ULC Druidism Course by Rev. Dale Johnson

Druidism at ULC Seminary
Druidism – An Ancient Religion?
In the strict sense, Druidism is not so much a religion as a philosophy. Where most modern religions might say that God, or Allah or Buddha made a rock or a tree, A Druid would say that the energy of a creative force is in that same rock or tree. Druids were people of nature. Their society was founded by their observations of the natural world. These observations eventually led to the spiritual and ritual base of the Druids. But whether Druidism is considered a religion or a philosophy of life, the Druids themselves were as devoted to their beliefs as any peoples from other faiths or religions.
Today, what we know of the Druids we have learned from other cultures and societies. The Druids themselves had no written history, or at least none that has so far been discovered. Some of our better insights into Druidic culture come from the accounts of Julius Caesar. Druidic caste systems, their rites and ceremonies, their daily activities, all are shrouded in mystic legends. Their society flourished for hundreds of years under wise leadership. We do know that Druids were musicians and songwriters’ craftsmen, and builders.
Many people believe that the Druids constructed ritual sites like Stonehenge and Woodhenge to perform their ceremonies and sacrifices. Astronomer Carl Sagan believes that “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known” Carl Sagan Historians and scholars now agree that although Druids may have contributed to the final formation of these sites, they did not actually construct them. It is believed that Stonehenge was first built around 3100 B, C, which predates Druidic society as we have come to understand it. Stonehenge and other ritualistic pagan sites were used by many cultures. “The term pagan has become almost synonymous with devil worship, a gross misconception. The word roots actually reach back to the Latin paganus meaning country dwellers. Pagans were literally unindoctrinated country folk who clung to the old rural religions of nature worship”. Dan Brown, The DaVinci Code. Unfortunately, there is no historical proof that Druids were or were not associated with these sites.
The ancient Druid religion or philosophy was created within Celtic society around 900 B.C. To 700 A.D. The Druidic society reached its peak around 300 B.C. During this time, there were hundreds of Celtic tribes throughout ancient Gaul and Briton. The Druids were deeply traditional and conservative with regard to their culture and lore. The term Druid itself is believed to have indo-European roots and may be derived from the Celtic word for oak tree, ‘Doire’, in Irish Gaelic, meaning ‘wisdom’. A truly fitting name for a society based on the natural world.
Rev Dale Johnson
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About Being A Shaman – Universal Life Church

Lesson# 12
Do you believe that a person has to experience the “call to priesthood “in order to become a Shaman?
Also describe the different gifts required in order to follow this profession?
I don’t believe the person has to experience the “call to priesthood”, to become a Shaman although in my case I did receive a call to priesthood.
In this lesson I felt as though I was reading about my own life’s journey in many ways.  I have listened to and used the Hemi-Sync technology And I do believe it has helped me in moving away from the physical and exploring other dimensions of consciousness.
I do believe that living in suburbia there are no initiation ceremonies like initiate you and this has been my experience .I did feel a calling to the priesthood and actually worked as a minister for the sick for my church.
I was working with a shaman and noticed that I was uncomfortable in my ministry with my church that it felt unnatural and was not the correct calling that I was feeling.
I did suffer from illness  and despair for over this last year as you describe and that is what brought me to the desire to learn about Shamanism and to become a Shaman.
It was horrific. I suffered unbearable mental and physical Anguish to arrive at where I am now. I was in the depths of despair.
In My work as a Reiki Master over the last 10 years I have also worked with the shadow side and can totally relate to the experience Of having my patients mirror back the very issues and painful lessons that I am processing in my own life at that time.
I feel completely connected to the archetype of the wounded healer.
I have also had a near-death experience when I was a teenager. And I was able to see auras at that very young age  soon after even though I did not know what they were about.
I also experienced astral travel at the age of 16.
My work over the last 40 years of just living life has given me many gifts of healing,clairvoyance, clairaudience ,mediumship ,exorcism ,soul travel ,and now Shamonic healing.
I truly believe I was called to do this work.
Peace and Blessings.
Lesson 13
The assignment is role-play and practice filling out the forms for soul retrieval medical history form interview.
I did this assignment with my partner and he really is not a good candidate because he has had a heart attack and it recommends not to work on people who have had a heart attack because of possible side effects.
So he was probably not the best candidate.
I will practice on someone else at a later date.
Thank you,
Lesson #14
Assignment carefully read through the signs and symptoms of soul lost and thinking back to your life to see if there have been recurring events or a history of negative behavior patterns that you can identify with that could have been indicative of soul loss.

