Comparative Religion

COMPARATIVE RELIGION
By Rev. Nick Federspiel
This is one of the FINEST distant learning courses I have undertaken from any source – information, information – give me more – and it was given unto me. This course examines the predominant religions of both the East and West and provides ample summary information on many religious topics relative to philosophy, theology, animism, polytheism, monotheism, sacred texts, sacred space, ecumenicalism, inter-religious dialogue, liturgical calendars, symbolism, ceremonies, and on and on….. about Buddhism:, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism: Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Taoism, Native American, Shintoism, Wiccan and others including what caught my eye and mind the most Zoroastrian.  Get BIG comparative picture?!
Lesson one’s introduction states:
” … A firm grounding in comparative religion allows an individual to perceive the truth that is within all traditions. We, as human beings, have a tendency to address everything from our own perspective and assume that those we talk to understand our words as we mean them.  We all have had experiences where this has backfired.  It is imperative that as ministers, we make every effort to communicate from the perspective of those we serve. …”
Lesson three states:     
Differences between various religions and philosophies need not divide and separate, but can instead enrich our lives and deepen our capacity to love.  Any minister can do their part to eliminate religious intolerance and fear by helping those they interface with to find understanding, respect, and a common ground to interact.
Most comparative religion courses I have taken including college institutions emphasize how similar religions are. But to the credit of this course there is a clear statement that religions are not the same, but they share innumerable components differentiated by doctrine, symbolism, ceremony and legacy. On occasion the course offers food for thought conclusions such as in lesson four:
” … As can be seen, cultural and religious flood stories around the world are very similar.  Because of the consistency of this story, and current scientific geological data, the idea of a worldwide flood actually happening is very likely.  …”
Fact or not, it is my observation that today we have entered an age of instant international and cultural information communication. But 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and even 6,000 years ago this was simply not the case considering the limited literacy and embryonic language tools.  THEN when something “similar” was reported from disassociated cultures then there either is an innate philosophical and sociological underlying human need for such a “story” or the story is not a story at all but a  REPORT!  We interpret and filter and analyze as best we can today – right or wrong as the case may be. Did we need religion?   Do we still need religion?  Science has no moment zero creation solution.  It never will.  So religion is with us and deep inside us we know that.  Is a fundamental need for divinity created by divinity why religion is functional in almost all cultures worldwide?  Is that why religion is the target of errant thinking politicians, despots and tyrants?  
This course presents many facts and thus points of view.  However, be it East or West their religious doctrines teach us that throughout history the word is mightier than the sword and the meek inherit the earth.  Who has more followers: Hitler and Stalin or Jesus Christ? Who will have more respect hereafter, Ahmedinejad or Gandhi and Mother Teresa or the atheists or the devoted?  Who were the tormentors and who were the healers? What makes a better organized institutional leader – a historian, a minister or a lawyer?  What does it mean when a word leader fails to participate in his or her fundamental cultural religious practices?   Is this course for aspiring and practicing ministers or for agnostics and atheists or for leaders and well – or everyone?  Knowledge is power this easy to read course delivers both in force.
Lesson five discusses esoteric and exoteric (ex- made available to the public) components of religion – what we should all know or what only a few of us know or are informed of.  I think this is one of the failures of the Christian religion allowing too much agnosticism and atheism to invade it worldwide as we should all have access to the same core religious information.  Today this is more possible than ever. One only needs to be motivated to learn.  This course, available to any ULC Seminary participant, significantly helps mitigate the esoteric – exoteric knowledge gap.
How about some interesting theories – consider this excerpt from lesson six: 
” … The rabbis represented this aspect of the tablets (Ten Commandments)by assuming a square shape, with the ten commandments graven in normal Hebrew right to left order, but also left to right; in normal top to bottom order, but also bottom to top. Because the commandments were carved completely through the stone, they could be read both by Moses and those facing him. …    In Tiferet Yisrael, (Chapter 35, pp. 101-102 in standard editions) R. Judah Loew, the Maharal!!!!!  I (Ed Codish) am going to suggest a way to read Jewish sacred texts, including Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, Mishna, Gemmara, Midrash, and rabbinical commentaries on these. …”
Lesson eight and nine are a mini encyclopedia of numerous religious symbols. Lesson ten is about prayer:
 ” … Although meditation, contemplation and prayer are all methods used to interact with the Divine, each has nuances of discrete differences in methodology, purpose …”  
Lesson eleven discusses eschatology and the puzzle of the ages; why do bad things happen to righteous people? Does bad beget a condemned hereafter or does one recycle and is offered a second, third fourth … chance to get it right?
” … For most religions, suffering is the result of human failing or the lack of human understanding.  In monotheistic religions, suffering is wrapped up in the concept of sin and human failing.  In the Eastern religions, suffering is the result of humankind’s lack of understanding, or enlightenment. … What makes a sin depends on the religion.
Does this sound familiar – from lesson eleven:
Purification through a ritualistic baptism was required of all faithful, who took part in a ceremony in which they drank wine and ate bread to symbolize the body and blood of God…”.
The above commentary is of Persian mythology of Mithras
Lesson twelve is of ceremonies. Lesson thirteen about sacred space and lesson fourteen is about reverent and lay titles. These are great summaries and if you can download the captive pictures within the text there are excellent descriptive graphics. (With my Vista browsers integrated graphic downloading was sadly hit and miss.) Lesson fifteen is a brief on the sacred texts. Like the Prajnaparamita and Diamond Sutra(s), Isalm’s Hadith, the Dasam Granth and Zen-Avesta!  When one discuses ‘Holy’ scripture one inevitably has to explain this:
 ” … insistence on … “inerrancy” raises all sorts of practical problems for interpreters, who sometimes find themselves scrambling to explain away blatant inconsistencies in factual data such as chronology or geography. …  Some religions make written texts widely and freely available, while others hold that sacred secrets must remain hidden from all but the loyal and the initiate …” ( i.e esoteric vs. exoteric knowledge).
Lesson sixteen is about those divine messengers like angles, daevas, kachinas, hunmanits, and of course human prophets.  One has to ponder the effects one ancient religion had on another. By example this statement about Zoroastrian angels:
 ” … It is believed, that the Guardian Angel takes a person in an ecstatic embrace at the moment of death. 
Zoroastrians also believe that corresponding to the Lord of Light there is also a Lord of Darkness, with complementary demons and evil spirits, and it is felt that in the battle between light and darkness the forces of light will eventually win. …”
Well, there is more, but why should I give the ending away and ruin the whole movie for everyone!  I lament the course is not YET available in printed media (thus with all the graphics!) as it deserves to be complete and on my reference shelf vs. being tucked away on my flash drive – not a fitting place for such a fine effort from the ULC Seminary catalog of courses –  this one ” … created by Rev. Kythera Ann.”   My congratulations!

