousness fallacy. The group utterly lacks and refuses to discuss mystic-state experiencing, yet proceeds to claim that Jesus was a personification of mystery religion. They don't really understand anything about mystery religion, and forbid discussion of it -- even scholarly textual discussion -- flying in the face of the group's very title.
The group reflects the deep problems and entire cluelessness rife throughout all official modern-era religion and most modern-era religious scholarship.
>>In other words, on the list, the statement of Democritus that "there is nothing but atoms and space, everything else is opinion," reigns supreme. They can't talk about F&G's spirituality because none of that can be meaningfully discussed from a "scholarly" point of view.
Mystical spirituality can't be discussed from the modern scholarly approach, because that particular kind of approach is premised on bad fundamental assumptions, such as literalism, ehemerism, and the ordinary state of consciousness, and the supposed rarity and difficulty of the mystic state.
>>>The problem is that their scholarship involves endless study of texts and more texts, without understanding anything about how to read mystically. For all their studies, they don't even know how to read, or what type of reading they need to be doing. Their character of reading is from the start a misreading.
>>I also felt that they didn't appreciate the nature of myth. Joseph Campbell showed that cultures completely separate from each other could develop mythologies that were remarkably similar.
Even Joseph Campbell and Jung have a flawed and weak appreciation of the nature of myth. The first and main function of myth is to allegorically describe the phenomena encountered during the intense mystic altered state of consciousness -- *not* the adventures of daily life during the ordinary state of consciousness, nor during mere dreams per Jung. Jung's grasp of Mystery religion isn't significantly better than the average during modernity; his flawed theory became the norm during modernity.
>>Jung's "collective unconscious" is relevant here, as humans have similar experiences -- birth, childhood, maturation, parenthood, decline, death -- across all cultures and locations.
The main meaning of mythic allegory is not regular, ordinary-state literal death and birth -- it is about mystery initiation, mystic-altered-state death and rebirth. Jung represents mid-level religion, which has now come to be a major impediment more than a help, in recovering and comprehending the original and later mystical nature of Christianity.
Humans have similar experiencing during the intense mystic altered state -- it is *that* mode of experiencing that makes myth, which is mystic-state allegorical description, universally thematically similar or isomorphically equivalent such as "going to heaven" being similar to "nirvana of ceasing the round of rebirth".
>>Thus, thematic similarities between mythical systems do not entail that one system "borrowed" or "stole" from the other.
>>>The JM group says Christianity was mystical, gnostic, and Mystery, but the group doesn't have any substantial comprehension of what mystical, gnosis, or Mystery is essentially about.
>>As I see it, such material was simply used to debunk Christianity, and there was little interest in the transformational possibilities of the material.
That's even more the case in the Christ Con group. You haven't seen anything, compared to the Christ Con group. JM is comparatively neutral and focused on the work at hand, of scholarly research. The JM group forbids idle harshing on how awful Christianity is.
>>It's rather like someone who never does zazen criticizing Christianity from a Zen perspective. On the JM list I never felt like I was in the company of very many people who were engaged in spiritual journeys.
The JM group is the opposite of the J M book in this respect.
>>I felt that most of them were just there to "get the dirt" on Christianity. And god knows, there's certainly a lot of dirt to get, if one is interested in that. I don't care if someone rejects Christianity in favor of another path, but the person really needs to move on to that other path. Once you've demolished the old structure, you eventually need to get off the bulldozer and build your own structure.
As F&G do in Jesus and the Goddess, though their proposed version of Christianity is needlessly alien and exotic in narrative form, compared to the familiar official version.
>>I didn't sense that a lot of people on that list were doing that. It was more like now that we've destroyed Christianity, it's Miller Time.
I don't see any Miller Time attitude at all in the JM group (unlike the Christ Con group). The JM group's attitude is, now that we've disproved the assumption of a single historical Jesus, it's time to reconstruct the actual origins of Christianity. The JM group is lame, a joke, falsely marketed, bait-and-switch, riding as a destructive parasite on F&G's popular book title, to the extent that they actually *forbid* discussion of the Mysteries and how mystery-initiation works, flying in the face of their name "JesusMysteries".
This criticism agrees with a certain aspect of the critique that they forbid discussing "supernaturalism", insofar as there is an overlap between some aspects of supernaturalism and the mystic-state mystery initiation. For example, if one favors gnosticism, one must confront the fact that there is a kind of supernaturalism in gnosticism.
However, esoteric supernaturalism reduces away, in the best thinking, back to allegorical description, saying that mystic-state experiencing is *like* ascending to an invisible Good and compassionate personal controller of the universe and that one must somehow believe in the Goodness of that which controls and determines our destiny.
>>Why not Gnosticism straight?
Received Christianity *is* Gnosticism, for those with eyes to see. All religious symbol systems are superficially different ways of saying the same thing.
>>Christianity cannot be rehabilitated by showing it to be not literally true but actually a mythic expression of perennial transcendent truth. The masses are and always will be literalists. It is a futile strategy to try to get literalist Christians to convert to esoteric Christianity, when the Great Tradition is available in more accessible forms, without the literalist baggage, in non-Christian systems such as Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, advaita vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, tantricism, and electro-techno mysticism.
