Monthly Archives: April 2014

THE FATAL FLAW IN THE MATTHEW VINES, ALBERT MOHLER GAY DEBATE

SergiusBacchus  (Ss Sergius and Bacchus, gay saints of the early church)

THE FATAL FLAW IN THE MATTHEW VINES, ALBERT MOHLER GAY DEBATE

AN ARGUMENT OVER “AUTHORITY”

Matthew Vines, a young writer just published for God and the Gay Christian and then immediately critiqued (in over 100 pages!) by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, belongs with a wider phenomenon not especially edifying for the (American) churches in the intensity of its obsession and the levels of  alarmist statement it can engender.  (According to how we respond the gospel itself is said to be at stake!).

American churches already have something to answer for in the way their beliefs and attitudes have poisoned public life from Africa to Russia as regards gays encouraging, however unintentionally, vigilante violence and open social and legal discrimination. The current conservative backlash is not helpful to the soul life of gays inside or outside the churches; if anything it is rather selfish and reduces things to some kind of theological boxing match that is no glory to God.

But faced with this latest round in the Christian-gay controversy it might sound strange, especially coming from someone who sufficiently esteems scripture not to count as a dyed in the wool theological liberal, to propose that a great flaw in the current debate is the approach to the “authority” of the Bible. This is something seen in their different ways by gay Matthew Vines and straight Albert Mohler as absolute, though of course Mohler is accusing Vines of undermining biblical “authority” even while he defends it.

Where understanding of homosexuality is concerned, Vines  wants and is promoting a “New Reformation”. But what is really needed is a “New Reformation” away from a rigid, purely sola scriptura treatment of every subject  towards a new position where at very least scripture is permitted to critique scripture and more importantly where the voice of Christ and the Spirit can be heard as per Revelation’s “Hear what the Spirit [not the Bible] says to the churches”, a refrain throughout Rev 2. And with this move we may hope to get away from the “By no means Lord” error of the apostle Peter at Joppa who refused divine vision itself because it appeared in his eyes to refute scripture and tradition (Acts 10:14). There would needless to say have been no bible, no Judaism or Christianity if every time a prophet spoke they would be denied a voice because they weren’t duplicating some word of scripture!

THE WEIGHT AND BURDEN OF OFTEN ILLUSORY “TRADITION”

Presently what I am getting at with all this  will be explained and in a particularly absolute way. It will be insisted  through something conventional commentary ignores or cannot answer, that not only did Jesus have certain views on the gay situation which prejudice and mistranslation and “tradition” have buried ( I have already somewhat covered this in my God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’ Vision at http://bit.ly/1izBz2C and various of my books like Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency  http://bit.ly/Y42WZo), but that the risen Christ disapproved or at least warned Paul from the first about the kind of views he would express as in the first chapter of Romans, views subsequently often and damagingly repeated over the centuries.

Great men make great mistakes as the saying goes, and as Jesus warned, “the first shall be last”. And the fact is that not everything the prophets of God declare is either intended by God or good. Still less so are words of the Christian philosophers, and I notice that critics of Vines like Mohler and Andrew Walker add to their  authority position the supposed “authority” of the centuries (as does sometimes Vines himself)  via not just scripture but the likes of Augustine, Luther and John Chrysostom.

Can they and should they even do that? I take it these good Southern Baptists and others don’t accept with Augustine, virtual founder of Catholic medieval philosophy, that it is more humble to pray to Mary than Jesus or that unbaptised infants go to hell and numerous other errors. I hope that they don’t accept with Luther, great though he was in many ways, that we should burn down synagogues. Possibly they really do believe the nonsense of Bishop St John Chrysostom of the Greek church that homosexual behaviour is worse than murder. The tongue of this so-called golden mouthed bishop, much like the devil as an angel of light, almost single handedly invented and corrupted the church, especially the Eastern Churches, with a fanatical anti-Semitism which echoes to this day and has justified pogroms. Are these ‘saints’ and doctors of the church any guide to the true position of the churches on anything?

This use of “authorities” betrays the Calvinism of even American Baptists – Vines himself is Presbyterian, a Calvinistic church tradition – but Calvin himself was something of a monster who ran a virtual inquisition in Geneva. He was happy to burn a heretic and unforgivingly required very public penances of those who laughed at or opposed him in any way. His unprecedented doctrine of work and money has perverted American Christianity to this day and runs behind prosperity gospel heresies. All these people presumably would know God’s mind and will regarding gays?!

