The Kingdom of God Is Within You

Cape Cod Bay, June 2010 (author’s photo)

W.J. Astore

Perhaps my favorite biblical verse comes from the New Testament in Luke 17:21 when Christ says to the Pharisees, “The kingdom of God is within you.”  You could spend a lifetime thinking about that.

Recently, I googled it and discovered the Catholic church has tried to demystify it, retranslating it as “the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you” and suggesting Christ here is trying to awaken the Pharisees to his presence and to recruit more apostles.  So much for looking within at this most profound of Christ’s teachings.

I have many gripes with “modern” translations of the Bible, which largely diminish, even despoil, the poetry of older translations like the KJV (King James Version) or the even earlier translation by William Tyndale.

So I broke out my Catholic Bible from 1962; it renders the passage as “For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  My NIV Bible from 1984 is the same, except there’s a footnote that says “within” could be translated as “among.”  Is nothing sacred, all you wannabe translators and all you organized church tools? 

Christ’s teaching that the kingdom of God is within you is a mystery.  What does it mean?  This is what it means to me.  In trying to understand God, I think we humans are really trying to understand ourselves. The vast power of our own minds and imaginations. It’s not God that’s limitless: it’s our conceptions of what god (or gods) can be. But even as we humans imagine and conceive of god, we become jealous of our mental creations and then start lording them over others. We conceive of god(s) as jealous and vindictive and violent because we are.

Some will immediately say that I blaspheme; that I’m saying that humans are really god in the sense we create god.  Of course, the Bible teaches the opposite: that God created us. 

It is of course a matter of faith but think about this.  We’re told we’re made in God’s image (even though we’ve been so busy creating him in our image).  Surely this doesn’t refer to our bodies, which age and decay.  Surely this refers to our minds, our dreams, our imaginations, which viewed in the aggregate across humanity continue to grow, to discover new things, to conceive of new ideas.  To create.  As humans, we create.  And when we create, we ignite the divine spark within us.

Yet we are obviously not god.  For I was taught God is good.  God is love.  And we humans are definitely not consistently good or loving.  Quite the opposite.  But of course we can displace our sins onto a fallen angel who corrupts us: Lucifer.  It’s not our fault, or not entirely ours, right?  The devil made me do it.

I prefer to think of god as the absolute best of us, the most mysterious part of us, our ability to create, to conceive of new things, to dream, to imagine.  That human ability seems god-like in the sense it’s truly unlimited.  And if it’s not unlimited, how would we know it wasn’t?

It’s not time to worship ourselves in place of god.  Rather, as Abraham Lincoln said in a different context, it’s time to start looking to the better angels of our nature.  It’s time to tap the kingdom of God within us.  And to share it without jealousy or rancor or exclusivity.

And not only within us; the kingdom of God is also all around us.  Humans are an incredibly destructive lot.  We must not think much of God when we’re so busy despoiling and destroying her creation.

The sacred is within and without.  And if we start thinking that way, and have a proper reverence for the sacred, we can focus on being constructive rather than destructive.  We can honor the god within us by cherishing and saving the god without us.  That means putting life first, all forms of life, including our own, as manifestations of the divine spark.

Postscript 1: I hope God forgives my random capitalization of her/his name.

Postscript 2: A friend notes how much ink’s been spilled throughout history contemplating God’s nature, the lives of saints, and so on.  Theology used to be “the queen of the sciences.”  I sent this back to him:

One thing about studying theology with such fervor — you probably won’t invent weapons to blow the world into a literal Armageddon from above. No — you’ll just imagine Armageddon coming from above. That said, it’s also true that religion can be used so powerfully to condone the murderous mistreatment of others. Knowledge is power, after all, even (especially?) knowledge of god [whatever “knowledge of god” means]. God is good, but humanity? Not so much.

In Christianity, God sent a Gospel or “good news.”  He told us to love one another.  How has such a simple message of goodness and giving become so badly twisted and so often ignored?

My 1st trip to the Continental Divide, about 35 years ago

51 thoughts on “The Kingdom of God Is Within You

  1. My fave. Biblical passage also ironically comes from Luke “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 Haven’t attended Mass since Ash Wednesday last Yr. Pre-Covid obviously, and won’t again till I have the Vaccine!!! Nice Sermon.

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    1. Makes me think of “Amazing Grace”: I once was lost but now am found.

      If you’ve ever been lost, there’s a profound sense of relief when you’re found!

