twotruths 2020-05-23T19:52:37+00:00

Two Truths: Faith and Science-r

Michael H. Ducey


Table of Contents


No Original Sin.

Animal Sacrifice.

The Two Last Suppers.

The Eucharist.

The Gospel of John.

The God Proposition.

The Learning Curve.

Divine Condescension in Christianity.

Getting It.

Appendix: Priesthood.

About the Author.

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will.

Hamlet, Act V, Scene 2.


Some time ago, Jesus of Nazareth passed through history and showed us eternity. It has taken us all these years to finally catch on, but there is a good reason for that. Much collateral information is required to form coherent knowledge about eternity, and human beings have been engaged in their slow learning process to acquire such knowledge. Recently Stephen Hawking supplied the last important piece (although he neither knew nor admitted that fact), and so now we can shift gears from masses of confused speculation to a simple recognition of the fact: we have all come from eternity and we are all returning there. It is an event that we call “death”.



When you examine Jesus of Nazareth with the tools of contemporary science, certain traditional features of Christianity change completely. The legacy of Jesus is revealed to be not a charter for a hierarchical organization, but a charter for a state of consciousness directly accessible to all human beings. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”

Therefore, the announcement of the legacy of Jesus must be changed from “Good News 1.0” to “Good News 2.0”.

Good News 1.0 was “Jesus died for your sins”.

Good News 1.0 was a relic of the obsolete command to perform animal sacrifice in Leviticus 17:11.

Good News 2.0 is “Jesus died to show us the meaning of death”.

Good News 2.0 is the connection between death and eternity.

Two Huge Mistakes.

Our argument is based on the principles that (a) the activities of Jesus of Nazareth are real, (b) the conclusions of valid science are real, and (c) religious theories are subject to the laws of cultural evolution.

So, the most important element of the method of this book is that contemporary science is the tool that reveals the mistakes of traditional Christianity.

Further Notes on Method.

The Jews in the time of Jesus considered history to be an important manifestation of divine reality (Werner Keller, The Bible as History, etc.), and so they left a generally reliable record of what he actually did during his time on earth. But they did not have adequate explanatory information.

The Basic Factual Record.

The New Testament and other historical records agree on the basic facts of the life of Jesus. He was born, lived for 30-40 years, died by crucifixion at the hands of Roman authorities in Jerusalem, rose from the dead and interacted with his followers for a few months, and disappeared by ascending into the sky.

The bare facts do not reveal that his life from beginning to end was a demonstration of the relationship between time and eternity. In that relationship, eternity absolutely rules over time.

This interpretation of the life of Jesus was never known in Christianity for the two thousand plus years of its history, because no one in the world was ever aware that time itself has a beginning until Stephen Hawking published A Brief History of Time in 1988.

However, once we were able to grasp that the universe in its entirety has two and only two modes of existence — time, which is molecules, and eternity, which has no molecules – then the full implications of the time on earth of Jesus of Nazareth could become apparent.

He did not enter history by the standard route. He was born of a woman, but his ovum in her womb was not fertilized by a male sperm. Therefore his conception violated a basic law of human biology. This is a basic disturbance in what we consider to be the behavior of molecules. [It is not possible to actually “prove” the virgin birth, but the numerous day-to-day miracles of Jesus – themselves disturbances in the normal behavior of molecules — all contained their own direct physical verification. Virgin birth is consistent with that pattern.]

Throughout his life, he displayed a casual mastery over molecules: changing water into wine, multiplying food supplies, curing diseases. Finally, he underwent a very public and violent death. Then he recovered from that death and engaged in social interaction with his followers. More disregard for fundamental physics. So, his appearance in history violated some basic laws of “nature” under any circumstances.

And yet the use that Jesus made of the power of eternity over time was never frivolous. It was always subject to the eternal law of faithfulness to the original properties of material reality. As Aquinas said, Legisfert creando. When Jesus exercised the power of eternity during his life, it was always for the exclusive purpose of instructing us as to the exact nature of the universe in its entirety, namely, the relationship between our material reality and the reality of our ultimate destiny. “I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Contemporary Science.

(1) History.

Every historical event is a sequence of material transformations in time. So, in order to explain an historical event, you have to understand how time and matter “work”. The contemporaries of Jesus had no idea at all about how time and matter “work”. Furthermore, Jesus did not appear in history according to the laws that govern how time and matter work even for us.

Therefore, we can expect there to be serious flaws in the interpretations of Jesus by his contemporaries (“early Christianity”).

 (2) Time and Eternity.

Three things: (a) Time has been going on for about 15 billion years, but it has not been going on forever. Time has a beginning. (b) Time is molecules. Aristotle’s definition is: “Time is the measure of change according to before and after.” Only molecules change according to before and after. (c) If time has a beginning, then there must be such a thing as non-time. This is “eternity”. (I know Hawking tried to wiggle out of this one, but his effort fails. How can there be a “law of gravity” when there is nothing for gravity to work with?) Whatever initiates time is more powerful than time. Time is the product, and non-time is the producer.

(3) The Eternity Connection

In Order and History (1974), Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) concluded that all human societies throughout history have an “In-between experience”, that is, an experience that crosses the boundary between time and eternity.

“The In-Between [i.e., between time and eternity] of experience has a dead point from which the symbols [of ultimate values] emerge as the exegesis of its truth but which cannot become  itself an object of propositional knowledge. …… Unless precautions of meditative practice are taken, the doctrinization of symbols is liable to interrupt the process of experiential reactivation and linguistic renewal. When the symbol separates from its source in the experiential Metaxy [Plato’s word for in-between], the Word of God can degenerate into a word of man that one can believe or not.” (The Ecumenic Age, 105.)

This experience routinely generates ultimate values, but cannot itself become an object of propositional knowledge. So, it needs “experiential reactivation” through “meditative practice”. Voegelin finds it in all cultures of recorded history.

In 1902, the remarkable William James, in The Varieties of Religious Experience, had already identified an In-Between Experience:

One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question — for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map.

James’s cautionary note about “how to regard them” is of course a point well made, and all the numerous students of these forms of consciousness take great care to pay attention to this issue.

But James and Voegelin agree that the eternity connection is one very common form of discontinuous consciousness.

Studies of such consciousness could fill a sizeable library. I have personally dabbled in such a collection, and so I can offer a few examples to alert us to the seriousness and breadth of this work.

One of my favorites is Mysticism Sacred and Profane by Robert C. Zaehner (1967). There are two good reasons to put Zaehner at the top of our list. One is its voluminous cross-cultural bibliography, and the other is the reason that he wrote the book. That was to correct the work of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954), which was a meditation about a mescaline trip Huxley had taken in 1953. The work was a counterculture hit in the 1960s.

Zaehner says: “What is the challenge thrown down by Mr. Huxley and by many who think like him? It is this: that religion is a matter of experience, almost of sensation; that religious experience means “mystical” experience: and that mystical experiences are everywhere and always the same.”

Oxford scholar Zaehner, who was at the time one of seven people in the world who could actually read the ancient Persian language of Zoroastrianism, proceeded to completely demolish the naïve pretensions of Huxley by reference to mystical writings across many cultures and centuries.

We are forewarned. There are many strange things in the realm of discontinuous consciousness, and only one of them is the   eternity connection.

The eternity connection is objectless awareness. It actually occurs in one degree or other in all human beings. One form it shows up in is “conscience” in children that dismisses conventional wisdom (especially conventional religious “wisdom”) and makes authentic ethical decisions on its own. The strength of this awareness varies widely, as do other innate abilities such as art, music, mathematics, dance, and simple deductive intelligence. (Some people are just smarter than other people.)

Its occurrence is seriously hampered by traumatic injuries sustained by an individual, and its expression is seriously constrained by the cognitive tools of its ambient culture. But for the serious investigator, it is there.

(4) The Evolution of Religion

We have actual information about the development of religion for the past 40,000 years (Australian aboriginals).

About 10,000 years ago, we start to find magical, shamanic religions. These have gods and special religious organizations. They are still very intertwined with nature and have remarkable knowledge and harmony with it. Their use of language is still largely concrete. Their religious language centers on stories of deities that are projections of the forces of nature and human emotions. (E.g., God is angry.) The shamanic viewpoint is filled with economic and legalistic anthropomorphisms: merit, redemption, “you have been bought at a price”, justification, judgment, and the like.

About 2,000 years ago, we find the Historic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism. (Abraham left Ur in about 1900 b.c.e.) The historic religions have esoteric and exoteric components. The esoteric components are carried forward by prophetic and mystical minorities, who have discovered that personal life is a brief spark in a vast universe. The exoteric components (“popular” religion) still have beliefs and practices from an earlier stage of human development. (E.g., animal sacrifice.)

Two Mistakes.

The two main mistakes of traditional Christianity are:

  1. Original sin and the “fallen-ness” of humanity,
  2. Animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin.

Original sin (and “fallen-ness”) is eliminated by biblical scholarship, the paleontology of homo sapiens, and the confusion between trauma imprints and separation from God.

Animal sacrifice is eliminated by knowing its place in the history of human consciousness. It is ancient; its place in the religion of Israel was always ambiguous, and for a mature mind consciousness (conscience) is the path to forgiveness of sins.

No Original Sin

The belief in original sin has hung like a pall of guilt and self-doubt over the consciousness of Christians for all of its two thousand years. Although its enunciation has been promulgated by luminaries of Christian teaching of all Confessions, its effects can also be seen even in the beliefs of secular elements of society. Such is the broad reach of established culture.

The good news now is that we can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that original sin was always a mistake. Believers never had enough collateral knowledge to interpret the Bible correctly.


Its origin is well-known to be in the Book of Genesis and the letter of St. Paul to the Romans.

Everybody knows the Adam and Eve story. First there was the eating of the forbidden fruit, then there was the guilt:

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[d] 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”  [Genesis 3, 9-10]

…and then there was the elaborate punishment:

Because you have eaten of the tree…… cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” [v. 17 ff ]

In the time of St. Paul, there was no problem to use Genesis as literal and historical truth. In those days it had the validity of what we would now call anthropology. And so we find Romans 5, 12.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

But before we take one step further, we have to note that the normal scientific knowledge of our generation has a very serious problem with Genesis. The Book says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. The problem is not with the idea of creation; it is with the idea of beginning. Since the publication of A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking in 1988, we know that “the beginning” happened 15 billion years ago.

[The “theology” of Genesis still stands, but its historicity is forever demolished. When Hawking was asked how the Big Bang happened, since there was no place for God in his worldview, he said it was “the law of gravity” that initiated it. Ha ha. This is a laughable failure of commonplace logic. The law of gravity is a quality that inheres in material things, and so you have to have material things before you have a law of gravity, not after. So, in spite of Hawking’s protestations, The Brief History of Time turns out to be the most effective proof of the existence of God ever presented; and not only the existence of God, but God’s nature. What is it that God actually does? Well, God creates. And what exactly does God create? The answer is: everything.]