If literalist Christians cannot be expected to convert to esoteric Christianity, then they aren't significantly more likely to convert to an entirely non-Christian system. All systems are vulnerable to being misinterpreted. If Christians are bound to misread Christian myth, they are almost as prone to misread Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, advaita vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, tantricism, and electro-techno mysticism. Which of these is most mythical? Sort those systems in order of liability to be messed up and misread by the masses; sort by how straightforward they are:
electro-techno mysticism -- most straightforward, I'm in this area
advaita vedanta -- Ramesh Balsekar's version is pretty straightforward but unsophisticated or not fully developed vis-a-vis other knowledge domains
Zen -- not intellectual enough; tends to bogeyism, guru worship, anti-rationality
Tibetan Buddhism -- Uses mythic metaphor heavily, such as rebirth, reincarnation, demons, merit, and compassionate deities.
Most debunkers of Christianity have an impoverished view of what the options are. They think the only options are literalist Christianity, full enlightenment of all Christians to convert to esoteric Christianity, or a wholesale collapse of Christianity. They are determined not to allow literalist Christianity, they have no hope for full enlightenment of all Christians for converting to esoteric Christianity, so therefore -- they wrongly and hastily assume -- the only acceptable strategy is to work toward the wholesale collapse of Christianity.
Christianity is a largely distorted expression of transcendent truth. The best that can possibly be done is to explain what is true and false in Christianity. Are you against that? Some readers of the book Christ Conspiracy think or act like there is nothing at all true in Christianity, or nothing of any significant or profound truth, only minor, incidental truths. The best strategy is to explain what aspects of Christianity are true and which are false, and explain systematically and scientifically how Christianity is a distorted expression of reality.
What main positions or attitudes break out?
A. Mass conversion from literalist to esoteric Christianity is impossible, therefore the only option is to eliminate Christianity. Christianity has some minor and a small number of slightly more major truths. Science can express these far better. Christianity ought to be completely forgotten. The book Christ Conspiracy is good because it shows that Christianity has truths but they are only petty, minor truths. Christianity could be properly reconceived, but there's no hope of changing Christians, therefore Christianity ought to be forgotten and wiped off the face of the earth. Christianity ought to be eliminated, as a harmful and inferior system, but that there's no hope of eliminating it. The only possible options are literalist Christianity, full enlightenment of all Christians to convert to esoteric Christianity, or a wholesale collapse of Christianity. We cannot allow literalist Christianity, there is no hope for full enlightenment of all Christians for converting to esoteric Christianity, so therefore the only acceptable strategy is to work toward the wholesale collapse of Christianity.
That is the attitude held by most Christ Conspiracy readers, it seems -- a scorched-earth toppling and dismantling of Christianity, which uses the fact that Christianity has some truth, to just diminish Christianity and portray it as having very little truth, and portraying Christians as incorrigible.
B. Mass conversion from literalist to esoteric Christianity. Christianity has major profound truths. Science cannot express these much better than myth can. Christianity ought to be retained and properly understood and reconceived, and Christians ought to change to practice this form of Christianity. Christians ought to switch from literalism to an accurate esoteric Christianity that is understood correctly as expressing core perennial philosophical truths. We should try and expect to succeed at getting almost all Christians to make this change.
Esoteric Christian scholars who consider truth ineffable hold that position.
C. Full scholarly understanding of esoteric Christianity and limited conversion from literalist to esoteric Christianity and to systematic scientific transcendent knowledge. Christianity has major profound truths. Science can express these more straightforwardly. Christianity ought to be retained and properly understood and reconceived. Christians ought to comprehend first the systematic scientific expression of core ideas behind the major religions, and then if they want a mythic-styled Christian practice, they should change to practice this form of Christianity. The book Christ Conspiracy is good because it shows that Christianity involves some amount of metaphorical encoding. Some number of Christians would make this change, and will be glad to discover that there is a sound alternative conception of Christianity. Many in the scholarly and religious world in general can and would gladly make this change, once the option is spelled out and made available. Convert literalist Christians primarily to a pure philosophical/scientific explanation of transcendent truth, and secondarily to esoteric Christianity that also fully comprehends the esoteric reading of all religions.
That is my position.
D. Mass conversion from literalist Christianity to non-Christian spirituality such as Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, advaita vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, tantricism, or electro-techno mysticism. Literalist Christians cannot be expected to convert to esoteric Christianity. They are significantly more likely to convert to an entirely non-Christian system that is safer, being less based on Hellenistic mythic metaphor that is prone to be read on its literal level. Christians are much less prone to misread Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, advaita vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, tantricism, and electro-techno mysticism. Convert literalist Christians not at all to esoteric Christianity, but instead, to entirely non-Christian systems -- either traditional religions that are unlikely to be misread, or to a pure philosophical/scientific explanation of transcendent truth.
>The authenticity of the ossuary evidence for James the brother of Jesus is an interesting debate; however, the Gnostic value of Christian figures is in their spiritual sense, rather than in their flesh and bone existence.
As long as people continue assuming that Jesus and his crew were individual historical people, in practice, that prevents esoteric thinking and higher comprehension. It's important to do both moves together: argue against Literalism and for esotericism. People who argue against Literalism without arguing for esotericism will just preserve Literalist thinking, by default, lacking a compelling alternative.
The choice is not between Literalist supernaturalism and demythicized Literalist scientism, but rather, Literalism of all stripes versus esoteric-only understanding. In practice, you can't mix esoteric understanding with the Literalist way of thinking that takes it for granted that Jesus and his crew were individual historical people. The latter way of thinking is hamartia (essential misunderstanding) that is incompatible with, and actively shuts out, esoteric comprehension.
There were many individual historical people, and we're free to label them as "Mary", "John", and so on, but the mentality that simply pictures a single man named Jesus and a single man named James is essentially incorrect and unable to think mystically.
