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Introduction

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players:they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

In my 70 + years on this planet people came, played their part in my life and they left. They appeared as family members, as friends, as lovers, as fellow travelers, etc, but one thing for sure, whether a passing bump in the night or a life long commitment,  eventually, they either have already, or will one day exit center stage and leave me standing in the spotlight alone.

One day, as I wondered about these things, I came to the realization that this play, on this stage, has never been about them in the first place. Each living individual has their own stage. This one is mine. I may have played different parts throughout my many lives, but this time around I am a watcher. . . and this personal blog is about what I have seen . . . through what I hope will (mostly) be an impartial lens.

Jim

 

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Salvation

You: What does it mean to be saved?

Me: That depends upon your religious affiliation, but as a rule the Christian church teaches that Jesus Christ willingly gave up his life as a sacrifice for your sins, and by your acknowledgement of that sacrifice you have been freed from the curse of sin and death. It teaches that Heaven is reserved for those who die in the faith . . . Hell is reserved for those who don’t.

Christian doctrine accepts a convert as they are and promises them a new life where they will be forgiven of past sins and become a new person as they live under the living word of God and His bible. In time the simplicity of that message created the largest and most powerful religion known to man. People flocked to the Mother church and her teachings by the millions.

When I was a younger man I know I did. I was at the end of my rope. I needed help from somewhere. Jesus was there, free and open armed, for me. I was born again in a local church and as long as I remained in good standing with the church and it’s doctrine I was guaranteed a place at the table when I got to Heaven. Heady stuff for a guy who had absolutely no religious affiliation whatsoever, and it worked great for a couple of years . . . BUT . . .

In time I began to notice that my life had become an ‘us vs them’ affair, something I was not comfortable with for many reasons. I began to question . . . especially when I realized I, as well as almost every church person I knew, had pretty much traded our past sins in for an open, ongoing, and obnoxious version of self righteousness. I was not pleased with myself.

I studied the bible, prayed for this and that, even lived on a Christian commune for a couple years . . . but after all was said and done I was the same guy I’d always been, but now I had to hide behind this magical connection to God. Anyway the questions became too many, the doubts too large, and I became what we church people feared more than anything else . . . a reprobate backsliding his way to Hell!

Back to the question of salvation: What was I being saved for? Why me? What if I couldn’t read the bible? What if I was born a Muslim? A Jew? An Indian? Chinese? What about the rest of creation? The questions came on like an endless series of waves in a heavy storm and I felt myself sinking under them . . . so I did what I do best. I hopped a plane and headed off into the sunset and a new adventure in Seattle.

Today I am not down on any church, but in general I believe we have gotten it all wrong when it comes to Christianity. I believe we have been duped by a ministry clearly bent on self aggrandizement. Guys who have created magical doctrines in order to rule over their flock of believers instead of taking the time and patience to teach them to practice what the simple teachings of Christ actually meant. We Americans are an overly spoiled, ‘all show and no go’ people. Even our version of Christianity, (especially the TV ministry bullshit), proves it to us.

Bottom line . . . It is easier to WORSHIP Jesus than it is to LEARN from him . . . and the ministers are using our spiritual laziness against us by promoting their version of American exceptionalism in order to control our minds, and give themselves a great life in their shiny new church. These Pharisees and false prophets are alive and well and living among us.

So here’s my answer to your question on salvation:  Jesus didn’t appear on the scene to SAVE you. He came to TEACH you how to SAVE yourself. . . and if you choose to follow and practice his teachings, he will be your teacher and you his student. And what can be more satisfying to a teacher than to have a student who learns his lesson?

Jesus was a special being, no one can argue that. I believe he existed and was a thorn in the sides of the priests of that day, just as you will become if you follow his lead. I don’t believe he was a special creation though. I believe he was an old soul who obtained awareness at a very early age and dedicated his life to the cause of teaching humanity a better way.

I believe there have been many teachers who have come and gone throughout the ages who were born for the very same reason, and I believe they all have based their teachings on one four cornered foundation.

house of god
You are being saved for no other reason than to build THIS house . . . you may never know it, you may never be awarded anything other than the satisfaction of knowing you helped build it . . . but that will be enough.