WHAT AND WHERE IS THE IMMUTABLE BIBLE?

But let’s briefly consider the Bible as the immutable absolute it is for conservative Christians. What even constitutes this Bible? The only secure parts of it in strictly canonical terms are the Torah, the Gospels and a few prophets like Isaiah. The Septuagint Bible that was used and argued from by the early Church included some apocryphal books Southern Baptists would throw out as trashy, superstitious nonsense. It took a thousand years for the Eastern churches to accept Revelation was any revelation. The evangelical notion of a very fixed bible is a convenient fiction. The Apocrypha informs us that the legacy of Moses was destroyed at the fall of Jerusalem and Ezra employed the assistance of scribes to reconstruct what was lost. Almost certainly the version of the OT we possess is an edited “final” edition from around Ezra’s time and it is open to question whether elements of the Torah that seem objectionable to us like marrying a woman for life to her rapist, don’t owe something to the tampering scribes Jeremiah condemned.

The essential spiritual elevation of the Torah is evident, but conservative Christians who take the side of the OT as regards same sex, don’t care to stress the more primitive, almost Taliban-like features of the Torah on some subjects. Nor do they do stress how much the OT is anyway inconsistent on the same sex issue but suggestive of possibilities for development on the subject precisely through being so. Thus although Leviticus has the same sex couple supposedly executed, in Deuteronomy plainly it was not reckoned they would be so since the male prostitute (to whom the Leviticus ban probably originally first or chiefly applied) is not permitted to use the proceeds of his work as any temple offering. Also, though evangelicals like to stress that anything same sex is “abomination” (toevah a term indicating something closer to ritual impurity than “sin” as such), hence akin to and equal to incest and bestiality so categorized, evidently the writer(s)/editor(s) of the Torah weren’t so convinced. At any rate, while those other “abominations” were listed with the curses of Deuteronomy 27, same sex wasn’t included with them.

There is or should be some room for development and argument where scriptures are concerned. Such is the rabbinic position, and it is surely the sense of “come let us argue/reason together says the Lord” Is 1:18). (I have already  been told in response to this article that any idea of arguing with God over the Torah is absurd, but surely the simple answer is that precisely that is what  the daughters of Zelophehad do in Numbers 27 where their appeal gets the conditions changed. I don’t say they could do this to the core covenant and key ideas like the ten commandments but other things are less written in stone).  Jesus alone was regarded as the Word, (“Word of God” means more Jesus as Logos than “Bible”) and he is recorded as speaking with authority and not like the rabbis (who argued and still reckon to). The Bible is not the Koran with every part of it and every word dictated from heaven. It has settings and it has mediums of delivery, some more or less efficient to convey things and let’s note as sola scriptura believers aren’t keen to do that St Paul in Romans 1 on gentile depravity and “homosexuality” (though that word isn’t used) pretty much lifted his argument out of the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon it was so much not dictated from heaven and not “biblical”.  Jesus moreover observed that one searches scriptures in vain if you are not finding him there (Joh 5:39).

So what did Jesus hold about gay issues (which even gay theologians will usually tell you Jesus never referred to) and what may he have indicated to his chief apostle? As regards the gospels I will say no more here than what is suggested with a little more detail in the mentioned article (at http://bit.ly/1izBz2C) namely that Jesus in a way that undermines certain cure claims, maintains that some people are definitely born “different” and that this difference doesn’t automatically signify celibate vocation. I also pointed out concerning meanings of the racah passage in the Sermon on the Mount for condemnation of homophobia. There is more of relevance to gay issues within the gospels but I turn here to Jesus on Paul.

ST PAUL ON GAYS MAYBE, AND IF SO, WHAT?

St Paul’s almost purple passage first chapter of Romans in which something relevant to same sex issues is involved, is celebrated. It almost stands out there like a key to his work that it nevertheless isn’t. After reading extensively over the years on the great variety of interpretive views both conservative and revisionist that scholarship offers on St Paul’s references to those who wilfully “exchanged” their nature, I remain unsure just who and what in terms of his society and times the apostle was really talking about. Vines’ stress upon the evil of sex as “excess” as the ancients understood it must however carry some weight.

