Part VI: Conclusion: Reverend Solomon 'the Religious Atheist
Religion as well as religious teachers needs to be replaced with something more viable, and something that will be more beneficial to humankind if not to a Sovereign in my opinion. Both the current discipline as well as the occupation of religion does nothing more than hold its followers in lock-step, and the world living in the past
As I begin to wind this series down let me tell you about an experience that I had the other night while riding on the San Jose Lite-Rail system। I met a young man that night who was just returning from the San Jose California annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.
As we rode on the Lite-Rail together, we began to discuss the topic of religion. I shared my insights about religion, much the same as I have written in these 6 essays. At the conclusion of our 3-hour during the wee hours of the morning long discussion, the young South Islander looked at me and smiled.
He said that I should be teaching in the University, and not just preaching in churches। When I told him that I have taught and preached at the University level and actually considered myself to be more of a religious philosopher, he was pleased. He said, this is what his generation, the X Generation, needs!
Then he added this comment, “Reverend you sound like a religious atheist”। Then we both smiled again because factually, more and more, I have become a religious atheist, one who feels that religion will eventually have to be replaced with something more viable like science or some other discipline if we are ever to get any place.
After explaining to the young man that his words were apropos, given that he wasn’t sure how I would take his comment, I made sure that he understood that my atheism had nothing to do with ‘the deity itself other than its true essence, my issues have more to do with religion and the shortcomings of religion and its practices। I am concerned that this tool which has been in use for millennia now has outlived its usefulness.
It certainly has failed in its attempts to guide humans to ‘all of ‘the truth’। I suspect that just as Jesus likely explained to the self-righteous religious Pharisees on more than one occasion in the past (the same group that the Apostle Paul derived from and where his thinking was shaped) that their religion was in vain, that religious communities of the post-modern era also share a common fate, for they also have the Kingdom shut up. And, too often, the works of religion are being done in vain.
I am reminded of the parable of the landholder who went away to a far kingdom who subsequently returned to determine what progress his servants made with his sustenance while the landholder was absent।
In that same light I wonder what Jesus would have to say about his current group of caretakers who have been in charge while he was away if were to return to earth today and make an assessment of what the Christian Church, along with the Jews and others had been doing with his possession। The questions being raised, I suspect would be and what were you folks doing all of the time that I was away, given that you haven’t moved ahead one iota from where I left you 2000 years ago.
Some of the ministers would immediately reply, hey come on Jesus, let me take you on a tour of our capitalist mega monolithic religious citadels that we have built and you will immediately change your thinking। Another group would do what Melchesidec did and offer Jesus a cut in the mammoth amount of tithe monies that they have collected, for after all it would be Jesus’ money, correct?Religion more than any other discipline that I know of unabashedly closes doors that oftentimes should remain opened.
And even though I suspect that there is a paucity of truth in terms of what religious organizations teach, however, what humans need more than anything is to be taught the truth, and to be told that it is okay for you to seek the truth, because we, religious organizations, do not have a monopoly on truth। Right now, the religious world and its coterie of teachers, preachers, Imams, rabbis and prelates are teaching their own form of religious truth, which accomplishes two things. One it perpetuates the myths and whereby keeps the institution going, and it keeps them employed, some lavishly so.
I can still recall the picture of Agnostic talk show Larry King questioning millionaire religion tycoon Kweflo Dollar about all of the money he is raising given the churches 501C3 non-profit status। Kweflo, bless his incredible heart tried to defend his excessive lifestyle.
If what I believe is true, and what we ought to be seeking after that which is actually a leap beyond the intellect, then we are missing out on all cylinders। What we have today are singing, praying, fasting, Eucharist taking, peyote smoking, whirling, tongue talking … religious organizations that spend too much of their time fighting against disciplines that are seeking after answers to what used to be earth’s mysteries. In the Apostle Paul's first epistle to the Church at Corinth he wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways”. Isn't it time for religious organization to grow up and to stop speaking like, thinking like and reasoning like children?The Apostle also wrote in his epistle to the Church at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 13:12, for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known। Did you get it what he was saying, and then shall I know, even as also I am known.
Who wouldn’t believe that 2000 years since the Apostle's words were written down that we would not know anymore today to be concise, than was known 2000 years ago। Do we know IT, as IT knows us, in terms of our form, essence and substance.
