Showing posts from January, 2008

Mystics and scientists

Understanding spiritual concepts can be challenging. It’s not like understanding science or math or a thousand other ideas related to physical reality. I suspect many readers who begin my book think it’s all about debunking the Christian myth. I often hear Bishop Spong mentioned and confess it slightly disappoints me. But I savor the comment of the reader who said my book gave him a clear understanding of the distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. This suggests an understanding of religious myth. I’d like readers to see that religious myths are not lies, not deliberate deceptions. This is important. Another is the distinction between God and external deities. The mythical figures in religious mythologies are God-IMAGES, not the spiritual reality called God. Almost all our public discourse in the West muddles this distinction. It speaks of God as an external deity, a separate entity, an individual, a humanlike figure with humanlike thoughts. Leading-edge scien

Confused teaching? Or correction?

The Doctrine Committee of the U.S. bishop’s conference states that Asian-American theologian Fr. Peter Phan creates “confusion” about Catholic teaching regarding Christ, the Church, and other religions. So reported National Catholic Reporter ’s John Allen, writing, “The statement at one point accuses Phan of having left behind a ‘specifically Christian’ framework in favor of ‘a more universal religious perspective.’” The universal perspective is precisely my theme in God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky . Interpreting Christian doctrine inclusively, I cite the findings of mythologists and scholars of comparative religion, who point to many parallels to Christ. But the bishops’ Doctrine Committee insists Christ has “no parallel in any other figure in history.” It claims, “salvation is always accomplished in some way through Christ.” Other religions, states the document, are merely “a preparation for the Gospel.” So I was taught in the Catholic schools of my youth. But Catholic educators in

Enlightenment in 2008

The steady theme of the inspirational and brilliant orator Jesus of Nazareth was the Reign of God. In God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky I avoid using the term “Kingdom” because of that word’s misleading connotation. Now I find affirmation of my interpretation in The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz. Studying an Aramaic translation of the gospels called the Peshitta, Klotz uncovers meaning that the Aramaic speaker Jesus would have conveyed to his Aramaic listeners. The earliest manuscript of the Peshitta is from the fourth century and its language reveals aspects of Jesus’ message hidden from Western minds by Western translations. Usually translated “Kingdom” in English, the Aramaic word malkuta , the Hebrew mamlaka , and the Greek basileia all are feminine-gendered nouns. “Queendom” would be a more accurate translation, “quite apart from any considerations of political correctness,” writes Klotz. “As we now know from archeologic