It's not that I'm dead set against the hypothetical or in-principle possibility of a historical James or Jesus individual; more to the point is that the moment the mind latches onto the familiar idea of these historical individuals, higher thinking is shut out and the received mode of thinking reigns.
Certainly, transcendent thinking and transcendent knowledge remains true even if we hypothetically introduce an individual historical Jesus or James into the real world. But when people picture "the historical James", in practice they bring into mind an entire false history of Christian origins. In the end, I reject more than the possibility of a historical Jesus or James; more importantly, I reject the entire false history of Christian origins and its characterization of the dynamics of earliest Christianity.
I'm against a whole mode of thinking, not just details about "Jesus' real life" or the authenticity of purported evidence about him.
I've outlined such "ways of thinking" about Christianity at http://www.egodeath.com/christviewstaxonomy.htm.
The ossuary itself is utterly unimportant. What's important is studying the ways of thinking of Literalism versus Gnosticism, and the ossuary has some slight tangential relevance to this.
Literalist religion can be considered state-appropriate for the immature mind; training wheels for real religion. One must abandon Literalist religion to progress to esoteric higher religion, which transcends the lower conception of what "religion" is about. Today, in the Christian framework, the real, higher meaning of repentence or metanoia necessarily includes this deep reconception of what religion is about.
Today, part of metanoia is abandoning the assumption that the Bible is about entering heaven after you bodily die, and replacing that by a reading of the Bible, specifically the New Testament, as allegory about "entering the kingdom/empire of God" -- that is, transforming the mind's mental worldmodel to become aware of control that transcends the personal egoic agent who moves through time and wields power over his thoughts and body.
Metanoia may have had to battle against just this kind of Literalism in the beginning as well; even some of the earliest Christians may have had great difficulty abandoning ancient ingrained assumptions about the nature of religion. Many Jews may have been forced to abandon religious Literalism and develop rabbinical Judaism when the Jerusalem temple fell in 70 and 135 CE. People may have found it fascinating to see Literalism demolished and disproven in such a concrete, physical, tangible way.
All battles were battles between gods, and the defeat of a people was the defeat of their god. When the god of the Jews was vanquished, some enjoyed the idea of the vanquished god being the truly victorious god and controller of the world -- spiritually victorious now and cosmically victorious upon his soon return -- so soon, you might not even have time to have another cup of mixed wine.
Klaus Schilling wrote:
>"HET OUDE TESTAMENT ALS CHRISTELIJK GESCHRIFT"
>by Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga,
>Critical scholars have to wonder why about 75% of the volume of the
>Christian Bible are taken by the scripture of the Jews. ...
The power-motivated bishops needed a foundation for their claims to authority. In antiquity, a foundation for authority needed to include historical antiquity. The new, hierarchical (as the bishops would have it) religion of Christianity could be claimed not to be new at all but rather, to be as ancient as the Jewish religion going back to the beginning of time, by claiming Christianity to be the same religion as Judaism.
The bishops' story was "Christianity *is* Judaism and is therefore ancient, and it is hierarchical per us bishops, and our authority is that of the maximally ancient Jewish religion. Our religion's authority extends from the beginning of Creation to the end of time."
If the Old Testament were removed from Christianity, so would the foundational basis for the authority of the hierarchical power-seeking bishops be removed. Independent churches or independent bishops didn't try to base their authority on antiquity, but on direct primary religious experience (including the authoritative experience of timelessness) that was their hallmark, their innate stamp of authority.
>>The foundation goes deeper than authority. Paul and the gospels are completely rooted in the OT. They call on its authoritative statements as justifications and pedestals. What was Christ Jesus if not Messiah? Who was the god if not Yahweh? What Kingdom of Heaven?
>>Remove them and the house of cards falls. The Lord's prayer is completely a compilation of phrases from the Psalms and other OT sources. Nothing remains but some standard teachings, most based on OT ones, and revelation from Yahweh. Christianity rests completely on the base of the OT, which is why it is stuck with it, warts and all, to its acute embarrassment.
Not so acute embarrassment; the Church also highly valued the many aspects of the valuable heritage it sought to gain by commandeering the ancient Jewish scriptures. The Church felt that the advantages were much greater than the disadvantages; it was a deal and takeover strategy that was made deliberately even if sometimes the Church rejected some aspects of the Old Testament heritage.
The bishops knowingly and deliberately welded the Old Testament and full prestige and legitimacy of the Jewish religion onto their new universal hierarchical religion, not worrying too much about relatively minor embarrassments.
Marrying their new religion to the Old Testament and to the Jewish legacy was never thought to be a completely *perfect* wedding and strategic takeover; but the bishops clearly highly valued the Old Testament overall, even if it did have flaws to be dismissed and explained away as no longer important. The takeover strategy always accounted for and planned for the need for selective emphasis of individual Old Testament scriptures. The bishops knew what they were doing and carried out a viable strategy, knowing the costs and benefits of the package deal.
>>It avoids the embarrassing parts as best it can by ignoring them, and discouraging bible reading other than for small selected passages which are called up for specific occasions.
The synagogues were a network -- a social-support network throughout the Diaspora. The hierarchy-building bishops in effect bootstrapped on top of the synagogue-network, through a phase of semi-independent, semi-networked Gnostic communities, managing to achieve finally a network of hierarchical Christian churches.