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Four Gospels

Rev. Willis Henry
“Four Perspective of one man, one deity, one savior. Expressed by four men who were not religious scholars.”
Matthew spoke predominately to the Jews. He attempted to convince the Jews that Yeshua was the Messiah. In the book of Matthew ,he emphasizes Yeshua fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies .Matthew starts off with giving the readers a full genealogical history of Yeshua, he points out how there is fourteen generations between Abraham and David fourteen generation to Yeshua. The book of Matthew is systematic, yet artistically, style. He did not tell Yeshua’s story in a strict chronological sequence but grouped facts topically.
Mark addressed his writings to Gentles; he often explained Jewish customs or translated Aramaic for his readers. Only one was Mark noted as having quoted directly from the Old Testament law. Mark reveals Yeshua as both Son of God and the Son of Man.
Luke’s is the most comprehensive of the four Gospels. Luke articulates his desire to give his readers a clear and coherent view of the words and deeds of Yeshua. Luke accounts of Yeshua, place great attention to Yeshua’s concern for the poor and oppressed, and diverse ethnic, religious, economic and social groups. Luke was well educated in Geek culture and he was a physician by profession. When one begins to read Luke’s Gospel one can find depth in his Gospel.
John Gospel was written to non Jewish believers. It was written to give hope to those believers who struggled with the belief that Yeshua was more than a prophet, but in fact that Yeshua was the Messiah.
(Whiston, June 2007) “The Works of Josephus”
While many who might argue that the four Gospels are all zealots for Yeshua so how can their word are proven. I sought outside sources for those who are religious or those who see the four Gospel as being nothing more than another cult group trying to push their doctrine on others. Josephus was a historian. But in fact his works are the principal source for Jewish History.
Josephus Dissertation “The Testimonies of Josephus Concerning Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and James the just vindicated”
Pg 815 Josephus declares Yeshua to be more than just a man, when he spoke with many of the Jewish people who believed that the destruction of Jerusalem was happening because of those who crucified Yeshua.
The four Gospels with writings from Josephus help give me a clear view of why each Gospel was different but yet the under line meaning was the same. The Messiah had come offering Salvation, forgiveness, and hope. Offering good news for those who felt their was no hope. If one looks carefully you will not see religion but Yeshua spoke of a relationship between himself his Father and he offered us a chance to have that relationship. For religious I found neither in Yeshua’s teachings nor those that spread his Gospel, for religion was yet a creation of man.
I found that each Gospel offered something different but yet the same, as we might be able to speak with kings and queens; if we can not speak to the common man then we are of no good service to the average man. So as for the four Gospel I found each sections good and each with purpose to assist a certain group of people to know and understand Yeshua’s teachings of love, forgiveness.
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St. Paul

