Write about them and then write your own journey of soul retrieval to reclaim those lost parts.
An evaluation of the Synod of Whitby (AD 664) with reference to the political and historical context of contemporary Northumbria.
|Rev. Judith Lichtenberger
Final Essay for “The Life of St. Paul” course:
In an obscure monastic library in Patmos, a research historian comes upon various copies from “Acts of the Apostles” and more interestingly, pages from “Epistles” by St. Paul. These letters copied meticulously from the originals were written in colloquial Greek, the “koine” Greek of the Apostle’s time. This was the Greek used by the common man in everyday language.
Paul’s writings were found to be highly readable, a style much more than communicative- a style of simple wonder. When utilized by the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, it spoke volumes. To the newly converted Greco-Christians, it was as if one of their own, not a university-educated type, had happened by to tell them good news. Later on, the Eastern Church Fathers of Orthodox faith would “translate” Paul’s epistles into a more formal and grammatical writing style but by then, Paul would have accomplished much of his work. His mission had been to convey Christ’s message and his own wisdom in order to cement together the loosely fitted communities of early Christendom. These communities were separated not only geographically and by local dialect but by background and belief. Paul put it all together: the bolstering of courage, the creation of new traditions, introducing new creeds of moral conduct and most importantly of all-an all enduring love and patience in all of these things about which Jesus Christ would have been proud. Paul never lost his faith or enthusiasm, attributes which shine forth in the manuscripts and Paul, peculiar in the Biblical personality sense, remained even in his street-wise Greek, as Christ-centered as ever he was after his experience on the road to Damascus.
He was an inspired preacher, a stern but compassionate father-figure to those in Christian infancy. None of this was lost in translation albeit a bit of the local color/flavor so endearing to his audience.
It is a clever and intelligent man who can argue convincingly in government court and then enter a poor man’s abode and be made welcome. The Gentiles who benefited most by Paul’s efforts were often the poor or middle class citizens, former pagans, never having had the benefit of a classical education. Paul, with the help of a Holy-Spirit-inspired ministry brought his beloved Gentiles into a cohesive community. Where is the measure of success? When donations are made from poor Gentile-Christians for the benefit of famine-stricken Judeo-Christians (considering how some of the Jewish converts mistreated their Gentile brethren) then I believe that is genuine success.
REFERENCES: THE GREEK WORLD edited by Stonehenge Publishers, Oxford, England 1980 ST PAUL,THE APOSTLE:HIS LIFE AND MISSION by Ronald Witherup, Catholic Updates July, 2008
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As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials. As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve enjoyed watching the continual growth of the seminary.
Search for the Historical Jesus
The search for the Historical Jesus course has been a delightful review/romp through the various theories surrounding this controversial subject. The instructor takes you through the various theories surrounding the search beginning with Reimarus and his school of thought and ending with current theories which have recently found fresh food for thought on the subject. The instructor’s expansion of ideas about Jesus’ kingdom theories and his approach to his role as a way shower and messenger is carefully explained to show how each could be a viable explanation of Jesus’ role on the world scene.
The search for a better representation of this important figure is a worthy journey and the only one that makes any sense. If we can determine who this individual was and how he viewed himself and his role, we might better appreciate his message of simplicity. His strong sense of mission and his insistence on establishing the kingdom of God was a message of timely import. He stated over and over again that the kingdom was within and not an earthly one that was hoped for by many.
The otherworldly persona placed on him and his role has been the product of other’s thoughts and philosophies under the guise of divine interpretation and is not wholly associated with his message. When historians and theologians create their own divine messenger, it is easy to attribute and manipulate what they thought was stated. The Jesus/God that was created was the product of Jewish thought intermingled with Greek metaphysics. There is no scarcity of documentation attesting to the existence of the God/man Jesus. The solidification of those theories eventually became a reality as a result of the decrees issued by the various Church councils. On the political side, all of this to insure that the emerging administrative church could take its place as an heir to the Roman Empire. On the spiritual side, the Fathers (theologians, philosophers et al.) of this organization were sincerely earnest in their quests to understand the divine nature of Jesus/God’s message and messenger. They endeavored to interpret doctrine and dogma in the best possible way for the Church and its followers.
The major challenge begins when one realizes that the subjects are on two different levels. The Fathers of the Church were dealing with their own conception of their deity or at least the one that came to be accepted as the “true” god. The search for the historical Jesus is a search for a “real” human being who had hopes, aspirations, ideals and a sense of mission or not. The human Jesus is the one that people can identify with as opposed to some “created” superhuman giant.
