Category Archives: Short essays

Essays of short length for ease of reading

A Diablog about the Movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Might anyone be interested in a dialogue about the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey?”  Frankly, I don’t intend to see it but I’m interested in opening up a dialogue about it with anyone who has seen it.  I recently read an article about the sex toy industry that is blossoming in response to the book and expected to blossom even more on account of the movie.  It reminds me of the marketing of so many spin-off products related to other movies.  Apparently we are removing the social taboos about the openness with which the marketing of sex toys and instruction in their use is occurring.  What promises, pitfalls and perils await us in this development?

What I’m wondering about and would like to diablog with others about are these points, at least for starters:

1) Is “Fifty Shades of Grey” a dramatization of a man who has become trapped in intertwined addictions to sexual pleasure and power over others?    Does power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely, as Lord Acton long ago suggested?  Does this story reveal how all addictions are progressive diseases that spiral increasingly out of control as they descend into the depths of depravity in pursuit of greater “highs” when past practices no longer produce the same appetite-satisfying results?   Does this movie warn us of the patterns predators use to groom and seduce their prey?  Does it warn us of the naivete involved in not being prepared to recognize and steer clear of predators instead of being fascinated by their charm and claims of pleasure and power beyond our wildest dreams?  Does it enlighten us at all about the numbing of emotions and acceptance of self-devaluing required to engage fully in any addictive practice?  Does it reveal how ruinously dehumanizing addictions are for all participants once they become entrenched?

2) Does the exploitation of life for fun and profit always lead to a declining quality of life?  Is “Fifty Shades of Grey” merely a string of product placements, a multiphase infomercial for sex toys others hope to market to naïve consumers who do not understand the risks of becoming sexual addicts themselves?   How completely unethical are the movie producers and sex toy marketers in their willingness to throw their market members to the wolves of predatory addictions and promote the decline of modern society so long as their profits pour in?  If the movie were about the cocaine drug trade, would there be no serious questions if retailers began to openly sell and promote the use of cocaine?  Are we aware enough to note that the chemistry of sexual pleasure and the social dynamics of dealing in and consuming sexually stimulating products parallels the chemistry of drug-induced pleasure and the social dynamics of dealing in and consuming chemically stimulating products?  Are we wise enough to discern how to respond to these potential parallels and steer clear of the hazards of addiction latent in them?

Because I’m not going to watch this movie, please pardon my ignorance about it and my unwillingness to critique it or take a stand in favor or against it.  I’m interested in allowing this movie to benefit society in any way it may raise interesting questions and promote a dialogue about the wisdom it may or may not suggest is not yet operative in modern society about addictions and the path to entering into one and becoming unwittingly bogged down in it.  What does this movie tell us about the distinction between healthy intimacy and the alternative of exploitative relationships that can only lead to harm — physical, emotional, mental and otherwise?  Does this movie help us have a clearer vision of this distinction by pealing back the cover from one man’s secret lifestyle to allow us to learn from his dilemma of being out of control and never satisfied with life?  Does it educate us in any way about the danger of pretending to be satisfied with gaining increasing power over others while we feel more and more utterly powerless in our own private lives?  Does it educate us about how it feels to have lost all control to compulsive activities we may have once thought of as innocent fun?

I’m interested in learning about this movie secondhand, not so much to focus on the movie itself but instead to focus on the lessons it may offer us, intentionally or otherwise.

How Does Faith Provide Relief Beyond Life’s Pressure Cooker?

When you feel like your life has become an emotional pressure cooker, my services as a Faith Consultant and Coach may help you not only find relief but also make great progress in personal growth.  The pressure cooker generated by acute pain and confusion piled atop chronic stress can become an incredibly productive opportunity for personal growth.  All that is required is a large dose of devotion to your own best interests mixed well within a solution of helpful resources developed as your personal health tonic.  The healthy energy boost you both need and desire becomes available to you as you seek it intentionally, with renewed faith in your personal value and capacity to overcome pain, confusion and stress to rise again on even better terms than you’ve encountered in the past.  In short, as some would put it, miracles of personal benefit to you are waiting around the corner for you if you’ll move forward by faith in their presence even before you see, hear, smell, taste or feel them. It may sound too cliché, but here’s the silver lining in life’s storm clouds that threaten to overwhelm you with grief.