From the point of view of the Gnostic early Christian, pre-hierarchy communities, there were pros and cons, things to be gained from the Jewish religion and things not desired. The hierarchy-building bishops had their own set of advantages and disadvantages they saw in claiming that Christianity is Judaism. For example, syncretist Gnostic early Christians may have liked to dabble in some mythic-mystic metaphors from Judaism, while discarding any strong claims of continuity ("Christianity = Judaism") and discarding all bindingly strong associations with Judaism.
Both groups, early Gnostic independent Christian assemblies and hierarchy-building bishop-led churches liked and disliked Judaism; both wanted to ransack it and selectively pick-and-choose. Whether or not the Marcionites were the original authors of the Pauline and other canonical writings, the Marcion semi-canonical versions of scriptures indicate that the Marcionites did want *some* of the Jewish themes.
The Radical theory that Marcion wrote the original Paulines is sometimes *described* as "Marcion didn't incorporate the Jewish and Old Testament elements", but that's an overstatement; the reconstructed Marcion New Testament scriptures have a lot of Jewish and Old Testament elements -- they are just made less foundational and less binding; Marcion uses fewer Jewish themes but they are still there, though reduced to the level of metaphorical mystic literary themes rather than asserting a wholesale crucial identification with the Jewish religion.
In contrast, the hierarchy-building bishops strove hard to closely lock onto the Old Testament and amplify as much as possible the closeness of relationship between Christianity (as they portrayed it, led by a hierarchy of authorities) and the Old Testament.
The first labor for the hierarchy-intent bishops was to embrace Judaism to commandeer it and weld it permanently with their version of Christianity; the second labor soon thereafter was to wrest control of the Jewish scriptures fully away from the hands of the still-extant Jewish religion.
The Cosmic Context
http://thecosmiccontext.de/christianity.html -- Articles:
St. Ignatius, the Insidious Pragmatism of the Episkopoi of Rome and the Rise of Christianity
Ignatius, John and Paul: A Trio of Second Century, Hellenistic, Church Fathers
The Scholar's Dilemma: The Dynamics of Second Century Christianity
Marcion's Place in Early Christianity: Political Powerplay
>>If early Christianity is so closely linked to Judaism and the Old Testament, how come the gospels in general and John in particular are so extremely anti-Jewish?
The goal of those bishops who were intent on hierarchy-building in the first centuries CE was to glorify the ancient legacy of the Jewish religion and co-opt that legacy, through tearing that legacy out of the hands of the Jews of the first centuries CE. By assigning all negative value to the recent Jews, those bishops were able to commandeer the ancient Jewish legacy and effectively claim themselves as the real Jews moving forward; that is, the real owners of the Jewish legacy moving forward.
Gnostics generally portrayed the ancient Jewish legacy negatively, but probably merely in a mystic metaphoric sense, applying all negative value to the ancient Jewish god and religion. The key is to separately discuss official attitudes toward the ancient Jewish religion up to before Jesus, versus toward the Jews at the time of Jesus and later -- toward pre-Jesus Jews and post-Jesus Jews.
One source of negativity that was already directed against some Jews in some era was the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls community, who likely used a combination of literal criticism of the Jewish theocracy together with mystic metaphorical assignment of all negative value to the Jewish theocracy.
The mystic, Gnostic, or esoteric Jewish community and its poetic- religious writers criticized the official Jewish theocracy because it was politically oppressive and these writers used that group as a foil, assigning all metaphysical delusion to it: "Those official priests are politically oppressive and are metaphysically deluded and don't provide actual primary religious experiencing."
Generally, Gnostics used metaphorical meaning while Roman theocrats used literalism. A more detailed analysis takes into consideration the ways Gnostics used one combination of literalist and metaphorical meaning, while Roman theocrats used a different combination.
Extreme negative metaphor was used by the mystic Jews, interwoven with strong socio-political condemnation, against the official Jewish theocracy.
That combined repudiation and condemnation of the official Jewish theocracy by the Qumran Jewish mystics may have been a useful source for the hierarchy-intent Roman-centered Catholic bishops in their effort to glorify and commandeer the Jewish legacy, to prop up their authoritarian hierarchy, while assigning all negative value to the post-Jesus Jews and denying their legitimate ownership of the Jewish legacy and authority.
Pagels' book Origins of Satan discusses such value-assignment reversals.
The Origin of Satan
Once one group puts together negative screeds against another group, someone else can simply modify the writings -- standard practice in Hellenistic writing -- and alter which groups the positive and negative qualities are assigned to. These qualities can include a metaphysical mystical mythic meaning and a distinct but interwoven literalist meaning.
The standard religious contrast between 'divine wrath' and 'divine compassion/mercy' plays into this assignment of negative and positive values.
Gnostics assigned 'divine wrath' to the Jehovah cosmos-creator figure, and assigned 'divine compassion/mercy' to the radically cosmos-transcendent God figure; whereas the Roman hierarchy-builders had reason to assign both 'divine wrath' and 'divine compassion/mercy' to the single combined Jehovah/God figure, and assign any fully negative attributes (such as evil and delusion) to the Satan figure.
Groups involved in value-assignment reversals included Jewish mystics, Gnostics, Jewish theocrats, and Roman theocrats. The same patterns may be present in the Reformation era with respect to wrestling over which group owns Paul, and who he writes against.
Extreme negative metaphorical mystical constructs included the Qumran conceptual play along the general lines of "We are the elect true Jews, true Israel, beloved of God, predestined for inheriting the promised land. You official theocratic priests are of the devil, deluded, accursed, false Israel, blocking the way, neither going in yourselves nor letting others enter."