Write about them and then write your own journey of soul retrieval to reclaim those lost parts.

I did a soul retrieval of my own following this script I went back and retrieve the part of me that was lost during a trauma in my early childhood when I was three years old. My brother almost died when he got his arm caught in the ringer washing machine and I saved his life at the age of three by pulling the plug on the machine.
The emotional trauma and result of this incident caused me to go through life believing that if I was not responsible someone would die. I have been overly responsible my entire life which has caused me to suffer from a lack of joy and an Ability to be playful and play.
I returned to meet that three-year-old child and restore her ability to be playful and joyful.
It was a very joyfully, tearful reunion .
I met my companion whose name was Mary. She seemed to float on air like a fairy and was lovely.
Peace and blessings to all who endeavor and aspire to do this work.

Christian History by Rev. Louden

Christian History
An evaluation of the Synod of Whitby (AD 664) with reference to the political and historical context of contemporary Northumbria.

by Rev. Graham Louden, M.A., Dip.Ed. (Oxon), B.A., A.C.P., (Hon.) D.D.

It has long been traditional amongst historians of the period to represent the Synod of Whitby and its outcome as a momentous event in English history and a definitive turning point in the identity and allegiance of the English church. This interpretation of the Synod has endured over the centuries to the extent that, only recently, the historian Patrick Wormald expressed his frustration trenchantly in the following paragraph written in 2005′  From the days of George Buchanan, supplying the initial propaganda for the makers of the Scottish kirk, until a startlingly recent date, there was warrant for the anti-Roman, anti-episcopal and, in the nineteenth century, anti-establishment stance in the Columban or ‘Celtic’ church…..The idea that there was a ‘Celtic Church’ in something of a post-Reformation sense, is still maddeningly ineradicable from the minds of students.’
This enduring interpretation may well be due to the limited scope and intent of the source material available and also to the desire of ecclesiastical historians over the centuries to give primacy to the overarching theme of the evolution of the church universal and its relentless expansion. Any detailed account of the Synod derives almost exclusively from that provided by the Venerable Bede in his Historiam Ecclesiastical Gentis Anglorum completed in 731 supplemented by a hagiographical Life of Wilfred written by Eddius Stephanus (Stephen of Ripon) around 710. Both of these works were written at some distance although Bede did have access to the the work by Eddius and is also said to have known surviving participants in the synod such as Acca of Hexham whom he described as the ‘dearest of all prelates upon earth’, It is also possible that Bede’s reputation and stature as an historian, to an extent the ‘father’ of history, has come to overshadow and repress informed scrutiny of the Synod. Bede’s insistence on the importance of accurate chronology wherever possible, his elegant and stylish deployment of the Latin language, his faithful attribution of sources and his ability to blend homiletic material seamlessly into the narrative all mark him out as a biblical scholar and historian of renown but his work was intended as an ‘ecclesiastical’ history and it would not be surprising if he had been minded to give additional prominence to those events which he considered important staging posts in the advancement of the church. The Paschal controversy was, indeed, an issue in which Bede, as a biblical scholar, especially interested himself and had addressed in his works, De Temporibus (703) and De Temporum Ratione (725).

A corrective to the assumption that Bede’s account of the Synod is accepted as being an accurate record of the proceedings may be found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, prepared around 891 in the time of Alfred which, curiously, makes no mention of the Synod; instead, both the Parker Chronicle and the Laud Chronicle include the same entry for the year 664, viz. ‘Colman with his companions went to his native land’ but provide no explanation for this happening although interestingly, the year 671 was noted as the year of ‘the great mortality of birds’! Given the quantity of material pertaining to Northumbrian history that is detailed in the Chronicle, this omission does appear odd if the Synod was contemporaneously regarded as a pivotal moment.

In general, historical events involve a complex mixture of antecedents, motivation and personalities. The Synod of Whitby needs to be studied and understood against a background of political instability in Northumbria and parallel uncertainty in the sphere of shifting religious allegiance. The kingdom of Northumbria had come into being after the victory of Aethelfrith at the Battle of Degsastan. After his death, he was succeeded by Edwin of Deira (a Roman Christian) and the Bernician dynasty founded by Aethelfrith was forced to take refuge in Pictish and Scottish territory where many were baptised into the ‘Celtic’ Christian faith practised by their hosts.

