A: A few days ago I was talking to you — complaining to you, actually — about the idea of religious Oneness, the idea that all major world religions teach the same core values through many different paths. You responded in typical Jesus fashion. You said, “There are not many paths to oneness, but one path to manyness.” You wanna talk about this new Yeshuism? (I think I just invented a new word.)

J: As an angel, I’m getting pretty tired of listening to all the excuses and all the lies that are being told by devout conservative thinkers of all religions. And I’m not alone in my exasperation. God’s angels know what human beings are capable of, and you know what? Not many people these days even care. Most people are not being raised by their families or communities to know or care about human potential.

The current trend in the West is to put all religious leaders and religious texts on an equal footing, which is to say they’re placing them all on a sacred pedestal of immunity — immunity from scrutiny, immunity from common sense. It’s a misguided attempt to prevent anyone from having their “feelings hurt.” God isn’t in the business of preventing people from having their feelings hurt. God is in the business of forgiveness and transformation, of helping each child of God to reach his or her true potential.

Closeup 304

A: When you say “his or her true potential,” what do you mean by that? Do you mean some sort of evolutionary advancement in human consciousness, as recent writers of popular fiction have been saying?

J (smiling mischievously): Hey, it’s a great way to earn some big bucks, but it ain’t no way to make your guardian angel smile.

A: I’ve been noticing over the past few years that the writers who make the biggest promises are the ones least likely to know what it means, what it feels like, to live in the Christ Zone. I’m very suspicious of anyone who tries to sell spirituality and faith as something that exists outside the realities of normal everyday life.

J: Most people live hard lives. They suffer a lot. Their children suffer a lot. They need ways to cope. One of the most popular ways of coping is Escape. Escape with a capital “E.” Many people use alcohol or drugs to escape. Many use sex. But many, many people escape through storytelling — through books, films, plays, or religious mythology. Religious mythology and plays have both been around for a long, long time. They’re popular. They’re traditional. But this doesn’t make them true — not in a literal sense. They may be true in an allegorical sense. They may help people express and cope with their own feelings, and in this sense the stories are useful and helpful. But for human beings to make up stories about God and then peddle them as literal truth . . . this is completely unacceptable. Unacceptable to God and unacceptable to the soul of each human being. A religious tradition that teaches its children elaborate, fantastical histories of Creation — when it’s actually not possible for any human being anywhere to understand or convey the scientific history of Creation — is not teaching its followers about God. It’s teaching the path of Oneness. It’s teaching the path of narcissism and contempt for God. It’s teaching children to blindly obey their human leaders. This is mind control, not faith.

A: I’ve been working for years with you on the question of Creation as a scientific and historical reality, and the more I learn the more I realize I don’t understand it. I have no interest in going “on the record” with the tiny bit I’ve learned so far. This would be hubris, in my opinion.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. You’re saying that faith and blind obedience are mutually exclusive choices.

J: Exactly. Faith, as you and I have defined it, is an experience of enduring relationship with God in the absence of sacred texts. This means that an individual who has never read the Bible is fully capable of being in mature relationship with God on a daily basis.

A: A lot of people would say it’s impossible to know God or be in relationship with God if you don’t have a sacred book to guide you. Sort of like trying to find your way to the North Pole without a map.

J: Well, here’s the thing. Everyone — and I mean everyone — is born with an inner map. The inner map is hardwired into your DNA and expresses itself through your brain architecture. If you’re raised in such a way that your biological brain is reasonably balanced, guess what? The map lights up inside your head even though you’re just a regular guy/gal who’s trying to live a humble life. In fact, the map will only light up inside your head if you’re a regular guy/gal who’s trying to live a humble life. This is the way God designed the biology of the human brain. The human brain and central nervous system are designed in such a way that there’s only one way to achieve a state of mature relationship with God. This one way is to balance the competing needs shown in the Christ Zone model.

A: Juggling the physiological needs with the safety needs, the love & belonging needs, and the self-esteem needs.

J: Yes. It is an indisputable scientific fact that when a child is raised in a way that consistently balances and honours these four main needs, this child will grow up to be remarkably stable, responsible, mature, organized, practical, funny, humble, and interested in building strong relationships with others, including God.