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      1. I am sympathetic to the fact (?)–or so the story goes–that “Amazing Grace” was penned by a repentant former captain (owner?) of a slave-trading vessel. However, I rankle at the lyrics’ advising me to grovel on my knees before The Big Guy in the Sky. Not gonna do it!

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      2. Lovely article. A simple comment from a Quaker nontheist (leaning).
        I wondered if, as ex-military, you might be a member of veterans for peace?
        If not here is the UK section – vfpuk.org/
        and here the older US one – https://vfp.org/
        Readers might find them interesting.

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  2. Interesting musing William, and a departure from your usual Earthly Political concerns.
    My personal Reference Bible was printed in 1855, before CanaDa an Israel existed among the Nations.
    It’s the same KJV Edition on which Presidents Lincoln and Obama took their Oaths of Office.
    James, writing in chapter 5 of his Book in the Book of Books, explicitly says, ‘But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest you fall into condemnation.’

    Getting the email notice of this Subject, my interest was stimulated more than your other regular readers, because I have been magnifying ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ on many sites I frequent for months.
    If my name with “quotations” is searched in Google, there are over 30 pages of results exclusively on my Internet footprint, not including over 8000 comments in The Washington Post analyzing the Revelation in the unfolding news events, Domestic and International, for many years.
    ‘And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation:
    Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.’

    I have no problem with the ‘within’ and in the ‘midst or around.’ I’m a literalist understanding the ‘within’ cited above because of these affirming verses in other parts of the Bible, ‘At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’
    As for the ‘midst and around,’ that’s also affirmed in the Book, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ […] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,’

    I do have a problem with Christian Leadership unanimous in propagating Jesus is the ONLY Begotten Son of God. The Bible contracts that kind of projection, essentially making Jesus in the fullness of his Humanity, an unreachable, achievable experience in our Humanity.
    He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
    But as many as received him, to them he gave power TO BECOME the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
    That tells me without any Doubt, Jesus is not the only Begotten Son of God.

    The Book goes even further in the Time of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, ‘To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
    He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

    I was BORN AGAIN February 1, 1975, when I unexpectedly came alive and sensitive to God “within,” making me 76 going on 45, with so much more to learn about the Eternal with my Finite Mind.
    I describe what unexpectedly happened to me that Awesome Day here.

    http://rayjc.com/2011/12/25/day-of-awakening-david-vs-goliath-vs-armageddon/

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    1. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

      Man does not live by politics alone — I really needed a break from writing about Trump, Biden, the military, and so on.

      A few of my readers know I did my master’s and doctoral work in the history of science and Christianity, specifically Catholics and evangelicals in the 19th century. I should write about this more … even if a few readers are uninterested or turned off.

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      1. Bill, you should. This is both thoughtful and thought provoking. In my case, you are preaching to the choir, as experience here has expanded my view of what we call God. To those who find this difficult or offensive, I offer the question that a good friend once said to me, just before my world changed. “Is your God really that small?”

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        1. Good to see your comment Linda! A Sinner dies in their Youth, but a Child of God dies at 100.

          How can anyone say they Love God who they cannot see, but don’t have Love for the People they can see?
          Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

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    2. I would caution against trying to read anything into the Book of Revelation, as that is clearly THE most insane collection of nonsense in the whole bible. Written, perhaps, under the influence of some psychedelic mushroom…or maybe just way too much “fruit of the vine”!

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      1. Greg, I see these lines from the Revelation describe the World as it appears to be going these Days, some 1900 years after they were written,
        And the NATIONS WERE ANGRY AND YOUR WRATH is come, and the TIME of the dead, (spiritually dead) that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
        Revelation 11:18
        Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having GREAT WRATH, because he knows that he has but a short time.
        Revelation 12:12

        Everyone can see the WRATH and ANGER growing and unfolding in our World, especially in the US, but who can discern WHICH WRATH IS WHICH?

        Living the Love of Christ Jesus, not just speaking it, saves us from the WRATH OF GOD AND THE WRATH OF THE DEVIL
        With all of that, the Message of the Resurrected Christ for all who accept him within is PEACE! HAVE NO FEAR!

        I think all Supremacist movements on Earth, whether they be Black or White, Rich or Poor, Jew or Palestinian, all come from the War in Heaven, when God assigned Angels to Minister, Serve and Protect Humans.
        Satan and his Angels thought they are Superior to Humans and the Superior would not serve the Inferior.