In 633, the Bernician prince Oswald regained the throne and turned to Iona for help with the conversion of his people. Aidan and a small band of monks responded and founded a monastery at Lindisfarne; later they were joined by many more Scottish monks and began to extend their missionary activity into Mercia (where the baptism of Peada in 653 was a signal success) and the East Saxon lands. Their work was zealous and effective and it is well nigh impossible to say how much of the conversion of the English was achieved by Roman or Celtic missions. The pure and ascetic life style of the Celtic missionaries was greatly admired and contrasted strongly with the organisation and panoply of the Roman church with its growing desire for universal authority. The Celtic church had been largely isolated from Rome for 150 years and was possibly offended by the assumptions and perceived arrogance of the papacy as indicated in the attitude of Augustine towards Celtic bishops whom Pope Gregory had described (probably out of ignorance) as ‘unlearned, weak and perverse’.

Nevertheless, by the mid-seventh century, the Roman church had come to realise the value of uniformity and of a universal church ruled from Rome and felt that the existence of a powerful group of Christians who did not acknowledge papal supremacy could no longer be tolerated Already, too, some in the Celtic church were beginning to realise that they could not ignore indefinitely the benefits of closer linkage with Rome and an emergence from their isolation.In addition, Roman practices were steadily advancing northwards as a result of the activities of Augustine of Canterbury. In 633, the southern Irish had accepted the Roman method for calculating Easter while these practices were often introduced into the Celtic sphere of influence as a result of trade, travel and exile. A prime example of this was the wife of King Oswiu, Eanfled, who had been removed to Kent during the reign of Oswald but returned on her marriage to Oswiu with her Roman entourage and customs. This precipitated a crisis at court where it became necessary to celebrate Easter twice at different times. By this time, the saintly Aidan was dead and, without the constraint of his presence, it seemed appropriate to resolve this anomaly by means of a Synod at which advocates of both persuasions would argue the case before the king after which he would rule on the issue. The occasion was the Synod of Whitby in 664 (or 663 according to Stenton chronology).

Bede’s account of the proceedings at Whitby suggest a stylised and highly civilised debate which is not altogether convincing given the controversial nature of the issues and the heat which such matters could generate. One has only to study the records of debates involving Martin Luther at the time of the Reformation to discern the passion and polemic that they could engender. At Whitby, the Celtic persuasion was represented by king Oswiu, bishop Cedd of the East Saxons, the Abbess Hild at whose monastery at Streanaeshalch the meeting was held and Colman, bishop of Lindisfarne who acted as their spokesman. The Roman party comprised Alchfrith son of Oswiu and sub-king of Deira, Agilberht , bishop of the West Saxons, James the Deacon and Wilfrid of Ripon who was then ruling a monastic community at Ripon. Alchfrith’s motives in playing a prominent role in the summons of the synod are not touched upon but it is, perhaps, legitimate to speculate that he wished to enhance his power within the kingdom and considered that closer links with Rome and the patronage of the ambitious Wilfrid would forward his ambitions.

In the course of the debate as contained in Bede’s historical narrative, the two principal advocates, Colman and Wilfrid, both argued forcefully that their method of calculating Easter was based upon worthy precedent. According to Colman, the Celtic practice could be traced back to the apostle John to which Wilfrid retorted that the Roman practice had been handed down by both Peter and Paul and had been followed from the outset by their churches. He also argued that, even if it were the case that John had used the Celtic practice, this would have been only a provisional dispensation to suit a particular congregation at a particular period in the evolution of the church. From the historical perspective, it is quite clear that both practices had co-existed for some centuries but that the tide was already turning in favour of the Roman method. The calculation of Easter involved a complicated system intended to reconcile the solar and lunar years by means of a cycle of years. At various times, cycles of 8, 11, 19 and 84 years had been used for this purpose and it seems probable that the tables based upon an 84-year cycle had been brought to Britain by Celtic bishops who had attended the Council of Arles in 314. In 455, Rome accepted and ordered the use of the 19 year cycle as advocated by Victorius of Acquitaine and this was implemented by those parts of England controlled by Canterbury and, after 633, by the southern Irish. Clearly, by the time of the Synod, there was absolutely no possibility that the Celtic tradition could supplant the Roman within the wider church and this was underlined by Wilfrid in the speech attributed to him when he stressed the folly of resisting the authority of St.Peter and refusing to follow the example of all the rest of Christendom. Although Bede states that the only point at issue in the Synod was date of celebrating Easter (and the tonsure issue), the fact that he records Wilfrid as emphasising this wider context and significance, suggests that he was fully aware of the implications of any decision on the Celtic branch of the church. Wilfrid’s ‘triumph’ was based upon two main points: firstly, he referred to contemporary practice and pointed out that even the followers of the apostle John now celebrated Easter according to the Roman fashion and, secondly, he rebutted Colman’s question as to how such holy men as Columba and Anatolius could have erred so greatly as claimed over the Easter dating by stating that Peter, as the rock on which the church is built and the keeper of the keys, must be a superior authority. Oswiu reportedly turned to Colman and asked whether he could say properly attribute any similar authority to Columba; Colman’s ‘nihil’ was conclusive and Oswiu ruled in favour of the Roman practice saying that he would not risk a hostile reception from Peter himself at the gates of heaven. After a brief visit to Lindisfarne to bid farewell to his community, Colman and his fellow monks returned to Ireland where they could still practice their religion according to their preference. The ‘Roman’ victory was complete.

