Tomorrow Immutability and Trustless is this what we want?

2 words immutability and trustless. 

Such big words. The idea something is once written can never be changed, altered, or deleted as well as elegant. Or that there is no need to worry about anything, what is presented simply is one instance of knowledge not until more than two can be found is there the possibility of trust. But if more than a few assemble and not sure then!

In a trustless environment, there is no single entity that has authority over the system, and consensus is achieved without participants having to know or trust anything but the system itself. A definition from one of the major institutions helping to establish this new.  New what?

https://academy.binance.com/en/glossary/trustless

It is the removal of relationships so they can be replaced by something, no someone new that is bothersome.  Words like usury invade reality, and a few get very wealthy as the mass spend to survive, always being driven to need more. 

We have lost the ability to commune.  We lost track if the responsibility to be good stewards of the garden we were given responsibility for .

Crypto

I learned it in school then again at the hand of David Chaum

He taught me that if I kept the key length long the work hard and the hardware self defeating then a digital signature is absolute proof of presence under and agree set of conditions.

We then spoke of operating systems, payments, smart cards, cryptography: asymmetrical and symmetric. Rooted in PKI and the need to assume a trust less world.

Then there is money. We knew, time ago, we could use electrons to replicate notes and coins on ledgers and within balances.

Electronic Passports, National Identity Cards, and Drivers Licenses will have or have had a digital form.

Now we create Digital Assets.

Valued by a market.

Dreaming of unimaginable wealth or food on the table in the morning.

There is Evil

The Golden Rule assumes we collectively wish to be at peace and in harmony with each other.

Yet there are people who care only for themselves and what their greedy self desires.

Often greed is bound up in mystical beliefs and a focus on evil for its own sake.

If we have the right nurture we will respect the beliefs of others as they respect how we see things.

The Devil is how good people describe or justify the the evil acts of evil people. They separate the evil from an enemy, family member, neighbor, or colleague who may may not be perfect and desires a chance.

Memorial Day 2021

Here we stand a great nation struggling with the stalemate of division.  A nation bound in a history of firsts capable of so much more.

The struggle over tribal beliefs often times built on fear and reservation defies logic.  Religions and teaching are the source of nurture essential to achieving happiness.  If success in assuring peace requires that in early life each of us learns the Golden Rule,  then we must learn the way to make sure each of us understands the value of nurture in assuring happiness.

No one is chosen

How can any tribe claim to be chosen?  When so many other cultures and tribes emerged in other parts of the globe.  Each grew up with an understanding of the unimaginable Creator. God, by whatever name.

This elemental craving to be better than another goes back to the emergence of language. When we learned to communicate with together we began to wonder: how or why?

These two questions get more complicated when we wonder how those lights appear in the night sky or why the rain does not soak the earth.

Yet up against the Mediterranean this band of escaped Egyptian slaves claim lands from the inhabitants.

A long time ago out of Northeastern Africa Homosapien emerged.

Homo sapien an interesting evolution of the primate. They settled in tribal communities. Evolved and seeking shelter, food source, drinking water, and sanitation together.

A new world order seems to be the next step in man and woman’s evolution. Division twin tribes, cultures, people and religion create animosity. It is this animosity built on fear often times we we must address as we evolve.

Where would I live if both ice caps melted and all glaciers disappeared. How much water did you put on the Earth? Somewhere on what will become Eastern seaboard is where Philip wants to build, I’m home.

The next question, when does it matter. If I think of myself 2050 I would be 96. If I think beyond, 21 sounds like a good number.