So, Genesis 1-11 is not historical. The historical portion of the Book of Genesis starts with chapter 12, verse 1: “And Abraham went up from Ur.”

But there are actually two distinct aspects to the illusory character of original sin. On the one hand, the Adam and Eve event did not happen, and on the other hand, the authors of Genesis 1-11 mistook their trauma imprints for sin and separation from God.

Both of these aspects are of the utmost importance.

Scholarship and Paleontology.

Nineteenth century Biblical scholarship revealed that Genesis 1-11 is not historical, but rather a faith-based speculation about the beginning of human history. But even if there is some controversy about the accuracy of “the document hypothesis”, consensual dating eliminates the historicity of Genesis 1-ll.

That portion of Genesis was composed certainly after Abraham left Ur, and before the Jews were freed from the Babylonian Captivity. That gives an interval from 1900 b.c.e. to 500 b.c.e.

The paleontology of homo sapiens places the first human beings utterly beyond the reach of the authors of Genesis 1-11. The material universe began some 15 billion years ago. The progress of the hominid family of primates from unmistakable apes to unmistakably rational “modern” humans took several million years. The fully developed rational forms occurred at least 70,000 years ago.

So, when do these forms of life become “made in the image and likeness of God” as mentioned in Gen.1:28? It has to be thousands of years before any conceivable author of Genesis 1-11 was alive.

For example, we know the Australian aboriginals had a complex belief-system describing a spiritual universe 40,000 years ago. So, Genesis 3 cannot possibly be historical.

Therefore, thousands of multi-local generations of humans walked the earth before the revelation of Yahweh to Abraham.

All of this is the reality of the universe that God created 15 billion years ago, and so all of it has to be accounted for in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who is himself God.

Trauma imprints.

The second problem in St. Paul’s use of Genesis 3 is the role of trauma imprints in human consciousness.

In the Adam and Eve story there is “sin”, “separation from God”, and manifold hardship in human life.

The bronze-age authors of Genesis 1-11 had no idea of when time had actually begun, how long it had lasted before their generation, and no method of tracking inner attention.

But they were traumatized. They had deep, personal emotional pain. So they “projected”. They thought their pain was caused by someone “committing sin” and getting “separated from God” at the beginning of time (which they imagined, had no direct knowledge of).

PTSD has been a common human experience since time immemorial. Early childhood commonly includes systematic pain, and so introspection can produce fearful and angry emotions. These feelings come from memories, but ones that are repressed. Therefore, they come out separated from the self. They are projected out onto the world, where they are perceived as some form of objective truth or “revelation.” This is the projection of repressed experiences into religious teaching.

PTSD easily becomes a sense of separation from God.

Genesis 3 is the first time in the history of Christianity where traumatization is mistaken for “sin” and a “separation from God”.

We thus arrive at a developmental principle: When religious believers have no method of inner attention, they commonly mistake trauma imprints for a “separation from God”.

Romans 5, 12:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Paul could not possibly have known that there never was an Adam. In fact Christians in general could not have known this until scientific study of the Bible in the nineteenth century revealed the distinctive character of Genesis 1-11, and until paleontology revealed the actual duration of human evolution.

Furthermore, in Romans 7, Paul repeats the same confusion between trauma imprints and “separation from God that we find in Genesis 3 (but he blames it on “The Law”):

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Any competent contemporary psychotherapist could easily get Paul to understand that he did not have a “sinful self” but an injured self. His “self” was injured by early childhood traumatic experiences. As long as there is no competent method of inner attention, this confusion will persist.

Go to any historical encyclopedia (such as The Catholic Encyclopedia), and you will find an exhaustive list of sources who swear by the veracity of original sin. All Christians are involved.

The (contemporary) Catholic Catechism:

Adam’s choice to disobey God and eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, after Eve was tempted by the serpent, demonstrated what is at the essence of all sin: that sin is rooted in man’s preference for himself over God. Instead of choosing God, Adam chose himself by eating of the fruit of the tree so that he could be like God, (Genesis 3:5). Humanity was forever changed through this event, losing its innocence of good and evil, bringing sin into the world.

Protestant Reformers:

Martin Luther:

But what, then, is original sin? According to the Apostle it is not only the lack of a good quality in the will, nor merely the loss of man’s righteousness and ability. It is rather the loss of all his powers of body and soul, of his whole outward and inward perfections. …… Original sin enters into us; we do not commit it, but we suffer it. We are sinners because we are the sons of a sinner. A sinner can beget only a sinner, who is like him.”  (Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans)

John Calvin:

Therefore original sin is seen to be an hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature diffused into all parts of the soul . . . For our nature is not merely bereft of good, but is so productive of every kind of evil that it cannot be inactive……. Whatever is in man from intellect to will, from the soul to the flesh, is all defiled and crammed with concupiscence; or, to sum it up briefly, that the whole man is in himself nothing but concupiscence.   (Institutes Book II. chap. i)

All of these religious teachings are completely unaware of traumatization. They do not engage in introspection.

They are also errors of the past. If we pay attention to the collateral knowledge that we have now, there is no good reason to talk about original sin, think about original sin, and above all preach about original sin.

There is only good reason to use what we know now. Humanity is fragile. Under pressure of severe ecological challenges (the desert, the mountains), social turbulence, and harsh child rearing, the human psyche can experience unquenchable personal pain that blots out social trust and creates a predatory narcissism.

Therefore the bottom line about original sin is that nobody is separated from God, but everybody has pain. The good news now is that now we know more than ever about the source of pain and how to heal it.

Recent science of mind observes that all human emotions are neurological events. You can never be sad for no reason. You can never be joyful for no reason. Sadness is the pain emitting from damaged neurons. An emotional injury is precisely that: an injury. Joy is the pleasure emitting from stimulated neurons.

Trauma imprints live inside us. The cure for them is skillfully controlled inner attention, such as practiced in meditation, psychotherapy and/or trauma treatment. Such practices carefully find their way through the assembly of pain stimulants in our day-to-day consciousness, and at a certain point arrive at “the peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4, 7)

That is where the legacy of Jesus sends us now.


Animal Sacrifice

Paul declares the sacrificial death of Jesus in Rom. 3, 25:

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.”  

This is a transparent allusion to Leviticus 17, 11 where God tells Moses to tell the Israelites to perform animal sacrifice (a) to escape the tenth plague in Egypt, and (b) thereafter use it for the expiation of sins. This command dates back to the Exodus, about 1300 b.c.e. Animal sacrifice also shows up with Abraham and Isaac in Gen. 22. (The passage says that God “tempted” Abraham with the sacrifice proposal.)

All of this is because the religion of Israel – which started in about 1900 b.c.e. – straddled a major transition period in the history of human consciousness, the period that scholars identify as going from magical, shamanic religions to “historical” religion.

So, Judaism always had this ambiguity. The temple tradition practiced animal sacrifice, and the prophetic tradition constantly criticized and condemned it.

Shamanic magic.

During the 2,000 years from Abraham to Jesus, we find the continuous practice of animal sacrifice side by side with prophetic messages from Yahweh. Abraham’s dilemma about sacrificing his son Isaac at the command of God is a powerful example of the two forces at work in that religion.

The two viewpoints are completely joined in the Book of Leviticus, where the command to perform animal sacrifice comes directly from Yahweh through his servant Moses. There can be no more prophetic an intervention in Judaism than that. And yet it was also completely shamanic and magical.

Leviticus 17:11 is the Old Testament’s central statement about the significance of blood in the sacrificial system. God, speaking to Moses, declares: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

A contemporary rendering puts it this way: God said, “I have given it to you (the creature’s life, which is in its blood) to make atonement for yourselves (covering the offense you have committed against me).” In other words, those who are covered by the blood sacrifice are set free from the consequences of sin.

Sympathetic Magic.

However, divine approval in no way negates the anthropological status of animal sacrifice as a classic shamanic practice of sympathetic magic. In a secular context, anthropologists note that prehistoric humans used pictures of animals to help them bond with their prey for a successful hunt. In a religious context the bonding with animals is an instrument for healing personal pain. The pain of the animal relieves the pain of the human.

The most intimate and painful emotions that human beings experience are from certain common injuries such as childhood trauma, day-to-day hardship in harsh ecological settings such as deserts and mountains, and moral guilt.

Guilt is often regarded as completely abstract, but like all emotions it is inherently physical. (“All emotions are neurological events.”) At bottom it is the perceived loss of parental approval, therefore a loss of protection for the inner child, and a source of fear and vulnerability. Atonement by animal sacrifice is one way to relieve guilt. (Nowadays we know many other methods for making atonement, such as Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Make direct amends to people we have harmed wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”) (Blood is not required.)

Sympathetic magic is a primitive form of emotional healing in which the human actor makes a connection to the animal actor on the basis of similar characteristics. Breath and movement and blood – elements of sheer physicality – are the qualities that the shaman uses.

Instead of being self-aware and realizing that emotional pain comes from inside the self, the human actor sympathetically substitutes animal experience for human experience. Animal pain relieves human pain, blood relieves wounding, killing relieves the self-destructive impulse. This absence of self-awareness is the very definition of “primitive”.

So, atonement by animal sacrifice is a “concession” by God to the developmental limitations of the primitive Israelites, following Origen’s principle of “divine condescension”.

When the students of the early Christian scholar, Origen of Alexandria (184-253 c.e.) asked him: “Why could Abraham have several wives and we can have only one?” Origen coined the term “divine condescension” whereby God permits practices that are demanded by the stage of cultural development of their users. (What an amazing early anthropologist Origen was.)

Theologically, Origen’s view is completely consistent with Judaeo-Christian creation theory. This is the Legisfert creando of Thomas Aquinas. (“By creation, God also passes the laws of nature.”) So, since God created time and all its developmental features, it is perfectly consistent with divine intervention to make concessions to evolutionary necessity. (No opposition to evolution, rather complete support for evolution, except for how it starts [see below].)

The idea of atonement by animal sacrifice looms extremely large in the religion of Israel. Individual sacrifices were a temporary means by which atonements could occur that would “cleanse” people of their personal sins. Besides the day-to-day sacrifices in the temple, the greatest ritual of atonement for the whole people was the feast of Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement is still the most important Jewish ritual in the annual calendar.

Jewish tradition viewed the Passover sacrifice as being expiatory; that is, the blood of the lambs removed sin from God’s view. During the tenth and final plague in Egypt, the Passover sacrifice literally saved individuals from death (Exodus 12:23).  The Passover lambs brought atonement to the believing Jewish households on that night of judgment and redemption.