        That’s why Christ teaches his Disciples accordingly,
        And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
        And he said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
        But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that does serve.

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        1. I have been opining for some time now that the human race DOES appear to have entered “The End Times,” but it has brought this entirely upon itself via the insane belief that humans are somehow separate from and superior to Nature. No divine intervention was ever required to bring these conditions about. Shall we attribute to the author(s) of “Revelation” an accurate prophecy in this regard? I think not, since Christ’s firmest followers after his death, Bible scholarship tells us, expected the Second Coming rather soon, even in their own (first generation of Christians) time.

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          1. Greg, an open mind could associate these words, “and should destroy them which destroy the earth” with your thought, “the human race DOES appear to have entered “The End Times,” but it has brought this entirely upon itself via the insane belief that humans are somehow separate from and superior to Nature.”

            REVELATION: GLOBAL WARMING – FACT OR FICTION? TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES?
            https://rayjc.com/2012/07/11/revelation-global-warming-fact-or-fiction-truth-or-consequences/

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      2. Greg, you should visit my Public FaceBook page. From having 120 friends for a long Time, suddenly, in 1 Day, I got that many new friend requests and stopped with 2300 new friends.

        I post articles I have read online I think are important for people to know to keep track of the Path Humanity is on. I may get 1 or 2 likes, but no discussion. I don’t post that information for likes, but I’m disappointed with all those new friends, there is no discussion.

        That being the context and background lets get to the segue in your mention of “psychedelic.”

        Because of the serious thought required reading the articles I post among a People not wanting to go beyond a 30 second sound byte, I have taken to interposing pictures of Birds and animals that definitely establishes without question, God loves psychedelics.

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        1. I have no personal experience with psychedelics. I suppose I’m afraid of a “bad trip.” I think I trip on movies, music, and nature. I really like visionary movies, love scifi, love music, and being outside and near the ocean moves me. I still remember my first hike to the Great Divide in Colorado and the feeling of being transported to something larger than myself. I took a photo, a tiny slice of the mountains I saw; will try to post it above in my article.

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          1. Psychedelic substances, especially psilocybin–yet another fungal extract–are currently under serious scientific scrutiny for use in treatment of severe depression. Early findings are said to be quite encouraging.

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        2. The ghost of Dr. Timothy Leary thanks you!! In all seriousness, many years ago I read an article offering the hypothesis that the earliest Christians were a cult of users of psychedelic mushrooms! I’m not sure if there even are mushrooms with those properties in the Middle East, but I found it an intriguing idea.

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  3. As a “devout” atheist, I could rant forever on this topic. Instead I will make but two brief observations (and this time keep my word on the brevity!): 1.) as a Buddhist (which is NOT a contradiction of being an atheist), I look kindly on the observation often made that Buddhism’s quest for inner enlightenment has been likened to the concept of “the Kingdom of God lies within”; and 2.) Bible scholarship relies partly on the physical sciences, e.g. trying to determine authenticity of ancient scrolls, plus deep study of previous commentary on Judaism/Christianity. But to label Theology a “science” stretches credulity beyond its breaking point!

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    1. Brevity! Christ did well when he said to love God and thy neighbor and all else follows from those.

      Back then, Greg, they used “science” in the sense of organized knowledge. Today, we think of science as something verifiable and fact-driven in subjects like physics or chemistry or biology.

      But it’s also true theologians placed themselves on the top of the heap of scholarship. And ministers were greatly esteemed for their knowledge and interpretation of scripture. This started to change in the 17th century, and by the 19th century “scientists” (a word coined c.1830) started to grab more of the spotlight.

      Now everyone probably can name a great scientist (Darwin, Newton, Einstein, etc.), but how many people could name a great theologian?

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      1. Okay, I accept your use of the term “science” in the context of yesteryear. After all, Alchemy was also “a science”! Now I reveal something truly shocking: in my queue (it’s a mountain, really) of purchased but not yet read tomes resides St. Augustine’s “City of God,” yes, all 1000+ pages of it!! And I bought it based on having seen A SINGLE SENTENCE quoted somewhere! But that sentence took my breath away! (Of what it consisted long ago evaporated from my memory.) Of course I reserve the right to bail from the reading if I find the work insufferable on the whole. That’s the best an atheist can offer, darn it!

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    2. Greg, as a “devout” atheist, maybe you didn’t see, or grasp, the spirit of the words posted downstream 6 hours before this comment of yours.