To spend 20 weeks in the study of St. Paul or NOT?, was the question I asked myself twenty weeks ago when I was deciding which class I wanted to take next. 
To complete the PhD program I needed 60 hrs and I had already taken the classes I knew I would like, so I took this the Study of Saint Paul by default, telling myself after all Paul was a man who could “almost” make a complete change in his life patterns when shown an enlightened and better way.
Peter and especially St. Paul. were two of the early Christian leaders I felt the least passion for as I studied the history of the Bible. Both Peter and Paul appeared to have turned the axes of the Christian church away from bestowing honor to humankind by balancing ones self with both male and female energy. Thus, the study of Christian church often appears with an aggressive, “power hunger” ego nature, verses a loving, forgiving,, nurturing, peaceful, soulful nature. Governments from which the church had controlled for many years were also ego center and aggressive. After all, most wars were and still are about power to control or religion views (the one and only “right ones”). Peace, that should come with a spiritual enlightened life has yet to be discovered, for the most part, by those of us who call ourselves Christians. Females, until lately, have always been degraded, and even still the movement forward is slow. Attacks, excommunication or even death awaited anyone that so much., as even questioned the creeds or rules of the Christian church. Fortunately, early founders of the United States of America had the foresight to see that the United States constitution took the control of government away from the church. As our citizens were given a free education, at least through the 12th grade, and more and more make the decision to attend college, humankind is regaining it’s female energy from knowledge and the wisdom about the need for balance, the rights of all, and a need for peace if we wish to survive as a world rather than little groups, here and there, pitting against one another for power as each wipe out the other.
After the completion of this study I came to realized Paul himself faced a struggle with the Jews with all of their many rules, narrow mindedness and a need for control when he tried to establish the Christian faith in honor of the teachings of Jesus. Paul was very aware that Jesus saw all men as equal both slave and master, rich and poor, and he also had to see the female was equal to the male, where he liked it or not. Paul does make a point to let us know his views of marriage and perhaps about females in general are his own, not the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps having this weakness of his own flesh enabled him to work more patiently with some of the communities of the early Christian church that wanted to keep the new church strongly leaning in the path of the older teachings of the Jewish community. “Old dogs have problems learning new tricks” as the saying goes, even though they may appreciate and even understand that the new tricks lead to as a better path. In my driving patterns, I can at least have compassion with Paul as I often choose to travel the old rural route rather than take the new modern bypass.
I especially, liked the last class of the course on Spiritual Gifts. As a young age of six and even more as I became an adult, I have been a prophetic dreamer – dreaming of things before they happen and being told how to deal with them when it dose happen. Often I am given a wiser view in which to see the tragic event so that it was not near as traumatic without the knowledge of the dream. At first, I was often troubled by these dreams and asked God not to send them. For a while they actually stopped, but as I grew older and wiser I came to see there was no need to fear these dreams in the least. If flowers need rain, as well as sun, so do we humans. The dreams have returned and now when problems come I asked not. “Why me Lord?” but “What can I learn and how can I grow from this?”
Two days before the 9/11 attacks I saw them in a dream. When a colleague called, “Come quick! Look what just happened,” I ran to the television screen to see the second tower hit and knew this was what I had seen in my dream. An angel had appeared as the ashes came down upon my head and feet, telling me to get up and go read from the Bible a passage from Lamentations. (The night of the dream I had awaken and rose from bed the find passage and it read something to the affect, – An Jerusalem shall be destroyed but it will be built even stronger. ) The angel in the dream continued to tell me I had used my own painful childhood to seek God all the more and had found the love and peace within I searched for, and that as tragic as this event would be I was to send love and blessings to both sides, the attackers and those attacked, for both were in pain and needed to know the positive energy of love, for perfect love cast out all fear. The day of the real attack, I stood and watched in tears and horror but even at that moment I sent love to both sides. I have continued to teacher others from that point forth, that hurt people, hurt people, and that the negative energy of fear only attacks more fear. However, love and forgiveness can break the chain of both fear and hurt.
Reading this last lesson on Special Gifts, I came see my dreams are nothing less or more than special gifts from God that I am to use like a great singer to lift the spirits and hopes of others. 
In the last few years another of my reoccurring dreams is where I am in a play ground with a partner “see sawing” and I am loving it as if I am a child again. I am thrilled both at being lifted into the sun and the big blue sky, and in love lifting my partner for those brief moments, as well. Then an angle appears and stands in the middle of our “see-saw” and holds us both in perfect balance. We are told to close our eyes, and to slowly breath in and out and then to hold the breath and feel the perfect stillness of balance,. Then the angle continues with advice. “Life is not just about the ups and downs but the perfect stillness – the balance that always takes two. Now as I step off, the two of you balance together,” the angel directs us. We do and it is good! 
Perhaps the time has come for all humankind to find balance amidst our ups and downs – the yearnings of our souls for perfect peace -Divine Love where “Self” includes all things created on this universe as One Whole, be it male, female, communities, nations or humankind and the flowers, trees, rivers, birds or the sun that greets all with rays of warmth.
Rev. Linda Francis
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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. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.