In spite of its divine approval, sympathetic magic is still primitive. It sympathetically substitutes animal experience for human experience.

It is primitive also because, being historically early, it is completely ignorant of other methods of emotional healing that humanity would eventually discover. (Such as Buddhist meditation, Christian trance, and psychotherapy.)

We can also use some contemporary sociology here. We find two different forms of consciousness in the religion of Israel because there are, as William James detected, two different forms of consciousness in human beings generally. One form is “normal waking rational consciousness” with no introspective self-awareness.  The other form is “discontinuous consciousness”. In the prophetic temperament this is a lively introspective awareness of intimate connection with the ultimate ground of human existence, what the religion of Israel called Yahweh.

Indeed, even though the animal sacrifice paradigm had full divine approval in Leviticus, the prophetic tradition in Israel was never satisfied with it. The prophets relentlessly and continually criticized the temple tradition.

1 Samuel 15:22   But Samuel declared: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams.

Jeremiah 6:20  What use to Me is frankincense from Sheba or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me.”

Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts! I cannot stand the stench of your solemn assemblies.

Amos 5:22 Even though you offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; for your peace offerings of fattened cattle, I will have no regard.

Malachi 1:10

“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would no longer kindle useless fires on my altar! I take no pleasure in you,” says the LORD of Hosts, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.”

Isaiah 66

This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  Where is the house you will build for me?  Where will my resting place be?  Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord.  “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

When we get to the first followers of Jesus, we find the temple tradition as a set of popular beliefs among them. This is the “Jesus died for your sins” that completely permeates all the documents of the New Testament (except the gospel of John). Therefore, that announcement is absolutely a relic of the primitive shamanic/magical paradigm permitted by God at the time of the Exodus

John the Baptist was a noble soul, but he also thought according to the dictates of his ambient culture.

So, animal sacrifice is ancient; it is primitive; it still hangs around. But nowadays no rational person would use animal sacrifice as the means to obtain forgiveness of sin. The rational method is conscience (repentance, contrition, “direct amends” as in AA). Any human being who has actual personal consciousness knows this.

[The fact that 800,000 animals are sacrificed each year in Indonesia, 2,500,000 in Turkey, 10 million in Pakistan, and a million in Saudi Arabia is simply a commentary on the variability of human progress among human beings generally.]

But a mature human consciousness would never attribute it to the creator of the universe. The first commandment of the Decalogue was “…thou shalt not have strange gods before me”, and the god who would offer Jesus as a sacrificial offering for the sins of man, that is “a strange god” indeed.

Therefore, we can reasonably claim that Leviticus 17, 11 is a case of Origen’s “divine condescension”, whereby Yahweh permitted certain practices because they were the best that could be expected at that stage of cultural evolution. We can also state with certainty that animal sacrifice (and the temple tradition) were popular beliefs, but were not shared by the prophetic tradition. (As a case in point, King David did not perform animal sacrifice to get forgiveness for his sin of taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite and using state power to murder him. He simply admitted guilt, repented, and composed a Psalm.)

So, the reason why Jesus did not actually die for anybody’s sin is that it is an anthropomorphism that does not have inherent validity. The reason why “he died for your sins” has been believed for 2000 years is that this refrain is a form of “good news” for people whose self-awareness has been blocked by trauma imprints in ordinary rational consciousness. This includes many Christian believers down to the present day.

But for those who have more fully recovered from internal wounding, the Jesus-as-sacrifice tradition does not make any sense at all.

What would make sense is the proposal that Jesus died to show us the meaning of death.

Leviticus in St. Paul

Paul’s complete endorsement of Leviticus is clear:

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (Rom. 3, 25)

The original followers of Jesus had primitive theories about how time and matter work. They could not conceive of the existence of molecules. They had a mythical version of how time began, no idea when it began, or how long it had lasted before their generation. They had no method of tracking inner attention.

They completely accepted the animal sacrifice paradigm of Leviticus to explain what Jesus was and did. The shamanic paradigm uses projections of the forces of nature and surface human emotions to explain mysterious events. These forces included a deity with human emotions, and a series of economic and legalistic transactions modeled on human experiences. In social science, these projections are called anthropomorphisms”.

Anthropomorphisms are baked into the preaching of St. Paul.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (Rom. 5, 12)

For Paul, the death of Jesus was the key event, a case of the sympathetic magic approved by God in Leviticus. Overcoming death was just supporting evidence. It guaranteed divine status (he “sits at the right hand of the father”), and his status as the Messiah. It guaranteed the resurrection of the body “on the last day”, another idea drawn from popular end-time beliefs of Jews at the time.

As for “sin” being an offense against God that causes God to have human emotions, we need to be aware of the continuous stream of prophetic scolding in the Bible. The people of Israel are portrayed as “stiff-necked” and “hard of heart”, and God is portrayed as “angry” and “jealous”. But if you look at the pattern of this scolding on the whole, it is clear that those attributes of God are only pedagogical hyperbole. The central attributes of God in prophecy are love and forgiveness. “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31, 31)

In Good News 1.0 the facts are real, but the explanations are primitive. Jesus sacrifices himself with his blood to atone (to an angry God) for human behavior that has displeased God (“sins”). Believing this story and repenting for one’s bad behavior (faith, repentance and metanoia) will enable one to escape (be “redeemed from”) the judgment of this deity and obtain eternal life. Baptism is the outward sign that gives social expression to the faith, repentance and change of heart.

But, Good News 1.0 never actually explained the most remarkable fact that Jesus overcame death. His actual dying was noted with great prominence. The crucifix became a central symbol of Christianity for centuries (and remains so to this day). Even Paul’s memorable line, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” only offers resurrection of the body “on the last day”.

But overcoming death was not as important as the death itself.



The Two Last Suppers

In the four Gospels, there are two Last Suppers. The description of the Last Supper in the Synoptic Gospels comes to about 100 words, and is solely devoted to the institution of the Eucharist.

The description of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John comes to about 4000 words, completely ignores the Eucharist, and is devoted to a long sermon by Jesus about death, eternity and the Trinitarian nature of God.

What is going on here?

All three Synoptic Gospels use the same pericope. (A “pericope” is a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought”.) The pericopes that form the Synoptic Gospels were stories about Jesus that circulated in the new Christian communities from the earliest times. They were committed to writing by about the year 65 c.e. If you compose a concordance of the Synoptic Gospels you find about an 80% overlap in their contents. Each of the three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) has some distinctive content that marks their origin in one particular Christian community (Matthew for Jerusalem, Mark, the secretary of St. Pater, for Rome, and Luke for Ephesus).

The Gospel of John did not draw its content from those early stories. It was written personally by the apostle at least 30 years after the completion of the other three Gospels.

It might also be noted that Sts. Peter and Paul died in the persecution of Nero, about 64 c.e.

Therefore, neither St. Peter nor St. Paul read the Gospel of John, but the apostle John was familiar with the Synoptics and the preaching of St. Paul. He composed his Gospel to fill in gaps that he perceived in the earlier Christian preaching.

Among the persons who contributed to the formation of the Synoptic Gospels, there were certainly apostles who had been present at the Last Supper. (Certainly St. Paul was not present.)  Did none of them hear that long sermon about death and eternity that John heard?

And as for John, was he not present for the institution of the Eucharist? Why then did he ignore it completely in his narrative of the Last Supper?

We need to be real about that.

Jesus himself knew that there had never been such a thing as original sin. So, he also knew that there was no need for justification or salvation for us to accomplish.  No human being had ever been, or would ever be, in danger of “eternal punishment”.

[There is not even any talk of “salvation” in the Gospel of John.

22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4, 22-24.)

But Jesus also knew about the severe emotional buffeting his followers were to experience in the following centuries due to the unfinished cultural evolution of the tribes that were pouring out of the steppe of central Asia and traversing Europe in successive waves.

So, at the Last Supper, Jesus left us his followers two elements of help in our journey to eternity.

One was a powerful analgesic that could alleviate the emotional ravages of traumatic experience. That was the Eucharist.

The other was precise and explicit information about death that we could understand only after we had recovered from the more destructive stages of post-traumatic stress. It is information only God could give, because only God could go to eternity and come back to time. That is the sermon John reports in his narration of the Last Supper.

The analgesic of the Eucharist is perfectly suited to Stage One of recovery from emotional trauma.

The sermon of Jesus reported by John is perfectly suited to Stage Three of that process.

Therefore, it is no wonder that the Eucharist has been prominent in Christian practice for 2000 years, and the sermon of Jesus has been widely neglected until now.


In Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman notes that there are three stages in the recovery from emotional trauma, and this is where religion enters the picture.

The stages are physiologically grounded and so they always happen.

  1. Safety-Stability — stop the bleeding, restore boundaries, release tension , sadness, shock, rage, venting … the body starts to recover damaged emotional processes. Of great help at this stage of recovery (often even necessary) is the use of sedative. In emergency rooms, in cases of severe (physical) traumatization, sedatives are commonly used to prevent anaphylactic shock.
  2. Self-exploration, mourning — the body works on detecting specific emotional lesions and repairing losses. Practices such as meditation are classic forms of self-exploration.
  3. Personality re-integration — as the body succeeds in repairing damages, new emotional pathways are established.

Traditional religion is, historically, a Stage One treatment for the pandemic trauma experienced by homo sapiens.


The Eucharist

The Eucharist was practiced from the earliest days of Christianity. The pericope about its institution is found not only in the Synoptic Gospels, but also in the preaching of St. Paul:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  (1 Cor. 11, 22-26)

The Eucharist always had an emotionally calming effect on believers. Endorphins such oxytocin or serotonin had to be involved. Oxytocin is noted for the effect it has on prosocial behaviors, such as facilitating trust and attachment between individuals. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (e.g., Prozac) are common anti-anxiety medications. The Mass was a top-of-the-line medieval serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.

The Christian community never mistook the food metaphor of the Last Supper as a reference to the physical level of nurture. They never thought of the Eucharist as magical cannibalism. But they did use the food metaphor to mobilize those endorphins in the body that help heal the effects of trauma.

This is what the belief in “the real presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist and the theory of transubstantiation did, brilliantly, for Christians at a certain stage of personality development. I call it “the oxytocin solution”.

Oxytocin is a powerful and effective analgesic. It is the perfect relief from the tensions of post-traumatic stress. It is a hormone naturally produced by the human body, and can be stimulated by the beliefs and practices associated with the Eucharist.

The Eucharist was never a practice that contained any doctrine. It was always a trance-induction technique that eases traumatic pain. In order to do this it had to mobilize the endogenous opioids (e.g., oxytocin).

These were matters that the followers of Jesus had no knowledge of. In practicing the Eucharist they had the experience of relief from the effects of trauma, but they had no theory of how that happened. For all those centuries, Christianity had no working knowledge about tracking inner attention.