Personally I don’t think we can ever now quite know the truth (gay, bisexual, recreationally bisexual, pederastic, male prostitution or what) when it comes to who and what Paul had chiefly in mind. But what we can know is that –  practically –  whether gays as we understand the word today were the intended object of Paul’s tirade or not, the fallout has been huge, and sometimes irreparable in terms of the suicide, nervous breakdown, depression, family splits, persecution, imprisonment, torture etc that his extreme words have managed to justify across the centuries. Whoever he refers to are people whose mind is so twisted and filled with evil, so given to shameful conduct they have exchanged all truth for a lie and exist to receive God’s wrath. Please! Is this what all gays who believe they are “born that way” really are if and when they seek in any way to express themselves?

Even Dr Michael Brown, that tiresome sower  of every confusion (he is one of those who has approved bad policies in Africa) , a man who emphatically denies it is ever possible to be gay and Christian has recently  conceded:   “Some grew up feeling that God hated them, or there was something wrong with them. Some grew up feeling that they could never possibly serve God because they were under God’s condemnation…”.  Well that’s some compliment to St Paul and a recommendation to read scripture uncritically  isn’t it?! This, if ever, as Vines would have it referring to the gospel saying on the tree that bears corrupt fruit, is the bible as a voice for evil and sadly too with words which the apostle has mixed in and confused with what  is a not bad argument for the Creator God and conscience. How can any Christian, if they are honest, call St Paul’s words in Romans 1,  hugely influenced as said by the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon which links sex with idolatry, some kind of  words uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit and speaking to the churches for their good?

The apostle lived and travelled in a Roman world of widespread evil, great exploitation, slavery and torture for even entertainment. To have made “gays” or whatever  sexual minority he had in mind, any linchpin for any argument about good and evil was unnecessary and even scandalous. It’s a bit like talking  in racist fashion about blacks as an example of the “blackness” of human sin.  Though we needn’t question there were some seriously decadent,  orgiastic Romans and their exploitation of especially children could be very ugly,  the apostle’s angry generalizations (all the more dangerous for being precisely generalizations that can’t quite be pinned down so they assume the force of rumour)  do risk turning into  just hate speech and I think Christians have to concede that unfortunate fact.  At this point in his discourse the overall effect  is to make the apostle stand  less as a prophet of God to us than as a man of his times akin to certain pagan moralists and writers like Ptolemy the Egyptian astrologer who believed it didn’t matter if effeminates were bashed up in the streets.

Who is it opposes and persecutes gays today?  The leader of Boko Haram (who is under the illusion not even animals act homosexually), North Korea (which has dismissed Justice Kirby’s evidence against the nation because the forty years partnered Kirby is “a filthy homosexual”) , and various Muslim and African nations with a bad reputation for justice and human rights generally. It is a pity that Paul should be thought near to them in any way. And are any Pauline and ancient world assumptions about “nature” anyway correct?  We now know that homosexuality is in evidence throughout nature and the position of the male g spot itself raises some questions regarding how unnatural and unintended same sex activity intrinsically could be within the order of creation. That there is a distinctive gay mindset  and inspiration any serious study of culture will attest to against the Pauline position, and certainly strongly enough for the likes of Mohler not to protest convincingly that Vines and gays should never raise personal experience of the self in theological arguments.

But just as we are indebted to the imperfect Luther, we are indebted to Paul for many positive things, and I do mean that (Christianity might not even exist without him); but for his sad failure in Romans, and recalling Jesus’ warning that the first will be last, we can be reasonably certain Paul won’t take any highest place in heaven and we can be sufficiently assured too that Jesus was no more pleased with him about this than God was pleased with Moses’ bad temper at the rock and that he even tried to prevent him. How can we tell?

THE MYSTERY OF JESUS’ WORDS TO ST PAUL

It has always been a mystery beyond the power of theologians to explain and mostly just avoided by them, that the presence and introduction of Jesus to Saul/Paul at his conversion is as a semi-Dionysius, the wine god of ecstasy – Jesus is self declared in the gospels as “the true vine” – widely seen as a kind of gay or bisexual deity. Improbably, Paul’s Jesus even employs to the correct metre the words of the gay playwright Euripides in The Bacchae for this outlaw god (recall my other Vines article stressed the so-called “eunuch” figure is the outsider), whom the God of Israel’s Temple, due perhaps to its vine leaf designs pagans widely believed Yahweh to be. The question posed in the play by Dionysius to Euripides’ heteronormative anti-woman( and we may imagine homophobic)  persecuting King Pentheus,  the Gentile mirror image of Paul, becomes Christ’s to the heteronormative Saul: Why are you persecuting me, why will you kick against the goads?