 

The Book

Summer 1980 . . . It’s summertime and I have just  recently flown back to Ohio after leaving the body farm in Palmer Alaska. I am beginning to write a book about my times living on one of Sam Fife’s end time farms. Following is the introduction to that book . . .

Introduction

It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago I was standing on a cliff overlooking the Little Susitna river staring beyond into the foothills of the distant mountains whose streams and hills were once laced with gold and promises of grandeur. The mines are still there to tell the story of the old days when gold was God and men deprived themselves, struggling against the harsh climate to seek its favor and to possess all the earthly goods that it offered them.  

I too was there in Alaska seeking gold, but my gold was the promise of a changed nature. A nature of good fruit and righteousness that God has promised to them that loved Him and sought to walk in His way. Proverbs 8-19 says – My fruit is better than gold even pure gold and my yield than choicest silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice to endow those who love me with wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.

Years ago the Lord had given me a vision of God’s people living together in peace and harmony, of working the land and experiencing His life together in Christian community. Corporate life and total commitment to Jesus Christ and His body was at the time, in my opinion, the highest of callings.  

I’d spent the last five years there in the Matanuska valley, experiencing the joys and sorrows that come from living so close with so many. Knowing first hand how easy it is to expound upon the principles and doctrines of God and to declare our total commitment to Him in church, but how difficult it is to walk daily on His path and continually heed His call to lay down our lives and our wants that our brother may live and have his needs met. I loved Alaska and my family there, I was certain I would never leave, but it seemed the Lord had other plans for me.

How did I come to be involved in such a lifestyle? This is my story. A story of one man’s search for meaning in this life. A search for reality.

END

 

Summer 2018 . . . That was then . . . this is now. Then I was a young man full of visions, on a hero’s journey . . . today I am an old man full of dreams who is reaching as far back on memory lane as he can get, trying to figure out what the hell it was I was thinking those many years ago.

In the beginning of this story it is easy to recognize the effects of imagination on the romantic mind. It only takes a worthy cause to arouse the warriors spirit and send him on the hero’s journey.

Forever, it seems, I have been on that journey. Like Sir Launfal in Lowell’s poem “ The Vision Of Sir Launfal” I was, it seems, on a quest to find the holy grail and like the original seeker I failed miserably.

What kind of person gets caught up in these cults anyway?  I can only speak for myself.

My early life was not normal by any definition. I was a smart kid from a dysfunctional family with no self esteem and very little training. I grew up in a housing project that required me daily to defend myself against multi membered bullies that were older than me and higher up the pecking order. I was a competitive, street smart loner before the age of ten. I was most likely the ideal candidate for a cult.

When I had my Jesus moment around the age of thirty I didn’t hear the call to salvation and Heaven like everyone else I knew. I heard the clarion call to save the world for Jesus and his church . . . I, still on the hero’s journey,  jumped in with both feet and enlisted into the army of God . . . Glory! Fighting for God . . . It doesn’t get any better than that! The tests and trials before that day became moot as I put on His armor, took up His sword and began to fight His battle against Lucifer and his army of demonic angels.

Then one day my truths changed and I tossed that heavy sword into the river of life and settled down for a long, long nap . . .

Today I am out of causes and . . . today, like Sir Launfal, I realize that the holy grail had been with me the whole time, it lived within the eyes and lives of the family I had left behind in my mad dash to win the war against Satan and make a way for God’s people.  

I’m now 76 years old. I figure if I’m going to write this book I better get started before father time punches my clock. So as memory holds, here we go . . . down the pathway of remembrance.

This will not be a negative story, nor much of a positive one either. I am going to try to write this as an impartial observer. I still have friends on the various farms that I love and respect and mean them no harm. Regardless of how I feel about religion and the Brother Sam ministry I will take none of my angst out on them . . . it was a time when the world was so different and so much simpler that I thought the hero actually had a chance to make a change . . . before JFK got killed, before the war in Vietnam turned my generation upside down, before drugs and before Brother Sam . . . that is.

 

Religion

Everybody’s heard about Hell and has a pretty good idea what that word means, but do they KNOW for sure what the word means? . . . no. We do the same thing with the word God, and like God we have far reaching variables when it comes to the physical reality of eithers existence.