The value of the search is important because the closer we get to valid possibilities, the better we can appreciate those possibilities. This seems to be the only way to proceed because of the scarcity of first hand documentation. Jesus apparently did not write his teachings down but relied on oral transmission of his message to others and seemingly left it to their discretion to relate what was said and meant.
Historical research has a tendency to rely too heavily on its own definition of historical fact. Much of what we know of our own historical past is based on tradition and also fictionalized versions of those individuals we deem as great personages. The same situation applies to the individual we know as Jesus. The translation of apocryphal writings, some very fictionalized, present a very human Jesus. They present stories of his mother’s life and his childhood. They relate stories of his family life and how he was viewed by his peers and neighbors. Again no one person has played on the imagination of the world as has this person. The more we have a chance to know and experience Jesus, the easier it will be to make an informed decision about his mission and how it can influence our lives. Millions of individuals look to the New Testament as their leader and guide without questioning the authenticity of the writings. Many do not question anything relating to “accepted” scriptures not realizing that the canon of those scriptures was the result of a decision made by men and sanctioned by an organization. They were the result oftentimes of decisions motivated by bitterness and jealousies and petty rivalries.
This writer finds that the search for the historical Jesus is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself and finds that delving into that search is both exciting and informative.
The role of the academic community devoted to finding the historical Jesus beginning with Hermann Reimarus’ investigations (1778/old quest), and continuing today with the Jesus seminar groups has brought to the forefront the necessity of finding out who the human Jesus was. The recently formed Jesus Project continues the search with promised results that will be as varied as previous attempts no doubt.
Prior to these endeavors, it seems that the existence of a historical/human Jesus had become irrelevant. Who needs to be concerned with humanness when we have a divine being to emulate? As was pointed out in the course, quite simply human and divine…they were the same or at least they were explained as how that could be. The years of establishing that fact was the result of the first seven Church councils and since that time, little alteration has been necessary. As time progressed and the farther we got from that fact, the need to reacquaint ourselves with the source became evident. There is ample evidence that suggests that each culture who claim to be Christian see their founder in their own light. In this case, people are not interested in the Jesus of history but prefer to “worship” their own conception of Jesus even if that conception is exaggerated or totally distorted. As an example, some Christians find the fact that Jesus was Jewish to be an affront to their beliefs. They prefer their “god” to be like them.
The value of the search for the Jesus of history forces us to confront falsehood and study this popular figure for what he was, namely a Jewish man from the Middle East who was responsible for relating a message that could change lives for the better. The simplicity of that message is astonishing and will remain so despite the efforts of so many to destroy it, albeit in good faith. The value of the various quests definitely lies in the fact of seeing this person as everything from a social revolutionary to a wandering peasant sage to a disillusioned teacher who was ushering in a new age. The search will go on under the guise of different theories with different names but the importance lies in the fact that the search continues. Seen in this vein, it seems that the search for a valid explanation of who the historical Jesus was is a separate study from what has been the search for our own cosmic significance.
The quest for the historical Jesus has transitioned to a quest for the Cosmic Christ. The search for the Cosmic Christ has become the quest of modern man in search for his own destiny. It is the time for our return to our beginnings and the realization of who we truly are and if Jesus can bring that about in our lives then it’s good to have someone or something to rely on until we find enough confidence to realize that we have to learn to stand on our own. Was it not said by Jesus through the gospels that “whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works.” Was this an allusion to the fact that we have inherited the right to become like the “Christed” one that he represented? Paul, in his letter to the Galatians refers to this progression when he says that “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20) and again “I must go through the pain of giving birth to you all over again, until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)
As studies progress towards that inevitable conclusion with the pioneering works of Teihard De Chardin and Matthew Fox and many notable members of the scientific/religious community (the list goes on and on), we can conclude that the journey continues.
Comparative Religion Final Essay
Rev. Ira J. Potter
Although I have casually studied various religions over the course of my life, Kythera Ann’s course offered so much more information than I could’ve found on my own. The courses themselves were very well written and I am still enjoying the suggested activities, as there are many and some require planning in order to participate. Overall, this course was everything I hoped it would be and more than I have a right to ask for.