The old KJ “kick against the pricks” accidentally reflects something of the ambiguity and polyvalence of the Greek expression which has several meanings including “the necessity” or sexual drive. St Paul is surely being told he really must stop persecuting the Christians but he needs to stop persecuting people altogether, if need be on a sexual basis. (We may assume a few unresolved sex problems in the apostle though I don’t follow the Bishop Spong line he was closet gay – there aren’t enough gay  traits in him and he had almost certainly been married and divorced – he could not have had his evident one time association with the Sanhedrin if he had not been married). Just as it seems Paul didn’t heed the warning of the prophet Agabus, so Paul the stubborn ox resisting the goads (though we appreciate he needed to be stubborn to take on the Roman Empire and the Jewish establishment!)  never quite learned this particular lesson, never recognized Jesus for who he was, Jesus in his own ambiguities and because of this failure there will be problems for everyone….A chance towards visionary understanding at deep unconscious levels was given and refused. And historically Christ has continued to be  persecuted by Christians in some of their attitudes and dealings with gays and almost anyone on the social margins.

THE TRUE “NEW REFORMATION” BEYOND MATTHEW VINES’ APPEAL

In the failure of St Paul and its dire historical consequences, let us learn a major lesson and make it an opportunity for insight and renewal. Matthew Vines wants a New Reformation. He won’t have it if he continues to peddle the “total” authority of scripture line (even while he is accused of undermining by reinterpreting it). The “New Reformation” so badly needed is one that, while still retaining a high view of scripture, releases us from its absolute authority, a kind of enslavement like that Paul described in relation to the Law. Christianity is not just, or not only, a tradition; tradition itself can be imperfect, it is a faith we are still living and forming.

Yes scripture is important, but no person is perfect nor is any witness to God. Christ, not the Bible is the primary “Word of God”. It is in light of the general sense and drift of scripture and Christ’s words we are bound to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches”  and it is not for evangelicals rigidly to refuse the possibility that God is speaking on this issue and to suppress all witness to it. My A Special Illumination  on  gay spiritualities ( http://amzn.to/17b8z1b  )  did if only briefly include (since this was a doctoral study) concerning alleged divine declarations about the gay situation.  But currently there is no attempt at hearing what the Spirit says to the churches on anything unless at the lowest possible level, even in a counterfeit form among a charismatic movement. This has promoted heresies like prosperity gospels which seriously do contradict the Bible it claims to follow and contradict it far more than persons questioning a few teachings on a rarely biblically mentioned “homosexuality” issue could possibly do. As stressed in my other article, we stand at the end of the era, and in conformity with the new influences of the era, the churches must dynamically change on this entire subject of same sex relations.

[June 21st: My points about sola scriptura, Calvinism and and hearing the Spirit are unexpectedly confirmed in the way that popular Californian Calvinist preacher John MacArthur has now shockingly declared that parents of “come out” gays should hand them over to the devil. This is the same person who has been condemning any spiritual gifts and charismatic Christianity as unbiblical]

See the also relevant, related article: Can You be Dr Michael Brown and a Christian? at http://bit.ly/Tu1LWz

A poem of this theme A Saint’s Mistake: A Poem of St Paul can be found at http://goo.gl/gBL4oA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE ROB BELL, OPRAH WINFREY ALLIANCE

BELLOP

THE ROB BELL, OPRAH WINFREY ALLIANCE

In a not entirely surprising move, news is out that pastor Rob Bell of the bestselling Love Wins (2011) which questions and denies belief in damnation, is joining forces with queen of the New Age, Oprah Winfrey. They will work together in  Oprah’s new drive to take people to an empathy and gratitude “space” where they will be open to their life potential. The media of 2014’s northern autumn is set to be illumined by their various hopes, encouragements and facilitations of soul life in the course of a “The Life You Want” tour of America.