The Christian version of Hell has fire and brimstone and eternal damnation for any soul that goes there. There’s also a mini Hell for Catholics called Purgatory, that’s a place to go when we’re not quite bad enough for the real Hell or good enough for Heaven. In time it’s even possible to work one’s way out of Purgatory and into Heaven.

Heaven, being a place of perfect beauty and everlasting peace, promises that upon arrival a feast is prepared at the table where Jesus and the saints await us. Afterwards, with full bellies, we’ll walk the gold paved streets of New Jerusalem, drinking wine in a self filling cup while having eternal fellowship with the saints forever. What’s not to like about that? Truth be known, that doesn’t even appeal to me, I think I’d opt for the Islamic version where martyred believers go immediately to paradise and receive 72 virgins. That sounds like more fun.

Now I hope it’s obvious that I am just poking fun at some of our ridiculous ideas when it comes to Heaven and Hell. If anything it’s far more possible that upon our death we drop the physical body off at the morgue and revert to the same vibration (state) we originally came from, hopefully after learning something eternal during our visit.

Now, the low vibration of Hell may suit some of us, but that will be a place of our own making, a comfort zone where we will fit in with the crowd of degenerates we related to best in this life. . . so to speak. All that Dante’s Inferno stuff was created by the church to keep us fearful and in line with doctrine.

“OMG how can you say that?” you ask?

Following is my answer based upon the pretext that we are already in Hell and are too dumb to realize it.

What happened? What caused the environment, as signified in the bible as the allegorical Garden of Eden, to change into the polluted chaos we have today? Simple. We, through our own free will, created it. Singularly and corporately, we have created this hell we now live in. WHY? Because of spiritual laziness and a complete lack of understanding concerning who/what we are.

Eons ago cunning men created religion and set themselves up as intermediaries between us and God. We willingly gave up our personal connection to the Godhead and by doing so have spent eons in a slavery of our own making. The priests took control of our minds and began to teach us little more than what had already been planted within us by our creator. Forgetting the truth we grasped hold of the lie and followed it down a trail to nowhere (our present state) . . . and the rest is history.

Religion is the name of the power that has spiritually controlled us ever since the beginning when men found themselves alone and afraid in a strange new world. The place was chaos, in a moment they could be killed and eaten. Instinctively knowing there was something greater than themselves, they reached out for knowledge and security. Religion and the priesthood was there to give them a hands up.

Soon religion controlled them as well as killed them. Look around, it is so clear, so obvious, that it takes a deep set fear of retribution not to see it. I mean, really folks, religious wars abound, killing for God is the order of the day right now and nothing has really changed since the beginning of time has it? When has the entire world’s population been at peace?  I don’t know of a time. I hear a lot of promises and declarations about peace, but I also hear that we must fight, and kill, and die in order to obtain them.

That we can kill our way to peace rings hollow to me. Is that even possible? Even while engendering the law of ‘faith’ that is a huge reach, especially if you take collateral damage from drones and bombers into question. Everything I sense on this planet feels to me like we are on the pathway to Hell.

OK by now everybody’s probably convinced they are reading a freaked out atheistic viewpoint.  And further, I am on my way to Hell in a handbasket for saying this stuff. HA! Well, actually I am not an atheist. I do have a deep and abiding belief in spiritual law.

I believe in a Creator so far above our understanding that we are like fish in a bowl of water sitting on the living room table trying to figure out what goes on in the room surrounding us. Life is a mystery to us all . . . and those who desire to know that mystery or anything about the workings of our Creator by reading and studying a holy book must IMO drop it on the table beside the fishbowl and receive their knowledge by studying the natural environment surrounding them.

The artist is revealed within his works . . . not in a book. A book can only point the way towards the garden . . . it is not, nor ever can be, the garden.

Any other way to the Creator will find one pissing into the winds of religion. This is, and has always been, an individual quest, and to begin this searching one must go within themselves to find that amazing person they can become if they only open those doors to the soul they have kept locked for so long.    

The Big Question . . .

who am iWho am I anyway? What am I? What’s my purpose . . . or is there even a purpose to any of this?

These are a few of the questions I have been asking myself over the years and trying to figure out. Questions upon questions run through my mind like a junkie chasing his next fix . . . but usually the answers elude me and I have to experience a thing before I learn it’s lesson. . . . bummer . . .

