An Open Letter To A Friend

2021-06-12 Religions of the World“Religious beliefs are very controversial and there are tons of religious groups. The more I care about is to live peacefully and consciously. The truth can be found within your heart and your divine formless aspects…”

Dear Friend,

I, too, hope you have a peaceful life.  As I noted in reply to your blog, 2+2=4 but the one who answers 5 is closer to the truth than the one who answers 37.  There is much that is true in the sayings of Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Aristotle, Plato and other philosophers.  There is much one can learn by reading the four Vedas of Hinduism, the Gathas of Zoroaster, the Agam literature of Jainism and the Muslim’s Quran.  Even the Book of Mormon and the Satanic Bible have rules, many of which can help someone live a good life (though I do not recommend any of these until one has a clearer understanding of the Bible).

Buddha and the other philosophers never claimed to be religious.  They simply described how to improve one’s life by various means of self-discipline and learning.  The religious literature all show ways that one can reach Nirvana, mystical absorption into the Infinite or find acceptance by God.  The answers to 2+2 vary in accuracy from 5 or 6, or in the case of Mormonism 37, and in the Satanic Bible 5,489! 😨

The apostle Paul said to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  So there is nothing wrong with reading or studying teachings of philosophy and religion, but there is much “testing” that needs to be done when one reads these texts.  They are not all good and at best will only give one a better life here and now, if that is all for which one is looking.

However, I genuinely fear for people looking for answers in religion.  They will find at the end of this life that they have been deceived.  The Bible has very little to say about religion (check an online resource for how rarely it is mentioned), and Jesus had his biggest problems with the religious leaders of his day.  In fact, it was the chief priest and the religious legislative body, the Sanhedrin, that first condemned Jesus to death before handing Him over to the Romans.  The Romans did not allow the Jews to commit capital punishment (though this was disobeyed at times with stoning [see Acts 7]).  Unless it interfered with Roman governance, they tended to disregard anything the Sanhedrin or the Jewish leaders did.

Recognize first what constitutes “religion.”  In dictionary.com’s definition, the operative phrase is that it “usually involves devotional and ritual observances, and often contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”  Thus religion is basically the human attempt to do what is right, and the popular view, even among many “Christians” is that this is what will make one okay in God’s eyes.  To summarize, religions are human attempts to please God.

Being a Christ-follower does not mean I am not religious, but it means that religion is a very minor part of life.  The central issue of following Jesus is to know Him as one knows a friend or brother.  This can be difficult to get our heads around, because we cannot see Jesus in His flesh as we would our local friends or relatives.  But that is where becoming “born again” comes in.  Jesus told a good Pharisee that in order to enter the Kingdom of God he had to be born again

The old man had some difficulty getting his head around this concept as well.  It is not just taking on a different point of view or disciplining oneself to behave differently.  That would be religion, and Nicodemus knew all about religion.  It was that on which he had based his life!

Jesus said that he did not need to go back into his mother’s womb and be reborn, but rather to be reborn of the Spirit of God, like a wind over which we have no control.  It is a yielding of ourselves to the divine in a way that we do not fully grasp just as an infant does not understand what is happening to him when he is being born.

You say “the truth can be found within your heart and your divine formless aspects.”  But Jesus’ claim is that we cannot find truth on our own because we have been deceived from our natural birth.  We are condemned even before we start searching!  Just as the arithmetic illustration shows, if one starts with wrong premises, one reaches wrong conclusions.  If you understand 2 is simply one plus one, you can begin to add correctly.  But if one does not understand the basic of what 2 IS, wrong conclusions are certain to follow.

The whole of the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, because He is SOOO different from us that we cannot grasp who or what He is apart from Him telling us.  Like a parent cuddling his baby saying, “Hush, little one, I know what you need,” He will guide us to understand, if we begin with what He tells us about Himself.  And you will not find that in religious literature, nor in yourself, because religion is simply our attempts to find God or to please Him, and we are insufficient to grasp who God is because we are NOT divine.  Just as the babe does not understand who his daddy is, he must grow into that understanding by living with him.