      You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
      This people draws close to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
      But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

      Obviously these words of the Living Christ are not addressed to devout atheists like yourself, but to those who claim to be devout Christians.

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      1. If we wind the tape all the way back to Moses’s alleged adventure on Mount Sinai, we witness the murderous jealousy of Jehovah. Commandment Number One: thou shalt have no Lord but myself. This demand for absolute fealty, in my view, is the root of all the evil that has been done over the millennia in the name of God. Historical fact: Disputes over fine theological points led to the most heinously cruel physical tortures human beings have inflicted upon one another. The Abrahamic religions have been a curse upon the human race. That’s how I read history.

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  4. Greek “en” can be translated as either “in” or “among” (“in the midst”). In fact, it can imply both simultaneously, which is the way I prefer to read it based on my understanding of Jesus’ teaching as best we can gather it from a scholarly point of view of ancient. Most popular readings of ancient texts are simply uniformed. When I say “ancient texts” I include the New Testament but also refer to other relevant texts, e.g., The Gospel of Thomas, which deals extensively with “the kingdom of the father” as being both within and without as a possible experience in this earthly life.

    A few of my readers know I did my master’s and doctoral work in the history of science and Christianity, specifically Catholics and evangelicals in the 19th century. I should write about this more

    Yes.

    I look kindly on the observation often made that Buddhism’s quest for inner enlightenment has been likened to the concept of “the Kingdom of God lies within”;

    Yes, and I would not call Buddhism atheistic but rather non-theistic. So is Advaita Vedanta. In fact, I contend that Advaita can be viewed as a via affirmativa and Buddhism as a via negativa.

    Moreover, Buddha can be viewed as a reformer of the Vedic tradition of his time in a similar vein as Jesus being a reformer of the Judaism of his time. They both criticized the teachers of the day as having lost the plot, and they are both regard as being conscious embodiments of the realization of truth in a similar fashion to the avatars of the Vedic tradition.

    For a popular account of timeless wisdom, see Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy. For a contemporary spiritual view, see Meher Baba’s God Speaks.

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    1. I did not mean to imply that Buddhism (and there are multiple schools, of course) “advocates” atheism. But one of its most fundamental sets of tenets is that there is no god, no hell (except what we may make for ourselves in our earthly existence), and no human soul. The closest concept to “soul” is the “bundle of karma” one “inherits” and carries forward in life. Personally, I reject literal belief in this karma–yeah, I’m a somewhat different kind of Buddhist!–and only use the word metaphorically.

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      1. But one of its most fundamental sets of tenets is that there is no god, no hell (except what we may make for ourselves in our earthly existence), and no human soul.

        That is “American Buddhism.” 🙂

        There is no record of Buddha saying there is no god, no hell and no soul. Buddha was silent on this. Rather he said don’t waste time disputing these things which are undecidable until you transcend phenomena in the experience of nirvana, the nature of which is emptiness. See the parable of the poisoned arrow in The Shorter Exhortation to Māluṅkya Cūḷa Māluṅkyovāda Sutta (MN 63).

        All that human logic can do is show the insubstantiality of these views. In Christianity, Aquinas similarly argued that God can only be characterized either by denial of all attributes or else use of analogy, which is not descriptive attribution (Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One: God).

        Actually, in many schools of Buddhism there are quite graphic descriptions of the afterlife and the various “hells,” as well as gods (devas). I recall Ven. Kalu Rinpoche describing this. Message: don’t waste time with the small stuff. Regarding practice, he said that the aim is to discriminate that which changes (phenomenal) from that which doesn’t not change (real). The meditation practice he gave involved contemplation of the form of Avalokiteśwara, the bohdisattava of compassion instead of sitting mindfully as in some other Buddhist traditions, as well as some practices related to the three treasures, Buddha, dharama and sangha.

        The Buddhist doctrine of “God” is that “God” is an empty concept for the worldly. So is “self” as in the phenominal self with which worldly people identify. Anātmā (Pali anattā) means no-self in this sense. Vedanta teaches the same thing. See Ramana Maharshi on this, for instance.