The scale of this victory, however, is debatable as Oswiu’s decision applied only to Northumbria and many decades were required for the complete implementation of the Roman ways. At the centre, York immediately supplanted Lindisfarne as the episcopal centre of Northumbria with Wilfrid as its bishop (664-78) but even within the kingdom and more so beyond the borders, the process of Romanisation was slow and painstaking. Britain was a complex patchwork of shifting kingdoms (twelve existed around 600 AD) with disputed boundaries and frequent changes of ruler. Strenuous efforts and reforming zeal were required to extend the Roman mandate throughout the lands and much of this work was carried out by Wilfrid, Theodore of Tarsus and Benedict Biscop. Their especial concern was the lack of effective leadership at a time (669) when only three men were known to have been in bishop’s orders in the whole of England. The Synod of Hertford, summoned by Theodore in 672 issued a number of canons relating to the conduct of bishops, in particular enjoining them to remain within their sees and concentrate on their duties.

After 669, Theodore appointed a number of new bishops (initially to Winchester, Dunwich and Rochester and then proceeded to create new sees at North Elmham, Worcester, Hereford and Lindsey to supplement the existing ones. This work was the key to disseminating the messages of Whitby and Hertford and the broader thrust of the Roman establishment. Paradoxically, it was in Northumbria that the task was most difficult due to the stubborn stance of Wifrid who opposed any diminution of his immense power as sole bishop of Northumbria. A love of pomp and panoply which would not have disgraced Cardinal Wolsey centuries later, did not endear him to his contemporaries and he was twice expelled from Northumbria (in 677 and 691) and only half-heartedly supported by the Pope to whom he appealed on both occasions. The work of Romanisation proceeded, apace despite the distraction posed by Wilfrid who was often his own worst enemy; his first expulsion, for example came about when he persuade the king’s beloved wife to retire to a convent, a triumph which, unsurprisingly was not pleasing to Ecgfrith ! Nevertheless, by the second decade of the eighth century, when Nechtan, king of the Picts enforced the recommended Easter tables on the Pictish Church after consultation with Ceolfrith, abbot of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow (Bede’s home monastery), the authority of Rome was almost universally acknowledged, except for some areas of the north of Ireland. Iona, itself, had capitulated around 716 due to the efforts of Adamnan and Egbert.

The importance of Whitby, therefore, lies not so much in an immediate and wide-spread change of allegiance but in the clear message that it gave to the Celtic church that the tide was turning against it and that it faced a future of isolation and retreat accompanied by increasing pressure from the Roman church. Over the next fifty years, the Celtic church became more peripheral and, by its very nature, it was unable to organise itself with the same flair and zeal that was second nature to the Roman church. We cannot easily say what was the most important issue at the Synod of Whitby; to some, no doubt, it was the embarrassing schism at court, to others such as Alchfrith, it involved political maneuvering, for many it did focus upon the central issue of the celebration of Easter and, by extension, the universalist aspirations of the Roman pontiff.

Bede, himself, seems quite clear that the Easter controversy was the fons et origo of the Synod despite the fact that his own account alludes to the wider issue of a uniform doctrine and papal authority. Even his most distinguished editor,, Charles Plummer, in the introduction to his magisterial edition of 1896, professes himself puzzled by Bede’s insistence on this point and a degree of unwonted asperity in his style. He writes, ‘And yet we cannot help feeling that the question occupies a place in Bede’s mind out of all proportion to its real importance. It is sad that he should think it necessary to pause in the middle of his beautiful sketch of the sweet and saintly character of Aidan to say that ‘he much detests’ his mode of keeping Easter; it is strange that he should apply to this question the words which St. Paul used with reference to such infinitely more important matters, expressing the fear lest he ‘should run or have run in vain’…..But the holiest men have their limitations, and questions even less important have divided Christians ere now.’