Comparative Religion

Universal Life Church Comparative Religion Program Universal Life Church By Rev. Scott Randall Bobbitt
Having previously taken Comparative Religion as a college undergraduate, I took this course, not only because it is part of the core curriculum, but also to serve as a review. It has been almost thirty years since I originally took Comparative Religion, and even though I read and studied continuously during the intervening time, I hoped that this course would be such that I could relearn important details I have forgotten, in addition to learning new information that I missed the first time around. I have not been disappointed! Comparative Religion, by Reverend Kythera Ann has turned out to be all that I hoped for and more.
This course covered the vast subject matter of comparative religion in an extremely complete and coherent manner. It has brought together an interesting combination of basic, standard material that is expected to be in a comparative religion course, with more obscure information that was skillfully used to give a more complete picture of the similarities and differences of not just the major religions, but less well known religions as well. Instead of only covering the important beliefs and characteristics of major religions one by one, leaving the student to sort out the similarities and differences for themselves as many comparative religion college courses do, this course is written with emphasis on the similarities in particular.
It was shown that the similarities are not necessarily in matching details. That is to say that most, if not all, religions have a similarity of common elements such as symbolism, prayer, ceremony, sacred space and architecture, sacred literature, divine messengers, and beliefs about suffering and death, even though the specific details of these elements may differ from one religion to the next.
There are several aspects of the course that I have particularly enjoyed. Reverend Kythera Ann has been very careful to define the many religious and theological words that are encountered in a study like this. Not only has the terminology been clearly and fully defined, but all terms are put into context to give a more complete understanding of their meaning. I really like having all these definitions together in one collection for ease of reference.
I also liked the extended discourses on Esoteric Traditions and, Sacred Space and Architecture. Both subjects are covered in depth, and provided me with a far greater understanding of these subjects than I previously possessed. There is a another part of each discourse that was very helpful; which is, the suggested websites listed at the end of each lecture. I did go to these websites, and I was often surprised at what I found. The websites concerning esoteric organizations in Discourse 8 (Rosicrucian, Freemasonry) were especially interesting.
I did not encounter anything in particular about the course that I disliked. Having seen one perspective from the other comparative religion college course I took, Reverend Kythera Ann has a different take on the subject that I really enjoyed. As someone who has studied most of the sacred literature in the original recommended resources list in Discourse 1, and was already familiar with the basic beliefs of many religions, the added lesser known information throughout the course was very refreshing. Someone taking this course without a solid, basic, world religions background would still get a wealth of information and comparative details, but would not necessarily develop a deeper understanding of each religion without reading some variety of sacred texts. Then again, I suppose interested students could take courses on the individual religions to get that.
Personally, I enjoyed the format (distance learning on the internet) and the content very much. Thank you very much for making well-written and illustrated, relevant courses written by knowledgeable individuals such as Reverend Kythera Ann, available to us! I look forward to my next seminary course with enthusiasm.
Blessed be,
Scott
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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. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.


