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The Way to a Wonderful Life, Sunday, August 11, 2013 

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    "By imagination and desire we become what we desire to be.  Let us affirm to ourselves that we are what we wish to be, we will become transformed into that which we have imagined ourselves to be.  We were born by a natural miracle of love and for a brief space of time our needs were all another's care.  In that simple truth lies the secret of life.  Except by love, we cannot truly live at all.  Our parents in their separate individualities have no power to transmit life.  So, back we come to the basic truth that life is the offspring of love.  Therefore, no love, no life.  Thus, it is rational to say that, "God is Love." - William Blake (1757-1827)

Reza Aslan's new book, "ZEALOT ... THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS OF NAZARETH" has garnered lots of attention both through the Media and the Christian Religious Communities.  There are those who are offended that a Muslim from Iran would write a book about Jesus.  But his credentials give evidence to his credibility:  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction.  Aslan also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, focusing on the history of religion, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  In other words, Reza Aslan is a man with a passion for religious studies and history.  I will admit that I have not finished reading his book.  I read it on the plane going to Missouri and on the plane coming back to Palm Springs and a few pages each day.  There is so much in the book that will surprise most readers and so much that, if understood, will give benefit ... and parts of the book that will be hard to understand and believe.

     In the critics' rush to find fault with the book and to dismiss it, they have missed some very important points made in the book in regards to Jesus' ability to use the full force of his faith to heal the sick and draw his audience into a fuller realization of our relationship with G-d.  Although most of the Christian sects throughout the world, including Catholicism, have followed the philosophy of those who came after Jesus, especially the Apostle Paul, Aslan's book takes us through the mist of fairytales, false truths and half-truths, to a more honest depiction of Jesus of Nazareth that I found very appealing.  I am very attracted to the Jesus as a revolutionary against the political and religious authorities of his time and his passion for healing work.  Aslan's depiction draws me to this Jesus who was so passionate about his faith in G-d and his willingness to express the livingness, the forgivingness and the givingness of G-d as who he was.  Aslan's Jesus did not seek the approval of anyone nor did he concern himself with the end result of what his words and actions would take him.  Very little that he was teaching was new or original to him ... but he clarified that which is truth in such a unique way that it appeared to be new.  In truth, it was a "renewing" or "refreshing" of that which had been revealed before.  Nor did he seek to justify or clarify his ability to draw forth the spirit of health of those who appeared to be sick or infirmed ... he understood that their dis-ease was based on the acceptance of a false-belief.

     Aslan points out that there were many people like Jesus during this era who were making their living working "magical" healings and cures for people.  Jesus did his healing work for free ... as a gift from G-d through him.  This fact only stymied and frustrated his critics all the more.  But, Jesus worked no magic but relied on faith and the guidance of Spirit for his work.  What he did was beyond the understanding of the people of his time and is still beyond the understanding of the masses of people today.  In Aslan's "ZEALOT" we can read:  "Despite the magical elements that can be traced in some of his miracles, the fact is that nowhere in the gospels does anyone actually charge Jesus with performing magic.  It would have been an easy accusation for his enemies to make, one that would have carried an immediate death sentence.  Yet when Jesus stood before the Roman and Jewish authorities to answer the charges against him, he was accused of many misdeeds - sedition, blasphemy, rejecting the Law of Moses, refusing to pay the tribute, threatening the Temple - but being a magician was not one of them."  I believe even his enemies knew that Jesus had discovered something that was beyond their understanding.

      There are, as I have written before, 41,000 Christian sects but no one has been able to duplicate the healing work of Jesus and is still considered a Christian.  One man who did do healing work similar to the method used by Jesus was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, and like Jesus he was very critical of traditional religion.  Quimby wrote this about his healing method:  "MY THEORY: the trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in . . . If your mind has been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth I come in contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness." (Volume 3, page 208 of Quimby's Complete Writings)

         Horatio W. Dresser explained Quimby's ideas in a seven element list:
1. The omnipresent Wisdom, the warm, loving Father of us all, Creator of all the universe, whose works are good, whose substance is an invisible reality.
2. The real man, whose life is eternal in the invisible kingdom of God, whose senses are spiritual and function independently of matter.
3. The visible world, which Dr. Quimby once characterized as "the shadow of Wisdom's amusements"; that is, nature is only the outward projection or manifestation of an inward activity far more real and enduring.
4. Spiritual matter, or fine interpenetrating substance, directly responsive to thought and subconsciously embodying in the flesh the fears, beliefs, hopes, errors, and joys of the mind.
5. Disease is due to false reasoning in regard to sensations, which man unwittingly develops by impressing wrong thoughts and mental pictures upon the subconscious spiritual matter.
6. As disease is due to false reasoning, so health is due to knowledge of the truth. To remove disease permanently, it is necessary to know the cause, the error which led to it. "The explanation is the cure."
7. To know the truth about life is therefore the sovereign remedy for all ills. This truth Jesus came to declare. Jesus knew how he cured and Dr. Quimby, without taking any credit to himself as a discoverer, believed that he understood and practiced the same great truth or science.

      Both Quimby and Jesus understood that the Law of G-d was not an enemy of science; they are intertwined ... mind, body, spirit ... three-fold, but one in substance.  From 1847 until his passing in January, 1866, Quimby treated over 12,000 patients devoting his life to healing the sick.  Quimby is quoted as saying:  "I now stand on the rock of science and prove all things by what I feel and see and not by what others tell me" - "Science is the voice of God, opinions that of man" - "Now the medium I use is the Holy Ghost or the Christ in me" - "The wisdom that acted upon Jesus was the Christ and when Jesus spoke of it he called it God" - "All can learn to be Christ or science if they only study" - "Now science is wisdom put into practice. So science is the son of God or Wisdom" - "But the time must come when this false mode of reasoning must give way to a higher wisdom where all things are proved by science" - "Then there will arise a new science, followed by a new mode of reasoning, which will teach man that it is wise to unlearn his errors".

     Everything that I have quoted from Quimby points to G-d, first as Intelligence, then as Sprit or Mind, and then as Power.  This Jesus must have understood.  It is obvious as we look at both Quimby and Jesus; truth known is demonstrated.  I would think that the critics of "ZEALOT" were offended by Reza Aslan's assertion that Jesus' teachings were for the Jewish people only, but this idea is put forward in the Gospels of the Holy Bible as well.  Jesus was Jewish and his passion was for the good of the Jewish people and he had little concern for non-Jews.  Does this mean that non-Jews cannot benefit from his teaching or that his teachings are deficient?  I don't believe so.  I believe that even Jesus himself may not have realized how powerful his words were and would become to those who follow his teaching, both Jews and non-Jews alike.  Just as we have all benefited from the teachings of Krishna, Buddha, Isaiah-s and others of differing theologies, the truth can never be limited or exclusive to any man-made idea of separation from each other or the fairytale that G-d favors some and not others.  This was the primitive belief in Jesus' time.  Surely evolution has given us the knowledge, understanding and awareness to know this can never be true.

   As Quimby tells us, "all can learn to be Christ or science if they only study" ... in other words G-d Intelligence and Power is available to everyone.  It is up to us to choose to discover it within ourselves.  And when we do we realize that "truth known is truth demonstrated."  And that faith without works is opinion, not truth, and lacks the "knowing" ... the offspring of Love, that demonstrates our good.


Keep the faith!
. Henry Bates

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