St. Paul’s confusion between his “sinful self” in Romans 7 and the possibility of an “injured self” almost certainly controlled that subject.  It is only in the last fifty years or so that we have language to clear up that confusion.

Real Presence.

For this reason, whole conversation about the Eucharist was never about what it did, but about how it did it.

They always knew that its emotional effect was strong and positive. The terms “real” and “present” and “substance” (ousia) were used in connection with the Eucharist from the earliest times. But the Christian community never mistook them to mean physical. They never thought of the Eucharist as magical cannibalism. Those terms always referred to their experience.

So, the phrase “real presence” was never intended to mean something objective. It was always intended to mean something subjective, a matter of belief and of experience.

In brief, the substantial presence of Jesus in the bread and wine was always believed in because of his words and actions at the Last Supper.

The Didache (Greek: Διδαχή “teaching”) is an early Church treatise that includes instructions for Baptism and the Eucharist. Most scholars date it to the late 1st century,[49] and distinguish in it two separate Eucharistic traditions, the earlier tradition in chapter 10 and the later one preceding it in chapter 9.[50][note 2] The Eucharist is mentioned again in chapter 14.[note 3]

Ignatius of Antioch (born c. 35 or 50, died between 98 and 117), one of the Apostolic Fathers,[note 4] mentions the Eucharist as “the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ”,[note 5] and Justin Martyr speaks of it as more than a meal: “the food over which the prayer of thanksgiving, the word received from Christ, has been said … is the flesh and blood of this Jesus who became flesh … and the deacons carry some to those who are absent.”

There has been continual debate over the centuries about the correct language to describe the Eucharist. But however “objective” the philosophical language would become, the import was always that the Eucharist was a matter of belief and experience.

Ambrose of Milan (died 397): “… if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? “


Shortly after the fourth Lateran Council in 1215 c.e., Christianity brought in the metaphysics of Aristotle. Transubstantiation uses Aristotle’s notions of substance and accidents, and says that the “substance” of Jesus is present “under the accidents” of bread and wine.

This is clearly evidence that the explanatory language for the “real presence” was never as important as the belief.

The appeal to Aristotle is completely incoherent.  For Aristotle “being present” is itself an “accident”. Since the “accidents” in question here belong to bread and wine, they cannot at the same time belong to the “substance” of Jesus. It can’t be said to be “there.”

At this point in the history of the Eucharist, the explanatory language enters the realm of Orwellian doublespeak. The purpose of doublespeak is to conceal an underlying emotional agenda and provide a habitual defensive posture. It is the art of “tricky language”.

It was always rhetorical support for the emotions in question. Transubstantiation was one of those brilliantly clever moves a traumatized psyche makes to support an emotionally necessary choice. The choice in this case was to experience the deeply regressive state of mind that all “presence of god” rituals induce.

So, the bottom line here is that up to now Christianity has never gotten beyond the sympathetic magic of Leviticus. “Jesus died for your sins” is a form of “good news” only for people whose self-awareness has been blocked by trauma imprints in ordinary rational consciousness. This certainly includes Jewish believers in 1275 b.c.e., the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth, and many, many Christians up to the present day. The whole New Testament, except the apostle John, is captured by the shadow of sympathetic magic of Leviticus.

Self-awareness injured by trauma imprints produces the “evangelical Christian” phenomenon, in which believers use variations of the slogan “You have been washed in the blood of the Lamb” as the anthem for their belief-system.

During the centuries of its use, the Eucharist provided a trance-state to support a weak ego structure, as the faithful struggled with the pandemic occurrence of PTSD in European society. And it worked. People grew stronger. It was a pedagogical device of immense benefit in building up the strength of personality to carry the social group beyond the immersion in nature of shamanistic tribal magic, into a wider mental and social world.

In a most logical extension of the animal sacrifice (shamanic) paradigm of Leviticus, the Eucharist came to be called “the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” in post-Reformation Roman Catholicism. The announcement that John the Baptist made to his followers about Jesus – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” – became an integral part of the Eucharistic ritual. But Jesus of Nazareth was in no way a glorified sacrificial animal after the pattern of Leviticus. He was in fact a messenger, one who gave all humanity the good news about the actual meaning of death.

The animal sacrifice paradigm requires priests. The messenger paradigm does not require priests. It only requires teachers and reliable sources of information.

Pandemic Trauma.

Roman authorities persecuted Christians intermittently from the time of Nero (64 c.e.) until the Edict of Milan in 313 c.e. The last of the “great” persecutions (i.e., empire-wide) took place in the early 4th century (302-305) under the superb administration of emperor Diocletian, who, besides trying to get rid of Christians in the Roman Empire, divided its administration into four geographic regions, and appointed Constantius, the father of Constantine the Great, as regional Caesar based in Britain.

When Constantius died (306 c.e.), his son Constantine quickly moved to re-unite the Empire under one rule, and by 324 c.e. succeeded in doing so. In 313 he issued The Edict of Milan, officially proclaiming tolerance for Christianity.

[Constantius and Constantine were both Illyrians (a province on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea covering modern Croatia), as was Diocletian. Although as soldiers they were often stationed in Western places such as Britain, they considered the East to be more civilized, and so it is no wonder that as soon as Constantine took over the Roman Empire, he moved his capital to Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople. Constantine’s mother was Helena, a Greek, a Christian, a concubine of Constantius, and down through history is said to have spent her later years searching for the remains of the “true cross” (on which Jesus had been crucified).]

Elaine Pagels reports the idyllic experience of the Christian community in Cappadocia described by Gregory of Nyssa (375 c.e.). Baptism transformed converts from their former state as “children of necessity and ignorance … to become children of choice and knowledge,” washed clean of sin, illuminated, and “by our deeds too found to be good citizens and keepers of the commandments.” and that “the soul immediately shows its royal and exalted character, far removed as it is from the lowliness of private station, in that it owns no master, and is self-governed, ruled autocratically by its own will.”

That might have been the case for Christians in Cappadocia, a province in central Asia Minor on the edge of the Roman Empire, but the experience of Christian communities in most of the Roman Empire in the third through ninth centuries (250-800 c.e.) was not so tranquil. Those times were filled with so much secular and doctrinal turbulence that Christians were experiencing serious emotional instability.

Augustine in particular (420 c.e.) was not impressed by the healing power of Baptism. He significantly altered the spin put on the self-psychology of the earlier Christians. Whereas they thought that the grace of baptism did repair a defective human nature, Augustine found reality to be otherwise. Pagels says: “What Augustine says in simplest terms is this: human beings cannot be trusted to govern themselves because our very nature — indeed all of nature — has become corrupt as the result of Adam’s sin.” AES, p. 145.

Orthodox Christians such as Irenaeus took great pains to distinguish their own explanatory paradigms from various fantasy-driven interpretations of the life of Jesus (the “Gnostics”). They were especially opposed to explanations that turned Jesus or the Apostles into fictitious, symbolic entities.

Traumatic assaults on human consciousness in Europe by no means ended with the reign of Constantine. Tribal peoples continued to move across Europe, killing and pillaging as they went, for at least the next thousand years. Thus, Christianity started to add new tools for emotional stability to its traditional reliance on the announcement of the Good News and Baptism

The building of Romanesque churches all over Europe started in the eighth century, followed by the great Gothic cathedrals.

Since the Protestant Reformation there has been a consensus about the meaning of the Eucharist that crosses many confessional boundaries. In contemporary Catholicism it is known as the Mass, and among Protestants as the communion service.

Attending Mass in the cathedrals was a powerful trance-inducing technology. The modern expression “hocus-pocus” comes from the Mass. It is what the words of the consecration of the host –“Hoc est enim corpus meum.” — must have sounded like from the nave of those immense, vaulted structures. Kneeling with the hands folded in front of the chest is a fetal or infantile bodily posture. Communion was received with eyes closed, head tilted back, mouth open, tongue out.

What organ of nurture might you expect to receive in that position? The sounds of organ music and Gregorian chant, the shape of the space enclosed by Gothic arches, the quality of light through stained-glass windows, the smells of beeswax and incense, the effect of periods of silence while kneeling with eyes closed, are all capable of being reminiscent of the womb. And so the Mass constitutes a regressive hypnotic state that recaptures the third trimester of fetal experience.

Exposure to this experience began in early childhood, and by the time a person reached the age of seven or so, the cues for entering the womb-and-infancy state of consciousness were so well learned that people began to go under long before they actually entered the building. All they would have to do is think about what they are about to do, and they would begin to go under. The process merely deepens as they go through the activity known as “going to church.”

My Eucharist.

I was a pious Catholic kid in Chicago and I made my “first Communion” at the age of seven in 1940. In those days there was a devotional practice in Catholicism concerned with the “Sacred Heart of Jesus”.

This devotion came from certain visions of a seventeenth century French Visitation nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. One feature of the cult was the practice of “the nine first Fridays”. If the believer went to Mass and Communion on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months, he or she would be absolved from all “temporal punishment due to sin” in Purgatory.

I was a very practical as well as pious kid. So I embarked on making the nine first Fridays immediately after my First Communion. I ended up making them nine consecutive times over the next seven years, and when I finished my ninth nine-first Fridays at the age of 14 and a sophomore in high school, I said to myself, “OK, I guess that takes care of Purgatory for me.” and discontinued the practice.

I continued my weekly attendance at Mass and received communion for the next five years, and at the age of 19 entered the Jesuits. In the Jesuits I went to Mass and Communion every day, and was ordained a priest 13 years later. As a priest, I “celebrated” Mass for 21 months, until I left the Jesuits and the priesthood in January 1967.

On the eve of my actual departure from the Jesuits, I got to the point where I knew I was going to leave, and so I planned out the day when I would stop saying my daily morning Mass. On that day I went to the chapel where I had been doing it, in order to see what, if any, emotional reaction I would have. I was prepared for a twinge of sadness or guilt. But what actually did happen was quite different. I stood there and looked at the little altar, the chalice, the vestments and missal that I was never going to use again, and what went through me was a gentle but definite feeling of relief. It was actually quite startling. It was as if my body was releasing toxins it had been holding on to all my life. This took place in St. Stanislaus Retreat House in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. The time was December 1966.

(A few years later, when I was experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs, I did have the experience of my body releasing chemical toxins when I was coming down from an acid trip. The LSD on the market in those days was often lightly laced with strychnine. I remember standing on the third floor back landing of the house on Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, looking out the little square window across the frost-laden garage roofs of Chicago back yards in the early morning light of All Saints Day (the day after an all-night hippie Halloween party). We had been up all night. I had taken the acid about twelve hours previously. I was now near the end of the “coming down” cycle. I felt a slight shiver through my whole body as the level of strychnine released another notch. And the thought passed through my mind, “Why, this is exactly what I felt that morning at St. Stan’s when I said goodbye to the altar.”)