As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.



Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Chaplaincy Program

I believe Chaplain serve a very important role in the community. I have been in the military, (23 years), and in EMS, (24) years so I have had constant contacts with Chaplains. I have always been amazed how they always know what to say and do to make a responder, or a victim of a personal disaster.
I also had a lot of contact with military Contact with Military Chaplains while I was deployed. I was impressed in how much they were involved in and the job they do. While most folks in the military are upward bound motivated with their careers, the Chaplain was always thinking about the other soldier. This is the pattern I want to use for me in my Chaplaincy.

Paganism

The first thing to understand about my religion is that it focuses on the worship of and belief in the Gods and their place in the cosmos in relation to us. Every one of us is a potential God. Consider yourself God Larva; your body a temple or battlefield. The Gods are our Teachers and the narratives about them, a lesson to be learned. As with the Gods, what you do in this life echoes in eternity, if you do nothing the memory of you will fade; if you do great noteworthy deeds the memory of you will live for all time.
My belief centers on my ancestors’ Gods, the Gods of the Cruithne the indigenous peoples of Western Europe before the Romans invaded the land. I being by nature a skeptical person have researched and pondered the controversy of the old ways for quite some time. I found the answer to the controversy, for myself at least.
The methods and mechanisms of the Gods are done. What is left is for us. What I mean by the previous statement is that the future of our creed is left up to us. The Gods may lend help to us but it is best for us to develop our own strengths and find a cure for our own weaknesses. The Gods and your Family may lend aid, but it is you who ultimately need to evolve.
In respect and reverence for the Gods, we honor the holidays and festivals apportioned to them so they will not forget our existence. Every God has his or her own holidays, the ceremonies and rites of which have been written down for centuries in the mythological cycles. The holidays are based on some action of the God the holiday honors. These actions are presented in the narratives detailing the Gods’ time on this world. Every clan and culture of the Cruithne had its own Oral Tradition, but the generalizations in all those traditions are so similar as to be from one larger Celtic culture. For instance, the tales of the deeds of the Gods I tell my children are slightly different from the written versions popularized, but the outcome is the same. I have come to realize the importance of written language and urge anyone if they have an oral tradition to write it down, even publish it, to save your culture.
The pattern of ceremony and festivals honoring the Gods follow the wheel of the year, every holiday in its season and every God honored in his or her holiday. Blessings are given by the Gods on special occasions and life changing events via the Priesthood. Geases and Divinations are also relayed through the Gods via the priesthood. A Gease is a Taboo that is given to an individual, and should be given at about age thirteen. This builds character, during youngsters’ truly formative years.
The religion also gives respect and proper attention to what is known as “The Seventh Son of The Seventh Son” That is to say that any child or person who bares special physical and paranormal gifts in this world, although they may be a lay person, shall be mentored by the priesthood, to channel and hone those special qualities and to lend the schooling of the priesthood to the subject. Therefore a person with these special qualities would always be versed in the ways of the priesthood and carries the office of a priest but may choose a non priestly life. Many Cruithne Demi-Gods have grown in this way, CuChullian for example was reared for his special qualities by Scartchach the warrior priestess.
The Priesthood was known to the Celts in history as Druids, as it is in our priesthood. The priest must be versed in the Oral tradition, Law keeping and judgments, Medicinal studies (herbal and First aid (tribal) Horticulture, Zoology, Metaphysics, Astrology and preside over marriages, blessings, birthings, holiday ceremony, sacred ritual and sacrifice, as well as maintain the sites held to be holy and sacred. Weather or not a given Priest is a magic (magick) practitioner is a personal choice and His or her school of Magic (magick) should not affect the function as a priest, although belief in “Magic” in the Religion is very common.
Although my religion may contain Wiccans in its midst, the religion itself is not Wiccanism. This is Paleo-Paganism.
“The Carnyx sounded upon the felling of Nuada, and it stirred Lugh from his Domain in the underworld and mounting his steed; out he strode to aid of the Tuatha De Dannan. To the East the Fomorians’ felt the Sun sear the flesh on there backs and it was as the first rising of the sun for those who dwelt in the darkness and the first blessed dawn for those who defended against them”

Rev. Russell L Lamerson.