Miracles of relief and personal growth are not at first physical.  They begin to form by faith in energy realms beyond the physical dimension – realms invisible to our physical senses but accessible by faith.  Perhaps even as you read this article, an inner sense within the core of your being is resonating, tingling with that “knowing” bell that rings when you encounter Truth.  Because the Miracle Provider has faith in you, the miracles you need are already simmering on the Divine Stove even before you may decide to have faith in yourself and the Source of Miracles.  As your faith grows, it encounters the faithfulness of others and of the One from Whom all Faith flows and the reconnected world of faith opens doors for you through which miracles enter your life to comfort, heal and bless.

Stress and tension are normal features of healthy life.  For example, the tension between a relatively drier atmosphere and a relatively wetter inside of a plant draws moisture from the plant into the atmosphere in an attempt to arrive at an equal distribution of moisture inside and outside of the plant.  Because a plant is designed to release moisture from its leaves through transpiration, the attempt to equalize humidity levels occurs at leaves.  Moisture leaves at the leaves!  This departure of moisture increases the tension inside of the plant between moisture levels lower down the plant’s channels and at the leaves where moisture is escaping.  By a natural process, moisture is then moved gradually along the plant’s inner channels towards the leaves from the roots.  If moisture is available in the soil around the roots, it is draw into the plant’s inner channels through the roots and moves towards the leaves where it eventually exits. As moisture moves along the plant’s channels, it carries nutrients from the soil throughout the plant and carries the products of photosynthesis and other chemical reactions throughout the plant as well.  In this manner, the stress of differing tensions helps the plant maintain health and is not destructive to the plant’s health.

In similar ways, tension can play helpful roles in human life.  For example, if our mind encounters a problem that we don’t know how to solve, the problem’s existence creates a tension within us that we can feel as a desire to know the solution to the problem.  If the problem has little value to us, the tension is relatively slight, perhaps even nonexistent.  We encounter a lot of problems throughout our lives that have little or no value to us and cause little or no tension or hunger to solve them.  However, when we value a solution to a problem greatly, we invest a lot of emotions in “not knowing” the answer.  The tension resulting from “not knowing” rises as our emotional investment in solving the problem rises.  Being exposed for a long time to emotionally troubling unsolved problems generates chronic stress, an abiding sense of being stressed out under intense tension with little hope of relief.  Sometimes we adjust to chronic stress by ignoring it and doing our best to survive without knowing the solution we’d prefer to know.  Sometimes a newly arriving problem reminds us that we’d still like to solve the “big one” that has long caused us chronic stress and, although supposedly ignored, left us feeling vaguely tense in our bodies, minds and hearts.

Fear of the unknown is a fear common to all humans.  It is a fear that causes tension and stress until we learn to be comfortable in the presence of mysteries we’ve not yet learned to solve.  Fear of the unknown can be coupled with fear of change (and perhaps accompanying fears of loss of control and powerlessness), the combination of which causes us to feel paralyzed or mired in stagnation, discontent with the status quo but unable to move forward in any direction to find and implement the change we’d prefer.  Or that same combination can cause us to become overactive, chasing our tails in search of a solution not to be found in our nose-to-tail closed circle of futility.

Fear-inducing dilemmas appear like unsolvable puzzles to our minds.  We feel caught on the horns of a dilemma without relief from the painful confusion it causes.  It can even feel like a form of torture because we’d much prefer relief from the pain and confusion and don’t know how to find it.  Because we’ve learned to take pride in our competence-driven achievements, we feel ashamed at having too little competence to solve The Problem.  We may even feel like extreme failures or losers for becoming skewered on the horns of such dilemmas in the first place, as if no winner ever faced them without overcoming them on his or her own.