Through this course I gained a better understanding of my own beliefs and where they come from. I have fashioned my own beliefs by learning and living. I was surprised by how much I have unconsciously taken from eastern beliefs, such as meditation and reincarnation. I was also able to confirm my belief that there is a universal truth within most religions, a cosmic connection that binds people of faith. Religious morals are also universal, i.e.: respect your elders, don’t steal, don’t kill people, etc. Where beliefs may differ, morals are almost always the same in any given religion.
The best thing about this course is that it is unbiased. One of the worst possible beliefs I have encountered in my life is that there is only one “right” religion and the rest are imposters or inferior. It was very refreshing to learn so much about so many different religions without that bias in place. I even appreciated the respect given to those of Jewish faith with the references to G_d, although I am not Jewish. I believe that only G_d can tell us how He wants us to live, not popes, clerics, or any other figure on a power trip. There are so many different belief systems in the world that it is impossible to declare there is only one that is right.
My only complaint about this course is that I cannot follow it up with part 2! Other than that, if I had to pick something I suppose that I would have liked a little more in-depth information about the less popular religions like Jainism and Bal’ai. For the most part, though, this course is about as flawless as you could make it. The only way this course could be improved is by having a part 2 to take afterward.
This was the first course I’ve taken through the seminary, and I must say that I hope other classes can compare intellectually to this course. Rev. Kythera Ann wrote the next course I am taking as well, although I did not know that when I chose to take it. Not only was I pleasantly surprised, I know beyond doubt that it will be just as informative and riveting as Comparative Religion was. The sample course for Comparative Religion made me decide to take it, and the intelligence, information and presentation kept me interested for all 20 weeks of this course. I very highly recommend this course to everybody that decides to attend seminary with the ULC. I look forward to my next course with Rev. Kythera Ann!
The ULC, run by Rev. Amy Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials. I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.
Essay on Metaphysics.
In the directions it was stated to pick something that caused me to think and tell you about it. I would find that difficult to pinpoint to one subject given that it was twenty discourses and it covered a broad area concerning the metaphysical aspect of life. I found the entire course eye opening and helpful in many aspects. If one will just open their mind and soul then enlightenment truly comes without question. Yes there will be the normal doubts and trials and tribulations that mankind as a whole must endure, this is a given. I took away many new ideas and beliefs from this course, I can only hope that I will be able to apply it in some portion of my life or make an impression on someone.
The three minds, The higher mind, an unconscious mind , a lower unconscious mind . The ego the lower mind [A false sense of self]. It seems to be a thought that stuck out in my mind was from a psychological point of view as well as a spiritual view is that man is a tripartite being , Body, Soul, Spirit. I fell back to studying the significance of numbers or numerology and their meanings and the symbolism, the number three. Discourse one seems to emphasize working on the higher mind and it’s abilities that we haven’t tapped into, and the unity of the three working together. Also listening to the still small voice, scripture reference.
Discourse two .Thinking from the ego the ego false sense of self, our ego can be our own worst enemy or it can keep us in check, most of the time I believe that it doesn’t. In a course in miracles terminology mentioned by you, its motto is seek and ye shall not find.” Because no matter how much the inflated ego gets, it always wants more. In another scripture, there are three mentioned in scripture that are never satisfied the pride of life , the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, we can never be fulfilled by physical objects or by materialism, it simply leads to much more unfulfillment. Under-inflated ego can be referred to in the psychology field as Nature Versus Nurture, in the discourse it is called heredity, environment culture and our past, all of which are significant but aren’t good excuses for inappropriate behavior nor seeing from a spiritual side. It refers a lot to fear, we are told in scripture not to fear, or be ye not afraid, or fear not three hundred and sixty five times, I believe that this is for each day of the year. To think from the higher mind is a purposeful life, you only get one on this planet, make it count.
The over inflated ego projects power and satisfaction the things that are outside of itself, thus destroying it’s relationship with it’s true source of power and all that brings true satisfaction in life, i.e. G-D and Spirit. This in my experience I so aptly refer to as philosophy, it never answers questions and merely produces more questions and unfulfilling. We must trust in things unseen with equal faith as things seen.”Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” I love the phrase, would you rather be a hostage to your ego or host to G-d?
I am slowly learning but learning nevertheless to observe, process the information and choose to let it go or let it eat at me and let it hurt me.
Discourse four. Projection makes perception.
We are not our thoughts.
We are the ones choosing our thoughts.
We are not our minds.
We are the ones using our minds.
We are not even our bodies.
We are the ones using our bodies.
