The Great Blasphemy

“All great truths begin as blasphemies.”
      – George Bernard

Did you not hear? Have you not been told? What was it in the testimony of Jesus Christ that the apostle Paul persecuted before he was the apostle? For what, exactly, did the Sanhedrin pronounce judgment on our Lord, that he himself supposedly admitted to? You know, you hear the story of Jesus Christ, and at least some of us we think, how gullible were the populace back then, believing in virgin births and people coming back to life. How quaint. But really, those two things were hard sells, back then. Most people were quite practical and pragmatic. Eratosthenes, back in 240 BC, he estimated the circumference of the earth: they knew that the earth was round even that far back. One imagines that people did not take stories about a virgin giving birth too seriously… but that, of course, was not the great blasphemy. You weren’t put to death for something like that.

We find in scholarship that the great blasphemy of old, the reason why Paul, then Saul, so enthusiastic did he persecute, was the idea that God came in the form of a man. Our own Jesus Christ: when he said to the crippled man, “Your sins are forgiven you,” some religious officials took offense, saying that only God can forgive sins. Indeed, our Lord was put to death supposedly for this blasphemy: “This man says he is God.” That he was literally the Son of God, and since there is only one God, the Son shares His nature—he is God in the form of a man. It is for this reason, among others, that practicing Jews deny Jesus is the Messiah, for they expected not a demigod, but a man like you or me. Certainly not Divinity itself. And anyone who now says, “But of course Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” these would undoubtedly have sided with the Pharisees, for they both are clinging to established doctrine. One might predict how they react to the great blasphemy of today, instead.

“The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer. The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore. He changes them into ‘nice people’.”
      – Mike Yaconelli

We have the Bible, these days. Notably, we have the New Testament. This is generally where Christians come from, but it wasn’t always like that. The earliest Christians really only had word of mouth, and two questions: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, risen from death?” and “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” That’s it. No written material of any kind, not even a pamphlet. And note that nobody seems to ask the second question anymore, and it relates to the quote previous to this paragraph. “Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing.” Did you know that you can make an idol, a graven image, out of a book? You know, the thing they made a commandment of, not to do. We have the Bible, these days. And it has taken the place of the Holy Spirit in many of our lives, we believers.

Where has the Holy Spirit gone, then? You can still see it in people when it is there, I think: those who show uncommon kindness, seemingly even in the most difficult of circumstances. And I’m thinking more Doctors Without Borders, not some Christian missionary work. If Jesus Christ is indeed the universal Savior, why would he not have been with all of us, from our womb, to stay with us till we leave this place? Is he not, indeed, God? When the Lord struck Saul on the road to Damascus, was he not instantly converted, by divine fiat? Could not Jesus Christ instantly convert someone the instant before death, if he is indeed God, omnipresent? This then is the next great blasphemy. We don’t need to have found Jesus to be saved. Because if he can save us, we already have him with us. Think of it like the reverse of original sin. It is blasphemy because of what is in the Bible—where Jesus himself is told to say you need to believe in him to be saved.

What if we don’t believe in the literal Bible? That we regard it, yes, as holy, but not the ultimate decision maker in our lives? “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” How would we know? Maybe take this one phrase from it at face value, when the Scripture says, “God is love.” It says that if one does not love, one does not know God. But what about the inverse? That if one does love, then one does know God. And that means anyone. The spirit of love is the Spirit of God. But not just to claim it, but to believe in love, to put some stake in it, to stand up for it. Not just to feel some warm fuzzies. And so would they be known as children of God, for they have the same nature as God, which is love. Jesus gives us the prime example of what it means to love: to be able to surrender (all) for the good (of all). And to need to literally believe in some doctrine or else that God who is love will not save you? God is not an accountant. On the contrary: if we truly love, we are free from the rules.

If someone tells you that what you do is not according to the Bible, but you are going by what is deeply held by the dictates of your heart, as best as you know, ask them, “Which part of the Bible?” For we who declare that we don’t follow every part are accused by the fundamentalists as “cherry picking” this and that from it—but actually everyone does so, you see. Do we stone to death a child who curses their parents? No? Have you ever worn a garment made of two fabrics? The Bible says not to. The fundamentalist might say we should just follow what is common sense. But whose? Yours? Perhaps, as Walt Whitman said, “Re-examine all that you have been told… dismiss that which insults your soul.” Even if it is from the Bible. Especially if it’s from the Bible. For that book is like a sledgehammer, and we would be well to make sure to swing it true, not by blind directive, not because some authority told us to. We do not want to lose ourselves to what is ultimately some words on some paper: it is not God, it is not God’s temple… Love, and be free. This is wisdom.