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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 Universal Life Church materials.  I’ve been ordained with Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.


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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Spiritual Development Course

Noosphere (pronounced /ˈnoʊ.ɵsfɪər/; sometimes noösphere), according to the thought of Vladimir Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin, denotes the “sphere of human thought”. The word is derived from the Greek νος (nousmind“) + σφαρα (sphaira “sphere“), in lexical analogy to “atmosphere” and “biosphere. Introduced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 1922  in his Cosmogenesis“. Another possibility is the first use of the term by Édouard Le Roy, who together with Chardin was listening to lectures of Vladimir Vernadsky at Sorbonne. 1936 Vernadsky accepted the idea of the Noosphere in a letter to Boris Leonidovich Lichkov (though, he states that the concept derives from Le Roy).
In the original theory of Vernadsky, the noosphere is the third in a succession of phases of development of the Earth, after the geosphere (inanimate matter) and the biosphere (biological life). Just as the emergence of life fundamentally transformed the geosphere, the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere. In contrast to the conceptions of the Gaia theorists, or the promoters of cyberspace, Vernadsky’s noosphere emerges at the point where humankind, through the mastery of nuclear processes, begins to create resources through the transmutation of elements. It is also currently being researched as part of the Princeton Global Consciousness Project.
For Teilhard, the noosphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The noosphere has grown in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. As mankind organizes itself in more complex social networks, the higher the noosphere will grow in awareness. This concept is an extension of Teilhard’s Law of Complexity/Consciousness, the law describing the nature of evolution in the universe. Teilhard argued the noosphere is growing towards an even greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega Point, which he saw as the goal of history. The goal of history, then, is an apex of thought/consciousness.
One of the original aspects of the noosphere concept deals with evolution. Henri Bergson, with his L’évolution créatrice (1907), was one of the first to propose evolution is ‘creative’ and cannot necessarily be explained solely by Darwinian natural selection. L’évolution créatrice is upheld, according to Bergson, by a constant vital force which animates life and fundamentally connects mind and body, an idea opposing the dualism of René Descartes. In 1923, C. Lloyd Morgan took this work further, elaborating on an ‘emergent evolution‘ which could explain increasing complexity (including the evolution of mind). Morgan found many of the most interesting changes in living things have been largely discontinuous with past evolution, and therefore did not necessarily take place through a gradual process of natural selection. Rather, evolution experiences jumps in complexity (such as the emergence of a self-reflective universe, or noosphere). Finally, the complexification of human cultures, particularly language, facilitated a quickening of evolution in which cultural evolution occurs more rapidly than biological evolution. Recent understanding of human ecosystems and of human impact on the biosphere have led to a link between the notion of sustainability with the “co-evolution” [Norgaard, 1994] and harmonization of cultural and biological evolution.
The resulting political system has been referred to as a noocracy.
American integral theorist Ken Wilber deals with this third evolution of the noosphere. In his work, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995), he builds many of his arguments on the emergence of the noosphere and the continued emergence of further evolutionary structures.
The term Noöcene epoch refers to “how we manage and adapt to the immense amount of knowledge we’ve created.” 
The noosphere concept of ‘unification’ was elaborated in popular science fiction by Julian May in the Galactic Milieu Series. It is also the reason Teilhard is often called the patron saint of the Internet

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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. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.
Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Master of Religion