Bede is a wonderful literary and historical source and starting point for any study of the Synod of Whitby but, as ever, it underlines the need, wherever possible, for the widest possible array of sources in order to arrive at a balanced verdict. The spread of the early church in Britain followed by the imposition of the Roman dispensation is a long and complex story further complicated by the plethora of kingdoms, the paucity of source material and the fragmented nature of society at the time. Without Bede, however, we would lack an introduction to this event, couched in impeccable Latin and underpinned by an unwavering desire to write truthfully for the benefit of posterity. At the very least, his account of the Synod is exactly how we would wish the event to have proceeded, in the spirit of Christian humility and informed debate.

Bibliography
Baedae Opera Historica, Plummer, Oxford 1896
Anglo-Saxon England, P. Hunter Blair, Cambridge 1962
Anglo-Saxon England, F.M.Stenton, Oxford History of England vol. II
Life of Bishop Wilfrid, B. Colgrave, OUP 1969


Rev. Graham Louden

 

The  ULC, run by Rev. 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.

The Life of St. Paul

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.


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Chaplaincy Program

My learning expereiance from Chaplain Training ULC has been great. It has given me pointers on how to run a Chaplain Ministry. It gave me tips and a better understanding about people and how to deal with them. It showed me skills on how to be more compassionate and understanding. It also explains to me that as a chaplain we must be good listeners. To listen before we speak. Listening plays a major role in our position. It also explained how a chaplain should carry themselves and to try and keep relationships separate. As a chaplain we must keep our relationships separate and not get involved as well as make sure to put clients in place if they trying to gain a relationship. If we see something like that we need to recommend them to another chaplain that could help them better.  The training really helps the chaplain put in the proper place. The whole course has helped me in many angles and I can tell you it has made me a better chaplain and person. I think what really helped me was the fact that I come from a Military background I had to learn to be more compassionate and this course helped me to become compassionate. One needs to be this way or they cannot have any type of ministry.  I took a CISM class to become more compassionate, but to be honest the readings that I received from this class showed me reasons and better understand why it is important to be more compassionate. It also gave me an understanding that I was as a chaplain what I needed to do to make myself a better chaplain and better listener. In many cases chaplains start to do all the talking and never give the person who s facing a crisis a chance to talk about what’s is going on with them. That’s why we should be quite and listen before we open up and start speaking. Listening is the key to Chaplaincy is what I have learned. I also learned how to run my daily ministry by the way I organize my ministry to make it more effective and that it will run smoothly so that I may support my clients. I also learned that your ministry needs a break as we all do. This was happening to me a lot where I had no time for my family spent all my free time with the ministry. I had to learn to say NO and give time my family and life, time to have some free time. At first it was hard, but as time went by and I began to see how happy my family was I kept my routine to given my family and time. Which in return has made me a better Chaplain for my clients and my family.
            As improvements to the course I think the course is strong and it has a lot of helpful and good points that make the course strong. However, if it were I would change technical aspect of things. I would change blog system, because of the emails sent bounce back. I would either use another blog system or even email. Another aspect I might change I would integrate short videos and audio. Maybe even use a LMS that is not expensive like black board. Something like, edu20which is a free online source that can be used to teach classes. Also could enable the students to move forward a complete program faster. Just a thought I think the way it is being done now is good, but maybe something in future it might be something to use. There are so many things with technology that a courses can be taught, but I think what works bet for the school the school should stick with.  I was very happy with the way the class was taught and the blog system. The only problem was making sure the mail being sent to the blog was being reviewed. I had a few of my emails that I sent to the blog returned because of technical issues. However, from staff was very helpful and the issues was resolved quickly.
            As for taking the course I hope that it will be a better compassionate chaplain where I can serve my community well and effectively I hope that I can grow my ministry bigger that I can touch the hearts of many. I also hope that it can help me with current ministry and that It will help me with my pet ministry that my wife and I currently run. Things can be tough but this training has given me the strength not quit and move forward not matter what.  I also hope that I can explain my ministry and maybe get another chaplain to help in building the ministry. I am not doing the is for the money, I have a job. I do this to better server my fellow mankind and help them in need. Also help them get their own lives straight that they too can develop a relation ship with his maker and do better for himself and in some cases for his family as well.
            The bottom line ULC has a great program and gets one ready to hit the street and to help those in need. You can never get too much education and I feel that ULC provides the education you need to be a functional chaplain that will have give back to his or her community and will be sought out by those in need. I know in my heart by taking this class I did the right things and open knew doors that will help me in doing a better job as a chaplain and as a person. I highly recommend others to do the same thing and take a class. I know in the long run it will pay you with the knowledge that you need to better do your job and ready to help when called upon.
Martin A