        Buddhist logic is aimed at showing that our ideas of religious and philosophical ideas are vacuous of meaning just as the world (samsara) is not the reality that worldly people take it as. This is similar to the Vedantic māyā (that which is not). From the vantage of an awakened one “nirvana is samsara.” “Emptiness is not empty.” Emptiness is associated with nirvana (extinguishing). What is extinguished? Limited mind. See Patanjali Yoga Sūtras, I.2: “Yoga is the extinguishing of mental activity.” This is realization of ultimate reality, which is ineffable but realizable. Budddhism is not nihilistic. It is simply an example of the via negativa, as in Pseudo-Dionysius, The Cloud of Unknowing, etc. Buddhis emptiness (śunyatā) is similar to Vedanta’s parāt parabrahman, Sufism’s fana, Yoga’s kaivalyam, Qabalah’s ayin, and the Godhead in mystical Christianity, Meister Eckhart for example. They all teach the same truth but in different ways. The various wisdom tradition also prescribing a variety of paths to realization, the way of knowledge, the way of love, the way of action, and the way of grace, for example.

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        1. As I said originally, Buddhism harbors many schools! Some of them, indeed, posit numerous minor deities, and Gautama Buddha is said to have been conceived when an elephant “spirit” penetrated his earthly mother-to-be’s side. The concept of “the three no’s,” if one may call it that, which I cited I got from a book on Buddhist fundamentals by Christmas Humphreys, a British chap. Brit., American, you may call it a Westernized view of Buddhism if you wish. I do not waste my mental powers in debating all these matters. For me, these are the key ideas, absorbed from various sources: 1.) it is impossible for anyone to truly be “alone” in the Universe; this is an illusion to be combatted; 2.) the only route to happiness will be found by working to alleviate the suffering of others; 3.) to my mind, The Noble Eight-Fold Path is the greatest code of conduct or, if you prefer, ethics conceived by Man. I have read every word of the Bible, Old and New Testaments. A guide to moral conduct? Ha!! That’s a good one!

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          1. God in the Old Testament creates Good and Evil, War and Peace.
            The God and Father of Christ Jesus in the New Testament is all Good, a Peacemaker, Healer, and Forgiver of Sins, wrongdoing, and falling short of the mark.

            This is exemplified with the record of the woman caught in adultery. According to the Old Testament, the Law demanded she be stoned to death, and Jesus disregarded that.
            Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

            This Material World still operates by the Old Testament with the exception of those Individuals who accept the conditions of the New Testament as recorded, Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
            You enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
            Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.

            The World did not recognize the Sign of the Times when, in 2014, ISIS destroyed the Islamic Mosque in Nineveh, Iraq, containing the Tomb of Jonah in the whale fame from the Jewish/Christian Bible.
            You remember the record. God told Jonah to warn the People of that ‘World City Nineveh,’ if they did not change their ways, they are on the Path to Destruction.
            The record says they did change their evil ways, so God repented of the Destruction in store for them because of their evil.
            Christ is recorded to have said, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

            The Apostle Peter wrote, But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

            By that measurement of TIME, we’ve arrived at the 3rd Day

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          2. “Rumor” has it that it was precisely Jesus’s criticism of the Established Order of his time that got him into hot water with the Pharisees and Scribes. But, if you buy the whole scheme, you have to admit that was all part of God the Father’s Plan. Christ set himself up to be nailed to the cross so he could then be resurrected from the (apparent) dead. Thus his having declined to present a defense when interrogated by Pontius Pilate. Rock-solid logic!

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  5. I like the golden rule. I consider religion, like sports, something that people take a lot of time attending to and I can use that time!

    Dad was ordained and had two degrees in religion one taken on a scholarship from Duke at the University of Berlin between the two wars. He taught Biblical Studies at Smith College. A kind man, he never forced religion on me. I admired his way of life, doing as Jesus taught people to do, letting one’s life be an example for others to follow, or not. In this way he deeply impressed me.

    All that counts is how one behaves. Acting toward others as one would have them act toward oneself is self evident. No holy book, no prophets, no houses of worship, and no god are necessary.

    I put mythology aside and look at real life. I know a couple that go to church twice a week and voted for Trump. I rest my case.

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    1. Oh heck, I dare say there are brokenhearted “Evangelicals” who go to church twice DAILY, bemoaning the electoral loss of their “savior,” Donald John Trump!

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      1. Woe to those who say of the evil that it is good and of the good that it is evil; who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who present bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter.
        Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and in their own estimation, of profound understanding.

