Tag: christianity

Review: Lost Scriptures, by Bart D Erhman

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Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament, by Bart D Erhman
Oxford University Press, 0-19-514182-2, 342 pp., 2003

In my opinion, it is beneficial for those of us who are not Christian to read writings related to the early days of Christianity. Many of these writings are considered “Gnostic,” some are merely “heretical,” and some have simply fallen out of favor with the orthodox authorities. The stories told in many of these writings reveal how Christianity responded to their pagan neighbours during the days of the early development of the religion. In some cases, they show how many of their beliefs were influenced by pagan thought.

If you think that pagans have no need to know about these writings, I feel you are mistaken. Many non-Biblical stories have found their way in “common knowledge” about Jesus and his family and followers, and have their origins within these works. They have inspired medieval artworks, commentaries of accepted stories from the Bible, and other beliefs. When speaking with Christians, it may be beneficial to be able to point out the source of some of their beliefs

This book is aimed at the non-scholar, unlike many of the collections of such writings which have been published in the past 150 years. The author has also taken great pains to make the translations easy to read and understand. Many of the earlier translations were incomplete, or couched in language which appears, at the least, stilted. This publication offers a very readable translation, and has the benefit of the continuing investigations into the history of Christianity and the ancient world in general.

I remember seeing mention of many of these works in an older book in my library (Lost Books of the Bible and The Forgotten Books of Eden), which was published prior to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts. They were still among the “missing” at that time and there really wasn’t much hope of finding them.

Although these “books” are not an acknowledged part of the modern Christian Bible, they are part and parcel of the early period of growth of the Christian religion. They were, in many cases, accepted by vast numbers of Christians; in many instances for hundreds of years, before they were put aside in favor of the currently accepted composition of the bible.

Professor Ehrman provides general backgrounds on the various “classes” of the books contained within this volume (Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles, and Apocalypses) as well as the canonical lists which are included at the end of the book. Each individual “book” is also put into historical perspective (where possible), and the reader is given a sense of its major differences from the accepted texts. Some of the works are not citied in their entirety due to their length, but significant excerpts are given, and some of them have not been found in their entirety. Where differences of opinion exist regarding the translation of a particular word or phrase, it is noted.

Some of the images which these works convey may seem unfamiliar (or even downright frightening) to the average non-scholar. On the other hand, many of the stories will remind the reader of stories which have often been the subject of medieval artists and which have, therefore become part of the “accepted facts,” even if they are unofficial, of Christian beliefs.

Bearing in mind that some of these works were once considered to be authentic, but judged unworthy of inclusion among the accepted canon of scripture, one is led into speculation about the validity of the current canon. While it is unlikely that reading these books will convert anyone (one way or the other), they may serve as a useful tool in exploring the development of Christian thought through the early centuries of its development.

Professor Ehrman provides a valuable reference tool by assembling this mass of data in an easily understood format. By keeping his comments brief and predominantly free of obscure references, he makes a welcome addition to the library of the layperson interested in religious history.

While it is not a necessity for a Pagan library, it could be a valuable resource for those wishing to learn more about early Christianity. The author has also produced Lost Christianities, if you are interested in further information on this topic.

Judeo-Christianity and chaos magick

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The chaote is free to adopt any system (s)he so pleases and deconstruct it on whim. It is generally considered taboo for any chaote to develop any sort of personal dogma. I thereby call into question the doctrine of personality and its implications. I posit that the personality is as undefined and arbitrary as “god”, “spirit” and “love”. Since these are left entirely for the individual (or not-so-individual) to interpret as they please or are told, i recommend another approach to the socio-religious status quo, and namely Judeo-Christianity. This approach is encouraged in the interest of originality and inclusion, useful qualities for any chaote.

“Self” remains as undefined as “God”, and is equally arbitrary in definition and significance. Although personality can be defined as the collective character, behavioural, temperamental, emotional, and mental traits of a person, the bases of such – thought and emotion – remain only classifications of experience, not definitions. It is therefore belief only that defines the personality. Time and experience, the fundaments of memory, which is possibly the single most important factor in the development of personality, are not static. It is absurd, then, to assume that the product of such ever-changing conditions should be anything but impermanent and malleable. Personality is little more than a doctrine, a set of beliefs that one has adopted to differentiate their self from others. This dogma is developed around mostly inescapable experiences but is entirely open to re-interpretation as any other belief system.

It is easily argued that originality itself is an illusion. This remains undisputed here. There is nothing new under the sun. However, there is much to be said for deciding one’s own order – or disorder – of reality rather than ignorantly accepting any of the provided options. There is also much to be said for advancing one’s own likes rather than digressing on dislikes. Those who do are usually considered “original”, or at least “strange”, and thus have a particular if illusory claim to uniqueness.

Those who merely criticise and attack what they do not like are unoriginal. They have created nothing; they are merely reacting to what someone else has done. Furthermore, to utterly dismiss any paradigm on the basis of personal preferences is to assume that the personality is absolute. Thus, those who can not or will not at any time adopt any particular view on any topic presuppose two dogmatic truths: 1. Their personality is an absolute truth that cannot change. 2. The particular view in question remains absolutely irreconcilable (does not change) with their personality.

“Nothing is true; all is permitted” (Hassan I Sabbah). This paradoxical credo (that it would remain undisputed is also paradoxical) of the chaote demands that the very self be called into question. Since there is no such thing as a True Self or personality, one is free to explore all that was previously believed unacceptable for whatever reason, and is encouraged to do so. In the context of North Americn (Western) society, this typically results in exploring so-called alternative paths and the occult. However, this is a one-sided approach that excludes a wide variety of options. By ignoring or directly attacking the socio-religious status quo, and namely Judeo-Christianity, one originates nothing but merely reacts to what others have already established, and furthermore confirms unquestioned faith in the doctrine of “self”. In doing so, one remains as equally limited as if bound to meet the requirements of that status quo. This reflects poorly on the very basis of chaoism.

Christians limit themselves by considering their theology the only truth and refusing to explore other faiths and ideas, and are thus considered closed-minded. Likewise chaotes, who suppose a larger degree of freedom in the ability to choose whatever works, invariably limit themselves by refusing any serious inquiry into Christianity. To assume the meta-belief that belief itself is a tool for achieving effects but not allow oneself the option to explore all the tools available is to presuppose a truth (the personality) and incur a specialization that may ultimately hinder the effects desired. Thus inclusiveness becomes a desirable quality for anyone who wishes to maintain as much potential as possible.

Inclusion suggests, indeed, that nothing is true–not even the self. Incorporating Crowley’s Qabalah and Spare’s sigilisation into one’s personal grimoire is no measure of originality; not only is it adopting pre-set formulae with historical credibility, it is appropriating some of the most common occult alternatives to the Judeo-Christian paradigm. Taking on Emperor Haile Selassie I as one’s personal deity while adopting a Sikh mindset and using Islam’s jinns for servitors, on the other hand, could be something original and interesting. Moreover, inventing systems of philosophy and magick that are in no way related to any other system (eg, no astrology, no gematria, no sigils) would seem an ideal exercise for the aspiring chaos magickian. All in all, one should not be so constrained by their doctrine of personality as to explore only that which is obscure or unpopular.

It is therefore in the chaote’s best interest to retain Judeo-Christianity in the catalogue of possibly useful paradigms.

Copyright 2002. saintstephen. Permission to reproduce this article granted under the condition that this copyright notice is included.

The Gospel of St Thomas, translated by Jean-Yves Leloup

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The Gospel of St ThomasThe Gospel of Thomas, translated by Jean-Yves Leloup Shambhala Press, 1590300424, 51 up. (+ author notes), 2003For those of you whose first reaction is: "this is a Christian book," you’re wrong. It is a book of sayings attributed to Jesus, but that doesn't necessarily make it a Christian book.It contains a selection of 23 of the total of 114 sayings which were discovered in the Nag Hammadi library in 1945. They are coupled with beautiful, and colourful, calligraphic illustrations.While it is a short, fairly expensive work, the colours and illustrations make it worth the price and more. While it is possible to breeze through this work in just a few minutes, resist the temptation. Read More

Promoting Positive Christian Intimacy & Sexuality: Tantra: The Old Lost Art Of Fulfilling Sexuality

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To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.sex
Subject: Re: The Tantra
Date: 28 Apr 1995 20:18:42 GMT

Our Sexually Immature Culture

Our society is full of tease, titillation and men taught to look at women as sex objects. We have no meaningful intimacy education and never will until we drop the false sexual repressiveness of religion used for controlling people and reorient ourselves towards loving sexual fulfilment.

We are not born naturally good at sex and we have little or no training in sexuality other than by hit and miss experimentation. We are largely conditioned by a belief system that often instills guilt, fear, insecurity or shame in our sexuality. We need to take back sexuality and integrate it with our spirits in a way that results in much more love, intimacy and fulfilment than what our culture has taught us. That is the basic teaching of Tantra.

Many couples have terrible sexual relations, since they have never been taught fulfilling sexuality, which doesn’t just come naturally hiding by yourselves in a dark bedroom. Men especially often have no idea how to give maximum pleasure to a women. Real responsible sex education is needed, not Christian repression based on mistranslated or misinterpreted scripture.

New Age Ideas Becoming Popular Again

Many warm, open people are attracted to New Age and Eastern beliefs. Many flee from the anti-sex, anti-body teaching of many Christians but falsely think they have to give up Christianity to be sexually open and fulfilled.

Tantra Teaching Needed

Not Christian Repression Tantra is an example of powerful integration of spirit and body in a positive, uplifting, healing way. Christianity has left it to the pagans to discover the possibilities in these areas while Christians in their blind prudishness and sexual puritanism wander around missing a kind of growth and fulfilment whose potential for spiritual good is incalculable.

Millions of couples have learned through Tantra to more fully share spiritually, have more awareness of themselves and their love for each other as a permanent part of their relationship. For couples who want to enrich their relationship, it can bring harmony between them and increase their sexual pleasure and intimacy. In sum, Tantric sex can create an extraordinary partnership between a couple.

Christian Tantra

By excluding the Hindu ideas, Tantra can help integrate positive sexuality with Christianity. Tantra teaches positive sexuality and ways of emotional, spiritual and physical communication which is far more meaningful than Christian repression. I uphold the Tantra teachings that can be so easily adopted into a Christian view. Christian Tantra differs from ancient Tantra only in its spiritual definitions, but most of the techniques are the same. Tantra deals with the unity of cosmic consciousness with the psychic energy centers of the body called Chakras, with the goal of self-actualization, personal integration with the universe, with breathing and yoga type meditation to make oneself in harmony with the universe. Christian Tantra communicates God s love for each other and desire to empower each other with love of God, each other and the world through a spiritual communication of the Holy Spirit within us. The specific communication and physical techniques are powerful for both Hindus and Christians.

Sample Of Tantra Techniques

Tantra techniques are specific high touch positions that in modern day science are known to provide positive medical results within the body. Also included are many sexual positions that are much more physically stimulating, especially for women, and convey more love, acceptance as a person and trust than the usual thrusting or usual positions. But much of it is non-genitally oriented and non-intercourse sexuality which few men have experienced but any women find so much more emotionally healing than just sex .

Nurturing positions without sexual contact, to nurture each other by our bodies and spirits communicating acceptance, trust, and harmony between each other.

Exploration and getting to know you techniques very much the same as used by sex surrogates in California (where it is a respected part of professional sex therapy) used to teach being comfortable with our sexuality which does not involve intercourse.

Restoring harmony after a fight or knowing how to reconnect with your partner. Most arguments stem from and escalate out of the fact that one partner is communicating by logic, the other emotionally. This duality is the result of couples speaking two different languages and neither gets what the other is trying to say. The logical partner will remain certain about the rightness of his or her convictions, because they make perfect sense. The emotional partner will continue in his or her position because the truth of feelings cannot be denied. The emotional person doesn’t need to be convinced – in fact, can’t be convinced, because that requires a logical mind and for now the emotional mind is in charge. The emotional partner wants only to be heard, held, and loved: only wants harmony restored. Both partners need to be able to let go, lie down together and practice physical nurturing (not sex), as a means of getting back together and restoring love and harmony even in agreeing to disagree, but trying to understand why each is reacting as they are. Then, no-fault communications needs to be established, both apologize for their part in the disagreement, and affirm their love and their desire to restore harmony by forgiving each other.

Five levels of orgasmic experience for women and how to overcome blocks that get in the way of what God intended to be women s most enjoyable physical experience. The five levels are preorgasmic, sometimes orgasmic, orgasmic, multiple orgasms (the fourth of July fireworks), and extended, or Wave of Bliss level which lasts a long time and can include female ejaculation of nectar of the Goddess (amrita) in Tantra. Sexologists have only recently discovered this, but its been known for centuries in Tantra.

Awakening The Sacred Spot is seldom done by accident but only with a partner, over time, who has been trained to awaken the most powerful possible female sexual organ resulting in whatm many women say is the best of the best orgasm. Again, sexologists are now confirming what has been lost for centuries, but taught as basic ancient Tantra.

These are just some of the many Tantric techniques that should be taught in modern culture. The result would be more love, more emotional and spiritual fulfilment as well as intimacy and positive sexuality that has been falsely repressed far too long.

Brief History of Tantra

Tantra refers to a series of esoteric Hindu books that describe certainsexual rituals and meditations. These ancient Indian books, over two thousand years old, were written in the form of a dialogue between the Hindu god Shiva, who is the penetrating power of focused energy, and his consort, Shakti, who represents the female creative force. The Hindu Tantras enjoyed sexual play and sexual union as an act of joyful celebration, as a demonstration of connectedness, as a symbolic affirmation of the unity inherent in a couple s relationship. The skills are bringing previously unheard of fulfillment to many couples practicing Tantra techniques.

What was amazing to me is that many of the 20th Century sexual discoveries are the same techniques Tantra has taught for 2000 years. For example the G-spot is nothing more than the Sacred Spot of Tantra and the newest CAT (Clitoral Alignment Technique) is also this old. But with our society s sexual repression, it has taken us much longer to learn about our sexuality than in ancient days.

Our Desire For Spiritual Partnership In A Significant Relationship The free love days did not result in lasting fulfilling relationships since it was more me centered rather than you uplifting. The AIDS scare has further made lasting relationships more important. Couples today are looking for a commitment from each other, but a special kind of commitment – one that contains spiritual as well as a physical elements and emotional and psychological aspects as well as material ones.

Lets Help Create A We Generation

In biblical times, marriages were prearranged by fathers based on negotiating a marriage price and cultural factors which had nothing to do with the couple loving each other. In the 1940s war romanticized relationships at the same time it tore them apart. Then came the sexual revolution of the sixties and women claiming their right to their own sexual enjoyment of the seventies. The eighties, the post-sexual-revolution era, brought a time of personal freedom of the me generation. Now, as we approach the turning of another century, men and women want to face life together. This may be the start of the we generation, a generation that desires an end to the battle of the sexes and the beginning of a new form of relationship in which partners work together as a team to satisfy needs, uplift one another, and journey together toward personal growth and sexual and spiritual fulfilment.

We Seek A Passionate Partnership

The sparks of passionate love ignite in a new relationship. Passionate love makes your blood almost pulse inside you, makes you glow and you are drawn to each other like a magnet. This love expresses itself sexually; it is so nourishing you can’t get enough of one another.

Love is not necessarily blind, as Shakespeare claimed, but it is an altered state. Physicians tell us that, biochemically, love has many of the same exhilarating effects that amphetamines produce, but love is a natural high. The immune system can be strengthened by love; white blood cells perform better and we feel terrific!

But as time passes, this passionate love often diminishes because passion is an energy that depends on other energy for its survival. When love begins to stagnate, energy is directed elsewhere, sometimes in negative emotions and thoughts, or in work, sports etc. When couples lessen their lovemaking they begin the process of starving their love. Love is nourished by the sexual energy a couple generates. Tantra teaches how to create the spiritual energy of passion needed to sustain it.

A passionate partnership not only needs the nourishment sexual energy provides, it also needs maintenance as well as communications of what each partner needs in order to feel more loved emotionally, spiritually and sexually. This is the power of Tantra, that powerfully teaches techniques to keep the passionate partnership alive and nourished in all three areas of love. True Intimacy: The Sexual Gap Between Men And Women Many woman use the word intimacy to describe what is most important to them sexually. Sexual intimacy is a special kind of closeness, a communication that is deeper than the couple can achieve physically, a sharing that goes beyond material partnership. This profound connection is described by many women as a spiritual connection, or as the feeling of having found ones soulmate. Women relate it to the heart or the soul more than to the brain or the genitals, although when true sexual intimacy does occur, sexual passion is its by- product. When one becomes intimate one becomes passionate, excited, energized and turned on. A women is aroused, stirred deeply and physically.

