Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Sanity of Christianity

It has been fashionable, at certain times in history, to present various skeptical and cynical views of Jesus the Christ. And an openminded person must try to look at truth from every perspective, including the materialistic and even atheistic, which have presented Christ as having been off-balance, and even mad.

A person hearing voices and seeing visions is commonly regarded, in modern times, as suffering from schizophrenia. But this form of psychological dysfunction tends to destroy clarity pervasively, throughout the victim's life. A schizophrenic is marked by other, related, disturbances in thinking. If the case is serious, she might be even incapable of clear, lucid thinking.

If Jesus had suffered from a psychiatric disorder, in other words, it would very likely have been reflected in his teachings. It should have been perceivable in all, or almost all, of this body of knowledge. And it is true that religion has often made his teachings into something that looks suspiciously like insanity. But far from being "insane," his teachings, in themselves (without complex elaboration and "commentary") mark the highest sanity possible to human beings.The whole idea of exercising universal, unconditional Love is the very core and root of the highest sanity and clarity.

His teachings of forgiveness, kindness, non-exclusivity, learning, and wisdom mark his path as one that appeals strongly to the very best in the human psyche,and to the highest.

If, like some other mystics, he might have occasionally experienced a vision (as during the Transfiguration), he did not make "visions and voices" the center of his life, work, or teaching. Instead, the best Love was the Center of his fine teachings. He went so far, according to his disciple John, as to say that "God" was actually Love Itself. So, his God was no general, no killer, no psychotic, no king, no "person in the sky." No, he taught a far more psychologically sophisticated, elevated perspective of the Absolute, the Ultimate. For his God was Love; it follows that he worshipped Love.

Worshipping Love separated him from the"righteous, respectable" worshippers of Jehovah/Yahweh, the old anthropomorphic king of the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament"). They murdered him for, among many charges, idolatry: He worshipped, and taught, a different God than Jehovah, and this was, for them, the "unforgivable sin."

Ironically, his teaching included the very healthy premise that human beings were capable of loving all-- even their enemies. For if God was Love, Christ was also Love, being one with God. And if his disciples followed his path, which was his clear call and invitation, they too would, in time, become "incarnations" of Love.

It was because it had a different God that Christianity was a different religion from Judaism. (This word, by the way, is pronounced "Judah-ism," not "judy-ism." It is not the worship of judy!:)

To see, and present, God as Love Itself was light years ahead of the idea of God as a white-haired and -bearded old man, a "big daddy in the sky." It is also quite psychologically sophisticated, for the idea of a watching "big daddy" appeals to the immature, undeveloped inner child in all of us. It does not attract the inner adult.

If followed, Jesus' teachings lead to a life of peace, respect,compassion, kindness, and goodness. These qualities are the opposite of those so often manifested by people who are out of touch with reality. In fact, the teachings of Jesus are all about "truth." [In the Christian Greek Scriptures ("New Testament"), the Greek word used for "truth" is the same word used by philosophers for "reality."] Since the goal of the Christ was reality, and insanity is all about losing touch with reality, a study of Jesus and his teachings creates the state of anti-insanity, or clear and lucid sanity.

Christianity cannot prove to have been a failure, said someone, because it has never seriously been tried.:) This is, of course, exaggeration. But it is meant to point out that the practice of Christianity, in its purest form-- the application of the excellent, superb teachings of Jesus-- is very rarely even attempted.

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