        You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
        This people draws close to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
        But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

        For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
        And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
        Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

        Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
        […] Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
        Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in YOUR name? and in YOUR name have cast out devils? and in YOUR name done many wonderful works?
        And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

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        1. Examining the 2020 election, it appears that 70+ million American voters are in for a “Sack Full o’ Woe” (a musical contribution by Julius ‘Cannonball’ Adderley). But of course that all depends on one’s point of view. The Trump supporters will go to their graves swearing THEY were the righteous, they were the bringers of light. I, on the other hand, see them as pitifully blinded by HATE and about as far from being enlightened individuals as can be conceived.

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  6. Clif9710: Ah yes my Religious Views exactly “The Golden Rule” But, its also true that there are no Atheists in Foxholes. lol Just as being a Firefighter I never considered myself a Hero– just doing my Job…! I was raised Cath., but don’t subscribe to that Doctrine anymore. I do believe in a Higher Power tho., and it has worked in my life . The Almighty Spirit, or Gd is personal to me and to wit is Nature & the Universe. Will it be in the end just as we were before Birth I don’t know, but it wasn’t so bad before being born for any of us (the long dreamless sleep) as Carl Sagan opined– as we did not exist. At any rate “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, and live your life to the fullest of your potential…

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      1. I’d say no doubt about that! (What, you don’t know your brother well enuf to be sure?) I’m not really a fan, but I like “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and I LOVE “Godzilla”!! The latter, of course, is a reprimand to humans for their mucking up the environment!

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    1. The famous (notorious to religionists) agnostic and masterful American orator of 19th Century, Robert G. Ingersoll, spoke of “the void” as the “place” we go after physical death, same “place” we existed before being born. Also, Mark Twain, in his autobiography, paraphrased here because I don’t have exact quote in front of me: “There is more suffering in one day [may have written “hour”!] for a human being than that person will suffer in an eternity of no longer existing.”

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  7. Just trying to keep it simple: if the “Kingdom of God is within you” (myself and each and every other person), then it is simultaneously in the midst of me because I am surrounded by it. Makes it easier to love one another, be kind, do unto others as…, forgive, forgive, forgive. But a lot of discernment over the years got me here to this place.

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  8. There’s a teacher who once said … go back the way you came. It’s a road I was encouraged to travel by Ramana Maharshi. Many insights are there to be experienced; and that is the beauty of living one’s faith, experience. Having spent the greater majority of time looking into the nature of reality I am always amazed at the blossoms of encouragement one can taste along this path toward the understanding that there is no beginning; and as will be found out, there is no end. Infinity must have said that. Devouring the feast set forth on this post brings joy to know that there are so many who have found the one loving relationship that will never fail. There was a time when these eyes, ears, and thinking were immersed in the teachings of Jesus; the magnetic attraction was there before I even knew a word like attraction even existed. These eyes have seen many a verse and I too have been slain by the saying… the kingdom of god is within you. It activates the relationship of a loving presence that has much to say about this communion we all live.
      The verse reminds me of another saying that one of my favorite teachers applied liberally… the universe exists inside of you. I found the great teacher Nisargadatta after I made the death defying leap from the edge of the great christian divide. That fateful step that damns the soul eternally was the best movement ever taken from this perspective. It was easy to see the creator inside of the body of Christ; but I needed to know that it actually exist everywhere and was truly  the animating factor within all experience. So I started to go back the way I came; found the door of entrance and stepped into the oneness of all things. God indeed is one and now knowing that; the messages from the letter to the Collosians scintillated. I indeed was dead and my life was hid with Christ in God. Having been crucified with Christ, I wasn’t deceased, no! I was alive and live, but not I, but Christ lived in me. I muse how I was with God and god knew me before the foundations of creation. I pondered about the comforter who Christ left after he had surely  had enough of 3rd dimensional experience. That indescribable Holy Spirit burst forth; and  that set me on fire to start walking from a one dimensional perspective and opening up the halls of understanding towards a many faceted jewel. I was having an active loving relationship that freed me from laws and dogma that kept me bound to a head knowledge of living with the creator and creation;  coming to a realization that the kingdom was alive and speaking constantly from all points. When oneness was met it brought with it the perspective that there never is an other. Everything is always interacting with itself; and it is all animated by that comforting holy sprit that supports it all from the seen to the unseen. Having this relationship with the 3rd aspect of the Christian god is where the church  is actually living a full vibrant life. Nisargadatta hammers home the understanding that we are not the mind and we are not the body. He implores us to find out where we were eight days before we were conceived and to stay there. I understand these Advaitist points of view in the words to the early body of believers. This idea of an individual self was crucified with Christ… there’s living but it’s animated not by a me, but that holy spiritual animating factor that animates all. When life becomes selfless one begins to see that everything that I taste touch hear see think feel is all an interaction with That, an undefinable indescribable “me”. I started to tread the earth lightly when these ideas began to dawn on this perspective.
    Bottom line… be careful pondering these crazy ideas that the kingdom of god is within you. It will take you back through  that long and winding road  where I am you and you are me and we are all one together. Here’s to the Beatles and especially The Beatle George who I must admit gave me some courage walk up to the edge; how was I to know as I was looking into that abyss he would shove me from behind.