The truth is that dilemmas arise periodically in everyone’s life because they are a natural consequence of growing on account of one’s experiences.  Every person who has ever discovered increasingly rewarding and enriching ways to live life has faced challenging dilemmas and resolved them satisfactorily according to his or her own values and priorities.  One key factor in finding such resolutions seems like a paradox: that is, that the door through which one must pass to find life’s deepest satisfactions is opened by a mechanism called “interdependence” or “collaboration.”  The door remains closed so long as we continue to resort only to self-reliance or independence as individuals and refuse to trust anyone to assist us in opening the door.

As we stand before such a door in the middle of a tension-filled, dilemma-plagued phase of our life, we can knock and probe for access points on our own without success in opening the door – no matter how great our individual competences and achievements may be in other realms of life.  It may seem like magic but it’s really a matter of faith.  So long as we stand in front of such a door demanding “I want inside!  Open up for me!” we will be frustrated by the unresponsive silence.  Only when we revise our declaration to say “We want inside!  Open up for us!” will we hear a reply and find our way into the sanctuary beyond the door.  The door to relief from painful confusion opens to “us,” not merely to “me” or “you.”  It swings open on multiple hinges, not just on one.

Discovering this truth about multi-hinged doors and their use is one of the primary personal benefits of enduring life’s pressure cooker of faith.  The pressure cooker insists that we discover it.  The truth that brings relief is “None of us is alone.”  Through long training in the ways and myths of self-reliance and independence-at-all-costs, we’ve been misled into believing that we are alone in the world.  We may come logically to believe that we were born into the world alone, leave the world alone at the death of the body and have to endure life in between birth and death largely alone too.  That’s simply not true.  We can try to survive according to that belief for a long time.  We may even reach our death bed still believing it.  But it’s not true.

If we feel alone, it’s merely because we’ve bought into and not yet re-examined the common social training that assumes such a belief to be true.  That an untruth is assumed to be true by many people does not make it true.  Truth remains truth whether none, few or many believe it.  Believing that we are alone in the face of fearful dilemmas and belief-disrupting problems creates massive stress and tension.  The first step in relieving this harmfully stressful tension is to discover that you are not alone in facing anything in life.  In fact, you have people ready, willing and able to stand with you as assets and resources to help you, even if you’ve not yet met them.  And beyond people in whom you can place trust to help you, there’s a Higher Power waiting for you to invest your faith so that this Higher Power can be helpful too. You don’t have to start out believing in such a Higher Power to benefit from my coaching.  This Higher Power believes in you and that’s enough at the beginning if you allow it to be.

Once you recognize that you are under excess pressure and don’t know where to turn for relief, your next step is to seek help until you find competent people you trust, in whom you can place your faith so that your faith in yourself is renewed.  It is not an accident that many of the people in whom you discover you can place your faith most securely have already been through tension-filled, heart-rending problems and dilemmas of their own.  Such experiences prepared them well to be here for you with the greatest power to help you restore faith in yourself and in humankind.  They are also likely to have discovered a renewed or new faith in a divine power greater than ourselves who favors and aids us.  They will help you make the same discovery if and when you decide you want to make it.

Copyright Art Nicol 2014

JFK’s Attribute

I am not ashamed to say
I died that day with JFK
I sat before the TV dazed
My innocence he’d set ablaze
Faltered as his head had slumped
Ideals from my heart had pumped
A boy no longer, a man too soon
Life and death one solemn tune
An empty heart was left to pine
For all that I’d once thought was mine
His death somehow had set me free
To journey far away and back to me

Copyright Art Nicol 2013

Ask Not What Our God Can Do for Us, Ask . . .