Such mystical metaphorical play, blended with literal condemnation for socio-political oppression, was a potent tool anyone could take and us against their own opponents, such as the Roman hierarchy- building bishops wielded against the egalitarian, loosely networked Gnostic version of eucharistic gatherings and against all types of post-Jesus Jews, and against the Gnostic "heretics" who worshipped Jesus as mystical redeemer but rejected the hierarchical ecclesiastic structure.
Books about the essence of the early 'churches' being literally and first of all, 'eucharistic meal gatherings':
Eucharist, Bishop, Church: The Unity of the Church in the Divine
Eucharist and the Bishop During the First Three Centuries
From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World
The Lord's Supper
What was to be gained by demonizing the various post-Jesus Jews and the many Gnostic "heretic" groups was control of versions of the canon and control of versions of the Christian religion, bringing together more like a single controllable system, even coercing the semi-independent loosely networked eucharistic assemblies together, resulting in a financially profitable, profitably governable corporate universal franchisement of eucharistic assemblies, just as a chain-store corporation takes over independent stores and small chains of stores.
Direct religious experiencing was divisive and thus was moderated and downplayed -- even while given some lip service and controlled, regulated spin as best they could -- by the Roman-based bishops, who were, first and foremost, intent on building their fiefdoms within a hierarchical theocracy.
Gnostic Christianity is perfectly rational and intellectually coherent. It is higher Christianity. The canonical scriptures *do* include the essence of this coherent Christianity, but they also contain distortion and degradation -- not just the clever temporarily misleading lower meanings that give way during initiation to the true higher meaning, but also just plain mundane power-manipulation distortions, including insistence that one must proclaim a literal human Jesus and that anyone outside the authoritarian church is condemned.
So, what the scriptures contain is perfectly coherent two-level hellenistic mystery-religion esoteric Christianity, that is perfectly fine and legitimate, *plus*, bad distortions and manipulations reflecting the authoritarian takeover of the various Christian factions. In summary, the good, smart gnostics created the original legitimate two-level Christianity, and the bad, power-mongering authoritarians hastened to co-opt and take over that truth-filled 2-level system.
Michael Conley's site explains just what was going on with all the early theology wars through 313, and how Christianity was gradually co-opted, shaped, and formed to turn it into a serious and successful conspiracy to set up a parallel Empire run by authoritarians. http://thecosmiccontext.de However, Conley does not comprehend true, valid esoteric, mystery-religion, primary religious experiencing, allegorized mythically.
Burton Mack, Peter Brown (probably), and Rodney Stark are "reductionist" in Ken Wilber's sense because they try to force the actual religious aspects of early Christianity, and the political aspects of early Christianity, into an almost entirely "sociological" model -- completely distorting and failing to grasp the true, valid *religious insight* aspects and the actually political strategizing aspects of Christianity.
Conley makes a different reductionist move, artificially shrinking and distorting the truly social aspects of original Christianity, and artificially shrinking and distorting the truly religious (insight, enlightenment, transformation, rebirth, experiential) aspects of original Christianity, to force it all into a mold that is almost exclusively political (political power-strategizing).
It is a fact or an axiom we *must* acknowledge, that early Christianity was genuinely concerned with the truly social realm as such.
It is a fact or an axiom we *must* acknowledge, that early Christianity was genuinely concerned with the truly religious realm as such.
It is a fact or an axiom we *must* acknowledge, that early Christianity was genuinely concerned with the truly political realm as such.
Only a false, distorted, and deeply incoherent model of Christianity results if you try to collapse any of these three into the other. In tracing the development of Christianity to 313, we must track, differentiated yet interpenetrating, these three distinct realms.
This means that to understand Christianity, we *must* understand the political-strategizing aspect.
*And*, we *must* understand the social aspect, per Rodney Stark.
*And*, we *must* understand the religious aspect -- that is, deeply comprehend hellenistic mystery-religion mythic allegorizing of the standard phenomena that reliably result from psychoactive wine mixtures.
We can think of developing Christianity as two competing threads of development: at first, Christianity was mostly Gnostic, and slightly political; by 313 it was almost entirely political and only slightly gnostic. Most socio-political analysts fail to understand Gnostic 2-level mystery-religion initiation-based Christianity. They don't really understand mystery-religion and how primary religious experiencing is mythically fantastically allegorized -- so they can't understand earliest Christianity as a system of allegorized primary religious experience.
At first, when I wanted to make sense of Christianity in terms of the cybernetic self-control theory of ego death and rebirth I had discovered, I specifically searched the scriptures to find a metaphorically encoded version of such a theory of ego death. I have now succeeded, especially now that I realize that where the ego death theory fails to match up with the scriptures, there is political distortion in the scriptures.
I am still really only interested in this strictly esoteric aspect of early Christianity -- I am not motivated by wanting to understand the social motivations for the development of early Christianity, and I am not motivated by wanting to understand the political-strategizing motivations. However, per Ken Wilber's Integral Theory, these domains are distinct *but interpenetrating* -- similar to how my technology of ego death is packaged in two parts: a theory, and entheogenic primary religious experience: the theory part is differentiated from the experiential part, but the two also thoroughly interpenetrate.