I left the Jesuits in January 1967. The first time I missed Mass on Sunday was the following June. I had been out all night, and woke up late Sunday morning. I lay in bed completely aware of the passage of time, and waited until it was certain that I could not get to Mass.

In those days I used to say to friends: “In the months after I left the Jesuits, I lost my virginity, and missed Mass on Sunday for the first time in my life. Missing Mass was heavier.”

That was 52 years ago. I have never participated in the Mass since then. I eventually concluded that the practice of saying Mass is a trance-induction technique that induces a state of dissociation from the body. This eases traumatic pain but also dulls the generic body sense that is mediated by the reptilian brain. It mobilizes the endogenous opioids (e.g., oxytocin).

So, it took me more than fifty years to understand the oxytocin element in the Eucharist.

The Gospel of John.

The Gospel of John was written personally by the apostle, and designed to fill in what eyewitness John thought were gaps in the Synoptic Gospels.

[As we have noted, all the Synoptic Gospels were composed in a thirty-year period after the ascension of Jesus and were in writing by the year 65 c.e. The same is true for the preaching and letters of St. Paul. Both St. Peter and St. Paul died in the persecution by the Emperor Nero around 64 c.e.

The apostle John on the other hand was exiled to the island of Patmos for a few years by the Emperor Domitian, and lived mostly in Ephesus.]

The different perspective of the Gospel of John is apparent from its opening, “In the beginning was the Word…” The Synoptic Gospels were anecdotal. The Gospel of John is reflective.

The Synoptic Gospels tell about the miracles of Jesus anecdotally. But the first miracle John describes is a step-by-step account of the wedding feast at Cana. In this account Jesus’ mastery over molecules is apparent.

The witnesses to the changing of water into wine at Cana did not have the collateral knowledge to identify “mastery of molecules”. They could only conceptualize the miracle in terms of Jesus being “a prophet” and the Messiah.

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). (John 1, 41)

But we have immensely more collateral information than the contemporaries of Jesus had.

The Apostle John placed the story of the wedding feast at Cana very near the beginning of his Gospel because it is paradigmatic of the whole meaning of the life of Jesus (and apparently it did happen very early in his public ministry, namely, right after his meeting with John the Baptist).

2 On the third day [i.e., after meeting Philip and Nathaniel] there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.

From our perspective 2000 years later we can say that changing water into wine requires mastery of molecules (in this case, fermentation). Likewise for the multiplication of food (bread and fish), healing of physical illnesses, and the raising of Lazarus. At Cana, water not only becomes wine, but it becomes better wine.


Once you realize that, after Hawking, there are only two states of existence in the universe in its totality, namely time (which is molecules) and eternity (which has no molecules), then you get it that the whole life of Jesus of Nazareth is a study in the relationship between time and eternity, and whenever the two realities meet, eternity is always absolutely dominant. This was the mission of Jesus: to show us eternity.

Biblical realism is a reading that tracks all the nuances in any account and finds eternity and time in it.

At Cana: what the mother knew [what her son could do, what he would do at her request], what she did, what the son did, what the servants did, what those molecules in the jars of water did.

Cana Video

“The Nature of the Universe Revealed.

So, for those who have our collateral understanding of the nature of the whole universe, the brief narrative of the wedding feast at Cana all by itself proves that Jesus is God.

Furthermore, if you track the passing references of Jesus to eternity, you find that he describes the situation of no molecules as complete reality. [Glory, more abundant life. “Amen I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43 .) ]

The Last Supper.

John’s description of the Last Supper runs 4,000 words and reads like an intimate masterclass. He does not mention the bread-and-wine memorial, the blood of Jesus, a covenant, or the forgiveness of sin. But he does have Jesus making a reference to his resurrection: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

13 33 Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

14  I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also

14 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 [c]After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

16 16 “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.”

This is the only textual reference I find in the New Testament to the resurrection being a demonstration of the non-finality of death.

No problem. We can extrapolate from that. There was no way Jesus could have actually said, “I am going to demonstrate for you that death is not final.” There was simply no knowledge in the ambient culture of the time that would have supported such a claim. But, our culture today does have such knowledge.

First, there is some obvious biology. The death that Jesus was about to die is biologically exactly the same death that all human beings die, wherever and whenever they do so. Crucifixion usually kills by asphyxiation. You cannot lift your rib cage and become unable to breathe. Loss of oxygen leads to decomposition of soft tissue, collapse of internal organs, decomposition of muscle tissue, and at some time in that process, loss of “life”.

Second, Jesus of Nazareth knew what he was doing. He knew where was going. His disciples had no clue where he was going. But we know where he was going because we have 2,000 years of science to apply to the situation.

He was going to die. And then he was going to come back. Where can anyone go when they die and then come back? It has to be a “place” or a condition that has no molecules, because you do not take any molecules with you when you die. But your destination has to produce molecules. (You’re “coming back”.) Since it has no molecules, it has no time. So, it is eternity.

[btw, he said he was “going to the father”. This is a fascinating piece of coded communication. The word “father” is used 54 times in John’s account of the Last Supper. The word “father”, or Hebrew abba, or Aramaic aboun is found throughout the Bible, since the tribal abba was a prime necessity for the survival of a nomadic, pastoral society living in the desert. For the disciples of Jesus, it would have meant simply “God”.]

I was in the Jesuits for fifteen years. I spent a lot of time studying the Bible and the history of Christianity. After a while I became very curious about how it was that Christian beliefs about Jesus shifted from the experience of the resurrection to the idea of the resurrection. It was a shift that in the phrase of Cardinal Newman (Apologia Pro Vita Sua) went from real assent to notional assent, from a vivid sensory experience to a mere idea. I could never identify the exact time that the shift took place, but certainly the earliest Christian martyrs went to their deaths with a joy that could only be attributed to the fact that they knew that death is not only a transition, but an existential improvement.

Now I understand that the place of the resurrection in Christianity was ambiguous from the very start. Magical-shamanic religion has a clear place for a meritorious death. But it does not have a place for a transition from time to eternity. This is the fundamental problem of Good News 1.0.

Good News 2.0

The sermon of Jesus in John’s narrative of the Last Supper is the source of Good News 2.0.

When you get to Stage Three in trauma recovery then you understand Good News 2.0.  It represents the full legacy of Jesus of Nazareth.

That legacy specifies completely the end-game of human life. All of us have come from eternity, and it is to eternity that we shall all return when we die. This awareness cannot be contained by a hierarchical organization. It is designed to be a network, as promised in Jeremiah 31: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”

So, the full legacy of Jesus is not suffering, but “glory”.

John’s Last Supper displaces the crucifixion as the central event in the life of Jesus  It replaces it with the contemplation of the risen Jesus as the core of his legacy.

But that is not what Christians latched on to. Especially in the theory and practice of the Eucharist, they chose a hypnotizing and sedating ritual that was all about recovery from trauma. When Christianity entered Europe, the traumatization of its population was in terrifying full swing. Stage One of recovery would take another fifteen hundred years.


The God Proposition.

Early Christians did not know anything about molecules, but it was still easy for them to come to the conclusion that Jesus was God. All they had to do was follow the comments Jesus made about “the Father” and the Paraclete. However, my modern scientific mind comes to that conclusion simply because of what Jesus did with molecules. To me this is an open and shut case. I really don’t need anything else.

“Mastery of molecules” is the one characteristic of eternity that is most difficult for ordinary consciousness to accept. But, here again we are helped by Stephen Hawking. Time has a beginning, and so molecules have a beginning. So, eternity – the situation of no molecules – initiates time. We know this (a) by the mathematics of Hawking, (b) by the evidence of our senses: tasting the wine of Cana, gathering up baskets of loaves and fishes, feeling the bodily presence of Jesus after his crucifixion, and (c) by “meditative practice” (Voegelin). (This is one of the “discontinuous forms of consciousness” that William James mentions.)

The eternity connection showed up in Jesus of Nazareth. But wherever it does show up (via miracle, prophetic utterance, or meditation) it needs to negotiate a relationship with the previous interpretations of reality that already exist in ordinary consciousness.

Studying meditative practice helps to show how the brain, which is material and not eternal, can construct this relationship.

Meditation is a form of introspection. (Introspection explores realms of consciousness entirely different from everyday waking consciousness.) Introspection chooses a field of attention that is directed towards those internal energy events that are always going on in human consciousness. One class of energy events is trauma imprints. Trauma imprints are emotional wounds. Recent science of mind observes that all human emotions are neurological events. You can never be sad for no reason. You can never be joyful for no reason. Sadness is the pain emitting from damaged neurons. An emotional injury is precisely that: an injury. Joy is the pleasure emitting from stimulated neurons.

Introspection is risky, because all human beings have experienced some emotional injuries. Therefore “going inside” can naturally activate the pain emanating from damaged neurons.

Skillfully controlled inner attention, such as practiced in Zen, psychotherapy and trauma treatment, carefully finds its way through the assembly of pain stimulants in ordinary consciousness, and at a certain point arrives at objectless awareness. There is no logical problem with claiming that the human brain, enclosed as it is in its material composition, can engage in objectless awareness. This IS the eternity connection.

[My personal reflection is that inner attention can remember the very first instant of one’s personal existence. This is because every human being does have such a moment, when the life of the organism became human. This would have to be the instant when the full DNA of the person was in play. From this DNA, all subsequent components of the body are produced by automatic physical laws.]

Referencing the fidelity of Yahweh to the Covenant with Israel, this viewpoint has some interesting implications for abortion. “Covenant-thinking” would say that once a human existence begins, it will never end. Embeddedness in molecules (“life”) will end, but not existence. Existence and not life is the ticket to eternity. So, whether an embryo or a fetus lives for fifteen minutes, six months, ten years or 90 years, when it dies, it passes into eternity, and has “full membership” in that condition. Furthermore, the first moment of your personal existence is the instant when you were called forth from eternity. It is your personal connection with eternity.]

However, without skillful controls, inner attention does not always lead to pure awareness. It can lead to absorption in the pain stimulants that are the result of emotional injuries. Idée fixe is a common French phrase for this. Beyond that simple phrase we have a laundry list of irrational thought and behavior patterns that capture inner attention, e.g. “being in denial”, projection, road rage, prejudice, hypersensitivity, schizophrenic break, and PTSD. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a form of PTSD.

One God.

My modern scientific mind comes to the conclusion that Jesus is God simply because of what he did with molecules.

We must note that there can be only one ultimate source of the universe in its entirety. So, if Jesus is God then he is always God, e.g., he was God at the beginning of time.

The God that Jesus refers to in his day-to-day language is of course “the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob” (and Moses and David) of the Judaic tradition, and that God was revealed to Abraham in about 1900 b.c.e.