And now, we see that the first great blasphemy is now commonplace among the righteous, accepted sincerely by the masses. Now, as the world becomes one place instead of disconnected, far off lands, of different and strange faiths, the second great blasphemy we shall entertain, too, as the prevailing thought. Indeed, it is beginning to happen now. And actually, the second is the same as the first. If Jesus Christ is the universal God, God sovereign over all the earth, and therefore all the faiths in it, it is not just those who profess themselves to be “Christian” who are part of his flock. Like perhaps Saul, they just don’t know it yet. Jesus said that his followers would do greater things than he did, and these three words written after he was gone bear this out: “God is love.” If this is true, if the Most High is truly love (if a transcendent love), this is a third great blasphemy: that love is God.

C. S. Lewis said of that thought, “If Affection is made the absolute sovereign of a human life the seeds will germinate. Love, having become a god, becomes a demon.” I have read someone say that breaking the rules out of love, like in committing adultery, is certainly not the will of God. This is not what I mean at all. Love is not what we might say is only a great affection for someone or something, love is not the glow of feeling you have. In the context of this text, let us say that love is the Cross. Love is the Resurrection. It is sacrifice and resolve. Love is work! It is also transcendent: you can say it is one thing and then another and be right on all counts, and then you find that you have not captured its true essence at all. What is love? I don’t know what love is. God is love. And if it is not the love that transforms you into a “wild-eyed radical”, but merely one of the “nice people”, you have not received the Holy Spirit. You are not really a Christian. (Which is OK, though, as I have written above.)

Did you not hear? Have you not been told? Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, who saves all those who dare to love, whether they’ve heard of him or not. And do you know what love is? It is so simple we’ll never understand it. Do what is right because it is right—he told us that God will see every action. He will know whom to save in peering through your soul, every one of us. There is no outside beyond his sphere, no rule that prevents him from acting on anyone, for anyone. Did you not know? We are free! Not to be a slave to our animal appetites, but to live as an image of love, as God is love, and we are made in the image of God. Go ahead, you heathens, curse your maker because you do not understand. The Lord knows your secret light nonetheless. That no one knows. He will show us all the dreams we have forgotten, and the secret hope we once had and lost. For God so loved the world.

forward

this is the way the world begins
this is the way the world begins
the eye can have its fill of seeing
the ear can have its fill of hearing
after which you notice nothing
after which time steals everything
do you not hear now the sound?
the entire horizon is opening
the waters rushing to new destinations
we once scarcely held the hope
against the darkness in flickering light
a single candle cupped in the hand
when we whispered of love to the flame
as whispers were collected, and fire
we watched so many souls recede
into the darkness swallowed, gone
did we not know this would happen?
the revolution came in fits and starts
and it is still now fighting on
have you not read the signs?
the prophets’ graffiti foretold
how everyone’s 15 minutes were expiring
in the future everyone is someone
it is already beginning to transpire
thy will be done on earth as in heaven
so many lives lost toward that
we cannot fathom these depths of loss
they yet move us to reach the light
as the dreaming thaws without fear
we have reached the breaking
the fire never died: we remembered
and hope for a new day stands
prepared for an eternity of dawns
i dropped a whisper in the wind
i am here, and there is no time

Blade Runner Blues

In my book, Memoirs from the War in Heaven, I have a chapter trying to put some evidence as to why you might want to believe me when I say the wild things I say. I basically call myself a prophet in the line of Philip K. Dick, and rely on the one very precise factual thing that the Halospace relayed to him to back the validity of his prophethood. The big problem I have in getting people to listen to any of what I say is that I have at one point been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. A huge red flag, n’est-ce pas? Though actually, what the “psychosis” really always has been, in fact, is that I took an acid trip back in July 1991 that I never really came down from. Which doesn’t really help with my credibility either. Heh.

Normally, even with that going on, I have been able to hold down a well paying, professional job as a software engineer. I also have for the best part of 14 years been doing some serious research into artificial intelligence—but there, people who do that (especially on their own) have been known to be a bit kooky, too. And then, there have been certain “episodes” that have come over me, the last of which was so consequential I named it separate from the rest as “The Event”. Which was the reason behind me writing the Memoirs and another book of mine. They basically happen when I stop taking meds. There was something that happened to me back in 1991; like I broke something in the psyche, having some component of it actual physical damage. And now I routinely talk to angels.

When Philip K. had his initial “divine” experiences, which he labeled by date 2-3-74 (Feb. to Mar. 1974), he would occasionally think to ask, “Am I nuts?” And perhaps that was one of the saving graces of his sanity. And maybe he tried not to take what had happened, what was happening to him too seriously, but he knew it had been something major. World shifting, if it was only it was his specific world that was doing that shifting. Though there was definitely something in the air about that time, for in August of that year we saw the resignation of one Richard Nixon, of the highest office in the land. Phil said nothing about having caused that in any way: he did read it as something of a seismic break in the cosmos, however, as in the thinking of some mystics: “as above, so below”.