If humans want to experience ourselves as fully divine beings of light, we must position ourselves in God’s position.  How do we position ourselves in God’s position when we cannot replace God?  We do so by loving and serving humanity as God wills that humanity be loved and served, thereby aligning our will with God’s will.  When our wills are aligned with God’s will, our spirits, hearts and minds will come into alignment too.  Our wills will become extensions of God’s Will, our spirits and hearts will become extensions of God’s Spirit and Heart and our minds will become extensions of God’s Mind.  Without replacing God, we will manifest God through our human forms, the very expression of the divine made incarnate that Jesus modeled while on earth.  This is oneness with God in the fullness of our capacity to know it while yet expressing life through our bodies.  This is what it means to be fully human and fully divine, to live the paradox of being gods and yet not God.  And that is the manner in which we become aware that Love is all we are just as Love is all God is.

To attain our highest evolutionary ideal as diving beings of light, humans may yet be inspired by lofty words accompanied by daringly compassionate deeds.  As he boldly accepted responsibility for leading his nation, John F. Kennedy once inspired listeners by declaring “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  His call to reverse our aim from narrowly self-centered targets to broadly other-focused goals still resonates with many who heard his inaugural speech on a cold January day in 1961. Today the Spirit of Love calls to us, “Ask not what God can do for us, ask what we can do for God.”

If we ask we will hear the Spirit say, “As earthly channels of grace and blessing upon which I must rely, love and care for all of My creation.  Raise up all the children whom I entrust to you as if they are all Beings of Light and Love created by Me as their Divine Parent.  Let harm come to none and heal those who have already suffered harm of any kind.  Come into My arms of love with humility that I might love you as an example of My mercy and justice towards all of humankind and then go forth to tell others of what you have experienced of Me according to My will that heaven come to be on earth.”

If all adults throughout humanity were to re-order our priorities to make the welfare of children paramount among the issues we address with all of the resources, energies and time available to our hearts and minds, we’d revolutionize the world because we’d all become one global village united in our devotion to every child’s well-being.  We would make no weapon or tool of destruction until we’d first served all the children according to all of their needs in body, mind, emotions, relationships, will and spirit.   Before we counseled together about how to make war, we’d counsel together about how to ensure lasting peace so that the abiding safety and tranquility children need to develop into wholeness according to God’ design for their unfolding fruitfulness would be, like the soil in an orchard, undisturbed.  To nurture our children as trees within their global orchard, we would order our lives after the ideal of the infinitely patient and merciful Parent and discover the totality of our Divine Parent’s commitment to us as well.

In the process we’d experience the Answer to life’s most enriching riddles, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?”  “In both the short and the long run and in all ranges in between, what really matters most?”  We’d come face to face with our neglectful as well as abusive inhumanity towards other human beings and sort out our personal responsibilities for perpetuating that inhumanity, learning along the way that we are not as powerless to make a meaningful difference as we’ve managed to convince ourselves we are.

We’d learn to tune out our ego’s constant chatter about justifications for our being neglectful and even cruel and abusive towards others, and instead tune into the still, small voice of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe who whispers words of wisdom in our hearts but never insists that we obey them.  We’d come to understand the meaning of “free will” and how it offers us both the responsibility and the power to create the world we live in, be it healthy or unhealthy, kind or cruel, sane or insane, uplifting or oppressive, encouraging or disheartening, empowering or intimidating, creative or destructive.

In mastering the disciplines required to undo our allegiance to ego’s tyrannous reign on earth in modern times, we would come into increasing awareness of our ancient native realm beyond earth and learn to practice here those principles honored there.  We’d uproot our tree of life from the soil of dualistic social approval and disapproval and transplant it into the richer and more rewarding unified soil of unconditional love, appreciation and affection.  We’d forsake futile efforts at intimacy on ego’s terms and instead enjoy the abundant sweetness of intimacy on Divine terms.  We’d learn to set aside all learned obstacles to the flow of love as a natural life force and rest in peace within that flow’s refreshing stream long before our bodies decline to function and we rest in peace beyond the body’s realm. In this way, we’d learn to live in the Present as if the Past, Present and Future were one within Eternity.