But the creation of time took place about 15 billion years before Abraham. Furthermore, “modern man” (homo sapiens) had been walking the earth for literally thousands of years before Abraham, and modern man was always busy investigating the ultimate spiritual source of all reality.

So, Jesus of Nazareth is not the only source of knowledge about eternity. But he is a privileged one. His life on earth has a certain accessibility that other sources do not have. (You only have to review attentively the historical narrative.)

But the ultimate source of the universe in its totality has always been available to inquiring human minds. Therefore, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching, the meditations of Gautama, and many other “raids on the unspeakable” (as Thomas Merton liked to call them) are also sources of information about eternity.

Therefore, although God is One, images and theories of God are multiple, as history informs us.

The Learning Curve

For the first disciples of Jesus, meeting him had the same effect as skillful meditative practice. It bypassed their emotional injuries and gave them an experience of pure awareness. The culmination of Jesus’s mastery of molecules was his coming back from death. His first disciples were direct witnesses to his presence before his crucifixion and after. This would have given them a vivid sensory experience that challenged all their emotional habits. It would stimulate objectless awareness. However, sudden access to objectless awareness has to be a shock to habitual anxieties and tensions. It would not automatically replace them, and it would be difficult to explain. It would take some time to negotiate a synthesis between the experience of eternity and habitual beliefs. And his followers would have to go to their ambient worldview to explain it. The experience of sudden freedom from anxiety is one thing. What it means is something else again.

So, in early Christianity we find (a) simple reporting of contact with the risen Jesus and (b) interpretations of that experience. The reports of contact with Jesus are direct and simple.

“And the doors of the room being locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst.” (John 20, 19)

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. . . . . (John 21, 1-11)

But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. (Acts, 1, 3)

These are factual reports.

However, except for the account of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, the interpretations always refer back to the account of “original sin” in Genesis 3, and the sympathetic magic of Leviticus 17, 11.

Paul’s announcement of the good news of Jesus Christ was clearly derived from the temple tradition of Judaism.

“Sacrifice” was the practice of killing animals to express deference to the power of the one Supreme Being in the universe (“God”). “Atonement” was the offering of material substances in compensation for offenses against that Supreme Being. “Faith” was cognitive acceptance of the role of Jesus in such a scheme of sacrifice and atonement, and “sin” was behavior that could make God angry.

Paul frequently refers to Jesus as “crucified”, but rarely to him as “risen”. This does not mean he did not recognize that the resurrection happened, but only that he did not understand its meaning. For Paul, the death of Jesus was his salvific achievement. His resurrection was just a proof of the value of the death.

Paul refers to Genesis 3 to infer that humanity has been disconnected from God ever since the beginning of time. Since we now know that Genesis chapters 1-ll was not history (as is the rest of the book), but a philosophical speculation, then of course the reference to Adam has no merit. However, not even the Jews of Paul’s time placed much stock in Genesis 3. They were more interested in Moses than in Adam.

Paul’s mistakes are easily explained by the training of the ex-Pharisee who had been knocked from his horse and blinded by the vision of Jesus. This completely changed his attitude toward Jesus, but did not remove all the beliefs that already existed in his ordinary consciousness. So, he explained his vision of Jesus by his traditional Jewish beliefs.

What happened?

If you know anything about Christianity for the past 2,000 years, this has to be something of a puzzle, because the theme for Christianity has not been “Jesus overcame death”, but the ancient animal sacrifice paradigm of Leviticus, “he died for your sins”.

So, what happened there?

  1. The ambient culture of the time did not have the knowledge to support that piece of information.
  2. During the intervening centuries between Jesusand now, human beings have been engaged in a long and gradual learning process about both our inner and outer reality. When you consider that all of “Western Civilization” still believed the world was only 5,000 years old in 1856, when Darwin published Origin of Species, you get an idea of how slow that learning has been.

The persistence of pain from mass traumatization has also been part of the process. Understanding inner emotional pain only took its first steps when Sigmund Freud briefly studied with Jean-Martin Charcot in Paris in 1885. PTSD did not become an accepted medical condition until 1982 in the USA.

Therefore, a freedom-from-pain (“remission of sin”) belief about the legacy of Jesus was persuasive enough to attract many people to Christian beliefs and practices during those centuries of gradual learning.

  1. 2,000 years later, we have a body of knowledge about time, about matter, and about our own inner reality that gives us much more power to create a more realistic description of the purpose of the life of Jesus.

From 1.0 to 2.0.

The classic expression of Good News 1.0 is:  “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15, 3)

(This is also found in Colossians 1:22; 1 Peter 1:19 and elsewhere).

Everyone among early Christians agreed with it, except the apostle John, and it remained a powerful invitation to Christianity for the next 2,000 years.

The New Testament and the history of Christianity are completely riddled with huge, basic mistakes. “Christ died for our sins” is just one of them. All of them can be attributed to the slow learning process human beings go through in the course of cultural evolution.

Good News 1.0 was a relic of the then over one-thousand-years-old command of Yahweh to the primitive believers of Israel to engage in animal sacrifice as an expiation for their personal sinfulness.

In the 3,000 years since the writing of Leviticus, human beings have learned many other instruments of emotional healing. The more advanced among them are techniques of introspective awareness.

Gautama discovered meditation and monastic chanting as methods of emotional healing in 500 b.c.e., but his discoveries did not migrate out of Asia until very recent centuries. From the 1870s, western psychological science discovered methods of introspection that basically duplicated Asian practices such as Zen. (“Make friends with yourself; start sitting.”) Christianity itself discovered trance in about the fourth century c.e. (in the Eucharist, monastic chanting and the Cathedrals). Trance is not introspective, but it is a great advance over killing animals and shedding blood.

Furthermore, personal repentance (metanoia in the New Testament) shows up from time to time in the whole Bible, but it never gains prominence of place.

So, the bottom line here is that up to now Christianity has never gotten beyond the sympathetic magic of Leviticus. “Jesus died for your sins” is a form of “good news” only for people whose self-awareness has been blocked by trauma imprints in ordinary rational consciousness. This certainly includes Jewish believers in 1275 b.c.e., the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth, and many, many Christians up to the present day. The whole New Testament, except the apostle John, is captured by the shadow of sympathetic magic of Leviticus.

If you do have any self-awareness at all, Good News 1.0 is just plain weird. Another announcement would be valued.

Good News 2.0.  Jesus died to demonstrate the non-finality of death for all human beings of all time everywhere.

Jesus overcame death.
Life is a passage.
Death is a passage.
You will return to exactly where you came from.
This has been clearly demonstrated.
Follow the science.

We are no longer completely lacking in self-awareness. Today we have numerous processes of controlled introspection (what Buddhists call “making friends with yourself” and contemporary trauma treatment calls “the felt sense”). These enable us to track the biology of death, and realize that the most important aspect of the death of Jesus was that he came back from it. This makes his death a demonstration of the relationship between time and eternity and shows that death is not the end of our existence. In fact, it is the fulfillment of our existence.

Focused biological attention can track the complete loss of molecules that takes place in death, and the full restoration of molecules that is required to return from death – this meditation is the only thing that is needed to become aware that no human death ends any human existence.

This conclusion is based on the same raw data that early Christians had, but uses 2,000 years of additional knowledge. The whole life of Jesus illustrated the relationship between time and eternity, and his return from death was the final demonstration.

The benefit is that now, with our vastly more advanced understanding of the universe in its totality compared to the time of Jesus, we can recover the full legacy of Jesus of Nazareth. This legacy specifies completely the end-game of human life, and creates an awareness that does not require a hierarchical organization. It is an awareness designed to be a network, as promised in Jeremiah 31: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”

In Luke 24, 13-35, Jesus gives an interesting instruction: “You foolish men! So slow to believe in the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory? Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.”

So, “the full message” is not suffering, but “glory”.

This instruction definitively displaces the crucifixion as the central event in the life of Jesus, and replaces it with the contemplation of the risen Jesus as the core of the legacy of Jesus. But that is not what Christians latched on to. Especially in the theory and practice of the Eucharist, they chose a hypnotizing and sedating ritual that was all about recovery from trauma. When Christianity entered Europe, the traumatization of its population was in terrifying full swing. Stage One of recovery would take another fifteen hundred years.

When you get to Stage Three in trauma recovery then you can access Good News 2.0.

And, by the way, the message of suffering and glory harmonizes extremely well with Buddhist teaching about enlightenment: “When you realize that everything is just a flashing into the vast universe, then you become very strong and your existence becomes very meaningful.”

So, in order to move forward, we have to get beyond trance induction techniques. However, Christianity without its trance induction techniques would be unrecognizable vis-à-vis the contemporary institutions that go by that name.

The Two Forms.

Good News 2.0 only uses real things: our present-day understanding of “the universe in its totality” (William James).

These are: (a) historicity, (b) inner attention, (d) mastery over molecules, (e) Roman capital punishment, (f) coming back from death, (g) association with his followers after his death, (h) returning to eternity, and (i) God.

Historicity. The life of Jesus was tracked contemporaneously, as was his mastery of molecules. Jesus was not like the God Ram in the Hindu Ramayana, who was a historical local king who was gradually divinized over a period of about 400 years (200 b.c.e – 200 c.e.) Nor was his divinity the product of established customs of ancient cultures that routinely divinized their rulers (e.g., Rome, of course.)

Inner attention. William James noted that there are many strange things in the realm of discontinuous consciousness, and only one of them is the eternity connection.

Erik Voegelin claims that it is found in all cultures of recorded history:

“The In-Between [i.e., between time and eternity] of experience has a dead point from which the symbols [of ultimate values] emerge as the exegesis of its truth but which cannot become  itself an object of propositional knowledge. …… Unless precautions of meditative practice are taken, the doctrinization of symbols is liable to interrupt the process of experiential reactivation and linguistic renewal. When the symbol separates from its source in the experiential Metaxy [Plato’s word for in-between], the Word of God can degenerate into a word of man that one can believe or not.” (The Ecumenic Age, 105.)

We have noted that the eternity connection shows up (1) the mathematics of Stephen Hawking, (2) prophetic utterances, and (3) meditative practices. The early followers of Jesus had absolutely no knowledge of Hawking’s mathematics and no meditative practice. They did recognize that Jesus was “a prophet” but that did not give them a historical context for his prophecy. They had to turn to popular Jewish religion for that.

Mastery over molecules. Verified. Only eternity can do this (as it did at the beginning of time).

Capital punishment.  Jesus did not die a mythical death.  He not only died a physical, biological death, he died by the Roman method of capital punishment, a brutal and public execution accompanied by much gratuitous violence. Mel Gibson captured all this in The Passion of the Christ (2004). (Gibson’s fascination with violence is troubling, but in this case helpful to us all.)