Master of Religion Completion Essay
In the first few lessons I was reminded easily of how the Bible came about and how, even though, it may have gone through several interpretations by many individuals and having so many contributors, it still can be believed in as “God’s” word.  I was reminded of the many sections I had long since read and needed to touch again to re-enforce the strong Faith I already have, making it stronger.  I had known of several of the sections being missing and was reminded of those and still know in my heart they are the true word.  I can remind those that still doubt the words from other religious factions that one faith has taken the bible and reworded or paraphrased sections to meet their needs and cannot be taken seriously, many religions have done this and all are still accurate and true to their belief systems.  
As I progressed through the lesson I was given some good tips on ways to study the bible, many I had not even considered, since the readings in the many versions is at times very intense with the translations, paraphrasing and lengthy wording.  I now have a confidence that I can review and renew my faith at any time and assist others in doing son also.  I now have many sections I had not referred people to reminding them “God” does exist.  I can now take these sections to further my educational efforts and use them to teach others and ask various questions to help in establishing or re-establishing their faith.  The true meaning of the :”Trinity” has been elaborated in a fashion very meaning full and truthful.       
The middle chapters remind me of the true and ongoing duties of the Priesthood, Missionary duties and why I was called on to help spread his word and depend on “God” to lead me in the right direction to help those who need the help and not condemn those who may not believe completely, but help to become believers and still lead them to a path as Jesus would have done.  The many titles religions of the world have for their leadership, with one intention.  The Sacraments and Baptism section reinforced my understanding and teachings of what I had been told as a young man.  I am now more confident in being able to properly teach about the Sacraments and it’s many portions it encompasses, from Baptism, the Eucharist, Anointing of the sick and the Holy Orders. 
The section on Marriage and Tithing reminded me of my true and binding relationship with my beloved wife for whom I truly love and cherish in the true meaning of “Marriage” with the understanding we are equals and our children are gifts of this marriage and we have taught them the words and the meaning of “God” hoping they will carry it with them through life and learn from us.  It is not necessarily the church that confirms your marriage and the meaning of it, but it is the words in themselves and the thoughts that go beyond them. 
In the later sections of this course I have been given a plethora of information to re-enforce my stances on Homosexuality, Abortion, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Prostitution and Divorce.  I received a lot of good information about Counseling with good information I can use to help people who turn to me for my assistance no matter what the issue may be.  I can them have re-assurance I have done the right thing and said the right thing to get them back on track and focus on their goodness and faith to lead them further into life and with the understanding coming to me for help is part of my duties as a Minister and Hopefully a Chaplain. 
The last sections of the course reinforced my understandings of the Church with its’ vast history, the many Denominations and directions they take and concluding with further education on the governance of the Church.  I would recommend this course for everyone, no matter what level of Christianity you wish to take.  It was very educational and gave me a better understanding of the faith that has been instilled in me since birth to the meaning of my calling and the reasons I need to continue to help my fellow man.  I would also like to Thank Rev. Amy for all her hard work at putting this and the many programs of the Seminary together for us and sending them so timely and helping us to accomplish our goals as Graduates of the Seminary and Chaplains.  I would lastly and not leastly like to Thank Bishop Pat and the many other contributors to this course for the opportunity to indulge in their readings. 
Rev. Charles (Chuck) Callahan, DD
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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. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.
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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Islamic Studies

Final Essay
I thought that a study of Islam would be appropriate at this time considering the attacks of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. I really didn’t have an understanding of the Islam and the Islamic terrorists and what could possibly be on their minds to attack the very soil of the United States.
Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last prophet sent by God after Abraham, Jesus and others. Muhammad’s beginnings were simple and poor. He was born in 570 and was raised by his uncle Abu Talib who taught him to be a caravan trader. Muhammad was exposed to Jewish and Christian traditions on these caravan journeys. He eventually married his employer, Khadija, who would bare him many children one of which was a daughter, Fatima, who would marry Muhammad’s cousin Ali.
In the year 610, Muhammad began having visions from the angel Gabriel. These visions resulted in the Qur’an. The Qur’an is believed to be a correction of errors in scripture from the time of Abraham. Its message is that there is one true God; there is a Day of Doom coming; the wicked will perish and the Elect will live in paradise. Not much different from Christianity. Islam means “submission to God”. A Muslim is “one who submits”. They believe that the Qur’an is God in the form of words. It “is”, it is not “created”. Muslims believe in the Five Pillars of Islam: confession of faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage.
There are two main groups of Muslims that are in the news these days: the Shi’ites and the Sunnis. These are the groups that are at war with each other in the Middle East and the reason the US is there. The difference between these two groups is this: The Shi’ites believe that the successors to Muhammad should be from his family line through Ali and Fatima. They believe that Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and Fatima’s husband, was appointed by Muhammad on his deathbed and should have been the first successor or Caliph. He eventually became the fourth Caliph. But the Sunni’s believe that there should be an elected Caliph. The Shi’ites believe that because of all this confusion the Caliph or Hidden Iman, has been removed from the earth to return in the future. That certainly seems like something to go to war over. To put this into perspective, the Shi’ites could be compared to Catholics, and the Sunnis could be compared to Protestants. We are familiar with how well they get along in some countries.
This brings me to Osama bin Laden, a Sunni. Osama studied the writings of one Ibn Taymiyyah who taught “not a voluntary jihad or holy war to propagate the faith but an involuntary jihad or just war to defend the faith. Under such conditions, all under attack must fight and all others must help them…Government and religion must be intertwined, for religion cannot prosper without the coercive power of government, while government must be subject to Revelation if it is not to fall into error and tyranny…Right religion must have in it the Guiding Hand and the Helping Sword”. Osama says “Islam ceases to exist where the ruler is an infidel”. Is he referring to the United States? He also quotes Ibn Taymiyyah out of context to suit his own jihad because Ibn Taymiyyah also said “The consensus of the community, not the decisions of a militant minority, must be paramount” and that jihad must be fair and without animosity. It seems to me that that statement should be considered by the Whole World.
I’m still not sure that I completely understand what the fighting is all about. Perhaps it’s the innate arrogance of the People of the Book because they were the ones that the Book was given to of all the others in the world.
Rev. Judith Wolf
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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 Universal Life Church materials.  I’ve been ordained with theUniversal 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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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Science of Religion