I believe that the day has arrived when all of us ought to be seeing what was once mysterious to us, clearly। We should be able to look beyond the shadows and to be able to define what is and what is not there, even this thing that we call God Mystical truth should have been put to bed a long time ago. And knowing in part, two thousand years later, ought to be passé. Sadly, many religious individuals and groups, it would appear, still prefer living in the dark willowy past of mysticism and corollary. These types are satisfied with ingesting religious baby food. We ought to be having conversation, perhaps in a completely different manner or language than we know of today with such an entity.
Babies require a shorter period of time in order to communicate with their creators। Blasphemy you say again? My answer to that is, ‘put a sock in it’, for we have waited long enough for reasonable explanations to exude from our band of mystical teachers. The fact is that they simply don’t have an answer.
There are times when I want to walk up to some of religious leaders and teachers and say to them, especially my fellow clerics ,‘will you grow up’?To the non-religious, I don’t expect them to know any better because they are confused by a group that purports to know the truth, a group that lacks adequate teachers for accurate information, and the former suspect that the latter are frauds। Who could begrudge the purportedly great unwashed sinners for seeking and relying upon their own answers.
It seems to me that the entire religious world, with only a few exceptions, has been engaged in baby talk and exercising infantile antics of a religious kind for long enough, for eons it would seem। Factually there is not much difference between the religious teacher/mystic of today than the Shaman Priest or years ago! The former would be insulted, but the fact of the matter is each one is doing the same thing, holding their audiences in step with mysticism and fear.
Rarely, do you encounter a religious individual who wants to know, as the late Paul Harvey would often say, “…the rest of the story”; the latter are fairly satisfied with retrograde teachings, and a sometime weekly visit to some house of worship, mosque, synagogue … on a regularized basis। That is good enough for them, and afterwards they feel pretty good about themselves and there place in the Universe.
Apollos, the noted Alexandrian orator that Paul referred to in his letter to the Corinthians, was speaking before a live audience on one occasion, two of the audience members were Priscilla and Aquila, close compatriots of the Apostle Paul।After listening to Apollos speak, and without denying him his due credit given his ability to speak so eloquently, they still decided that it was necessary to take him aside from the crowd whose respect he had apparently garnered, and teach him more about what he had not come to understand as of yet.
And why didn’t he understand it, because like Paul who thought he was represented God given his earlier antics, no one had told him yet। Can you imagine what would happen if someone with knowledge would attempt to reeducate one of our minister fossils of whatever faith today?
I know already, because I have tried it on more than one occasion। In short what you often end up doing is hitting the proverbial wall. Once Acquila and Priscilla had Apollos in a private and non-threatening environment away from the crowds (they weren’t trying to embarrass him), they proceeds to instruct Apollos, a man that could apparently preach better than the Apostle and the other disciple could, and that his message was incomplete, not wrong but incomplete.
Why was Apollos’ message incomplete? It was because he taught only what he known at the time, he had not been fully instructed at the time that he began preaching। He reminds me of Paul who wrote in his letters to Galatia that I did not go up to Jerusalem for religious instruction once I converted, I just set off on my journey and began preaching.Now doesn’t this sound familiar? And similar to Apollos, what the Apostle taught was apparently true, but by his own admission, it was incomplete. Apollos, apparently understood only the baptism of repentance which was a part of a precipice which I referred to earlier as foundational truth.Factually, from all that I have read, the Apostle Paul only new a little more at the time than Apollos knew, but it did not stop him from branding what was later to be known as Christianity right away.There are a lot of eloquent orators out there who simply need to be taken aside and talked to, given that they are constantly teaching or preaching over and over again that small part of the message that they have received. The image that comes to mind is similar to what took place on 9/11, when the USA was attacked by 19 Middle-Eastern mostly religious youth, over 5,000 planes were ordered back to the earth, and in approximately 4 hours, the majority of the planes were land bound.
I wouldn’t go to the extreme that the 19 went to, but I would love to see the same result, that is that all religious teachers from all over the planet within 4-hours be grounded, retrained and then they could be released for further flight। . Now having said that, some rickety buildings with their defects stand for a long prior to tumbling down to earth.
And on occasion, they do not collapse at all but seem to be firm and rigid। I could only wish that everyone, including the old rickety teachings buildings that have stood for such a long period of time, would reexamine what they have taught about for years.
