Church-suasion observations reply

digital strategist and Stealth Magazine founder Mark Pollard wrote a blog post called How religion games you: Church-suasion observations. very timely as the Gnosis Now! course starts this week. so I've been reading some Gnostic books and Aboriginal Stories - creation myths and the animal talisman stories - and "Critical Path" by R. Buckminster Fuller.

my replies to the thread (I should edit these to be more readable one day, but oh well..)

reply #1

interesting Mark. I also read a lot about these topics. mostly to think about what it is that holds so many people's attentions - the different religions. I'm not religious, perhaps spiritual, but I respect other people's views. I think certainly the world would be a more peaceful place had religions not come to pass.

I read a lot about Judaism whilst living in Israel & spoke to many Jewish people - some Hassidic and some non-practicing. and I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls a few times - what is known of the ancient Essenes sect and then the discovery of the scrolls is an interesting story. my friend from work used to decode the scrolls (she's a scrolls scholar & has written academic books about them). even the stories about these academics is full of intrigue! I was amazed that some of my friends and their children could read the Hebrew parts. (since the language was reintroduced as the 'national' language at the formation of the State, although some people had been using it since CE & pre CE) some flick photos of the Shrine of the Book museum & model of the original Jerusalem from second temple period if you're interested. I didn’t take photos of the scrolls as it's forbidden - some are paper replicas but they have some originals there too as well as very early Torahs. actually if you read the Tanakh - it's easy to see some translation errors in the Bible (eg the Red Sea in the bible is not 'red' in hebrew it’s Reed) so the old testament bible stories that Christianity is familiar with via Sunday School have differences to the Judaism version.

lately I've been reading about gnosticism & the Nag Hammadi scrolls (I'm doing an online course at Maybe Logic Academy on it in a couple of weeks - I'd done one earlier with the same lecturer who mentioned them in the Philip K Dick course I did). I wanted to see them in Egypt but never made it there. I read Elaine Pagels book a few weeks ago "The Gnostic Gospels" - it's a (very) basic introduction and can be downloaded from & read quickly. I made some reading notes / excerpts (sorry about formatting). I can't remember ever hearing about this other side of Christianity when I was in primary school (we had to goto Sunday School then) - it was more of a social thing where they told stories. nobody seemed to question it as we weren't encouraged to speak but I remember thinking some of the stories seemed a bit far-fetched and more like a story to represent certain morals.

Pagels mentions ideas similar to yours - she focuses on Christian religions though. it's interesting that Gnosticism was a branch of Christianity, though it could never have survived as the popular / general public choice as it's ideas led to a more internalised 'God' - God is within each person rather than an external being. what was known as the Catholic Church was an institution and had the structures and hierarchy that allowed people to control the general public. people seem to need this structure and guidance & to feel like they are part of something larger than themselves, or a group.

interestingly there's a doco on TV One here in Auckland right now on the beginnings / growth in popularity of the Roman empire moving away from many traditional Gods (Jupiter etc) to the Christianity beliefs. they're fighting wars over religious beliefs and speaking of 'your God' and 'my God' not 'one God / our God'.

"The same basic framework of doctrine, ritual, and organization sustains nearly all Christian churches today, whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant. Without these elements, one can scarcely imagine how the Christian faith could have survived and attracted so many millions of adherents all over the world, throughout twenty centuries. For ideas alone do not make a religion powerful, although it cannot succeed without them; equally important are social and political structures that identify and unite people into a common affiliation."

& ...

reply #2

I'm reading "Critical Path" by R. Buckminster Fuller (which is an excellent book that all should read if they haven’t already!) and one section reminded me of this post.

another to possibly add to your list is that religions offer the possiblity of *everyone* going to the after-life & this is something that made them popular in the realms of the general public.

Fuller gives a brief (& very succinct - esp compared to my thoughts) history of eras pre-popular religions, and relates to the 'tools' (as he calls it) / technologies & knowhow available at the time.

& (I'm paraphrasing here..) say, from the days of Pharoahs where he & his chosen few were entombed with worldly goods in order to have a safe path to the afterlife. and Greeks & Romans in BC period, was the introduction of carved marble mausoleums and burial urns - for the ruling classes and richer middle class - to also guide them safely into the next world. the general population / poorer classes weren’t able to afford these options.

he highlights that Pythagoras and Buddha become popular in the 6th century BC - "both are powerfully, perceptively thinking and acting human individuals who, coming out of a past in which only the mystically ordained kings counted, and humans were omni-expendable pawns, produced mathematical tools and philosophical breakthroughs for individual humans forever thereafter to employ. Their scientific and philosophical gifts to humanity were in marked contrast to the self-advantaging military conquests of kings." ... "Pythagoras, in a little town north of Athens, in the Near East and Buddha, in the Far East, utterly unknown to one another, co-occur as a vast amount of moral and spiritual thinking is taking place in the Near East as recorded in the Old Testament of the 'prophets'."

so, by the time of Buddha, Christ, Mohammed and other prophets (perhaps lesser known - eg the Torah lists many 'false prophets' including Jesus) there are enough 'tools' / knowhow to "provide safe entry into the afterlife not only of the king, nobles and middle class but also of all humanity, including the most lowly commoners & slaves". - eg in Christianity, remember the story of Jesus, who was a Jew but acted in defiance to the ruling Jewish leaders of the time, who were known to be corrupt and self-serving. if you read about Jesus as the man and his words, he targeted the lower classes (almost as Gandhi did centuries later) and promised them salvation & forgiveness if they confessed their sins - this was the path to Heaven / the afterlife.

so I think too that many if not all people wonder what it means to be alive when they are alive and don't want it to end so are attracted to teachings that promise that this life is not the only one and there is something else afterwards (/ before?) I think this is common in most religions - Buddhism, Hinduism (which really says 'don’t worry about your position in this life, be good and you can come back as a higher caste next life'), Christianity, Islam.

so these days when we have more 'tools' as Fuller calls it, and many people do not follow religions (though many still do) - do we still have the same quest for the afterlife? or are we content to have just this life?

also, these days, many people - particularly in the West, and increasingly in developing countries (though there’s still a lot of work to be done there ... ) get to live "living-life enjoyment" as Fuller calls it. he speaks of Magna Carta time - when this was mainly available to the kings and nobles -> & later to rich middle class society during Victorian Age.

today, people have consumerism and 'stuff' and leisure time. are we living the afterlife in our own lifetimes now? and if so, does this mean we don’t need religion any more to be promised the good life in the afterlife as we get to have it now? & yes people today have stresses in daily life, but in general living conditions are better than they ever have been relative to historical times - or are they? (I could now go on about things mentioned in the Rushkoff "Corporatized" course about corporations and economy and currencies and comparisons of now vs late middle ages, but I think that’s another thread altogether :)

it is interesting though - if religions were gone, then some of the wars & reasons for fighting would also be gone. and then Fuller's other idea of using dollars spent on 'weaponry' could be reallocated to what he calls "livingry" instead - helping humans to live more sustainably and have better quality of living. even being able to live and self-study if one chooses without having/needing to go out and work to support themselves.

& if you listen to the 2012 Mayan calendar followers, they say that there will be a global shift in consciousness in 2012 when all the planets align and it will mark the shift in ages as has been seen in the distant past. so who knows, maybe this is time for the shift, now that people have the ‘tools’, the internet is providing information, and religions are (some would say?) no longer needed or at least followed as much. and the economic systems we've been using, at least in the west and 'globalised' communities, have failed again. & people are thinking about these things & global warming / green issues are more popular now. only time will tell I guess ... but I think now is the time for it as momentum has been steadily growing ...

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