A: Why these attributes and not others? Why not competitive, aggressive, focussed, dedicated?

J: Because mature, responsible people aren’t competitive and aggressive. They’re hard working and competent without being competitive and aggressive. Furthermore, they don’t want to be competitive and aggressive. They prefer to be humble and happy.

A: So competitive and aggressive don’t fit on the same page with humble and happy?

J: Nope. “Competitive and aggressive” fit very nicely on the same page with traditional orthodox Western Christianity, but not on the same page with what I taught.

A: Hmmmm. The Crusades spring to mind. Plus Christian slave-owning. And Christian evangelism. I’m not too fond of Christian preaching on sin and salvation.

J: If you look closely at Paul’s theology of sin, salvation, sacraments, and separation from God, what you see is a systematic attempt on Paul’s part to undermine all four needs of the Christ Zone model. You see him savaging the soul’s need for self-esteem by telling people they’re full of sin and can’t get rid of it no matter how hard they try (which is why they need Christ’s intervention). You see him crushing all hope that regular people can be in full relationship with God — in a state of love and belonging with God — except maybe on the future Day of Judgment. You see him steal away people’s sense of safety and trust in God by preaching about grave perils and dangers and demons and cosmic forces such as Sin and Law. You see him even try to rob people of the chance to add meat to their diet through fear of committing idolatry. Small portions of meat protein are important to the physiological health of most human beings. Same with healthy, respectful sexuality, which Paul also tries to undermine by playing the guilt card.

Of course, one of the biggest tip-offs about Paul’s true intent is his attitude towards slavery. He doesn’t say that slavery is wrong, that it’s morally reprehensible. He side-steps all the brutal realities of slavery, which include the frequent withholding of proper food and shelter (physiological needs); the complete annihilation of all safety needs (safety of the core self, the psychological self, the sexual self, the relationship self, the trusting self); the replacement of true love and belonging needs (i.e. the “one path to manyness”) with false teachings on love and belonging (i.e. “we are all one in Christ” or “the many paths to oneness”); and as for self-esteem . . . well, come on, now, self-esteem is intertwined with egalitarianism and wholeness and self-respect and empathy, and a slave isn’t offered any of these things by his masters. It’s a rare slave who finds the inner courage to overcome all these obstacles on his or her own. However, it does happen and can happen. Human beings are extraordinary and awe-inspiring when they decide to take full possession of their own inner map and follow it instead of these numbskull religious teachings.

A: Just now you linked true loving and belonging needs with the one path to manyness. Can you explain that in more detail?

J: All people need love and belonging. They need to belong to families or communities or friendship groups. It’s normal and healthy. In fact, they can’t be in full relationship with God if they’ve never had any of their love and belonging needs met in their everyday human lives.

A: Why not?

J: Because their brains have never learned over time how to have relationships with anybody. They’ve never learned how to listen with all their heart to another person, how to maintain respectful boundaries with another person, how to communicate clearly without getting angry and controlling, how to compromise. Again, this is all scientifically verifiable. Thousands and thousands of books have been written on these topics. This isn’t New Age fluff I’m talkin’ here. This is the stuff of real life, real psychology, real change. People’s lives get better when they learn how to do relationships. People’s lives get worse when they ignore their relationship needs. Nobody gets out of this reality. Nobody. God doesn’t intend that individuals should be able to find their own inner map by going off into the desert to live alone for months or years. It isn’t normal and it isn’t healthy. You can only see who you are in relationship with God if you know who you are in relationship with other people. You have to love your neighbours — your neighbours on Planet Earth — if you want to know what it feels like to love your God.

A: Because God the Mother and God the Father are NOT you. They’re not One with you. They’re part of a family WITH you. But they’re not you. So you have to get to know them the way you’d get to know any of your other neighbours.

J: Yes. Angels walk side by side, hand in hand. We are the many who share the values of divine love, courage, devotion, gratitude, and trust. We are the many who are a family united in love. We are the many who can flourish in our own distinctiveness because there’s only one path to true love and belonging.

That path is the path of balance.