I have to admit I was not looking forward to this lesson. I do not like philosophy. To me it is just people who are not afraid to speak their opinion and want to get recognized.
I was impressed with what I learned and did get some answers to questions I had and learned some things about myself.
Let me explain this way. I have always been a person that believes totally in God but have a real bad taste in my mouth for churches. When we were young and living in a house with a father who was an alcoholic, my mom taught us her way of believing and what was best for us. We had a cabin that we built as a family growing up. We did not go to church much, but were members of a church. I remember one time our minister came to the house and accused my mom of not raising us right because we were not in church. My little 5 ft mom kicked him right out the door, saying we believe in God, but the things that keeps us together is being up north. 
During the week my dad spent all his time in the bar after work, spending money we did not have and never being around when we needed him My mom not having a license had to depend on others to get groceries, hospital emergencies and most things, however when we were up north with no electricity or plumbing we were a family. We played family games, rode snowmobiles, fished, spent time with friends. It was a great way to grow up. The cabin was our house of God. That is were we were a family and felt God keeping us together.
When I met my husband and we decided to get married we went to his church, were his family was very active in the church. We wanted to get married in the yard on his family farm, but the Minister said he would not tip toe through the tulips. The minister said it was not a house of God. How much closer to God can you get than under the sky above.
When we had our children I believed it was right to have them in Sunday school and be confirmed so they could make their own choices. During that time I did teach Sunday school. My son never had much to do with the church, my daughter loved it until she got older and was totally turned off by the same Minister that would not tip toe through the tulips.
I really had a hard time with a minister who did not even acknowledge your presents when you went to church and when he sees you on the street he does not know you are there.
Getting back to the coarse, it taught me why some ministers are the way they are and I can forgive them for it. The to are a product of greed, at least some of them. It still amazes me though how people are because of one philosopher. But then I see it every day in the way people listen to the news with politics, (because it is on the news it is true). I believe in 1% of the news, especially when it come to politics. Words or a lack of them can be a very dangerous thing.
I am an Municipal Judge here in Glenwood City. The law is so much like religion. If you have a good attorney that can take one word in the law and change its meaning, he can get you off. It all has to do with interpretation.
This coarse has also taught me to get my ego in check. I had thought I was doing pretty good in that area, but have since learned I have a long way to go. Trying to build my business of Holistic Pet Pampering. Healing Energy, and all Natural Products has been hard. I have groomed for 15 years and working with the animals and the love I have for them is easy. However building this business with finances and wanting to be financially stable is getting in the way of why I started to begin with. It made me realize I have to just focus on helping as many animals and people as possible and try not to dwell on the finances. It will come. My ego also gets in the way of how I look at some people and being jealous of others successes.
The sad part about all of this, God loves us all unconditionally, but it is the interpretation of his love that causes wars and hate among others. There is some definitely wrong with this.
My sister says I should talk about God more in my teachings of Reiki and healing energy. I refer to the Higher Power. I try to explain that even though my Higher Power is God, It is not everyone’s. I have to keep religion out of it. She has a hard time separating the two. I do tell people I am a Minister and proud to be able to say that, but I specify that I am a Minister of the Body, Mind and Spirit, and the Higher Power. not a Minister of Religion. This coarse helped me to figure that out and explain the difference of the two.
Rev. Kimberly Moe
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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. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.