The Israel mistake – Sheikh Jarrah – is part of Palestine

In August 2009, the court evicted the al-Hanoun and al-Ghawi families from two homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Jewish families moved in based on a Supreme Court ruling that the property was owned by Jews. The United Nations  coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry condemned the decision: “These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace.”[34] The US State Department called it a violation of Israel’s obligations under the Road map for peace.[35] Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said “Tonight, while these new settlers from abroad will be accommodating themselves and their belongings in these Palestinian houses, 19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep.”[34] Yakir Segev of the Jerusalem municipal council responded: “This is a matter of the court. It is a civil dispute between Palestinian families and those of Israeli settlers, regarding who is the rightful owner of this property… Israeli law is the only law we are obliged to obey.”[36]

Sheikh Jarrah –  https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sheikh+Jarrah/@31.7743298,35.2207493,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x150329c27b01f693:0xce2261ccf7265d95!8m2!3d31.790504!4d35.228707

In 2021, clashes occurred between Palestinians and Israeli police over planned evictions in the neighborhood.[37][38]

Israeli Palestine May 12th, 2021

12 May 2021

 

What is a DAO and how do we govern tomorrow

Distributed autonomous organizations, a DAO.

When we think of governance and how we control society, we immediately must consider the realities of people in the tribes they belong to.

Recently the emergence of bitcoin, the understanding of the power of a distributed ledger, the use of a hash chain, the power of cryptographic processes, and the security of the devices we carry establishes a foundation for a brave new world.

What is governance? It is the method processes and mechanisms a society puts in place to establish order and ensure harmony?

The ancient Turks, Greeks, slave spoke of democracy, the idea that each member of the tribe, the town, the city, or the state could assemble and determine new laws, regulations, and best practices. We then evolved into Republican governments the concept of a group of people representing a larger number of citizens.

Influence and power define what shall evolve. In my lifetime, the idea of being able to plug the handset of your telephone into the back of a terminal and establish a connection to a computer somewhere out there was a novelty. For my father it is Time in Geneva when Aryanism stood out as a challenge, opportunity or threat. Telephones were just emerging and radios were available. TV was still not present. Paper books and libraries surrounded the environment we will call Geneva.

City on the Lake, what is this thing place in his history his is as relevant as your or mine.

One question why anonymity at the profound process of engagement. When you are something called anonymous I am not sure I want to play. If your anonymous is mandatory; I don’t want to play.

The innovative spiritual and the. Nurturing essence of life.. How this evolves involves countless engagements.

Each sublime note to the fabric of the virtual environment we present to the public is.

And, all of us form the fabric of the public.

He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said,* ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’* then that person need not honor the father.* 6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word* of God. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:

8 ‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;

9 in vain do they worship me,

teaching human precepts as doctrines

“Listen and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

What shall we do? Simple honor the one Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31

You commit to what you believe in with a robust desire to adhere to the moral imperatives. The one God is the same God written about in so many different ancient lore.

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32

32

Who is your neighbor?

Anyone you engage in an event. An event is is anything we all seek to record. By the way any unit of one can record as long as all parties are aware. It is our contracts and promises. Those such as payment, voting, identity and influence.

See you next time.

God’s Golden Rule Is Universal

I must begin with an apology to the person who caused me to start this post. I am sorry about how things evolved.  I was looking forward to exploring what could be.

I also appreciate how my spiritual foundation differs from many.  In this post, I will attempt to share what I believe.  

There are four great teachers Lao Tzu, Siddhattha Gotama, Confucius, and Jesus. To these four, we must add the Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, and the other great scholars whose words graced the libraries of Alexandra and other great centers of ancient learning.

Their thoughts and ways of looking at life and our surroundings transcend time.

Jesus easily sailed these waters and beyond

Jesus, between age twelve and thirty, I suspect, walked the northern silk route and traveled home along the southern maritime route, searched, and explored all of their thinking.  He probably voyages around Europe with the Phoenicians.  When he emerged, he taught.  He was a truly enlightened man.  He taught a new way.

Maybe he simply merged all the thoughts many civilizations had of the single creator into one homily. 

The Golden Rule Is How We Should Live

Stories told of Jesus caused the common people to establish a deep feeling for Jesus son of Mary and Joseph a martyr who died on the cross preaching peace and harmony. 

If only those in power had embraced the love, he shared.  Instead, they took control of the image of Jesus and God.

Instead, those in power use his name and their version of his teaching to assure their GREEDY, that one sin, need for wealth and power.  To this challenge, we must remember what Lord Acton said – “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (1887).

Western civilization has claimed superiority and justified its claim using The Bible.  The hubris of the Bible Authors to claim their Book was better than any other book is where the sins of our global culture emanate.