To make our peace with God while our bodies remain here on earth is the wisest re-orientation we can choose to make.  We can emigrate from hell to heaven while yet remaining on the earth in bodily form.  Our free will empowers us to make that choice for ourselves and for loved ones who remain faithful to us.  If we choose hell-on-earth’s orientation, we can hardly expect wiser loved ones of any age to remain attached to our way of life.  Our hearts call for them to detach from hell and enter into heaven before us, waiting patiently for us to come to our senses and choose to join them in earthly heaven too.  No political considerations will separate us from God’s peace of mind, hope of heart and joy of spirit unless we remain allied with the mistaken belief that God/Goddess favors some of us over others of us.

That there is no hell except by reason of having chosen poorly to believe in the divisive illusions of the ego is a paradox worth discovering in person.  By choosing to invest ourselves in unforgiving orientations and insisting that vengeance be given its day on earth, we can adopt hell as our future just as others adopted it for us as our past.   Yet every day of our lives we have the power to choose to step away from the mistaken choices others made that so heavily influenced our thinking and chiseled our beliefs, as if epitaphs upon our gravestones, and with Divine help learn to think again more sanely.

Never has violence begat anything but greater harm within expanding spirals of violence.  Never has a whitewash over unresolved emotional issues begat anything but festering wounds and ugly outbreaks of heartrending violence.  Because forgiveness allows buried bodies to rise up to new life without burdens of guilt and shame, we need not remain chained to the buried pain of anyone’s past woundedness – including especially our own.  We are free to choose to rise beyond past pain and present suffering to soar together as mighty eagles above the storms – somewhere beyond the rainbow that symbolizes the Divine promise that grief need no more flood the earth to deprive us of our second birth.

Let each of us ask our Divine Parent how we each can more fully participate in awakening peace on earth among people of good will so that ultimately all people feel free in their hearts to become and live as people of good will.  No child of God of any age or station in life need be left behind in the School of Highest Education in which each member of the student body is devoted to the welfare of the whole.

Copyright Art Nicol 2013

Implications of Jesus’ Prayer for Oneness

Jesus’ prayer for all believers to know oneness with God is recorded in the 17th Chapter of John. Its implications ripple outward into his call that his followers treat the “least of these” as if they are one with him.  This core theme of oneness echoes throughout Jesus’ ministry as he constantly questions the standards used by others to separate “good” people who are supposedly worthy of social approval and warm welcome from “bad” people who supposedly deserve only disapproval and avoidance or exile if not outright attack.

We are all one within God and with each other because we are all (each and every one of us!) created in the image and likeness of God, expressing God’s divine nature.  Long ago, a fundamental flaw crept into Christian theology when elitists bent on accumulating power over the masses adopted the concept of “original sin” or “created flawedness.”  This transparent lie helped to keep the masses controlled by their constant fear of being condemned by God, for whom the elites conveniently claimed to speak to the terror of the masses who already feared the elites.  The elites equated their neglect and abuse of underlings with the way God saw and treated humanity. How convenient to claim to speak for God to justify one’s own cruelty!

The concept of “original sin” is such an insulting idea in its disparagement of God as Creator that Jesus has to constantly serve as Redeemer to correct it.  We need a Redeemer only because we believe false ideas trumpeted in the marketplace by those who hog the soapboxes and pulpits as socially aggressive personalities who crave social approval so much as to demand that they set the standards for social approval. As their craving for political power as a false substitute for spiritual power corrupts their minds and hearts, they do all they can to lead others astray with them. Those who question such absurdities are colored as heretics and blasphemers and made to serve as martyrs and scapegoats for religio-political heroes/bullies.

Who sets the standards?  Man or God?  Woman or Goddess?  Jesus says that his (and our) heavenly Father* sets the standards. He modeled that truth so radically that he submitted his own lesser will to the greater will of the Father even unto death on the cross so as to demonstrate the power that arises from Oneness lived to its extreme. We are called today to do likewise, but few are willing to endure the merest hint of social disapproval (let alone the public humiliation of a cross-hung criminal) to do so.  We mistakenly keep expecting religio-politicians to approve our “deviations” from their critically acclaimed social norms and flinch when they disapprove instead.  How timid we are compared to Jesus and his original disciples!