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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have various classes in Christianity, one on Wicca, along with several Pagan courses, more than a few courses about Metaphysics with more being added regularly.
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The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of minister supplies.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and am proud to have started the Seminary.
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Historical Jesus by Ernest Kayorie

Final Essay
Search for the Historical Jesus
Submitted by Ernest Kayorie

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

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!



Rev. Ira Potter

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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.


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Gospel of Thomas Essay by Rev. Blackman

Grace unto you,and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The New Testament Apocrypha contains several writing that were similar to New Testament books but were not included as a part of the new Testament. These writing were greatly influenced by the philosophies and religions of the cities or nations out of which they came. The Gospel of Thomas proclaims a change in the way that we see things and transformation in what we are.It uses a definite set of symbols and images to communicate this and tells us Thai if we find the inner meaning of these saying, we shall not taste death.
One of the methods that the Gospel of Thomas uses to describe the human being is to use imagery from the first couple of chapters of the book Genesis. The taste to which we must aspire is the state from which we have fallen.It is light, it is the spirit, it is the beginning.Just as Jesus says that life is movement, so the spirit across the face of the waters on the first day,and God finds rest from work on the Sabbath, the seventh day in Genesis.
If we merely nod our heads at the Gospel of Thomas, or marvel at its profundity, we are like Jesus’s students saying that twenty-four prophets spoke to Israel, and all of them spoke of you, and so forget about the living one who is in our presence.it is not that a book gives us the answer, rather the kingdom of the father is already spread out on the earth and no one sees it. The Gospel of Thomas ask us to choose between being dead and becoming the image of God.
Yours In Christ,
Andrew Blackman

Comparative Religion

Comparative Religion Course through ULC

What I gained from this course:

The last in Comparative Religion  was a validation of my beliefs. I’ve always thought that the different religions that have grown throughout the world were rooted in the same basic belief in a higher energy, Creator, Source, Divine Bring or any other term developed by humanity’s limited language skills that one would care to use to describe the underlying power of the Universe.

It has been my life long belief that all the religions of the world lead to one place, it is just a matter of how one gets there. A brief visual description may assist in understanding my point. Imagine a large mountain and the goal is the summit. Each person is located at the base. There are paths that spiral around the mountain climbing ever higher. There are some paths whose course takes them directly up the side of the mountain on a vertical ascent. These paths all start at different points at the base of the mountain, but all end at the summit. Some of these paths even travel the same course at times, some never meet. While all start at a different point, all take a varied route; all arrive at the same point in the end – the summit or to phrase it another way – reunification with Divinity.

I believe that the vast differences are there to accommodate the various level of spiritual development evident in each culture at any given point in their evolution. That is to say, an early pagan would have had a hard time comprehending the higher teachings of the Buddhist religion. Another example of this is the evolution from Hinduism into Buddhism. This difficulty in comprehension is just as true for the modern day Christian. By that I mean that a Christian has trouble accepting that each individual is responsible for their own evolution on the wheel of life, death and rebirth. Most of the Christians that I have spoken with believe that unless one believes in Jesus salvation can never be obtained.

What I liked best and least about this course, and how to improve:

While I was pleasantly surprised to see the more obscure religions given the same basically fair treatment as the more commonly practiced ones, I would also have liked to have seen a more in depth comparison of each of the religions covered. Many times I was waiting in vain for the next religion to be explained to the extent that the last one had been discussed. This was true not only of the obscure ones, but even the common ones. The discussions (lessons 16 and 17) on Divine Messengers for example as well as the discussion on Religious Titles (lesson 18) serve to illustrate this point.

I would have enjoyed seeing a systematic breakdown clarifying how each religion compared and contrasted with each other one during the course of each lesson. Using the above examples, if each religion’s terms for angels had been laid out in table format and each religion’s titles had been detailed side by side I believe it would have more fully explained how they relate to one another.

Over all, this was an excellent course. I would definitely be willing to take another course from Reverend Kythera Ann; and am looking forward to Part 2 of this course. I am of course assuming there is a Part 2.

Theresa A. Bedwell

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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. 

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A Course in Miracles by Rev. Standard

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.

Lao Chu

 

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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