That arrogant better than thou feeling is our greatest sin.

Look at the tower of Babel. We once were one. The people who wrote that passage wrote of our inability to work together.  They blamed God for our human failures.  The story is of us. 

We could not create a society

Capable of standing up and saying to God.

Father, you can be proud of us

We are one together on earth
Bound together peace and harmony 
In the spirit of the Creator

Is that not what Jesus told us was our task? 

I was taught that he died on the cross so in his name we would come together as one, both Gentile and Jew?  Instead!

My return from a world where chaos ultimately came to order 》 Happened in 2005 while living in Canada.  19 year abroad thinking of coming home.  I stopped drinking; we joined the three-week-old community church in Markham, Ontario. There, I began to study the bible. When I came back to the United States in 2008 and settled for a time on St Simons Island, Georgia, I joined the local community church.  Moving up to Atlanta, I joined with my sister and attending Johnson Ferry Baptist Church

Supposedly reborn I tried to learn and listen for God’s words.

What happened next resulted from several evangelical better than thou experiences. 

Their demand – I see things their way. 

This better-than-thou attitude caused me to run back to the Episcopal church.

Tribalism:

Party, nationalist, MAGA, slave owner, racist, sexist, cults, schools, churches, temples … whatever holds one group together divides us. This is our failing.

We did not listen to those four great teachers

I don’t think the evangelist understands the red words

We are not listening to Jesus. 
He knew and had learned from
All the many before him 

With this ancient depth, even he has not convinced those now living and those who came before to come together as one family.  He asked us, in the name of the creator, to be the stewards of this planet and friends to any who enters our space. 

This is who we are expected to be

Look at us today.   We have not been true to his teaching. Unfortunately, much of the New Testament is John, who was Saul.   Only the red words in the Gospels and Acts are the truth.

Those that follow, including Mohammed, Luther, Calvin, Joseph Smith, Guru Nanak, and so many others, sought to promote their unique way of thinking.  Instead, they ended up creating even more division. 

In 2017 my mother died.  It was late February.  We had just elected a racist President.  Two priests Robert and Tom stood talking as friends.  Of two different disciplines, these men told me the local spiritual leaders met for Lunch – Dinner – Musical … whatever. 

Years later Tom and Allan along with the local rabbi took a group to Palestine. 

They told me who did not

The Imam did

At the beginning of 2020, living once again in the Golden Isles, I attended three of the churches here on St. Simons.  I listen with great respect to Alan & Tom as they tended to their Presbyterian and Episcopalian flocks.  I also had a chance to experience Catholics sharing their faith.

I have stayed away from most people since COVID, especially those rude people who would not wear a mask and do not want to accept the free vaccine and become part of the herd immune society.

May 2021 

A lovely woman asked the question of my spiritual beliefs. 

before she adamantly professed her beliefs
I was at peace with My spiritual foundation

This student’s essay tells it well.

https://www.albany.edu/faculty/miesing/teaching/assess/hell.html

In my many reading, this essay has caused me to want everyone to remember one thing.  

The question the student causes me to ask each of you. 

Is it true? 

Because I don’t believe as you, I am destined to hell?

Each time I reread the student’s essay, I find the humor and feel the deeply thought words.  I then wish all could accept this simple thought. 

When it comes to spirituality, everyone is right. No one is wrong.  None of us can truly understand the mysteries of the unknown. 

None of us has the ability to understand and see the creator

 

Power and Intellect so Immense
Capable of Creating Universes

In my search, I found the Tao, The Way!

While cycling one beautiful afternoon along the Chattahoochee, I listened to one particular way of interpreting the Tao.

After listening to the full series, the Trinity became nothing more than an element of the mythology used to help people find a common purpose.

For me, our purpose should be to find union with all.  People should not insist we all believe in the Jesus described in the Nicene Creed.  Instead,

We could all agree

Jesus Is

He is a Great Spiritual Teacher

Many tell me I must give God my full and undivided attention.  They tell me he will fill my mind with heavenly wisdom and knowledge. 

They tell me – he has plans for me.