As part of being an egodeath theorist, I am a specialist and expert in mythic allegorization of entheogenic primary religious experiencing in the hellenistic mystery cults, emphasizing Christianity in particular. (A key main theme amounts to the transformation from freewill thinking to no-free-will thinking, which fits with Luther Martin's book Hellenistic Religions.) Tell me a mythic element, and I can tell you its entheogenic mystery-religion meaning, because I have transformed up to that level -- or into that specialized realm -- of symbol-manipulation, so that I am now a modern who has found and used the entheogenic rosetta stone to crack the mystery of the ancient mythic language of the mystery religions.
Given that I am a specialist in the truly religious (mystery-religion) aspect of Christianity, rather than the social or political aspect, and given Integral Theory -- that domains must be differentiated yet interrelated -- then my task is therefore to fully explain the religious mystery-religion aspect as such, *and* to outline as separate concerns the social and political realms and at least outline what the interrelationship is between my realm -- the truly religious realm -- and the other two main realms, social and political.
Now it is time for us to work as a team per Integral Theory:
Stark and Mack should keep working on what they know: the sociology aspect of early Christianity.
Conley and company should keep working on Christianity as (often covert) political strategizing (politics disguised as religion).
Freke & Gandy and I and other esoteric theorists of early Christianity should keep working on what we know: truly religious experiencing, earliest esoteric Christianity, mythic allegorization in Hellenistic mystery religions and Near East entheogenic allegorical experiential religion (Old Testament).
The 3 realms of study must also strive to interrelate their domains without reductionistically collapsing one into the other, or collapsing both of the other domains into their own, distorting and losing in the process.
Just explaining how mythic allegorization of entheogenic mystery-religion works, including Gnostic Christianity, is an almost overwhelming challenge for a theorist. Some of this allegorization is in terms of political metaphor, and it falls on me to explain that to some extent. But the political realm as such, is beyond my domain of commitment.
The most common and ordinary thing in the world is wine, which is an alcohol-preserved psychoactive mixture such as opium, cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, Amanita, and whatever else was available. These wines had to be diluted with water to avoid overdose. Such wine acts as an entheogen and causes ego death and the other primary religious experiencing phenomena.
The Hellenists thus had religious experiencing on tap just as though we today were to legalize and decriminalize psychoactives and offer them for sale all over the city. There is no justification whatsoever for the total cluelessness of 20th century academics who have been absolutely baffled by the mystery religions. But any scholar who remembers that wine was a psychoactive mixture that must be diluted, and who assumes that psychoactives amount to religious experiencing on tap, has no reason to remain baffled for long about decoding the meaning of the mystery religions.
It is time for researchers to grow up and move past such incomprehension. It is time to make the leap of faith and adopt the new paradigm: the mystery religions including Christianity were entheogenic encounters with timeless block-universe determinism that caused ego-death of the lower, "child" way of thinking. (And in practice, all experience seems to indicate that dropping the hypothesis of an actual Jesus, Paul, and apostles is essential, to break over into clear, novel thinking.)
All the answers are right there in front of us. Isn't there a shortage of evidence for entheogens in mystery religions? Not at all; it's been a shortage of perceiving what is right out in the open in front of us. Scholars have known all the elements for years: that the mystery religions all have a sacred meal including wine, and that Greek wine is a psychoactive mixture, and lately, that psychoactives amount to religious experiencing on tap. The problem is ruts of thinking.
On this basis alone, we can assume as fact or axiom that earliest, Gnostic Christianity, had psychoactive mixtures that amounted to religious experiencing on tap and, as is standard for all mystery-religions, it was completely standard, unremarkable, common knowledge that child thinking is freewill thinking and separate-self thinking, and that adult thinking of the initiates is no-free-will thinking and no-separate-self thinking.
Earliest, Gnostic Christianity certainly knew metaphysical truth or enlightenment, and this essential system was certainly preserved in the canonical scriptures although distortion and falsities were also added to the scriptures for bad, vulgar, political power reasons so we can't say that all the scriptures are true or make sense.
Now there are 3 things to look for in interpreting the scriptures:
o Lower gnostic meanings
o Higher gnostic meanings
o Politically motivated degradation and distortion
>Your position makes a lot of sense to intelligent people. But there is the problem. ... intelligent understanding of religion and esoteric understanding is doomed to failure because ... most people are not ready, or capable, or wanting an understanding of religion that is deeper than surface literalism. Such an understanding requires deeper thinking than literalism, and *there* is the weak point for transforming the world's religions, and why literalism is so firmly entrenched and has been for so long. For most people, the choice between a religion that requires deep and intelligent thinking, and one that is spoon fed on a silver platter is an easy choice to make. Considering the state of education and access to intelligent knowledge in the world as a whole, there are going to continue to be huge masses of uneducated simple people in this world for a very long time to come. And they want something that is simple to understand, and will be given to them without effort on their part.
>Still, a strong effort at getting the gnostic or esoteric way of understanding religion out to the world would at least improve the situation, and maybe in a hundred years considerable change will be accomplished. When one looks back in hundred year intervals, the changes brought by time are more readily noticeable. We can hope the next 100 years will bring a good improvement, but success is by no means guaranteed, society can move backwards as well as forward.
Childhood-appropriate thinking, when maintained into bodily adulthood, becomes intellectual laziness, simplicity, and shorthand. I don't bow to these malformed victims of intellectual foot-binding any more than I act deferential to a child -- for that's what Literalist religionists are, stunted religious infants or children. I dismiss unapologetically and forthrightly Literalism as mere lower, milk religion -- animal-mode thinking, superficial beginner thinking suited only for children.