Phil wasn’t crazy enough to put away. At least, except for his drama where he tried to kill himself—using pills, which one might have foreseen to a body that was used to a variety pharmaceuticals that that was not going to work. He did think he was being visited, though, sometimes from familiar spirits, sometimes from benevolent strangers, sometimes he contended with the darkness. But to give root the whole experience of the last 8 years of his life, in 2-3-74, a pink light had told him of a specific ailment his son was suffering from, and which had been undiagnosed. And when he went to the doctor about it, dadgummit if he hadn’t been spot on.

Other things, though, much of what he was trying to figure out, that’s a lot more scattered. He was sort of all over the place. And it was not like he could go see a doctor to verify any of the things he was claiming. Stuff he even tried to distill, like at the end of VALIS, a friend of mine (who is a wholehearted Dick fan) called it “gibberish”. But the original contact, that diagnosis from the pink beam of light (which seems, upon reading, more like he had been struck by something, then “saw [pink] stars”)—how is something crazy, if it’s true?

I have my own little miracle, and it’s easy enough to brush aside, just by saying, “he’s lying.” But at least don’t think I’ve somehow misinterpreted the event. But one of the characters floating around in my own head, “Mother Nature”, she pulled a lever or something, and you know, I’ve been severely nearsighted most of my life—and suddenly I could see 20/20. That’s not something hallucinations can do! And like I said, there is no reason for you to believe me; I have been told by the higner-ups this happened just so I would have my own root to the experiences of mine. But there you go.

My deeper connection to Dick is to claim something which he himself might deny. At times, he called the entity that he had contact with, after 2-3-74, Thomas, meaning “twin”. He also called whatever it may have been, Firebright, Zebra, Elijah, the Holy Spirit. Myself, I think he was confused. It was nowhere near just one entity, even at a time. And how it may be this is quite a tale, but I’m Thomas—his twin. Yep, the concept is really out there, but I have my reasons why. When all this started for me, in my own date/signifier, 10/7/88, after I had been struck with the light of God, I saw a cosmic egg split, one part light blue, one part pink; and the light blue entered me, and the pink floated off. It took me about 25 years to put together that occurrence with the whole “Thomas” phenomenon.

I have read a bunch of his theories of everything. And I have my own, based on Christian myth, including J. R. R. Tolkien’s Ainulindalë, which may not count as Christian myth, per se, except that he was one. I have written about the whole thing elsewhere, and has much to do with the War in Heaven, why I wrote the books I wrote, the climax of which I call “The Event”. But all of it, the story, the theology, the philosophy, the blame, the beginning and the end, the world, the victory, the answer, the mystery, and the tragedy: there is just one idea at the heart of it all. God did not invent pain.

Sure, I’m crazy, I’m tripping: you talk to people in your head and you think they’re something other than an hallucination. Correct? Well, let me say that I can see it from the “normal” perspective: in the past, you did a lot of drugs, and perhaps they triggered some latent psychosis that you had in your genes, your makeup. You’re still on medication, right? The “episodes” happen when you stop, right? There you have it. Open and shut case.

I suppose if you believe that all those throughout history who claimed to be sent by God—if you think they’re just crazy or ignorant, or a mix of the two—if you lump me in with them, I really can’t complain. Philip K. Dick belongs with them: he belongs with the prophets; he was the prophet that fit the times, which was, in two words, “sensory overload”. Too many people, too many things going on, too many “realities” to keep track of: the prophets of old knew about Israel, and maybe who was attacking them. That was about it. Now we know what’s happening in places like Japan, like right now. And I’m not even talking about this now, with cell phones; the 20th century had live television. And before his day, how likely would he have been to find out what was in Dogon mythology?

I must tell you, you have nothing you will lose out on if you don’t believe me. I’ve found out that as well. For one, Jesus will save you even if you’re not Christian. There are reasons to be one, but that isn’t among them. And if you don’t believe there is a God at all, it might be meaningless to tell you He didn’t make pain to afflict all the generations to come. (There’s more to the story, but that’s the main stab.) You will find, however, that this is a solution to the problem of suffering, and if you take that problem out of the problem of evil, that becomes just a question of free will. What a lovely day.

And I am a prophet, too, of my own day, this day. In two words: “beyond reason”. What is my prophecy? “The Beginning is near.” We’re nowhere near the end, as the song lyrics go. You might ask, why would God bother with a couple of druggies like Phil and me? Drugs, maybe some drugs more than others, are like knocking on a door in the sky. Most of the time, what comes back are streams of sunlight, or sometimes rain; but every once in a while lightning will strike, and Heaven help you if that happens. For then you will intimately understand the ways of electricity, for better or no. For then art though in the very eye of God.



For the full story, from Heaven to Hell and back, check out my book, Memoirs from the War in Heaven.