Why does Jesus direct us towards serving the “least [familiar or approved] of these?”  Because the more we embrace the stranger in the other person, the more we’ll have opportunities to get to know the stranger in ourselves and accept ourselves more completely too.  It’s all a developmental thing actually.  The human race’s diversity expresses more than mere diversity of surface appearances and actions summed up as “images,” “lifestyles” and “cultures.”  In addition to demographically measured diversity humanity expresses our developmental diversity, the steps of development each of us has achieved with respect to the multifaceted range of human wholeness God designed us to master.  We develop in response to our social environments.  So, we tend to develop different facets of our gemlike wholeness on different timetables depending upon the social environments to which we have been exposed so far.  (Do we not sometimes say, “He is a product of his environment?”)

For this reason, when we encounter a “stranger,” he or she is “strange” to a significant degree precisely because he or she has been exposed to different social environments or conditions than we have.  We encounter the effects of those different social environments as embodied in and expressed through the “other” or “stranger.” Yet if we were totally honest with ourselves we would say, “There but by the grace of God go I.”  We’d admit that we would be much like the stranger had we endured the social environments through which he or she has evolved.

Each person we meet offers us another opportunity to learn more about ourselves as we might be had we lived a life different from the one we’ve lived so far.  Those opportunities offer insights into our wholeness because they reveal aspects of ourselves that our current or previous social environments may not have mirrored back to us before so powerfully or at all.  And we tend to mirror for the other person in each relationship similarly helpful feedback about himself or herself.  When we mirror feedback consciously without judgment or fault-finding, we are lovingly nurturing each other.  The social environment of lovingly nurturing each other with gracious feedback is the kingdom of God Jesus represents and encourages us to enter into – seeking first God’s righteousness and no longer asserting our own (inadequate!) self-righteousness.  That God’s righteousness is infused with grace and mercy is a lesson we need to learn by heart until we master it.  Meeting and serving strangers so as to be their gracious hosts affords us opportunities for such mastery.  Through practice, our mastery of hosting strangers empowers us to rise beyond xenophobia and learn to welcome each supposed “other” as a sister or brother – no longer a stranger at all.

Jesus calls us to be servants of those we know and those we don’t know because he knows how immature we are and always will be if we remain trapped within our social bubbles or cocoons.  Within heavily defended comfort zones based on conformity, discipleship is moribund. Constant rebirth amidst the challenges of diversity is a part of maturing as a disciple.  Jesus’ own journey illustrates that one must never pitch a tent and try to preserve the status quo, even one as magnificent at the Mount of Transfiguration.  For us to develop or mature progressively as spiritual beings, humility requires that we admit that we are often ignorant – not stupid but lacking in information and ill-informed.  The brightest genius can still be uninformed or ill-informed.  In humility we listen and learn – and perhaps even laugh at ourselves more readily rather than fume over every little error (or non-erroneous nonconformity called an “improvement!”) we or others may make. Jesus asks us to listen within our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit.  That’s why he sent the Holy Spirit to be our constant Teacher as we develop greater maturity as his followers.  Even today there are things that many of Jesus’ disciples cannot yet bear to hear, as he long ago foresaw. (See John 16:12.)  Yet we can all become delightfully competent, ever-growing-wiser students of the Truth that sets us free to development our wholeness more and more completely.

Freedom to be authentic and whole beings of integrity and love as God created us to be is scary.  It implies loss of social structures we once depended upon to guide and protect us on our journeys.  In His quest for our highest good, our Father does not intend that those social structures with which we become so familiar during various phases of our development become our imprisoning status quo of traditions or “laws” (rules, roles and rituals).  Like the gantry of a rocket that once enabled the rocket to stand erect and not fall over while it was assembled, equipped and fueled, social structures must at some point release us to soar beyond them.  When that happens we are dependent on our internal guidance systems. The more our internal guidance systems are attuned to God’s will, spirit, heart and mind the more at peace with God we’ll be as we journey onward in our quest for more elegant mastery, deeper enrichment and more lasting satisfaction as our Father’s servant-sons and -daughters. Those who serve with grace achieve a high orbit from which to envision and embrace the whole of humanity as God’s family of beloved and much favored children.

*Today Jesus would have no problem calling the Supreme Parent “Mother” too.  He could not do so earlier due to the social constraints of his historically first human audience with whom such a concept would have sidetracked communications too much. See, John 16:12-15 for Jesus’ explanation of his plan of sequential communication with successive audiences.

ã Art Nicol 2013

What Might God Want Us to Know Most of All?

Buried beneath centuries of rhetoric “about” God is the reality of God.  For many centuries, religious leaders, parents and others claiming to speak for God published accounts of God’s nature and attitudes towards us by word of mouth — through only the spoken words of authority figures who had the ear of audiences who could listen and repeat what they had heard.  Since most people fear authority figures because the authority figures control their society’s resources and power to reward and punish, include and exclude and degrade or upgrade the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones, the masses will not question what they hear authority figures report about God.  Instead, they will soak up all of the messages unquestioningly, memorize the messages as if they are all true and repeat them to others to prove that they were listening and remain loyal to the authority figures.  Verbal traditions have been handed down generation after generation by this method as newcomers heard, accepted, believed and adopted as true whatever their forebears declared was true. By this chain of traditions, humanity has largely been held in slavery to the “higher ups” in the social chain as if there’s a food chain by which humanity is consumed by its own fear of error in regard to our relationship with God. Woe be to the heretic who dares to think differently!  Bemoan the fate of any whose heresy reaches the ears of the authority figures!  Heretics must repent or be doomed!

(By the way, “heresy” only means that you risk daring to think for yourself rather than automatically conform to the ideas of others around you.  If you’re reading this blog, you may be a risk-taker too!  Perhaps you are considering being a nonconformist or even now emerging as one.  If that scares you too much, stop reading.  If it excites your curiosity, you’re welcome to read along with me as these words pour forth for our consideration.)

Then in our story of idea-sharing along came the printing press and subsequent advances in the technology of recorded words and their sharing through mass production — until now, in the days of the Internet, mass media is available to many individuals with relatively little censorship by authority figures of publishers or audiences.  Instead of censors successfully marginalizing and silencing heretics, opinionated heretics are marginalizing and disempowering the censors.  Presses that printed a few copies on paper soon gave way to presses that mass produced copies on reams and rolls of paper which in turn gave way to electronic media that advanced from radio, silent movies and black-and-white TV to the Internet that is not only never silent but speaks in millions of voices to millions of minds moment by moment with little delay between thinking of a thought and its widespread publication.  Ideas held by self-declared authority figures pour forth into the minds of massive audiences of every kind.  And so do the ideas of others. The merit of the ideas of both authority figures and nonauthority figures rarely plays a role in determining whether an idea is widely published.  In fact, the more absurd an idea may be, the more it may draw attention.  There is no end to the streaming and often screaming messages that bombard our minds, many of them enhanced in their impact by seductive visual images and music.  Singing, dancing, acting . . . so many forms of performing and graphic arts are now employed to get a persuasive point across and make it unforgettable.  Politically connected figures, paid publicists and advertising agencies no longer monopolize mass media nor control its contents.  As traditional rules, roles and routines dissolve, the battle for attention of our minds rages on as if chaos and confusion are valued over orderliness and reason.  Perhaps it is time ask, “To whose advantage do chaos and confusion work?”

Amidst centuries of published ideas, there are now many unforgettable misrepresentations about God beneath which the reality of God is buried because it has for millennia served the purposes of society’s authority figures, and now others, to enhance their position, prestige and power by associating their values and priorities with God’s.  To the extent that the masses have allowed authority figures and others to tell them all they know about God, the masses have allowed themselves to be duped into believing about God what serves elite authority figures and other attention-grabbers for the masses to believe or at least hear for entertainment value if nothing else. In democracies where personal opinions are honored as automatically of value, the truth about God is buried deeply because it does not serve egos that it should ever surface.

Yet it is only the ego that fears the truth about God because it is only the ego that disappears in the Presence of God.  The reality of who we are as human beings beyond our egos shines ever brighter in God’s Presence, not diminished but empowered to increasingly more radiant brilliance.  As we learn to forget the supposedly unforgettable misrepresentations “about” God and instead experience God’s Presence directly, we shed our egos and our encounters with divine love draw us ever closer to the core of our true selves where we surrender to God’s loving embrace and are finally aware of being once again home within our hearts where God has been waiting to welcome us all along.

Some of the core misrepresentations about God that society’s elite authority figures and other attention-grabbers want us to believe are true (or at least entertaining) include:

1) God has entrusted exclusively to society’s elite authority figures truths that God does not entrust to common folks.

2) God has entrusted exclusively to society’s elite authority figures the power to determine whom God favors and whom God does not favor, including to whom God grants the ultimate reward of an eternity in heaven and whom God condemns to the ultimate punishment of an eternity in hell.

3) God has a default setting that presumes we’re defective, never will get it right and might as well forget about winning divine favor. It’s nearly impossible to overcome God’s presumption against us. The best we can do is suffer all of our lives to prove how much it matters to us to somehow win God’s favor and avoid eternal condemnation to hell.

4) God has actually created a form of eternal condemnation and punishment or at least allowed some power nearly as great as God to do so.

5) God is in some kind of pitched battle for supremacy with a form of power that is a close rival for God in terms of power by whatever standards we measure power.  God barely has the edge in this battle and seems sometimes to lose it for reasons unknown to us but largely assumed to be beyond us to understand or address because, after all, we are powerless compared with God and this other powerful being.  We are mere collateral damage and bystanders on this divine battlefield and may as well duck and run for cover behind the walls of our egos.

6) Winning God’s favor is a lifelong struggle that we’re not likely to win without the approval and encouragement of those who claim to speak for God in our current times.  So, second best to winning God’s favor is winning the favor of the authority figures who rule our society and dispense its rewards. With their favor under Plan B, perhaps we’ll slip into heaven on their coattails. We can never know for sure so it’s best to keep their favor for life rather than risk exploring on our own.

7) Being “good” in God’s eyes and welcome in heaven = being socially approved of and escaping the notice of critics who search for targets to condemn.

8) There really is no divine Supreme Being and we may as well become accustomed to living life on our own terms, surviving as best we can on our own before our bodies decline and snuff out.

9) Our gender, race, religion, gender orientation, sexual preferences, history of misconduct or some other insurmountable obstacle(s) will always prevent us from ever winning God’s favor and experiencing divine love so we may as well become accustomed to living life on our own terms, etc.

10) Although others seem to be free to overcome the obstacles between them and God, I’ll never overcome mine.  I may not ever become other than vaguely afraid and may always fail to clearly identify what those obstacles are for me. Instead of gaining clarity and being shown how to overcome any obstacle, I’m more likely to remain perpetually confused and in doubt all of my life because, for reasons unknown and unknowable, I’m convinced that God’s out to get me and won’t ever give up trying to find fault with me. Regardless of how merciful and forgiving God seems to be towards others that will never happen for me.

Freedomwise.com is one of many sites now available on the Internet to allow us all to explore the truth about God so as to allow God’s Presence to surface and be known to us in our own personal experiences.  I hope you find the sites that help you best in this quest for the truth that sets you free to know God and be known by God as your heart yearns to know and be.  To be or not to be you is key.  If this site can assist you in discovering the truth about yourself as a divine loved one of a most loving Supreme Being and to enjoy the fullness of that experience for the rest of your life, I will be blessed along with you.

© Art Nicol 2013