The only place you will find peace that lasts is in knowing The God Who Is.  The only place you will find The God Who Is will be in the Bible.  The only way to get to know Him is through prayer.  And I genuinely wish peace for you and for your beautful country.  God knows you have had such strife, it is difficult to imagine it getting any worse.  The peace you seek can only come with the changes in human hearts that occur when people are “born again.”

your friend, always,
c.a.

Guest Blog: The Greatest American Battle Is Yet To Be Won!

by Dennis Prager, PragerU

2020-10-10 Race and Ethnicity
Race and ethnicity have defined every nation on earth except one: the United States of America.  This nation is defined by VALUES.  So to understand America, you have to understand American values.   They are:
1. E Pluribus Unum
2. Liberty
3. In God We Trust

2020-10-10 Amercian Values

I call this the American Trinity.  I made up the name, but I did not make up the values.  All three are on every American coin.

The first, E Pluribus Unum, is Latin meaning “Out of many, One.”  When first adopted as the American motto, shortly after the American founding in 1776, it referred to the thirteen American colonies becoming one nation.

Over time, however, most Americans understood the motto to mean “One people from many backgrounds.”  To quote the E Pluribus Unum Project funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities, “Over the years, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ has also served as a reminder of America’s bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.”

In other words, America does not care about your national or ethnic origins.  This explains why people who immigrate to America assimilate faster and more fully than immigrants to any other country.  Most of those who immigrated to Europe from, for example, Turkey, as millions have, are not considered fully German by fellow Germans, or fully Swedish by fellow Swedes, or fully Spanish by fellow Spaniards.

This is even true of the children and grandchildren of those immigrants.  And just as important, few of those immigrants or their children or grandchildren will ever feel fully German or Swedish or Spanish.

However, a Turk who immigrates to the United States will be regarded as fully American as any other American the moment he or she becomes a US Citizen.   And they, and certainly their children, can feel fully American.  Of course, America has not always lived up to this “E Pluribus Unum” ideal, but the ideal was always there and it was applied to virtually every immigrant to the United States.

2020-10-10 LibertyThe second component of “my” American Trinity is Liberty.  Now, one could ask, “Did not the French revolution also enshrine Liberty as a central national value?  Was not its motto: ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’?”
And the answer is, Yes.

America is hardly the only country to enshrine Liberty!  However, it is the ONLY country to enshrine Liberty along with E Pluribus Unum and In God We Trust!   What is the difference?

The difference is this: The moment you affirm Equality the way the French revolution did, you will lose Liberty.  The basic American VALUE is that all human beings are born equal, and all must be treated equal before the Law.  But ending up equal is a French and European value!  If you want people to end up equal, you must deprive them of liberty, which is exactly what happened right after the French revolution!  This is also true in every other society that made Equality its national goal.

America gives people the liberty to end up where ever their abilities, work ethic and fortunate opportunities take them; meaning UNequal outcomes!   Therefore, professional athletes will make more money than teachers or doctors.  That may be unfortunate but that is what Liberty allows! 

A nation that wants equal outcomes will tell people how much they are allowed to earn, and that means the end of Liberty.

Our third VALUE is “In God We Trust.”  Unlike almost every other country, the United States never had a State Religion.  But it was founded on the principle that God, specifically the God of the Jewish and Christian Bible, is the source of moral values.

As our Declaration of Independence phrased it, “All [people] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  In other words, rights come from God, not from humans.  If rights are given by humans, humans can take them away!

This American Trinity, as I have named it, is the reason the United States became the world’s freest and most prosperous country.  Many Americans want to, in the words of former president Barack Obama, “fundamentally transform it.”  They wish to replace American values with European values including equality of outcomes and an ever-expanding State (which will greatly reduce individual freedom), a celebration of ethnic and racial identity (which is the opposite of E Pluribus Unum), and the removal of the Judeo-Christian God as the source of morality and rights.

Which set of values Americans adopt will determine whether America remains free, prosperous, and the force for good in the world that it has been.  With the exception of the Civil War, we are faced with the greatest internal battle in American history.

Dennis Prager, PragerU
https://www.prageru.com/playlist/civics/