And those who will ought to do so with one thing in mind, by simply asking themselves, do I understand all that the Almighty would want me to understand and within its proper context।
Some individuals have been so immersed in falsehood and traditional teachings which are incomplete teachings, that it would take a skilled deprogrammer to deprogram and then reprogram each one of them so that they could get back to the business at hand, synching up with the Sovereign।
At 12 years of age, Jesus had already begun challenging the foundational and structural teachings of Judaism, in short that which he had been taught and was passed down from his parents and by the rabbis। Jesus explained to his parents (his mother and his surrogate father) that it was time for him, instead, to be about his ‘real father’s business.
Too many of today's religious sycophants are simply mimicking the religion practices of their human parents, and as a result they are still not ready to be about their real father's business।Upon entering his public ministry, Jesus switched gears and openly taught in public the basis of his new belief system and understanding which were built upon a foundation of truth, that transcended what his Jewish ancestors taught.Folks, Mary and Joseph had no idea what they were in for at the time when Jesus began to speak out, and somehow they avoided being dis-fellowshipped by the religious clerics given the behavior and teachings of Jesus.Someone once said that ‘it is not easy being different’. And I would add, that being different, is what we are often called to be. Individuals need to weight those famous historical icons like Jesus and others who challenged convention and the oligarchy, cultural rules and mores of the day.
Factually, the only way to continue moving forward is by having a willingness to discard what is not real, even if it means step back momentarily, and preserve that which is good while eliminating that which has no basis in fact।Many of my readers have expressed shock and dismay at my bluntness, particularly given that I would question Paul and his writings, and the viability of traditional religious belief systemytology. One friend Mark, proferred on a prior occasion, "so let me get this straight he said: Paul is wrong but God speaks to you and you are right".
Ah something like that I responded before he hung up the phone on me!The fact of the matter is that Paul admitted that not everything that he wrote originated with God; he was honest in that regard। If past behavior is truly an indicator of future behavior, as the saying goes, then all of Paul’s writings ought to be subjected to critical examination.
And this critical review should not by sycophants of the Apostle Paul’s writings, instead his writings out to be placed within the crucible of critical examination and held there until proved to be accurate। And the same thing needs to happen with other sacred written writings that have emerged over the years from other religious groups, prophets, teachers or prophets.I suspect that all of us have been traveling around the same religious Paul-influenced Mountain long enough, and the ones of us who have been waiting generation after generation to be harvested must be made to understand that it is time to begin realizing that the Apostle may have simply been wrong.Two thousand years after Paul’s epistles, we are still here on earth. I wrote earlier in this paper about the Apostle's comments with regard to the effeminate (homosexuals) and his having written them off in terms of having a place in the Kingdom.These kinds of comments by Paul, reminded me a lot of his attitude towards the people of ‘The Way’, the pre Christian followers of Chris, when he summarily hunted down and caused them to be incarcerated, interrogated, tortured and in some instances put to death.These folks were going into a Pauline heaven at the onset either.So what does my 'religious atheism' have to do with any of this? I suspect that one day, many of us will have to follow the same instructional path that Jesus instructed his disciples to prior to leaving the Earth.
His instructions were that they were to abandon organized religion, and to go to the upper room and wait there until they were endued instead with power from on high; frankly, what religious people were getting on earth from Jesus’ perspectives was failing them।If we fail to do the same thing today, we will remain stunted, just as the people of ‘the way’ would have done, if they had continued to rely upon organized religion to guide them into all of the truth.It was later Paul who taught people to wait for the harvester, the same harvester that he waiting on up and until the day of his sudden death.Each of us ought to be asking ourselves, and what have we been missing out on given that we have fallen in line with those who believe in only partial truth, and have no interest in knowing the whole story?
It is time for us to evolve into the enlightened beings that we were intended to be prior to becoming immersed in retrograde religious practice, ceremony and beliefs। We ought to be more than singers, preachers and communion takers; instead we ought to be able to exhibit the power of love, understanding of what is, knowledge and incomparable truth.
In the meantime, and to the rest I say, put religion in its proper historical context just as Jesus once did when he was alive and move on into revealed truth।
So what am I really saying? I am saying this: why don't all of us working together expend all of our energy and resources and determine and hold on to what is real. And afterward let's get rid of everything else that is not real, even old-time religion.
Love, Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon