Spiritual Mathematical Knot

Spiritual Mathematical Knot

A conversation on Facebook helped me appreciate the ultimate spiritual mathematical knot – drawing closer to God. Baha'i RingstoneResponding to a Baha’i quote on the challenges inherent in searching for God a friend posted this tongue-in-cheek response “So. Pretty easy overall.” A mathematical formula to describe how easy it might be came to me in a flash. The difficulty we have in finding and drawing near to God equals our actual distance from God divided by how close we think we are. Let’s unpack this spiritual mathematical knot.

Thinking we have God in our back pocket creates a mathematical impossibility. You can’t divide by zero. This is the challenge facing those who, like I once did, think they are comparatively closer to God than others. 

A group I once belonged to was über-obedient. We kept many Torah Commandments, like the Sabbath, Holy days, and food laws. By having both the law and the testimony of Christ we believed we were closer to God than anyone else on earth. In some ways, maybe we were. We took God at His Word and organized every aspect of our life around obeying, following and worshiping Him.

impossible divideAnd yet belief in proximity to God kept us from drawing any closer. My personal battle with this is described in painful personal detail across the pages of the first two books of my Trilogy.  The People of the Sign describes my involvement with the Worldwide Church of God and its 1995 implosion. That devastating fail was underscored by many members blaming the other side instead of becoming introspective. Being a victim of divorce and kidnapping helped me understand the two sides. Detachment helped me realize I was nowhere near as close to God as I had thought, opening up the “valley of search” described by the Baha’i quote that led to this blog.

Spiritual Proximity Sensor 2

My personal search around the world is described in The Hardness of the Heart. How we view and treat our fellow man is directly related to how open our heart is to God. Self-sufficiency, judgmental attitudes and the belief that we already have enough of God in our lives creates an impassible divide between us and God.

There are many ways to conclude we are as close to God as possible, which becomes self-fulfilling. How close are you to God?Fear of turning to God due to feelings of guilt and inadequacy are but mirror images of this arrogance. They are also expressions of a focus on ourselves. These too are fetters of ego that create distance.

Yet anyone who thinks they are far away from God can easily draw nearer just by deciding to. Recognizing the distance allows us to instantly decrease it. Think of how Christ welcomed and embraced sinners, while condemning the Pharisees. Apparently such spiritual equations function more like quantum mechanics than classical physics.

How close are you to God?This makes searching for God  sound easier than it is, of course. But on the other hand, we usually make it harder than it is. And I think that was the point of my friend’s cheeky, and well-timed response to my Facebook post. Thank God for friends who help us untie spiritual mathematical knots. Or tie them, as the case may be.

Are you as close to God as you want to be? Or knot? John 13:35 says everyone can know who follows Christ by a simple test. Do you know what it is?
Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

December 10 is the 66th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the UN General Assembly. The horror of WWII is credited for inspiring, if you will, this first ever global expression of inherent personal rights. It came in the wake of the declaration of a Jewish State seven months earlier.

In this light, reactions to the planet’s only Jewish entity’s efforts to defend itself from existential threats are shocking. Violent attacks have been carried out against it, relentlessly, since its birth on May 15, 1948.

Universal Declaration of Human RightsRather than support the citizens of Israel’s democracy, world opinion denies equal access to the Human Rights which their suffering helped inspire. The most tragic, and ironic aspect of this, in this writer’s opinion, is that even inside the UN Human Rights Council the planet’s sole Jewish State is singled out for persecution.

In selecting a Virtues card to frame this blog, Mercy came up.  How appropriate!  But since that card was just used for Syrian refugees I drew again – and was presented with a more challenging lens.  Contentment – “A trusting that life provides us what we need, when we need it.”

Here goes… Israel’s Jews can enjoy contentment given what they have, and have achieved.  Many, including this writer, believe events began in 1844 to fulfill the prophetic sequences which were initiated thousands of years ago.  This view holds that God is the force behind an in-gathering that began prior to and increased in momentum after WWII.  The selection of the Real Estate in Palestine for a modern Israel was predestined as were all the challenges inherent in that choice.

Though the entire planet be aligned against it, at this time, the Jews can be content with the messages in their Holy Writings – that God will infuse with eventual success all global efforts, including those of Israel, toward beating swords into plowshares and transforming deserts into rose-gardens.  However imperfect those efforts may be.

The verses below proclaim hope for the future. Our potential for contentment is great, when we trust in God to fulfill His promises.

Swords into PloughsharesIsaiah 2:1-4 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord‘s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Israeli desert blossomIsaiah 35:1-4 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.  Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.  Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

Great contentment comes from trusting in the promise of a better future, as foretold by the Jewish Prophet Isaiah.  Shalom to you all.

Lamb lies down with the lion and the little child leading them

Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.


The Rod of Iron

The Rod of Iron

Ancient images feature The Rod of IronOn September 11, I announced that I had finished the manuscript to The Rod of Iron, now a formal book idea at Something Or Other Publishing.  Casey Kasem, who was a close radio companion of mine throughout my troubled early teenage years, summed up the approach to this manuscript with his famous byline: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”  As I wrap up the manuscript review process, I look somewhat apprehensively forward to finding out if my editor feels I’ve measured up to Casey’s mentoring.

The very personal journey mapped out by the trilogy has been a long and winding road that, as The People of the Sign points out, predates my time on earth.  Certainly I’ve spent much of my intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life mining ancient history, in particular that which was recorded in or related to the Bible.  In college, for example, I joined the City of David archaeological expedition. But The Rod of Iron explores even more ancient territory.

From an archaeological perspective, the book joins the ancient temples of Göbekli Tepe to prophetic writings dating back 5,000 years. From a narrative perspective, it integrates theories that predate the planet, describing the first moments of the creation that unfolded space-time.  And philosophically, it explores the fractal patterns revealed by the fabric that originated, envelops, and permeates us, to provide what I believe are new hypotheses about who and what we are.

The Rod of Iron explores how our consciousness is fulfilling our destiny to emerge as Sons of God with similar creative capacities, albeit in infinitely weaker and more limited forms.  I hope you’ll click on the link and give it your vote.

QtubIron Pillar - a mysterious Rod of Iron

One example of a mysterious Rod of Iron.

Along the way — and by that I mean the path I chose when I initiated this audacious process — the trilogy that got written went well beyond what I had originally envisioned.  The act of putting pen to paper forced the documentation of many questions that demanded answers.  The fact that I had already published both the first volume and its sequel, The Hardness of the Heart, forced me to continue swimming in waters more profound than my inherent ability to negotiate.  The burden I laid upon myself drove me repeatedly to books, articles, events, mentors, ideas, and most importantly, my knees, in a desperate search for answers that would satisfy my admittedly obsessive quest for coherence. “Truthy,” superficial answers were not satisfying to me, nor did I believe they would satisfy those who would undoubtedly challenge the evidence I was presenting.  Instead, I continued to dig deeper and reach higher, drawing ever-larger circles in my efforts to solve riddle after puzzle after mystery to my own satisfaction in what one reviewer called a “relentless search for truth.”

In writing The Rod of Iron, a desire to more fully understand the purpose of the Tower of Bab-El story was but one mysterious “X Marks the Spot” starting point, or elusive destination (I wasn’t really sure which). But as the manuscript finally finished writing itself, I was astounded to find a pattern of dots connecting our modern era to that which the citizens of Bab-El sought to attain.

So to those few fans of the first two volumes and to the many others I hope will explore my work, I offer up The Rod of Iron in the hope that even critics will accept it as a fascinating and surprising end to the journey that began with The People of the Sign.  It was my ambitious goal to generate, over three volumes, momentum leading to a crescendo worth the considerable effort needed to digest the vast internal and external territory covered along the way. I hope that by testing my outrageous hypotheses against historical events and modern science, and explaining intricate relationships using articles from Scientific American, Indian Legends, and official government websites, I’ve created a story as riveting as the unraveling of mysteries was to me.

It is my aspiration that after reading my trilogy you will never again view the universe, nor current events, nor the significance of your own existence, in quite the same way.  The Biblical Rod of Iron was prophesied to accomplish such a major transformation.  I’m not claiming that my trilogy fulfills this,   but it does unyieldingly encourage its readers to take an entirely new look at the Rod of Iron prophesied to be wielded by Christ at His return.  Please take a moment to cast your vote for my book and we’ll keep you updated on the progress toward publication.

QutbIron Inscription

The inscription on the QutbIron.

American Exceptionalism vs. Putin

American Exceptionalism vs. Putin

Does Vladimir Putin have a point about American Exceptionalism?

The idea that all men are created equal is a founding principle of the United States. Is the belief in American Exceptionalism inherently contradictory—or even dangerous?

Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks so. In his recent New York Times op-ed piece, he wrote that American Exceptionalism is “extremely dangerous” and that “we must not forget that God created us equal.”

American Exceptionalism is the view that the United States has a special role to play on the world’s stage because of its national ethos and provenance. Within this country, this view is prevalent. It is also balanced with the other principles upon which this nation was founded. Our Constitution has stood for a progressive stance on individual rights. We have become a world leader, in part, by embracing a sense of fairness for all.

So our national identity faces a fundamental dilemma today.

Why would I venture into discussing this topic? The People of the Sign is a kind of literary memoir recounting my life, much of which I spent within the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). The WCG under Herbert W. Armstrong was prosperous and growing, with a global reach and an astounding influence. And it was built on the idea that its members were divinely exceptional.

But the WCG was ripped apart by an identity crisis that crystallized under new leadership. Is this the fate of our nation?

That remains to be seen, but we can draw an important lesson from the WCG about American Exceptionalism.

One of the church’s fatal flaws was the hubris of Herbert W. Armstrong, his lieutenants, and many of the church’s members. While faith is good, and the book of Hebrews states that God rewards those who diligently seek him, we need to beware the mindset of divine superiority. Pride comes before the fall.

I am not a supporter of Putin. I find his comments both insulting and insincere. I was in Leningrad in 1991 during a coup by hard-line communists, which included the kidnapping of Mikhail Gorbachev. Boris Yeltsin then came into power, signaling the end of the Soviet Union. At the time there was certainly no dearth of Russian Exceptionalism. Yet their hubris led to ignominy on the world stage, and ultimately to the implosion of their empire.

In the wake of that collapse, the U.S. has been largely unchecked on the global scene. Today, some of the problems that confronted the Soviet Union during its twilight are in evidence here. And Russia’s recent geopolitical coup on the subject of Syria, followed by Putin’s comments, indicate that Russia feels the time is right to challenge the U.S.

When it comes to geopolitics and political strategy, I share in a sentiment recently raised in the media about this issue: Russia plays chess and America plays monopoly. We’re playing two different games, and at least in this Syrian crisis, Putin’s chess is winning.

Historically, Russian leaders have been the masters of gray, whereas U.S. leaders continue to define things in black and white. But what’s black and what’s white is changing. A belief in American Exceptionalism can easily work against finesse and diplomacy, which are much needed in navigating this predicament and an increasingly integrated world.

I do not reject the idea that God has a special purpose for the United States. But what is important to realize, especially for those who believe as I do, is that God also has a special purpose for every person on the planet. That includes the aggregate political entities that they are a part of as well.

To hold the idea that we are exceptional can be healthy. I have a five- and a two-year old, and they respond well to verbal encouragement and high fives. Yet I’m aware that this type of motivation needs to be balanced out with the teaching of virtues and spiritual principles like love, kindness, humility, gentleness, and respect for others.

A balanced approach that includes spiritual qualities worthy of a nation that claims to reside “under God” will lead to an American Exceptionalism that can stand the test of time. And the jabs of our enemies, like Vladimir Putin.


American Exceptionalism - two boys salute their respective flags

The Russians love their exceptionalism too