They tell me they see and hear greatness in my ideas. Can it be true?

Is God calling and asking me to step up

Reach higher and prepare to do more than I can imagine?

My therapist believes I have a calling.   Others cause me to fear the burden God wants to place on my shoulders. The woman who caused me to write told me she heard greatness in my ideas. 

Then they pray that I will experience the outrageous love of Christ. 
This one idea reminds me of the division and hubris of the Christian.

Sometimes even I wonder if I am destined and here for a reason

In 1976 I learned software & telecommunication with the equivalent of a 4-year master’s in computer services. 1982, while replacing the back pages of the WSJ with computer screens, I saw how marginal satisfaction is not a human instinct and was confronted with the flaws of socialism and capitalism.  1986 off to Europe for 15 years.

1991, I moving into senior management and saw the world through the eyes of Mastercard and Visa. I helped them grow and focused on securing the world of payments and heralding in eCommerce.

Big data, identity, and cryptography take me into today.

The fourth industrial revolution is underway; it calls us to embrace machine learning, natural language interfaces, 3D printing, and the internet of things.

How God fits in begs the question of why God would put Putin and Trump in power. Why would income inequality be so raw and health a profit center?  Those waving the Trump and MAGA flags worry me. Their supremacist attitude solidifies for me one thing.  Tribalism is our greatest sin.

Has he put me here to address the real issue!

Stop believing in the absolute truth of One book. Instead, we need to collectively believe in the one creator who taught the four or more ancient scholars the truth. They all have one common message.

It is time to listen and embrace
The Golden Rule.

If this is my destiny, I need help. I need the OMI cheerleader.  Moreover, I need to meet men and women of faith who have experienced a truth and have grown to see the truth. 

Together we can build and promote
We need to embrace The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

Click Me
Click Me

Spirituality and Religion

Long ago, the idea of religion led me to understand we could control the masses through their indoctrination by a few. When speaking to someone of their religious beliefs, they remind us that if we put our faith in Jesus or the Almighty, they call God, all will be right with the world. They point to the ever after and the chance to live in heaven. They argue we live in a sinful world, and it is man’s sin that brings upon us the challenges many of us have faced. Some talk of reincarnation this thing called soul, nirvana has some future we cannot know.

On the other side of the discussion, there is spirituality, that inner sense of understanding. Some would argue our spirituality comes from our religious beliefs. Others would suggest it is better to have a spiritual foundation not based on religion but your inner sense of self. This inner sense of self begs the question,

“Who Am I.”

History repeats itself. Throughout time charismatic leaders have been able to grab hold of the hearts and minds of the masses. These charismatic individuals have led their followers in either positive or negative ways.

The question really should be who is in control. Is it the charismatic leader, or are there others who sit in the darkness operating as puppet masters responsible for the strife and misery inflicted upon many as these few enrich themselves?

Governance a Question for Society

Distributed autonomous organizations, a DAO

When we think of governance and how we control society, we immediately must consider the realities of the people and the tribes to which they belong. Without understanding their history and the context of the culture, we gamble with knowing the truth as we try to understand their focus, purpose, and future.

What is governance? It is the methods, processes, and mechanisms a society puts in place to establish order and ensure harmony? The ancient Greeks spoke of democracy, the idea that each member of the tribe, the town, the city, or the state could assemble and determine new laws, regulations, and best practices. We then evolved into representative structures where appointed, elected, or heredity groups of people came together to represent many citizens.

Long ago, yet, in my lifetime, the idea of plugging the handset of your telephone into the back of a terminal and dial into a computer somewhere out there was a novelty.

Last decade, in response to the financial crisis brought on by those who sought to profit from the creation of financial instruments derived from the derivate of another financial derived instruction, we read Bitcoin: A Peer-to-peer Electronic Cash System.  This seminal piece of work drove us to understand the immutable and trustless power of a distributed ledger.

When bitcoin emerged, Satoshi’s whitepaper described a new world order. A world built on mathematics, founded in a meritocracy, and governed by software. It makes one wonder about the written into science fiction novels. They expressed concern and worry about computers and pure logic taking over the world.  Sometimes humanity became technology’s servant.