Why can’t I just believe! Have faith! Listen to what they tell me! Read the good book, follow directions and queue up behind my choice of religion along with the rest of the crowd. Then I would just have to pay my tithes, listen to the pied piper and prepare for Heaven . . . or (gasp) follow this path I’m currently on and find myself on a one way trip to Hell. “That’s the choice you have Jimbo . . . get used to the idea of Hell because you ain’t good enough for Heaven! . . . even if you had 15 more lives, you wouldn’t make the grade.

I’m not really bragging, but I do have a lengthy resume when it comes to experience on this earthly plain. In short, after a dysfunctional upbringing and a regular high school education, I have been an airborne soldier…been a hippie . . . been a devout Christian (now a devout reprobate). . . been an Alaskan fisherman and off season bush rat . . . been a carpenter/home builder. I am a husband . . . a father . . . a writer . . . an amateur guitar maker . . . and most of all . . . I am a watcher.

The one great truth I have learned during all that watching is that NOBODY seemingly knows their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to God. I’ve run into a lot of folks who have tried to verse me in their self interpreted ways of the Lord, but the only way that works for me spiritually speaking is MY way. . . . and MY way is fraught with dangers, because alongside this personal freedom dwells personal responsibility, and that word seems to be one of the scariest words in the English language. NOBODY seems to want anything to do with it. LOOK around, WATCH closely. From the president on down all you see are fingers pointing and tongues wagging. No wonder we are in such bad shape. . . bye bye, miss American pie .

In the early days (right after the crazy hippie days), I lived on a Christian commune where the religiosity was enormous and the social order was as restricted as the military unit I once served with. I did all the right stuff, said the right words, even attempted to sing on key while singing for my supper, but ultimately I had to walk out on the ‘family’ because of the religious nonsense.  Although I wore the proper uniform, I knew beneath it all I was play acting.

Now, to get to the point. There ARE rules, and spiritual rules are stronger than any physical rules. Rules that religious thought are based upon. These same rules that are taught in every religion on the planet and followed by almost no one . . . are LOVE, MERCY, and GRACE.

I’m a builder. I build homes and just about anything else from musical instruments to dog houses. One thing I fully understand is that for a house to stand the test of time it must have a proper foundation.  It is absolutely essential. The foundation must begin below the frost line, carefully built up and properly backfilled. Everybody knows in the trades that most buyers barely check the foundation and spend most of their time scrutinizing the paint job. So where does the greatest effort go on the builders part? You got it.

The main religions on this planet are all pretty much created on the same principles of love, mercy, and grace. But after that the foundation goes in and up in a heated rush, it can be crooked and out of level and ugly as hell, but no one cares after the sill plates and floor are on to cover the shoddy work. The rest of the house is hurriedly roughed in until they get to the paint job and finish trim, then it’s ‘take your time and do a good job’ time. Welcome to the large, expensive, and beautifully laid out churches of today. Joel Olsteen comes to mind. What a sham that smiley young man is fostering upon the zillions of people who believe his nonsense.

No wonder our kids are leaving the churches in droves, they are smart enough to see the degradation and want no part of it. Trouble is when they see nothing but phoney, they are losing the reality of the principles these churches were built upon. They become wandering stars with no direction, that operate in the physical sense of doing what feels good.

I know for sure that I have no desire to teach, or be a leader over anybody. I am merely a watcher. I don’t even like people all that much these days. I have just one goal in these writings and that is to reveal to YOU that WE are powerful spiritual beings that are personally responsible for ourselves. We will never know any of that power unless we build the proper structure to contain it and we build it upon a foundation of love, mercy, and grace.

So although I may have a somewhat disjointed viewpoint of religion, I have researched it, meditated upon it, and it has become my reality. Because of that, the dusty old salvation story as well as the book it is written in has evolved into a new and very exciting reality I hope to share in this medium via my personal experience of watching the goings on around me for these many years.

Religion and spirituality is only a small part of what I am going to be writing about, but this watching all took place under His eye and on His turf, so I think it only proper to first give Him center stage. I have a lot of observations that are funny as well as many that are sad and a zillion in between so stick around you’ll find something to laugh at . . . (I hope)!