Resurrection. Yes, he actually did that.

After-death activity. Just to make the proof more convincing.

Ascension. Eternity is still the ultimate reality.

God. I hearken back to the Yahweh tradition in Israel, where God is best not talked about at all. (‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God . . .”) The cornerstone of Mosaic Law is “no strange gods”, that is, gods with human qualities. The paradox of Yahweh is to be intimately involved in human history, and still have only one human quality: love.

The best mystics of all religions agree with this. One of my favorites is Teresa of Avila (1515-1582):
Nada te turbe,
nada te espante
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza,
quien a Dios tiene
nada le falta
solo Dios basta.

“God does not change.” Right. This is pivotal.

Transforming Good News 1.0.

We remove all elements of a magical-shamanic paradigm from our announcement of the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth, because none of them are real. They are all imaginary. In Good News 2.0, they all get transformed.

Adam. Never really existed.

Satan. Our actual enemy is trauma imprints.

Sin. Human behavior does not displease God. Dios no se muda.  It only produces a lot of pain. Sin in fact is merely the thoughts and behavior generated by the pain of unresolved trauma imprints. (But we only began to realize that since Charcot and Freud studied what they were calling “hysteria” in Paris, France in 1870.) Human behavior had been going on for about 200,000 years before the appearance of Jesus. It was part of a trial-and-error process of learning how to live on this planet.

Since God is, precisely, not human, he/she is not offended, not angry, not male or female, does not judge or condemn, does not require atonement. Is eternal. Creates molecules, but is not composed of molecules. Is outside of time.

God’s Forgiveness. Just another traditional anthropomorphism for the unreflective mind. (See “God”, and “Sin”).

Repentance. As we grow more self-aware, we regret acting out of inner pain and unrestrained impulse.  Chogyam Trungpa: “The play between hesitation and impulse is beautiful to look at. So delightful in itself is the approach of sanity.”

Salvation. There is such a thing as this-worldly salvation. This is simply a loss of anxiety. But there is no such thing as eternal salvation. There is no “salvation” because there was no “fall” (because there was no Adam.). The learning experience of homo sapiens had been going on for a very long time, and it was very painful. But there was never a loss of connection with the creator of the species. Dios no se muda.

Change of heart (metanoia). In psychotherapy it is a “release of primary emotion” when a trauma imprint is neutralized.

Atonement, forgiveness. Again, “Dios no se muda,”

Faith. I see three uses of “believe” and “faith” in the New Testament.

One. “Going along with the prevailing cultural mindset”. (See Origen.)

Two. This-worldly benefit. Belief in Jesus was often used in connection with a miracle: “Your faith has made you whole.” This could be (a) mastery over molecules, or (b) psychosomatic healing.

Three. Reality harmony.  “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” What then happens to those who do not believe in him? When they die, will they not participate in eternity? Not!  Everybody who dies does only the same thing Jesus did when he died. They lose their molecules. But Jesus showed that that is not a problem.

So, the benefit of “faith” is that you have harmony with reality now. If you don’t have faith, the penalty is simply living in illusion. That might seem like fun, but it actually carries with it permanent and constant tension. Deluded people only go around being confused, unhappy, destructive monsters terrified of death. People of faith always have the comfort of existence, which cannot be taken away from them. (This is in fact the import of what we call “The Eight Beatitides”.)

Baptism. Ceremony of induction to a healthy community.

Damnation. Being overwhelmed by the injured neurons carrying a trauma imprint.

Depravity. An addiction. Moral helplessness. In principle it is treatable by human means; in practice very often intractable. But still, it is a human problem, not a God problem. (Therefore, anthropomorphic Paul, got it completely wrong: “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Rom. 8, 7. Freud or Carl Rogers could have explained it to him.)

Divine Grace.  xaris , a “gift.” Any surprising discovery of new information can be said to come from God if you don’t have a theory of natural causality. (The Incas were slaughtered because they thought the solar eclipse came from God, while the Spaniards knew it was just astronomy.)

Holiness. The condition of permanent emotional healing of old wounds. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22 |

So, that is how we can repair Good News 1.0.


Divine Condescension in Christianity

If the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could allow Abraham to have several wives, whereas that practice died out in later centuries; if that same God could also command Moses to tell the people to perform animal sacrifice in expiation for their sins, whereas we now know that sympathetic magic is a primitive practice for people who have no self-awareness, then it is also perfectly logical for Jesus of Nazareth (“I and the Father are one.”) to issue instructions to his followers that are of a merely temporary nature.

These would be all the instructions pertaining to the creation of a hierarchical organization. This was a social arrangement necessary to establish the institutional presence of ideas and practices that are, in their essence, purely personal:  “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.”

One set of instructions has to do with encouraging a group of Galileean fisherman to take themselves spiritually seriously.

For example: “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them.” Etc.

“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

[I absolutely LOVE the six-foot-high lettering of the “Tu es Petrus…” around the top of the nave of the eponymous basilica in Rome, built with Medici money scammed from millions of gullible believers paying to shorten their time in an absolutely fictitious Purgatory. ]

“And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Really! Well that ship sailed with the Borgia and Medici Popes, and Martin Luther launched it.

Then, the Roman Catholic practice of the Mass can be allowed to disappear.

The paternalistic authority of clergy has to go.

The concept of “redemption” has to go. It was a metaphor that worked pedagogically in the time of St. Paul, but once original sin is eliminated it no longer has any meaning.

Original sin has to go.

The concept of “grace” as something added to and outside of nature has to go. Again, this line of thought is schizophrenigenic and a leftover from a stage of emotional development in which the ego is very weak.

In general, this means the end of whatever hierarchical organization goes by the name of “Christianity”. But it does not mean the end of the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth. Rather it brings that legacy forward in a post-Christian set of ideas and practices that enable humanity (a) to survive into the future, and (b) conduct its affairs in a manner that satisfies the needs of all.

In 2004, Mel Gibson made an actually very good movie about the death of Jesus, The Passion of the Christ.  It features all the genius for violence that Gibson is so capable of. (When I saw that movie on Netflix, I realized that Christianity has still not really “gotten” the meaning of Jesus of Nazareth. The movie ends with a 15-second clip of the resurrection, an excuse-me footnote to the story.)

But the historical record contains a quite detailed Part Two of the story. And, we could really use a good movie about that.

Getting It.

 After the confused speculations of the past, the real Legacy of Jesus of Nazareth has certain features.

  1. Full comprehension of the account is the key (“Biblical realism”.) Such understanding supports the conclusion that your existence is your ticket to eternity, and you cannot avoid that destiny. This is what I call Good News 2.0
  2. Good News 2.0 is a matter of awareness and social networks. No hierarchical organization is required. This way, the legacy can spread globally without social obstacles.

This will be in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah (31, 34)

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

  1. Those traditional beliefs I have described, and their institutional arrangements, must be abandoned.
  2. We are still in an age when humanity is fragile. Under pressure of harsh child-rearing, severe ecological challenges (the desert, the mountains) and social turbulence, the human psyche can experience unquenchable personal pain that blots out social trust and creates a predatory narcissism.

So, rational techniques of healing must be pursued. The matter of emotional health is paramount.

But mastery of the story is the key.

Here are some helpful hints about making full use of Good News 2.0.

I offer a paraphrase:

What we call “life” is our receiving of the gift of existence. Once you have existence, you never lose it.
Your existence was started by an infusion from eternity
. When you die, you simply go back to where you came from.
 overcoming death is the historical event that demonstrates this fact.
In order to fully recover awareness of all this, you need to go inside. All of this information is written on your molecules

Two good meditations.

One is simply to focus attention on the wine at the wedding feast at Cana. Track those molecules of water as they transform instantaneously into molecules of wine. Who can do that? What does that mean?

Two is to track the loss and recovery of the molecules of the body of Jesus after his death.

Pieces already floating around in human consciousness around the world.

Some people already get it.

(1) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu (NY Fontana Books, 1963), p. 77

… I took the lamp, and leaving the zone of everyday occupations and relationships where everything seems clear, I went down into my inmost self, to the deep abyss whence I feel dimly that my power of action emanates. But as I moved further and further away from the conventional certainties by which social life is superficially illuminated, I became aware that I was losing contact with myself. At each step of the descent a new person was disclosed within me of whose name I was no longer sure, and who no longer obeyed me. And when I had to stop my exploration because the path faded from beneath my steps, I found a bottomless abyss at my feet, and out of it came — arising from I know not where — the current which I dare to call my life.

(2) William Shakespeare, Sonnet 146:

Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
[Why feed’st] these rebel powers that thee array?
Why dost thou pine within, and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body’s end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And, Death once dead, there’s no more dying then.

There are plenty of others to be found in world literature.

De-emphasize organized religion. This is because all religion, all the time, everywhere, is part of the first stage of treatment for that pandemic trauma experienced by homo sapiens in our evolutionary climb out of our primitive animality. It artificially tranquillizes.

All of those promises that Jesus gave to Peter and the Apostles were what I call “start-up provisions”. Hierarchical organization is useful to establish a way of life that has no social presence at all. But the legacy of Jesus was always one of simple awareness (“the new and eternal covenant, written on the fleshy tablets of the heart”).

If you are still so traumatized that you can use oxytocin relief, or if you live in a community that needs that kind of relief, then participate in organized religion, but do not be overserious about it. You must remain personally in charge of your own trauma recovery. Especially beware of authoritarian religion. They insist that you not trust yourself at all. “Question authority.”

For most people, there is no hierarchical organization to join, no ceremonies to perform, no papers to sign. The natural setting for Good News 2.0 is a network, not a hierarchical organization.

Make a note that Good News 2.0 works for anyone who is going to die. To wit, you can be a Muslim, a member of the Chinese Communist party, a Japanese Buddhist or Shinto devotee, a professional Atheist, or whatever. If you have a human body and are in it, the notification that existence is your ticket to eternity, and you cannot avoid that destiny, should be good news. (This is why Thomas Aquinas said “melior est esse quam non esse.” “It is better to exist than not to exist.”)


Appendix: Priesthood

In January 2019, the Superior General of the Jesuits, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J. wrote to all Jesuits about priestly child abuse, vowing to “deepen our understanding of the causes of these wounds, and to bring about a culture within and outside the Church ensuring that a healthy life is guaranteed to all human beings.”

In the spirit of those remarks, I offer the following commentary.


In order for there to be priestly abuse of children, there has to be priestly power. In Catholicism, the power of the priesthood is derived from the oxytocin delivered by the Mass.

So, priestly culture is an oxytocin culture, in which all the members of the culture are dependent on the neuroprocessor that relieves the pain of the pandemic traumatic stress in the ambient society.

The source of the oxytocin in the Mass is the belief in transubstantiation.