The way to change the world is to change what we think about the world. To me a miracle doesn’t have to be elaborate it can be as subtle as the wind, the beauty of something we see, a kind word spoken, a gesture , etc , etc.
The truth is that only love is real only love has power.
Love is the only thing that can never be destroyed.
It can never be taken from us.
It applies to everything that was created by G-d and only what he created is real. If you give yourself to him he will never force himself upon you. He will never interfere with your free will. Remember, love never forces itself. Love must be welcomed in. A house divided against it cannot stand. Split allegiance is faithlessness. It sets you off balance. I realized this while studying Buddhism, the whole concept of balance. Love, Hate, War, Peace.
Meditation, I have practiced this in many forms and have had great results, it can bring peace most of the time, when I am actually able to be relaxed enough to focus and control. “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal. This goes back to the ego and not being comfortable with one self, not having the higher consciousness, or awareness. The more one practices meditation the better you will become. The unconscious mind computes in pictures not words. Instead of analyzing information, it crystallizes information and draws things together in an effortless way. Prayer is asking G-d and meditation is listening to him. I love this course, it packed full of wisdom. When one cannot meditate and their mind keeps wandering is that when the mind is wandering, it is meditating. Bruce Lee had this concept perfected…..Mind No Mind, Thought No Thought.
Genius of desire. Desire has genius in it. It is explosive with creative force. People who measure such things that the mind tunes into upwards of 60,000 thoughts a day. A burning desire is not a desperate desire. Desperation implies lack and repels the object of your desire. Love never attacks. The greatest of these is love, more scripture.
The Alchemy of Intention. Forgiveness is the home of miracles. Miracles are necessary because it causes division and devastates. G-d is not the author of confusion. Today, quantum physicists describe the universe as a hologram in which the whole is in every part. We are all extensions of the same fundamental formless something and as such are infinitely connected. Remember , no man is an island, we are all caught up together in the human experience The day we take ownership of the awesome power of our intention is the day we become masters of our destiny . Attacking judging and punishing yourself turn you into the enemy, in other words to thine own self be true.
Attention Attention Attention. One day a young man approached his master Ikuru and asked: Master will you please write down for me some maxims of the highest wisdom? The master wrote one word ….Attention. In the military I was trained pay attention to detail, it stayed with me. The Buddhist Thich Nat Hahn, and I have read his book, peace in every breath, very insightful book. Any back to my original writing The monks say that mindfulness is keeping ones consciousness alive to the present reality.
The gift of Visualization. Form is born out of content. The material comes from the immaterial, once again faith and the laws of physics. You are one hundred percent responsible for the life you lead.
At birth all people are soft and yielding
At death they are hard and stiff
All green plants are tender and yielding
At death they are brittle and dry
When hard and rigid
We consort with death
When soft and flexible
We affirm greater life.
Much can be said about prayer and meditation this would be an entire paper in and of it. G-d has been waiting on us, not us waiting on him. It isn’t that G-d enjoys seeing us suffer>it’s just that love never forces itself; love must always be invited in. Prayer does not change what G-d does Prayer changes us; it gives us a renewed sense of purpose.
Acceptance and higher purpose. There are ten keys for creating a miraculous state of mind 1. Meditation 2. desire 3.purpose 4. intention 5.attention 6.visualization 7.letting go of self 8. letting go of illusions 9.asking for help 10. Surrendering attachment to results.
Miracles and your health. Judging a brother is the same thing as judging G-d. The decision for the ego over G-d is the cause of all of the pain and suffering in the world today. We are in no position to make decisions for G-d .
The power of beliefs. In this entire course, I have run across many different religions and many different ideas that actually mesh together without preconceived notions and prejudices. I have seen Zen Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, etc etc. .Our belief system carries us farther than we ever considered or give it credit for. It heals, it loves, it forgives, it shields, it provides, it protects, it is us in our entirety. Augustine said, love and does what you will. The touchstone to of the value of anything in life is its purpose. It isn’t our habits so much that harm us: It’s the underlying guilt and fear from which they come. What we do out of guilt and fear is destructive, what we do out of love is healing. The end. I have taken all of the concepts from your course and repeated them back to you or at least the parts that stuck out the most in my mind.
Thank you for the course I have truly enjoyed it.
Andy W Standard
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I came to Druidism for the reasons of exploring my Celtic past and finding a spirituality that truly speaks to me. I am new to Paganism and was not sure what I would find. I am thankful for the opportunity to expand my spiritual horizons and share them with others.