We don't need to stand helplessly and idly by, not even bothering to formulate a higher alternative systematic model of religion, while the children and beginners run rampant all over the world. The first thing esotericists must do is get their own thinking in order, and we are in some ways still far from achieving that milestone, and we can't directly blame the Literalists for blocking us, when we have our work cut out for us independently of the Literalists.
Today's best theories of religious experiencing and the origin of religions fall far short of what they must be by the standards of the sophisticated esotericists and systematic modern thinkers.
We have to take advantage of the modern mentality of progress and systematic model-clarification, and create a better scheme than the previous attempts of the non-Literalists. The previous non-Literalists have done a woefully inadequate job and have moved much too slowly and have been far too gullible. Now we are in the Web age.
People still remain doltishly slow and uninspired -- witness the tedious, dull-witted concretistic debates ever continuing in the Jesus Mysteries discussion group. But we now have the chance of crossing the critical threshold and taking up where the Dutch Radical Critics left off in their work of pulling down the literalist understanding of both Jesus and Paul, the two pillars of the idolatrous church of Literalism.
Such Literalism and chronically concretistic thinking leads to such distortions as worshipping mundane ethics and moralism as though it were religion.
The intention isn't to make Literalism collapse overnight and make all childish thinkers suddenly ready for meat religion. The goal is to reduce the childhood phase and make an adult form of thinking about Christianity available for young people the moment they are ready and looking for it. Currently, if a typical religious Literalist looks for an alternative, there is only available an inadequate understanding and incomplete systematization of esoteric religion.
People will still start with the intellectually simple corner-cutting misunderstanding of religion; there's no more problem with that than with teaching the child to fear discipline and with the inculcation of self-control. Real adults have transcended ego, which includes preserving ego as a practical tool for mundane living.
These true adults must help the child's mind naturally develop the natural and practical shorthand way of thinking which is "egoic thinking", "the egoic mental worldmodel", "the egoic paradigm", "the separate-self/freewill moral agency" paradigm.
This is equivalent to teaching youngsters about Jesus or some other godman as an ethical model for mundane living. That way of thinking is arguably stage-appropriate and is proper, if it is properly limited to the appropriate life stage. But the young adult should continue the natural mental development past egoic moral-agency thinking and past the concomitant religious Literalism that seems to be inherent in simplified, beginner religion.
It makes perfectly good sense that the child starts off with the largely mistaken shorthand approximation, a first-order approximation, of Newtonian physics before learning Einsteinian physics. Literalist religion is simply simple first-order approximation religion. The child should be weaned away from Literalist religion and the concomitant egoic worldmodel during the right of passage into adulthood -- there's no great reason to delay this past puberty.
The transcendent worldmodel isn't difficult to grasp, if modelled clearly. A 16-year old can grasp it, if presented clearly. It should be possible to gradually reduce the reign of Literalist religion so that it only lasts to age 16.
>Why lay literalist religion on our kids at all? This isn't Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny you're talking about: this teaching them that they are sinners, instilling a craven fear of God, a dread of hell and of eternal damnation, the whole Christian guilt-trip and ensuing horrible self-image, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, self-loathing. I can't think of a worse way of abusing them. All the worst damage of literalism is laid down well before age 16. It's all in place by age 10. And then it takes a lifetime to even assess the damage, let alone eradicate it. That's what the old saying ascribed to the Jesuits means: "Give us a child to the age of 10 and we'll have him for life."
>Teach them the Upanishads, the Gita, make up stories, anything.
The term "literalist religion" has both a narrow, extreme definition and a broad definition. I have in mind a conception of "literalist religion" that lies somewhere between the extreme hardcore Literalist Christianity -- which is only one of many varieties of Literalist Christianity -- and the sophisticated esoteric allegorical mode of thinking of the experienced and learned adult.
There is not just one kind of literalist Christianity. The Jesus seminar is literalists, mistakenly taking for granted that Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles were distinct, particular, historical individuals. The child's thinking has a natural tendency toward a certain degree of literalism, because literalist thinking is simple.
A young child might not be ready to comprehend sophisticated allegory, particularly if that allegory alludes to experiential phenomena that the child won't encounter until initiation into the mystic state of cognition. Literalist religion has various shades, degrees, and versions. Karma, as usually taught, is literalist.
Religious figures such as Jesus can and have been potentially be used in a soft literalist way as a moral role model, without hardcore promotion of ultra-moralistic versions of original sin and atonement.
I'm more intent here on opening up our conception of "literalist religion" than recommending specific distortions to teach children. It is a completely open issue, at what age children are ready to be taught about the illusory nature of egoic agency, and what the age of initiation into the mystic state should be or how low it can be for healthy psychological development.
There's no question what the tradition is, however: the perennial convention is that between birth and puberty is childhood, and the mental operating system of childhood is the egoic worldmodel, and that the child's initiation into the mystic state is ceremonially and initially held around puberty. This makes simple, good sense, according to theories of psychospiritual development and Transpersonal Psychology, such as Ken Wilber's Integral Theory and Transpersonal Theory.
Simply put, the child's mind during childhood develops a stable ego and egoic worldmodel, and then at puberty, the child is initiated into the adult worldmodel, via the mystic state of loose cognitive association, at which time the child's mind sacrifices and abandons its fixed, serious adherence to the egoic mental worldmodel, adopting a new, adult worldmodel instead, being "shaped into the form of the godman by the Holy Spirit" subsequent to partaking of the sacred meal of the immortals.
>all religious systems, including Christianity, ... there is a valid esoteric core to all of them.