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    1. One of my favorite stories from Buddhist tradition is of the student who informs his teacher one day that he’s heard great things about some guru living 10,000 miles away and plans to pack his things and set out hiking to this miraculous guide’s compound. His teacher’s reply is quite succinct: “My son, if you cannot find TRUTH where you now stand, what makes you think you will find it 10,000 miles distant?”

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  9. And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
    Then he said to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
    And he said to me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
    He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
    And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
    I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.
    Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
    For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore mongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.
    I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
    And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

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  10. “… for none are righteous …”

    Even as a severely lapsed Catholic, whenever I am asked (never kindly), “Why don’t Catholics quote The Bible?’ I still give ’em the straight Truth: “We don’t have to quote from it because we wrote it.”
    Saved all the Protestants and the rest of the post-95 Theses splitters from having to write their own, which allows them to spend all that time memorizing and quoting (or copying and pasting) and acting out.
    Jesus is our guy, The Bible is our book. Y’all have access on sufferance. And we’ve never charged user fees. But the end of the Second Millenium is still nearly 300 years out* and there will be a Reckoning.

    *As everyone knows, the First and Second Millennium are counted not from the birth of Christ or the Crucifixion, but from the Donation of Constantine. The fact that the document has long been considered a forgery is of no consequence. Dating the Millennia is a matter of math, not dogma, and that’s when they started counting.

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      1. Agreed. Unfortunately, in the USA today we’re plagued with people who HAVEN’T bothered to study the Bible, but think it has somehow empowered them to exert their will over everyone else in the society. Why, if memory serves, “a certain someone” ordered peaceful demonstrators to be forcibly removed so he could strut across a street, stand in front of a church and hold a Bible aloft–upside down!! Surely an unintentional symbolic display of great irony!

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    1. Well, yes and no, BUTSUDANBILL. Yes, Mother Church (“the Mother of All Churches”?)–the one headquartered in Vatican City–grew out of the foundational work by the early apostles. But its structure and doctrines bear little resemblance to the ideas of the earliest Christians. And it was none other than Saul of Tarsus, self-converting to “Paul,” who genuinely perverted the church. I mean, really, if you can’t settle down for life with one woman, if your sexual organ wants to go sampling “the goods” widely in the community, you should…wait for it!…cut it off?!? Yes, that’s what good old Paul advised. And naturally any sects or cults that didn’t fall in line with Rome were to be exterminated. This is the reality of that church’s reign thru the centuries. “Funny,” Jesus is not quoted as having advocated for an earthly pope. And oh my God (pardon the expression), an AGENT of that church has been elected POTUS!! [Okay, that last bit is in jest. But millions of Americans doubtless believe it.]

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      1. Is it progress that very few people seemed to be worried by Biden’s Catholicism?

        Evangelicals certainly weren’t troubled by Catholic conservative Amy Coney Barrett.

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        1. Ha! Everybody knows “The only good Catholic is one who leans Republican!” Biden may prove to be less than a knight in shining armor in defense of a woman’s right to choose, but neither will he crusade AGAINST Roe v. Wade. Thus, he’s NOT an Approved Catholic in the eyes of the Christian Right.

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      2. In 1985 I was extended the rare honour and recognition of being invited to lunch with the Pope’s Apostolic Nuncio to Canada.
        Passing through the main Dining Hall with it’s seven foot fireplace and table seating at least fifty, the Nuncio, Charge D’Affairs, Secretary and I entered a beautifully decorated, intimate Dining room with a table for twelve.
        The dinnerware had a gold band around the edge with the Papal tiara crown in gold at the top. It was a formal setting. with the whitest linen tablecloth and flowers.

        As the guest, the man for all seasons and reasons served me first and the Secretary last. At that point I deliberately picked up the dessert fork at the top of the plate to eat the rigatoni meat sauce appetizer with the most wonderful aroma.
        The Pope’s Ambassador stopped me, pointing to the fork on the side.