Rob Bell is more recently author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God (2013). It’s a book Winfrey has praised and in which Bell highlights how images of God among American Christians can be diverse and sometimes even a bit crazy – which they can be. But in turn, and as misleading as those he critiques, Bell also maintains that when we talk about God “we’re talking about something very real and yet beyond our conventional means of analysis and description”. I think he just means our philosophical sense of the Absolute, but Christians of course maintain that God is not “something” but “somebody”. And however hard to encompass and evoke in words, God is not wrongly called “Father” along with certain character-relevant titles the Bible supplies to deity.

While I’m prepared to say that the “evangelical” Bell is, as charged, a bit  of a heretic in relation to creedal Christianity, an individual moving perhaps inexorably towards simply the “spiritual not religious” position, to New Age spaceiness with notions of compassion and inclusion Oprah Winfrey style, nevertheless in one thing Bell is more or less correct and maintains something Christians don’t sufficiently realize or admit yet. This is:

there’s a growing sense that when it comes to God, we’re at the end of one era and the start of another, an entire mode of understanding and talking about God is dying as something new is being birthed.”

SPEAKING A DISPENSATIONAL TRUTH UNRECOGNIZED

Ironically, some sections of the conservative, evangelical and charismatic churches, namely people at one level most keen to affirm traditional biblical beliefs, are open proof of Bell’s claims. They are so when today they transition towards a new vision of God in terms of King, Kingship and Kingdom and speak of Jesus “coming back as a Lion”. With this they merely adhere, if unconsciously, to certain patterns they deny exist or might dismiss, not just as heresy but even occult “abomination”.

The fact is they are reflecting the same era shift with which the birth of Christianity synchronized. Theology and the inter-relation of Old and New Testaments with what can seem like their contradictions are imperfectly understood and insufficiently resolved unless and until the astrology (thrown out by St Augustine who definitely misread the connections of OT and NT), is assimilated to the biblical teaching of “dispensations” as these affect images, vision and understanding of God. Magi didn’t come to Jesus’ birth or the Essenes seek for the Messiah in the stars for nothing. They were witness to an era change that theology badly, and however belatedly, needs to acknowledge.

An era representing an entire mindset and symbol system of huge thematic significance for society, alters in something a bit over approximately two millennia as the sun at the spring equinox rises against the background a different section of sky named for the constellations. We are currently on the cusp of a very major change whose precise moment cannot be measured or known, from Pisces into Aquarius. The age of Pisces was entered around the time Christ was born and there were significant celestial signs within Pisces, a “water” sign of the seas and fish and fisherman. Jesus duly begins teaching beside  the Sea of Galilee where he works with disciples who are fishermen he goes tell fish for people.

AWAITING THE AQUARIAN ERA

Strictly speaking there was and is not a Piscean era but rather a Piscean/Virgo one in which an equinoctial sign (currently Pisces) works with its opposite sign. An era’s ideal is realized through its opposite sign. Virgo is the sign of service and perfection and the Piscean era’s ideal is expressed through especially Jesus who comes to serve, who is self-described as “the Bread of Heaven” (Virgo is the sign of wheat and bread) and who is born under Virgo in Bethlehem (house of bread) and preached as model and saviour for humanity.

In the age of Taurus approx 4000-2000 BC, though imagery of the bull or cow was widespread , the ideal was something to do with the opposite Scorpio (death and transformation) hence there was everywhere the cult of death, supremely so in the pyramids of Egypt which also embrace some of the sexual mysticism of Scorpio. In the Age of Aries (2000-0) the fiery ram, an age of combat and super-patriarchy, the ideal was contained in Libra, sign of laws and marriage and peace. Thus Israel, even while it fights for or defends territory and accords women few rights, stresses precisely law, the marriage covenant and dreams of ultimate peace. Jesus as “Lamb of God” dies in effect as the last sacrifice of the Aries dispensation, completing it and its rituals of blood sacrifice to become first Fisherman (or even in the odd discourse of some early church fathers, first fish) of the Piscean era. The Vesica Pisces would determine the shape and pattern of the bishop’s mitre. The nave of a church was so-called because the church was regarded as a boat or Noah’s ark of salvation.

In the Roman empire the gladiatorial combats which pitched a man with a sword against another with a net reflected sensed cusp of era changes. The sword, force and iron of Aries and its ruler Mars was in combat with the fishing net of Pisces, a sign whose rulers, Jupiter and Neptune, embrace elements of luck positively (Jupiter) and the trick or deception that use of the net demanded and which belong with Neptune negatively. So what are we experiencing now on the cusp of Pisces and Aquarius?