Transubstantiation is an example of Orwellian doublespeak. The purpose of doublespeak is to conceal an underlying emotional agenda and provide a habitual defensive posture. Transubstantiation was one of those brilliant moves a traumatized psyche makes to support an emotionally necessary choice. The choice in this case was to experience relief from pandemic traumatic stress.

So, priestly abuse of children is an abuse of power. Therefore, the belief in transubstantiation is implicated in the priestly abuse of children in Catholicism all over the world.

Transubstantiation is not from Jesus, it is not from God, it has no biblical foundation. It is the product of sincere but human social management by leaders desiring to alleviate traumatic stress in society at large.

So, transubstantiation and priesthood were key elements in the trauma treatment program of Christianity. The only thing that priesthood actually does is deliver oxytocin. This was a hugely important function for over a thousand years, but nowadays, not so much.

Priesthood was derived from the animal sacrifice paradigm in Leviticus and the consequent belief that the blood of Jesus forgives sins. But now we know that this interpretation of the life of Jesus is completely impossible because, as conscious human beings, we realize that the forgiveness of sins is by repentance. John the Baptist, St. Paul and St. Peter were all noble souls and died heroically. But their interpretation of the life of Jesus was completely incorrect because the culture of their time was still not self-aware.

[The “forgiveness of sins” meme in Christianity was also due to “original sin”. But now that we know that “original sin” never happened, it too disappears as a reason to have a priesthood.]

So, priesthood in Christianity has lasted for two thousand years because of the long learning curve in human knowledge about the collateral information required to understand the actual purpose of the life of Jesus.

However, now that we know that the actual purpose — namely to show us eternity and reveal the nature of the universe in its entirety — we have a much more powerful stress reliever than oxytocin.

That is simply the announcement that “Jesus overcame death and showed us eternity.”

The scriptural basis for this announcement is the description of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John that we reported earlier [pp.49-52.].

The fact that Jesus overcame death was ambiguous in Christianity from the start. It was always obscured by the animal sacrifice paradigm. Now that obscurity can end.

It does not require a priesthood. It only requires a teacher.


About the Author.

I was born into a middle-class Irish Catholic family in Chicago in 1933, the sixth of seven children.  My childhood was marked by the garden-variety traumas of the parenting practices of the time. Absorbing the consequent neuroses, I joined the Jesuits at age nineteen, went to India as a missionary at age twenty-six, and had an identity crisis at age thirty-three which got me out of the Jesuits and the church.

Looking back, I can now identify seven transition points in my own trauma recovery process.

  1. In 1963 I was studying theology in the Jesuit seminary near the town of Kurseong in India. The location is in the Himalayas at an altitude of about 7,700 feet, about 20 miles from the famous British military resort of Darjeeling. Incredible scenery. In what I remember as my very first formal class in New Testament exegesis, Fr. Herman Volkaert, S.J., had us read to ourselves John 20, 19: “In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesuscame and stood in their midst.” Then he shouted at us, “What happened?” (In his manner of teaching, as I recall, he did a lot of shouting.) In the moment of that question and the discussion that followed, I realized that all I had been previously taught about Christianity was superficial and lame. I was 30 years old at the time and had been in the Jesuits for 11 years. But it was only at that moment that something shifted in my body, and I realized that Jesus was part of a reality that was open-ended and mysterious.

The shift was so subtle that I had no language for it at the time. I did not acquire language for it until about 25 years later. In that interval I did not even seek language for it. I just lived my life according to its impact. Only when I started working on my book Outgrowing Catholicism in 1987 did I go back into my memory banks to see if I could account for the steps in my life’s process. When I did that, I realized right away that that moment in 1963 had been a crucial turning point. Even in 1987 the language I had for it was crude. I could only say that “something shifted in my body.”

Now that I know much more about the workings of the body, the neurology of emotions, and the brain, I realize that the shift that occurred in 1963 was an awakening of the connection to the right hemisphere of my brain.

Our right human hemisphere …  learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies. Information in the form of energy streams in simultaneously through all of our sensory systems, and then it explodes into this enormous collage of what this present moment looks like, what this present moment smells like, and tastes like, what it feels like, and what it sounds like. (Jill Bolte Taylor, 208 TED talk.)

Fr. Volkaert pointed out that obviously, from the text, the body of Jesus that John reported on was not exactly the same kind of body that I have. The text is very clear: the doors of the room were closed. (I remember him asking the class in the discussion, “Do you have a body like that?”) In order to answer the question, I had to do a somatic scan. So this was the moment in time when I started to recover my body. It was the moment when I started to realize that I was in the Jesuits because of disembodied images playing in my head (i.e., neo-cortex), and that if I listened to my body, I could not stay in that social location. But this “realization” was not verbal at that time. There was no actual conversation with myself. The realization was entirely somatic, and it was nascent. I only began tentatively to think differently. It took another three full years before I consciously decided to leave the Jesuits.

  1. Three years later, on the eve of my actual departure from the Jesuits, I got to the point where I knew I was going to leave, and so I planned out the day when I would stop saying my daily morning Mass. On that day I went to the chapel where I had been doing it, in order to see what, if any, emotional reaction I would have. I was prepared for a twinge of sadness or guilt. But what actually did happen was quite different. I stood there and looked at the little altar, the chalice, the vestments and missal that I was never going to use again, and what went through me was a gentle but definite feeling of relief. It was actually quite startling. It was as if my body was releasing toxins it had been holding on to all my life. This took place in St. Stanislaus Retreat House in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. The time was December 1966.

(A few years later, when I was experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs, I did have the experience of my body releasing chemical toxins when I was coming down from an acid trip. The LSD on the market in those days was often lightly laced with strychnine. I remember standing on the third floor back landing of the house on Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, looking out the little square window across the frost-laden garage roofs of Chicago back yards in the early morning light of All Saints Day (the day after an all-night hippie Halloween party). We had been up all night. I had taken the acid about twelve hours previously. I was now near the end of the “coming down” cycle. I felt a slight shiver through my whole body as the level of strychnine released another notch. And the thought passed through my mind, “Why, this is exactly what I felt that morning at St. Stan’s when I said goodbye to the altar.”)

I have since concluded that the practice of saying Mass is a trance-induction technique that induces a state of dissociation from the body. This eases traumatic pain but also dulls the generic body sense that is mediated by the reptilian brain. It mobilizes the endogenous opioids (e.g., oxytocin).

  1. In the 1980s I was investigating the offerings of “New Age” therapeutic workshops. In three separate events I had a series of powerful introspective insights, what psychologists would call the release of childhood memories, in which certain garden-variety moments of trauma in my early life came to the surface of my consciousness. Each of these experiences had its own grounding and completing effect on my life. Each of them contributed towards a more secure sense of myself. Each of them reduced the areas of my body and the areas of my brain that were numbed by habitually mobilized opioids.
  2. During this period of time I embarked upon the project of writing out the whole story of my experience with Catholicism. This resulted in a book called Outgrowing Catholicism — A Study. A Practical Guide. A Personal Reflection. The writing of this book was extremely cathartic for me, but it only analyzed the break-down of the old belief system. It did not offer anything to put in its place. As a religion editor at Doubleday tersely put it in turning down my manuscript, “You have to give them something.” So I ended up having to publish it myself. I sent out review copies and in the end sold a few hundred books. The rest have been consigned to a public dumpster in Chicago. (But the text is still available on my web site: The book was a commercial disaster, but a therapeutic success. I got my past out of my system.
  3. When I finished writing Outgrowing Catholicism, I realized that now indeed it was time for me to focus fully on learning more about my body. This was in 1991. It so happened that I encountered at that moment a woman by the name of Kay Ortmans, who was then 84 years old, and had been teaching body awareness for over fifty years. She is well-known in bodyworking circles for her seminars conducted over many years at The Wellsprings Foundation in Ben Lomond, California in the Santa Cruz mountains. In 1991 she was living in semi-retirement in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was, but was still taking students, giving massages, and holding small workshops.

I ended up studying with Kay for two years. She and her followers and other students gave me my apprenticeship in the workings of somatic energy. I spent hundreds of hours assisting and giving and receiving bodywork, in movement workshops and free-associational drawing, all to the accompaniment of classical music. At the end of that training I moved back to the Chicago area (in 1992).

  1. In Chicago I discovered other methods of bodywork and the whole emerging field of trauma treatment. My first teachers were the trainers of Hakomi Integrative Somatics, originally created by Ron Kurtz and Pat Ogden. Their work endures to this day, but has changed its name more than once.

Trauma treatment turned out to be the mature destination of my recovery from religion. My work with Kay Ortmans quickly became transitional once I discovered that.

  1. The neuro-science of the brain.

It was only in about 2009 that I discovered the neuro-science of the hemispheres of the brain. My two main sources for this were (a) the 2008 TED video of Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuro-anatomist who survived a stroke that incapacitated her left hemisphere, and finally recovered enough to give a step-by-step description of her experience. My second source was The Master and His Emissary by British psychiatrist, Lain McGilchrist.

Here are two brief excerpts:

“The world of the left hemisphere, dependent on denotative language and abstraction, yields clarity and the power to manipulate things that are known, fixed, static, isolated, decontextualized, explicit, general in nature, but ultimately lifeless. The right hemisphere, by contrast, yields a world of individual, changing, evolving, interconnected, implicit, incarnate, living beings within the context of the lived world, but in the nature of things never fully graspable, never perfectly known, and to this world it exists in a certain relationship. The knowledge that is mediated by the left hemisphere is, however, in a closed system. It has the advantage of perfection, but the perfection is bought ultimately at the price of emptiness.”

Jill Bolte Taylor, TED talk, 2008:

So who are we? We are the life-force power of the universe with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds and we have the power to choose moment by moment who and how we want to be in the world. Right here and right now I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere where we are, I am, the life-force power of the universe, the fifty trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form, at one with all that is. Or, I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere, where I become  a single individual, a solid, separate from the flow, separate from you … These are the we inside of me.

It is no wonder, then, that the “cease the chatter of the mind” of Gautama has lasted for 2,500 years as a path to “enlightenment”. Only the left hemisphere of our brain “chatters”. In traditional Zen, they say that the practice of meditation is about “doing nothing”. In Revisionist Zen, we say that meditation is about having the left hemisphere of your brain do nothing. We shut down the left hemisphere. We stop thinking, and engage only in experiencing. Experience leads us to becoming aware of all the energy transactions going on in our body all the time. It is an intense form of being awake.

[And, looking back to 1963, I now realize that at the moment when Fr. Volckaert asked us, “Do you have a body like that?”, the right hemisphere of my brain kicked in. This is because only the right hemisphere has access to all the energy transactions going on in the body, not the left. I now call this event “hemisphere-switching”, but I am saying this 50 years after that event took place. 50 years!]