        Replacing it, I said, “Excuse me, Your Excellency. It’s been over ten years since I left the refinements of the business world where I negotiated multi-million dollar deals in Board Rooms and fine restaurants.
        I’ve lost touch with that sense of refinement.
        To tell you the Truth, Your Excellency, since I’ve been walking with Jesus, most of the people I encounter can’t even afford to eat good food, let alone have matched dinnerware.”
        Jesus was brutal talking to religious leaders.

        Being a Diplomat and recovering, The Nuncio asked, “What’s on the mind of youth?” I answered, “Sex, drugs, music, peace, love, friendship, money, security and work, not necessarily in that order of priority.”
        “Oh! It’s just like Sodom and Gomorrah” was the reply.
        I said, “Surely Your Excellency knows the Prophet Ezekiel said what the sin of Sodom was in Chapter 16:48.
        It was pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness was in her and her daughters and she was haughty. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
        It had nothing to do with sexual activity.”
        The Pope’s Ambassador shushed both hands at me saying, Eat! Eat!

        Sitting in the front seat of the limousine with the Man for all Seasons and Reasons living in the Gatehouse to the Apostolic Nunciature with his wife, and driving me home after lunch, he told me his wife is a Cormier.

        http://rayjc.com/2011/02/26/the-imperial-pope/

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  11. “The very beasts associate the ideas of things that are like each other or that have been found together in their experience; and they could hardly survive for a day if they ceased to do so. But who attributes to the animals a belief that the phenomena of nature are worked by a multitude of invisible animals or by one enormous and prodigiously strong animal behind the scenes? It is probably no injustice to the brutes to assume that the honour of devising a theory of this latter sort must be reserved for human reason.” — Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: a study in Magic and Religion

    Dog’s Plan

    Dog shared Its plan with George last night
    Which gave him such an awful fright
    He stayed awake till dawn’s first light
    Too scared to run and hide

    Dog’s Plan concerned our land’s defense
    And naked, fierce belligerence
    And dreadful leaders proud and dense
    Who waltzed while others died

    He’d often heard barks just as dumb
    But this one left George cold and numb
    For by the sucking of his thumb
    He knew that Dog had lied

    For Dog had nothing planned at all
    It merely longed to see men crawl
    And women moan and babies bawl
    And peoples petrified

    The Book of Dog contained no clue
    That what appeared as Doggie-doo
    Would sicken not just me and you
    But others, too, beside

    Sometimes George thought he understood:
    Dog wanted him to do some good
    By bombing nature’s neighborhood
    With Power’s pesticide

    But George had garbled up the rhyme
    Which led him then to pantomime
    An offer of Medieval Time
    To those he’d terrified

    He claimed he lived to do Dog’s work
    Yet only seemed to play the jerk
    With curling lip and cynic’s smirk
    Upon his mouth so wide

    His reckless swagger left appalled
    A world aghast at one enthralled
    By perquisites and servants called
    And makeup reapplied

    But mom and Dog had always seen
    That newsmen wore their glasses green
    In Emerald City’s vapid sheen
    And they, of course, complied

    So few observed or told of ills
    As boy George, green around the gills,
    Downed fantasies like poison pills
    Which left whole countries fried

    But Dog said not to sweat the small
    That sycophants would dance on call
    At his inauguration ball
    And have him glorified

    Upon the stage he struts and frets
    A player poor without regrets
    As good as little ever gets
    Absorbed in pompous pride

    His monologue no rhyme consults
    His thought the human mind insults:
    A sound and fury that results
    In nothing signified

    His hour upon the stage unfilled
    The audience leaves hardly thrilled
    At having bought bad tickets billed
    As drama unsupplied

    Reviewers chose to see his clothes
    Where he wore none, which only shows
    How power blinds and money glows
    In circles rarified

    He chose to write his own critique
    Which papers printed: cowed and meek
    Too scared and bought to try and seek
    The truth unsanctified

    He thought himself both shrewd and deft
    Yet brain-wise he had little heft
    His flighty visions only left
    Our nation vilified

    But, anyway, the plagues will come
    They need no fife or beating drum
    To herald where they’re to or from
    This, Dog has certified

    So George was left alone to weep
    Betrayed by Dog, in doo-doo deep,
    As shadows cruel began to creep
    Up on him as he sighed

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2005

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