Aquarius is the socially orientated individualist/eccentric. Elements of Aquarian symbolism and character are already manifest in the widely expressed, often radical drive of persons to individualism at the same time as groups and social communication networks (Facebook, Twitter etc) join people to realize “difference” through and with group support (though notice “the Net” on which this universal communication floats still evokes Piscean themes!).

Meanwhile, accepted negative expressions of Pisces and Neptune are just everywhere from the addictions, deceptions and pollutions (not least of the sea itself) while the higher values of the Aquarian era are scarcely yet known or manifested. Those ideals are still stored up in Leo, sign of kingship, high order, drama, and of course the Lion. And as said there are those Christians who are talking wildly about Jesus becoming or coming back as a lion. This is clearly not the figure of the folksy, familiar Jesus, itself almost a distortion of Jesus as Emmanuel (God with us) which something in the grace and mercy themes of Pisces/Jupiter have nonetheless allowed American religion to indulge.

AN END OF ERA APOCALYPTIC THEME

A Jesus who returns would indeed need to be Revelation’s “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” who establishes an ideal universal rule from Zion – Aquarius is the sign of any Utopia and the word itself was popularized and derives from  an Aquarian writer, Thomas Moore. Certainly the Messiah would not need to be some quirky Aquarian whose individualism, negatively expressed, could be close to that of an anarchist or the  kind of eccentric dictators which Aquarians from Kaiser Wilhelm to Kim Jong-Il in North Korea ended by being.

There is at very least a symbolic plausibility in the claim of the late Catholic seeress, Jeane Dixon (herself dismissed by conservative Christians for presuming to speak in terms of astrology) that at era’s end the anti-Christ has been born under Aquarius.  Obviously this person of her visions may or may not exist, but it would not be too surprising if in the way Dixon envisaged, a confused world ran to the false arms of an Aquarian political guru rather than a genuine Leonine leader. It would simply be a form late Piscean inclusive spacieness joined to an eccentric Aquarian rebellion against the past (something futuristic Aquarius regularly engages).

Although we exist on a cusp where Piscean soul feelings and more socio-political Aquarian urges  merge and blend, the fact is that the Aquarian era is unlikely to drift in as a mystery hidden from the world like the birth of Christ associated with anonymous, disappearing Magi. Given the associations of Aquarius and its planetary ruler/symbol Uranus with crisis, surprise, accident, lightning and revolution, Aquarius is likely to arrive with a bang as a shock leaving little doubt that it had finally been inaugurated.

What evangelicals who are so often taken up with “the last things” might need to consider, is whether the Second Advent as forecast by Jesus should be referred to precisely the inception of the Aquarian era and the end of the Piscean one. Consider that the glyph of Aquarius is lightning, and is not the Second Advent described as like the lightning from east to west (Matt 24:27)  and the shock of a delayed midnight bridegroom? (Matt 25:6). At the same time, the doctrine of Rapture which precedes the absolute, visible Second Coming, envisages a great disappearance of prepared believers and Neptune’s symbolic rulership includes any mystery and disappearance – with Neptune currently strong in Pisces, sign of disappearance, we have the frustrating disappearance into the seas of flight MH 370 which, with just a little reason, Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Lotz, has compared to the mystery of….sure enough…..the Rapture!

THE INTEGRAL URGE

While all this symbolism can be debated, as regards the original point which concerned images of God which Oprah’s new friend Rob Bell perceives as changing, the main thing is this. I suggest that what is dying at the end of the Piscean era is especially the faith approach to God. Faith is always required (“without faith it is impossible to please God” Heb 11:16) but there’s faith and faith and at the end of the era and in preparation of the new one it needs some renewal and refinement. Some are losing faith completely, that’s the neo-atheism. Others are becoming increasingly confused about it as sects and theories proliferate, others are mixing poetry and science or literalizing poetry and conservatively insisting that six days can trump everything any scientist past or present could ever say about life on earth.

