The problems that face us – fear, hate, anger, resentment, envy, tribalism, self-pity, and an obvious we-versus-them mentality – are the same today as they were when I wrote the original text. They are the same as they were when Old Testament events and wisdom were being first recorded in written form. They are the same as they were when the people of the New Testament were wrestling with the issue of figuring out who this Jesus person was – this person who had somehow transformed their lives. Their transformation was very real (as was mine, described in Chapter 9), was very spiritual, very much not in the world of Form, and still is very difficult to verbalize.
I try throughout the book to make the people of the Bible very real. If you can begin to relate to the characters in the Bible as “real” people, you will begin to see a little of yourself in them and a little of them in yourself. Cultural differences will begin to melt away. That inclusive “seeing” opens us to a universal spirituality lying underneath the surface. Similarly, I hope that our understanding of the fears and anxieties pummeling those who seem so emotionally tied to their religious convictions will lead us to begin to see some of our reactions as being quite similar to theirs – differing only in what literature we quote. They seem to “hate” us based on their egoic interpretations of select passages from the Bible. We seem to “hate” them back based on our interpretations of some form of what we consider “basic human decency.” We need to understand that their hate and our hate is simply hate. Hate is not a family value nor is it a spiritual one.
This is not a book you “must study.” It presents a high-level overview of how the Bible came to be. Understanding this will help you maintain a perspective to deal with daily events and people. It will begin to allow you to be open to the world of Content – where the Spirit of God is still very present and still very transforming.
There are hundreds of thousands of everyday people who are working for a world based on love, empathy, sharing, cooperation (rather than competition) and moral commitment. Perhaps speaking from our hearts and following our moral compasses will —overcome a world fraught with fear and us/them divisiveness e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, and anti-Semitism.
As I have come to understand the honest humanity of biblical persona, I have also come to understand a little of how to dance the precarious dance of being IN the world without being OF the world. I came from a solid family but one with few financial resources. As I struggled as a young man to attend an Ivy League graduate school, struggled through a divorce with young children in the balance, struggled with alcohol abuse that almost took my life, I learned how difficult it is to ponder spiritual thoughts when my children were hungry and I was broke. I learned how difficult it was to focus on doing godly, sacrificing work when I was worried about next month’s rent. I learned that there are certain basic human needs that have to be met before anything else can be introduced to elevate the Spirit.
So, I work IN this world to promote the meeting of basic human needs.
Let me provide an analogy: I want to grow vegetables for my family. I need to develop a good garden soil for my packets of seed. I need to till, fertilize, and add natural organic matter to the soil so the ground will provide a wonderful “home” for my seeds. That is all I can do to develop good, healthy, nutritious crops. Is that a guarantee for a good harvest? Nope. But it’s all I can do to help the seeds, which I believe will help both their growth and the subsequent harvest.
So, to dance the dance of being IN this world of Form, but not OF it, is to dance in order to do all I can do to nurture the development of a society that will work together to provide a wonderful “soil” so all of its citizens will grow and mature – and, hopefully, move from only perceiving the world of Form into perceiving the potential reality of the world of Content: love, acceptance, trust, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, compassion and empathy. That means I give, and share, and stay informed, and vote. It means I accept the current situation—and I define acceptance as being aware and informed without judgment and without fear. Does this mean I believe this world of Content I described will solve climate upheavals? War? The belief in scarcity? Huge economic disparities? No. It doesn’t mean that. As these potentially catastrophic events continue to occur, it means that we will have an overall outlook and approach to human suffering, displacement and (perhaps) even survival that welcomes, protects, shares and nurtures all. Humanity will re-begin its new journey in a manner more closely in tune with the Will of Spirit in the eternal NOW.
With an open mind and a willingness to change, this book offers a high-level presentation of biblical development that will help all of us understand:
• All forms of wisdom dictate we are to be clear and balanced in our thinking. It is just as unbalanced to believe the Bible is only myth, metaphor, or distorted history, as it is to believe each word must be interpreted literally. It requires us to think. It requires us to be willing to change our opinions.
• People desire to know their religion is right, which increases a sense of control, quells doubt, and is fear-based. This inclination began in the Old Testament, led to abuses in Israel's temple-state system, and influenced the embryonic Christian Church as it included and excluded documents from the New Testament. These same fear-based beliefs are alive and well in many churches today in the form of bibliolatry. Politicians stoke these same fear-based beliefs for votes and ministers stoke fear for congregational increases. Understanding the power of these fear-based beliefs may offer you the opportunity to be willing to accept (being informed and aware without fear or judgment), rather than to vilify, biblical literalists.
• Understand how and why bibliolatry occurred – Understand what is happening now – Understand the original messages of the prophets and Jesus – Decide what makes sense for you – Become clear, balanced and willing to change your perception. It might just open the window to the small breeze of spiritual reality that will open your heart to perceive in a way that will bring a sense of calm and serenity to you.