But when intimacy is missing, when a women doesn’t make that special connection with her partner, she remains unsatisfied at a primal level because the need for intimacy is so deep. When intimacy is missing its hard for many women to feel passionate or to be satisfied sexually. Tantra teaches couples to relate on the deepest intimacy level and maintain that passion.

For most men intimacy conveys something very different – intercourse. But women know this seldom provides real intimacy, much less maximum sexual pleasure. Tantra teaches men how to enjoy deeper levels of intimacy and how to heal and stimulate a women sexually far more than through just intercourse.

The need for intimacy in sex is so basic to women, yet so foreign to most modern men who have never been trained in true intimacy and sex skills. But by nature and physically, women are sexual introverts; they contain their sexuality. Their sexual organs, their most sensitive places, are internal and protected. Women find it hard to speak out about their deepest sexual feelings.

It s far less difficult for men who are more extroverted. Quite simply, sex turns most men on. Sex makes them passionate. Men love sex. Men like women who like sex. They have never been taught or shown any other way; society teaches men sex, sex, sex thru tease and titillation, and then expects them to not fulfill these desires until marriage! Women want a heartfelt experience in love; most men want a glandular one.

Tantra Teaches Couples Sexual Healing

Tantra was designed centuries ago for couples to learn specifically how these differences between the sexes can be used as a positive force in a passionate partnership built on long lasting love and intimacy, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Tantra teaches that the combination of these differences between the sexes can produce a near-alchemical reaction, an ether in which both flourish, in which the garden of your relationship bursts with color and new life and growth, and you and your beloved thrive.

Tantra also teaches shared intimacy for the moment between couples, not lifelong partners but those who want to experience positive intimacy with different partners. The techniques are powerful as long as the man is open to seeking the most for his partner, not just his physical sexual desires. Once the man has experienced this intimacy, typically his view changes and he also no longer just wants physical sex, but realizes the power in deeper intimate loving relationships. This can be either with a life long partner or even a single encounter with a new loving Tantra-aware spirit which can be a powerful positive experience.

The Yoga of Sex But Much More

Although it has gained a reputation for being the yoga of sex , Tantra s sexual element is only a part of its focus, a part of a means to an end. Tantra s goals are more exalted and broader in scope than just being proficient in physical love. The ultimate goal is unity as a couple and with each other s spirits in a highly developed form of communication between partners. Women s Fire Which For Many Has Grown Cold From Abuse Can Be Wonderfully Rekindled Many women today are for the first time in 2000 years becoming independent and demanding their own business, political as well as sexual fulfilment that has been available mostly just to men in the past. During two thousand years of suppression, many women s fires have grown cold. Now suddenly its the New Age and women are supposed to be more involved in all these things. Not only are women expected to have fabulous orgasms, they are also supposed to experiencing multiple ones. It s enough to make anyone a little nervous, especially women who don’t feel orgasms easily, or have a negative view of sex.

Men have to be taught how to rekindle the woman s often dormant sexual energy. In ancient days, Tantricas were tutored by teachers in the art of love and sex. Today men and women can learn to teach each other and Tantra can help. They might consider Tantra as a kind of extension course – a class in love and relationship. In this continuing education we guide each other and the experience can be extremely powerful and beneficial to both men and women. For when a woman s fire is rekindled after such a long time, and tended, and fed by her most intimate partner, the benefits to both can be many. But for a woman, especially, the rekindling of dormant sexual fires can lead to startling unexpected sensations.

A woman s sexual awakening can propel her spirituality. Men may practice celibacy and achieve spiritual enlightenment, but women s enlightenment is often charged by her orgasmic nature. Through loving sexual sharing a women activates a powerful sexual/spiritual energy which then releases itself into her physical body and into her psyche, creating the atmosphere for her awakening. Tantra recognizes that when a woman increases her sexual power, she adds to the strength of her spiritual aspect as well.

Brief excerpts were taken from an excellent book Tantra The Art Of Conscious Loving by Charles and Caroline Muir

Dave Hutchison, Liberated Christians, Phoenix Az davephx@primenet.com
Promoting Positive, Loving Sexuality / Exposing False Biblical Interpretations

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