One major species of end-of-era confusion goes the New Age way. The end of the era, like the last degree of a sign, exaggerates or perverts the sign and so a romantic Neptunian veil of holy ignorance and charitable acceptance is thrown over every belief and summarizes all spiritual endeavour mystically in a way that makes God a Something that is Wholeness and seekers from all directions equally enlightened. Nevertheless, so late in time and the era it’s not quite traditional, ascetical “apophatic” mysticism (in which no positive affirmation of an unknowable deity can ever be made) which mindful of Cappodocian Fathers and Meister Eckhart who posited a God beyond God, is the direction Bell will likely develop and take followers… Today, less ascetic and more individualised than these radical, minority expressions of a medieval mysticism , the “spaces” to which life coach Oprah helped by Bell will conduct devotees, is where they can individually fulfil their rich potential, realize they life they want, as individualistic Aquarians (Oprah is one) and anticipate the coming age, at the same time as Virgo Rob Bell sorts out the problems of lost or disappearing Virgoan ideals in religion.

But none of this will hugely satisfy or even succeed unless at worst to facilitate, as Dixon imagined, America contributing to place the world into the hands of a mad political guru. Ultimately of course nothing can or will quite satisfy the rather scientific, futuristic Aquarius than absolute evidence anyway. While absolute evidence of anything can be hard to come by, short of the Aquarian era being the time when “every eye shall see him” (Rev 1:7 ), integral approaches are less elusive. And really it’s a complex ,“integral” approach to God and just about everything in life which is desired – Ken Wilbur, the philosopher of Integralism is an Aquarian.

Jeane Dixon forecast, and Jung piously hoped, the day would come when astrology will get taught in schools. To the extent astrology is traditionally an Aquarian/Uranian subject, something of the sort ought to occur. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt if on the way to a more integral, holistic understanding of things  astrology were assimilated and applied to religion. (If you have doubts that could be any useful exercise you need only read the many possible meaningful insights into religion and personal belief patterns one can reach by reading my The Astrology of Beliefs. http://amzn.to/19v1jJf ).

However, I believe one of the more important barriers to cross and which involves correcting past wrong thinking in the light of a lot of new knowledge, is to realize the immanence as well as the transcendence of God and discard what’s preventing it, namely the unmystical, damaging doctrinse of ex nihilo creation which in the first two centuries of Christianity was rightly not taught, creation being thought of as ex materia. All said and done this is only what a plain sense reading of bible teaches. Beyond it and philosophically we may deduce as Jewish mystics would do that the original stuff of life was drawn from or belonged within God even if as a womb-like vacuum he created within himself. If pure nothingness could even exist it would be God’s rival. Everything exists through God as St Paul taught (for that matter we could say even hell does so being as God’s fire without the other elements).

REDISCOVERING DIVINE IMMANENCE

The purely transcendent God is disappearing, faith in God being chased away to the borders of the universe and beyond by an end-of-era science scepticism which cannot and will not perceive God as also working within the universe, an intellectual position which then gives greater scope to these exhausting, largely fruitless and unhelpful arguments over creation and evolution. Only when God is both over and under, outside and within reality and more integrally apprehended can and will the needed doctrine of the Creator be restored. It is almost certainly the next age which will have a “science” of God and things spiritual in which finally nature becomes like another and revealing scripture. And that includes for sex to which religion must restore the sacred and which it can more readily do once the existence of God in and through everything is rightly understood.

My rather original fusion of spiritual and material in Solomon’s Tantric Song, (http://amzn.to/14aa5Qe) is involved with this more integral approach which also has room for a few gay perspectives. (The next age positively must come to terms with homosexuality – Aquarius and Uranus are as profoundly associated with it as the Aries and Mars with their related era basically aren’t. Rob Bell is being again only more change and era sensitive than some fellow clergy in being open by evangelical standards to the gay issue. There is no need to see the increasing toleration as only and intrinsically an end-of-age decadence even if some forms of toleration may be so). Whether or not the reader would endorse my approach to specifically the Song of Solomon (which doesn’t take the either/or one all mystical or all material of nearly all interpretations past and present), it has a better chance than some of being correct to the extent rabbinic tradition places correct understanding of this book of mysteries as an end of times discovery!

I haven’t said a great deal about either Rob Bell or Oprah Winfrey, but to make the present point I don’t especially need to. At one level the article’s title refers to something which is news and a media fact. More broadly I would regard it as symbolic of and name for an entire thought trend which will increasingly overtake society, especially American society, if a critical outlook, an awareness of the times we are living in and celestial symbolism are ignored.