>while Christianity contains the same esoteric core elements of the "perennial philosophy" as all other world religions, Christianity has been conspiratorially created and
engineered in order to enforce ideological conformity, political control, and economic exploitation. Its valid elements have been made toxic by being deliberately formulated in such a way as to drag humanity over and over again into guilt, fear, dependency, priestcraft, and oppression. Exposure to toxic religion is not stage-appropriate for anyone, least of all our kids!
>That which is original in Christianity is not good - and that which is good in Christianity is not original!
Christianity isn't a single monolithic religion. There are varieties of esoteric Christianity and varieties of liberal Literalist Christianity and varieties of hyper-moralist, supernaturalist, fundamentalist Christianity. It's a grave mistake to attempt to simply reject Christianity as though it is a single approach. The only viable solution is to systematically highlight and explain the esoteric version of Christianity, to redeem Christianity from within.
Children should be taught esoteric religion in general, and should be taught to differentiate between esoteric and Literalist forms of all religions. We must consider what kind of Christianity, what kind of Buddhism, and what kind of New Age religion to teach children of various ages and stages of maturity.
If we hate Literalist Christianity, the solution is not to reject all Christianity monolithically, but rather, *repair* Christianity by doing effectively what has only been done ineffectively so far: systematically put forth a viable esoteric-only form of Christianity. Great progress has been made on this perennial project recently.
It's time to commit to this project, not to do a brute rejection of Christianity altogether, as though Christianity *must* be considered a single monolithic thing, as though Christianity *must* be thought of only in Literalist terms, as though the only possible way to think of Christianity is in the Literalist mode of thinking. We should not imply that it's impossible to think of Christianity in any way other than in some Literalist mode.
Everyone should understand the esoteric mystery religions, including the original, Gnostic Christianity, and the later esoteric-mystic-heretical Christianity. We must reclaim and highlight the original and mystic-traditional Christianity, not concede it to the Literalists. If we fail to teach the world esoteric Christianity, Literalist Christianity threatens to continue dominating.
The battle can only be won from the inside, through promoting the esoteric tradition of Christianity in conjunction with promoting the esoteric understanding of all religions.
All Literalist religion is bad, because it prevents enlightenment. However, Literalist thinking is natural to the young mind. The solution is to teach young minds both religions: eso- and exoteric. This doesn't mean indoctrination, but rather, teaching them to differentiate between the two systems of thinking.
It's impossible to solve the problem of toxic Literalist Christianity by shipping off the whole of Christianity in a rocket to the sun. The only solution that can succeed is a clean-up effort that requires the labor of highlighting and maximizing the understanding of esoteric Christianity together with esoteric religion. It's mistaken to place all blame on Christianity.
The problem isn't Christianity, it's Literalist Religion and literalist thinking, and that problem amounts to the lack of esoteric thinking. The solution to Literalist Christianity is the solution to Literalist Religion. The solution is not to reject religion, as the ignorant (stereotypical) secular humanists do, but to comprehend esoteric religion. Rejecting Christianity just because Literalist Christianity is toxic is as deep a mistake as rejecting religion just because literalist religion doesn't provide enlightenment.
To get rid of an unwanted thought, we must *replace* it rather than attempt futilely to simply reject it, and the only effective and secure way to replace Literalist Christianity is by promoting the esoteric version of Christianity. We have victory when people start asking not "which religion, Christianity or Buddhism" but rather "which type of Christianity: esoteric or Literalist?"
The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold
Acharya S, Sep. 1999, rank 1K (very popular)
Don't make the mistake of only learning about one type of Christianity: Literalist Christianity. don't omit the allegorical-only tradition. There are only two types of Christianity: Literalist Christianity and esoteric-allegorical Christianity. Failure to teach a child esoteric Christianity causes the child to adopt Literalist Christianity. Flat-out rejection of Christianity leads to vulnerability to exoteric, Literalist Christianity.
The child should be given preemptive protection and inoculation against Literalism. Teaching about esoteric religion means providing an informed foundation and a perspective that can understand both esoteric and exoteric religion. This could be called an indoctrination in the esoteric paradigm rather than in the Literalist paradigm, or the transcendence of indoctrination by informing the child that there are two ways of thinking about Jesus and other such religious figures.
Instead of withholding the esoteric interpretation skills such as Acharya's book The Christ Conspiracy teaches, we must teach these skills to make sure the child possesses an alternative to the Literalist reading. If you keep kids ignorant about the existence and distinction between esoteric and exoteric Christianity, they are vulnerable to succumb to Literalist thinking, because they know no alternative.
Esoteric thinking, or an understanding of esoteric thinking, is a vaccine against Literalist thinking. A good, true Christian school run by Gnostics would teach the child about esoteric and exoteric thinking, as part of their religious education. The only significant point of debate is the details of what it means to "teach about esoteric Christianity", and what it means to "teach about Literalist Christianity".
Acharya S teaches about both, with liberating results, and children ought to be so liberated early, as inoculation against the Literalist orthodox telling of the story of "true Christianity" and "heretical Christianity". Secular humanists, allegorical mystic Christians, liberal "historical Jesus" Christians, and Literalist supernaturalist Christians all teach their children about true Christianity and false Christianity, but painting different, conflicting worldviews.
To avoid telling a bad story of Christianity as the Literalists do, we must not stop telling about Christianity -- that will cause the child to adopt Literalist Christianity, out of ignorance of the existence of alternatives -- but rather, tell a good story of Christianity. The only significant issue is the details of this "good story of Christianity".