Religion, for many, is a labyrinthine maze of “my pastor said” and “I have heard” dogma seldom explored or questioned by those who claim fellowship among the great churches of the world. This, of course, can turn problematic when those in power seek to engage in conflict with other groups, in that it leaves vast swaths of humanity in the dark regarding the real underlying motivations to war and relying on justifications for conflict couched in terms of religious piety to construct meaningful worldviews. We have seen a great deal of this as we have entered into the new millennium. So much of the earth’s conflict is based on misunderstanding and false interpretation of religious doctrine. What we are witnessing is an explosion of religious hatred, socio-economic hostility and xenophobia unparalleled in the history of humanity.
In the spirit of education and as a response to the growth of intolerance we have witnessed, I have decided to discuss some common misinterpretations of biblical teachings in the hopes of helping to counter the current trends in religious dogma. The first of these will deal with our nature as humans, the second will deal with our duty on earth, and the final will discuss the proper attitudes to have towards our brethren.
My perspective in my study of religion and spirituality is that all churches, religions, covens, and paths incorporate wisdom into their religious texts and teachings, which are meant to assist us in our spiritual development. It is also my contention that, because they are written and interpreted by humans, texts and dogma tend to be distorted or even slanted to fit the beliefs and objectives of those in power. It is merely a process of being able to see these texts in light of the history of the author and through a lens of anthropology or, at the very least, to try to recognize that all cultures are good and valid for those who are part of it, in the environment in which they live.
Coming from that perspective, one of the most fundamental questions confronting humans is “who are we?” For thousands of years, we can see how this question has expressed itself via culture, painting, sculpture, and writing. The question of identity has been among the most widely asked questions since the ancients first began marking the walls of Lascaux caves with the unique handprint that defines humanity. Even today, we see humanity trying to answer this question.
Religious dogma tends to answer such seekers with answers that do little to uplift the human condition, replying that we are but the misbehaving creations of a benevolent deity; that we are unworthy of the gifts bestowed upon us, and that we must repay such gifts with our misery and self-deprecation, self- deprivation, and blind obedience to those in power. I challenge this stance. The bible is full of examples, which cannot be attributed to mere misinterpretation, of Jehova speaking to others as though he was not the sole deity involved in the process of creation or the subsequent decision making. Who is he speaking to when he says ‘Let US make him in OUR image, after OUR likeness’ (Genesis 1:26 KJV, emphasis added by author)?
Moreover, a scattering of verses in the bible go even farther, and can be taken to imply a truth far more beautiful than anything taught in the great churches. Take the 82nd Psalm. This is another example of Yahweh as one god among many, addressing them and even judging them. Psalms 82:6 says, very plainly, “I have said, ‘Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.’” One, of course, can read into this passage of scripture a blatant opposition to standard doctrine. At the very least, it seems to indicate that there IS in fact more than one god. But who are these other gods? What can they tell us? Why does the church of Christianity ignore them?
Today, I will unveil the mystery. The answer is much closer than you think. It may be uncomfortable, you may have to stop and look at the world very differently. It will be akin to believing the earth is the center of the cosmos and finding out that we are really on a tiny pebble of a planet, circling a tiny spark of flaming gas somewhere in one of the spiral arms of a smallish galaxy.
Now, I want you to take out your little cell phone camera or stand in front of a mirror. I want you to close your eyes. I want you to say the words “I wish to see the face of the creator.” Take a calming breath. Open your eyes, and stare straight ahead. There is the face of your creator. You were created by the divine; you are a daughter or son of the divine. YOU are divine. You are the creator/destroyer of your own reality. You are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. You are Jehova and Lucifer, Thor and Loki, You are Zeus and Hades, and every other reflection of the divine that has ever been conceived. You are a ripple in the cosmic ocean of the divine, reflecting the face of the universe. YOU ARE GOD. Now—behave like it.