While learning, I remembered a series of conversations with David Chaum as he explained the concept of a hash chain, the power of cryptography, digital signatures, and certificates as I explored the security of the devices we carry.  This journey drove me to explore relationships, artifacts, cards, and credentials.

After 45 years serving the financial community with a technical orientation, I came to understand the power of identity, the fallacy of software, and the integrity of people. At the same time, history was rewritten, curriculums were changed over and over again. Disinformation, trust, fake news, and propaganda meld into this cacophony. A collage of perspectives linked to our identity and flavor soured by the relationships and encounters we have had during our limited existence. Today I wonder about elections, opinion polls, proxy votes, and the selection of representative government.

Today it is time to embrace a citizen-centric view of technology.  If we do not stop and think, the brave to a new world we may construct could look like 1984 or a world under the watchful eye of Skynet.  If we reflect on what we, the citizen, want and direct what we do to achieve that collective vision.  We can work as one together and establish the foundation of that brave new world we all seek.

A distributed autonomous organization seeks to address a myriad of challenges. As peers in a decentralized structure, the participants deliberate, vote, and reach

 

consensus.

Like in any organization, people are attracted to thoughts and ideas that meld well with their own. But what makes this so new? Long ago, when representative governments or councils were created, the community decided to allow a few to manage the needs of the many.

What is so different? Our interfaces have changed. The way we engage has expanded and no longer restructured to verbal or hand-delivered written communication. In written communication, there is a thought.  I stare at my computer screens; my pen is poised over a tablet as I use script to write notes or the keyboard to chat across multiple instant messaging applications.  While staring at a word processor, PowerPoint presentation, or spreadsheet, I can engage and share with people spread across the planet using my cameras, speakers, and microphones.

A distributed Autonomous Organization is simply the grouping of people using technology to widen the breadth of participation.  No longer restricted to location, we can continue to expand networks and engage with our peers.

What is happening to this country

It is Monday, January 11, 2021. Last week we watched the riots. We saw people breaking into the US Capital and gleefully waving their Trump and Confederate flags as they stormed this house of the people.

This nation is divided. Be they conservatives, or liberals. People who believe in social justice or white supremacy. Or, individuals who align themselves to the left or the right. We are a nation divided!

One can pontificate as the media does.  They fill countless hours as they work to brainwash their followers into believing one story or another. Where is the truth? It lies someplace dormant in the minds of all. To find it we must explore the reaches of the left and the depths of the right. We must understand and contemplate how white supremacy and religious intolerance drives people to hatred.

Christians speak of their Savior Jesus Christ and we read the red words in the Bible. Jesus was the ultimate socialist he believed in a world that cared for each other. He spoke of how we must tolerate, accept, and embrace our enemies. He reminded us of the golden rule – love thy neighbor as you wish to be loved.

Instead, men and women seek to be superior to others. Tribalism and intolerance greed contempt and animosity.

https://andreae.com/Bible/CENTER_OF_THE_BIBLE.pps

Where is our salvation? How do we restore sanity?

Settled science

In March 2020, I moved from the payments industry into the election industry. This movement caused me to wonder about democracy, politics, academia, and the world of technology. What amazed me is how computer science academics could rail at the idea, technology could be used to innovate on the election process. Years ago I imagined participating in a national referendum simply by opening a browser searching for the government website and voting on the measures and contests currently under consideration.

Unfortunately what I’ve learned troubles me.  Certain clusters of intelligent individuals believe that they know best.  They stigmatize technology and argue that a human being, who writes software, could leave unintended bugs which might lead to unintended consequences.  They forget software is an evolutionary science.  Through piloting, continuous improvement, testing, and rigorous testing we can eliminate bugs and create stable and secure critically important applications serving our financial, health, national security, and public interests.

Recently in a letter written by verified voting, a nonprofit organization, the word settled science appeared. An intriguing word, an intriguing phrase.  I was driven to wonder what did it mean. From my high school years, science was an evolutionary process.  A hypothesis was put forward. it was tested.  If it was found to be false a new hypothesis was offered, it was tested and on the scientific community went.  In one article when googling “Settled Science” I was intrigued to read the word oxymoron followed by an explanation of how if Sir Isaac Newton’s beliefs had been settled science Albert Einstein would never have been able to put forward the concepts of general relativity.

This whole conversation feels very much like a religion, a church, who has a dogmatic belief in the written word of the Bible being the written and only word of God.  We forget how man inserts himself into every dialogue.  Too often we insert our beliefs on others.  Maybe “Settled Science” is the dogmatic belief that we are right and everyone else is wrong.

If this is the case then how do we move forward? If scientists – academics force there will on society than society has lost its objectivity.

What has this world come to

When we listen to the news, we must think first of the bias of the reporter. This unfortunate truth is troubling in a world where the United States leader speaks of fake news and uses Twitter to stir up the masses. This body of citizens struggles with truth and is easily bent to believe what the leader says.

This particular charismatic leader, like many others in the past, can cause people to believe anything. The challenge, these same people will follow both those with high morals and those without.

Jesus Christ, Siddhartha Gautama, Confucius, Laozi, and a few others spoke wisely and became spiritual leaders many continue to follow.

To name one well remembered, Hitler, like the recent President of this great country, spread lies, and fermented hatred.

How can we rise above when so many are unwilling or unable to see the truth.  We must rise above the madness these charismatic immoral individuals ferment.

That is the concern I have felt since first I looked upon the control a church exerts upon the mass.

Is hell for those who are wrong because I am right

This article offers an interesting perspective on what we believe Heaven and Hell is.  It draws one to think like much of what history is.  It is the thinking of people designed to categorize and allows one to pridefully assume they are either the best or the worst.

Hell therefore in thinking this way, it is for all those people who do not believe as you or are wrong because you are right.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/opinion/sunday/christianity-religion-hell-bible.html

Why Do People Believe in Hell?

The idea of eternal damnation is neither biblically, philosophically nor morally justified. But for many it retains a psychological allure.

By David Bentley Hart

Dr. Hart is a philosopher, scholar of religion and cultural critic.

Once the faith of his youth had faded into the serene agnosticism of his mature years, Charles Darwin found himself amazed that anyone could even wish Christianity to be true. Not, that is, the kindlier bits — “Love thy neighbor” and whatnot — but rather the notion that unbelievers (including relatives and friends) might be tormented in hell forever.

It’s a reasonable perplexity, really. And it raises a troubling question of social psychology. It’s comforting to imagine that Christians generally accept the notion of a hell of eternal misery not because they’re emotionally attached to it, but because they see it as a small, inevitable zone of darkness peripheral to a larger spiritual landscape that — viewed in its totality — they find ravishingly lovely. And this is true of many.

But not of all. For a good number of Christians, hell isn’t just a tragic shadow cast across one of an otherwise ravishing vista’s remoter corners; rather, it’s one of the landscape’s most conspicuous and delectable details.

I know whereof I speak. I’ve published many books, often willfully provocative, and have vexed my share of critics. But only recently, in releasing a book challenging the historical validity, biblical origins, philosophical cogency and moral sanity of the standard Christian teaching on the matter of eternal damnation, have I ever inspired reactions so truculent, uninhibited and (frankly) demented.

I expect, of course, that people will defend the faith they’ve been taught. What I find odd is that, in my experience, raising questions about this particular detail of their faith evinces a more indignant and hysterical reaction from many believers than would almost any other challenge to their convictions. Something unutterably precious is at stake for them. Why?

After all, the idea comes to us in such a ghastly gallery of images: late Augustinianism’s unbaptized babes descending in their thrashing billions to a perpetual and condign combustion; Dante’s exquisitely psychotic dreamscapes of twisted, mutilated, broiling souls; St. Francis Xavier morosely informing his weeping Japanese converts that their deceased parents must suffer an eternity of agony; your poor old palpitant Aunt Maude on her knees each night in a frenzy of worry over her reprobate boys; and so on.

Surely it would be welcome news if it turned out that, on the matter of hell, something got garbled in transmission. And there really is room for doubt.

No truly accomplished New Testament scholar, for instance, believes that later Christianity’s opulent mythology of God’s eternal torture chamber is clearly present in the scriptural texts. It’s entirely absent from St. Paul’s writings; the only eschatological fire he ever mentions brings salvation to those whom it tries (1 Corinthians 3:15). Neither is it found in the other New Testament epistles, or in any extant documents (like the Didache) from the earliest post-apostolic period. There are a few terrible, surreal, allegorical images of judgment in the Book of Revelation, but nothing that, properly read, yields a clear doctrine of eternal torment. Even the frightening language used by Jesus in the Gospels, when read in the original Greek, fails to deliver the infernal dogmas we casually assume to be there.

On the other hand, many New Testament passages seem — and not metaphorically — to promise the eventual salvation of everyone. For example: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18) Or: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) Or: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) (Or: John 13:32; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; and others.)

Admittedly, much theological ink has been spilled over the years explaining away the plain meaning of those verses. But it’s instructive that during the first half millennium of Christianity — especially in the Greek-speaking Hellenistic and Semitic East — believers in universal salvation apparently enjoyed their largest presence as a relative ratio of the faithful. Late in the fourth century, in fact, the theologian Basil the Great reported that the dominant view of hell among the believers he knew was of a limited, “purgatorial” suffering. Those were also the centuries that gave us many of the greatest Christian “universalists”: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Didymus the Blind, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Diodore of Tarsus and others.

Of course, once the Christian Church became part of the Roman Empire’s political apparatus, the grimmest view naturally triumphed. As the company of the baptized became more or less the whole imperial population, rather than only those people personally drawn to the faith, spiritual terror became an ever more indispensable instrument of social stability. And, even today, institutional power remains one potent inducement to conformity on this issue.

Still, none of that accounts for the deep emotional need many modern Christians seem to have for an eternal hell. And I don’t mean those who ruefully accept the idea out of religious allegiance, or whose sense of justice demands that Hitler and Pol Pot get their proper comeuppance, or who think they need the prospect of hell to keep themselves on the straight and narrow. Those aren’t the ones who scream and foam in rage at the thought that hell might be only a stage along the way to a final universal reconciliation. In those who do, something else is at work.

Theological history can boast few ideas more chilling than the claim (of, among others, Thomas Aquinas) that the beatitude of the saved in heaven will be increased by their direct vision of the torments of the damned (as this will allow them to savor their own immunity from sin’s consequences). But as awful as that sounds, it may be more honest in its sheer cold impersonality than is the secret pleasure that many of us, at one time or another, hope to derive not from seeing but from being seen by those we leave behind.

How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? Where’s the joy in getting into the gated community and the private academy if it turns out that the gates are merely decorative and the academy has an inexhaustible scholarship program for the underprivileged? What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure? What heaven can there be for us without an eternity in which to relish the impotent envy of those outside its walls?

Not to sound too cynical. But it’s hard not to suspect that what many of us find intolerable is a concept of God that gives inadequate license to the cruelty of which our own imaginations are capable.

An old monk on Mount Athos in Greece once told me that people rejoice in the thought of hell to the precise degree that they harbor hell within themselves. By which he meant, I believe, that heaven and hell alike are both within us all, in varying degrees, and that, for some, the idea of hell is the treasury of their most secret, most cherished hopes — the hope of being proved right when so many were wrong, of being admired when so many are despised, of being envied when so many have been scorned.

And as Jesus said (Matthew 6:21), “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

David Bentley Hart is the author, most recently, of “That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation.”

A morning to reflect

The Sunday after Christmas and one wonders if people are here thinking of family, food, fun. Or, if they are reflecting on the wonder of words Jesus spoke, the majesty of his message and the wholeness of the teaching of love, peace, mercy, and friendship.

Instead, one is drawn to reflect on reality. A world divided along religious, racial and cultural lines. Be it right from left, liberal from conservative or male from female.

I was once told to never ask the WHY question.  Yet, it is this one question we each must consider when we think of the divisions surrounding us.

A new year is around the corner. The ability to change is inherent in all of us. the challenge is to put friendship and love first. Then we can think of bounty and the goodness of this earth.

First, we must put our mind to preserving the majesty of what the creator enabled.

Why do we humans ignore the instruction of the ages

John 23:1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD. Woe to the shepherds {officials, kings, priests governors} who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.

When I read this passage of today’s liturgy, I was drawn to think of the Shepperd as those responsible for leading and the sheep those who are led. If the shepherds seek to control Kajol and threaten the sheep with taxes, racist jargon or lies wind up with a tribe bent to the will of these malicious leaders who seek to profit from the efforts of others.

One is then drawn to ponder the colonial instincts of various nations to subjugate others to their will.

Tribalism, nationalism, and racism are all driven by greed, and a belief one is better than another.

A Nation Divided

Reviewing Facebook comments I worry for some who have lost sight of the center.  We as a country or maybe we as a globe appear to be splintering into two oppositional groupings.

Some simply brand the divide as the Right and the Left or the Liberals and the Conservatives.

With this in mind, we should look back in history. At 5 PM June 16th, 1858 Abraham Lincoln spoke in the Springfield Illinois Hall of Representatives.  He spoke of the issue of slavery yet if we reflect on the bigger issue he was also speaking to those who still insist on racial, religious or any other difference as reason for segregation.

If we delve back in time we find in Luke 11:17, Matthew 12:25 and Mark 3:25 writings of how Jesus spoke of a simple reality.  Every Kingdom or house divided against itself will be laid waste, become a desert, fall upon itself or will not stand.

We could read and listen to the lyrics of  Dave Mustaine.

Brother will kill brother
Spilling blood across the land
Killing for religion
Something I don’t understand
Fools like me, who cross the sea
And come to foreign lands
Ask the sheep, for their beliefs
Do you kill on God’s command?
A country that’s divided
Surely will not stand
My past erased, no more disgrace
No foolish naive stand
The end is near, it’s crystal clear
Part of the master plan
Don’t look now to Israel
It might be your homelands
Holy wars
Upon my podium, as the
Know it all scholar
Down in my seat of judgement
Gavel’s bang, uphold the law
Up on my soapbox, a leader
Out to change the world
Down in my pulpit as the holier
Than-thou-could-be-messenger of God
Wage the war on organized crime
Sneak attacks, repel down the rocks
Behind the lines
Some people risk to employ me
Some people live to destroy me
Either way they die, they die
They killed my wife, and my baby
With hopes to enslave me
First mistake, last mistake!
Paid by the alliance, to slay all the giants
Next mistake, no more mistakes
Fill the cracks in, with judicial granite
Because I don’t say it,
Don’t mean I ain’t thinkin’ it
Next thing you know, they’ll take my thoughts away
I know what I said, now I must scream of the overdose
And the lack of mercy killings
Mercy killings
Mercy killings
Killings, killings, killings, killings
Mercy you know, they’ll take my thoughts away

In the end, the question is clear

When will we learn?

 

 

God of Israel

Who is this God of one place. It is not the God of my imagination. The God of my imagination extends far beyond Israel, extends to all mankind.

God is a spirit who does not care how we worship. God only seeks the memory of the grace of God, the story of those who spoke boldly of each of our responsibility to love and do for others as we would expect to be loved. The doing is the key to our social engagement.

Generational poverty this is the bane of our society. This division between those that are brought up with and those brought up without. How do those without escape poverty. What hand reaches out across the abyss to help those without.

Or is it capitalism without a thought for society. The innovation capitalism and the effort of those who can is significantly better than the concept of a society managed by the few for the many. When there is nothing unique to be gained for our effort, the desire to do our best is lost. The flaw of capitalism is when wealth and power become the aims. It is this concentration of wealth and power which takes from the many to benefit the few.

We must find a method to merge the good of capitalism with the warmth and humanity of socialism. We must help the powerful to appreciate their role to help the many. We need to find a way to share wealth while assuring the individual desire to innovate and strive to create, Shepard’s and be good stewards.

Nature, the resources and the spirit within society and this earth are here to be employed, conserved and cherished. When greed wants for me and my pride assumes I am better than you then we lose and society slips into conflict within itself and with its neighbors.