Friday, October 18, 2013

All on the same side

I found this discourse a while back, written by my son Jacob, on my FaceBook home page, growing out of an initial discussion about ‘prayer cubes,’ something that I had never heard of before, but the discussion went far beyond them…

Someone just asked if we sold prayer cubes. A prayer cube is actually a prayer ‘die’ [plural: dice] with a prayer on each side that is ‘cast.’ It brings to mind the distinction made between hazard vs. chance. Since it is modeled on a game of hazard (a game that believes in distinctive randomness without significant attachments to context and environment) the folks who sell these items make a point of quoting the casting of lots to determined the new twelfth apostle—an act that is far closer to the cosmological view that views chance with optimism: where you have explicit local randomness, and shrouded universal significance, combined—the significance drawn from the context: time, tempo and timbre as it were.

Here is an interesting discussion of this idea of the different types of approaches to chance or gambling.

A caveat—the wisdom literature model extended what little physical observations were known, to create a distinct belief in a multi-dimensional space that kept the mechanical aspects of the universe intact, but provided a frightening option for the arbitrary, based on the personality that the universe had, and the sense that the universe had of its own self-preservation.

The shortest root to this is, if you are in the ancient world and you believe the sky is a crystalline dome holding back the waters of the flood, and that the sun is not a body but an opening through which life and light flow into this world as substances that feed the earth, and through which God ‘looks down’ upon the earth from a life-generating abode... well, the next abstraction is to believe this presence is brought to earth in the form of the temple, where the lights of the temple are symbolically serving the same purpose. Up until Aristotle you had a wide belief that the eye was associated with fire, and that a person saw because light was cast out from the eye, bounced off the object like sonar and returned.

And yet once you see the temple itself fail, you return to a deeper abstraction which states that there is a world that possessed the tree of life, and that from the rivers of this tree (could be water, or limbs, or both) you had the source of life and abode of God and that in violating the laws of this world one was cast out as a matter of self-preservation, the door once again guarded by Uriel the fiery sword (‘light of god’ as a very solar image). And that this world co-exists in a shrouded way with the one that we see. The hope being that in being found worthy of this world, one might be called to the door and enter.

On the flip side, this provided the ancient world with an arbitrary aspect to the universe that the 18th century lacked, in that there was nothing stopping this trans-dimensional world from spilling over into the unworthy outside world. This was that nature and notion of grace, and in many ways this world was seen as interactively participating and shaping the visible world. So for example, souls of children came from here. Love itself, as a source of regeneration, life, resurrection, etc., flowed from here. There is a lot more to this area of discussion obviously, and many of the ideas here are either outmoded or refined in the modern era—but the fear of ‘God as a distant entity,’ and the ‘plan of the almighty’ was not the source of fear for the ancient world—it was the secondary reality of the unseen that cut in and out of the world they experienced, in ways that they did not understand. In the dark ages, with all the disease and death, the confidence in the beneficial aspects of this unseen world gave way to the possibility that there was a far more sinister hidden element that had controlled the world.

This is when gambling became a sort of collusion with the dark invisible elements and witchcraft became more than merely worship of foreign deities or necromancy. Prior to this period, casting lots had a far more favorable view—yielding personal will to the invisible hand of the wider world—which, despite many losses, seemed to cradle those who were faithful to certain principles.

The collection of wisdom, in particular, was bent on gaming this system and finding the cradle—the bosom of Abraham, as it were—where one could experience the embrace of heaven while here on earth. The contribution of Jesus within this system was illustrating that the embrace of this world could overwhelm the chasm of death and allow one to leap back from that realm in an elevated physical state. The common notion of heaven, hell and death being on the same side of the universe is, from a scriptural point of view, thoroughly flawed. It is a selective reading that would be entirely nonsensical to the apostles—the modern notion suggests that death is a department store with heaven in the attic and hell in the basement.

The ancient notion is that heaven is present in this world, but hides from us in order to protect itself and its contents, opens itself to those who are worthy of entry, and waits for those who are resurrected for evaluation and entry. Hell is the result of the laws of the universe outside of heaven (and the energy required to sustain them) being withdrawn—all elements allowed to resume their natural chaotic state. The suggestion is that this retraction of natural laws will not occur until all the souls have been resurrected and judged.

The interesting thing about all of this—well, the Judahite obsession with death—because the kingdom of God, and Eden itself, was on this side of death, it meant that once you crossed into Hades you were effectively locked out of any possibility of communion with God—not to say you were in hell exactly, but you were in a completely different space from God.

So you have lots of kids, hoping that one day your lineage would experience the inheritance, etc., etc.

This is the nonsense to the Greeks (who had a very different view of the afterlife) and is also why Paul is very focused on ‘how the Exodus works.’ Based on the revelation he received, the exodus combined with Jesus' example taught how one was either trapped in death, or was able to resurrect and escape it. This was the hard part of the journey—once you were properly clothed (i.e., resurrected), entry into the kingdom was as easy as being able to love—‘love one another as I have loved you’ period.

In other words, when Paul talks about those who won’t enter into the kingdom of God, it is not because of the quality of their sins by themselves—it is the problems their sins will pose when the distractions experienced in death overwhelm the interest one has in the resurrection. This is why certain sins are grouped together—because each group of sins played on the same human vulnerability. People then got ‘stuck’ in death, while those who follow Christ and seek the resurrection are ‘unstuck’—and likewise, the stories of Christ ‘unsticking’ others from death are part of the whole crucifixion narrative.

If you do not believe that heaven and hell are on this side of the life/death barrier, then you want death—you strive towards it—you will fly airplanes into buildings to achieve it. That is how serious the cosmological difference is. But those who are drawn to life in its purist form will be drawn towards the source of life—regardless of their stated beliefs. And I have found them to be able allies—regardless of their stated affiliations. These are folks who avoid the taste of death, as it were. They don’t wait for death to build them a comfortable house, with a big easy chair, and lots of servants all over the place catering to their every whim, and then wonder when—all of a sudden if they actually want to get out—they cannot find the door where they came in. Pluto wasn’t the Greek god of wealth for nothing—this aspect of death being a source of wealth and therefore enticing the soul to transition from regular sleep to permanent death—was not just a Judahite notion.

Death is a bribe that you accept, from this point of view. This scene from The Matrix [1] illustrated the concept flawlessly—far too well to go into here.

Those who truly love life are all on the same side—they struggle together.
— Jacob Aaron Gorny

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