You will discover that a pure white flower will begin to reveal itself in your being—the mystic lily, the lotus of the Eastern seers. This is the entering of the holy halls of abstract thought, where the wisdom of God, the universal knowledge, can be absorbed in the form of a force. It is a walking in the light, as He is in the light.
In this way an immeasurable divine knowledge, a divine philosophy, unfolds before you, the philosophy of magical knowledge. On this basis, at this gate of eternity, all those who are called to a new intellectuality, all lovers of true wisdom, will be united. At this gate to eternity there will be thinkers, poets, and builders, people who are called from all branches of science, art, and religion. And refreshed at the one source of Original Wisdom, as brothers and sisters linked to each other in one chain, they will set to work for the majestic unfolding of their talents. In the light of God, their talents will blossom like roses and hand in hand they will write with their luminous deeds the Librum Naturae, the great Book of Nature, as a truth which will span eternities.
Everything untrue is doomed to death; everything born out of the eternal solar heart of the Father is called to life.
1. You never read your Bible (or Bible app, for that matter): You must read the Word to remain in the vine of the life, giving words of the Lord. Like a plant not connected to the vine if you don’t read your Bible, you will become spiritually dry and withered, and will feel isolated…this could lead to spiritual death. Refresh with the Word of God DAILY (Psalm 23—daily bread) to stay strong spiritually with the living water filling you every day (John 15). We need food and water to live, correct? Same goes for our spiritual walk with God…we need to feed it good food, which is the Word of God, the Holy Bible.
He answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
2. You are not plugged into fellowship regularly: You flow in and out of churches and don’t have your roots down deep.
3. You only read positive Christian books: Also known as “feel-good” Christian books that don’t discuss sin, hell, death and consequences of poor decisions. Devotionals and Christian books are good to read, but don’t only have this as your spiritual food. That is like eating vitamins for dinner. Christian books and devos are “supplements,” as I call them, but the Word of God (the Bible) is the main-course meal.
4. You look like the world: Your speech, attitude, lifestyle and even social media LOOK like the world. You can be in it, but not of it. There is a way to be salt and light and still be relevant. Don’t copy people to try to fit in. Only God’s opinion matters. Do you agree?
5. Your role models are celebrities: Who are you looking to for advice, dress, speech or even someone to walk behind in life? Is your role model someone who is seduced by this worldly system or is your role model a godly youth leader or mentor in your life? Evaluate this and write down people who help you draw closer to God. These people are usually rare, but pray God shows you who to walk and model yourself after. (I understand it is difficult to not want to copy celebs, but really guard your heart and mind ask yourself: “Is this someone I want to be like?” or do you want to be like a Man of God/Proverbs 31 woman?)
6. You only listen to secular music: Music is powerful and influences your thoughts. It doesn’t feed your spirit and can cause you to stumble into worldly thinking and behavior. (For example: When I listen to certain music, it makes me want to go dancing at a club and or sometimes brings up the fleshly desires…if you want to be on fire for Jesus, fill your mind with worship!) You can have a balance, but it just depends…do you want to be hot or cold? An example of a good worship album is Hillsong United’s new Empires album; go to iTunes to listen to it if you need ideas for worship.
7. You don’t have a filter on your social media: You try to copy what other people are doing, constantly doubt your God-given beauty and talents, and try to lower your standards when posting pictures for attention on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Don’t worry about who’s following you, but who YOU are following. Remember, Jesus only had 12 followers!
8. You are embarrassed and ashamed to talk about Jesus or your faith: Now, if you are a new believer or are shy, I am not saying this means you are lukewarm. (None of these define you as lukewarm, but it could mean it if you fall into a lot of these categories, if that makes sense.) Also, Jesus mentions in the Bible that if you are ashamed of Him on earth, He will be ashamed of you in front of God the Father and the angels. (Yeeks! That means Jesus wants us to be BOLD or on fire about our faith!) Yes, everyone is in different seasons and everyone has their own relationship with God, but we need to remember people’s souls are at stake. This is a serious matter in sharing the Gospel. God says, “GO and make disciples”—not try to go, but gives us a command “go.” God also doesn’t say this is the great mission, but rather He will be with us in our co-mission, amen?
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28: 19-20)
9. Your beliefs contradict the Bible: You may say, “Oh, it’s okay to sleep with someone if you LOVE them…” which is the opposite of what God’s Holy Word says. Love is great, but it’s no good if it’s not under the umbrella of the protection of God. His Word is infallible, and is inerrant (the word inerrancy means “freedom from error or untruths”) and is the FINAL authority in heaven and on earth. You cannot argue with the Word of God. The Bible clearly says that fornication (sex before marriage) is not of God, and that marriage (a union between a man and a woman) is HOLY. God instituted marriage and His Word is eternal. Man can try to change God’s Word, but it won’t be altered. His Word is to help us, to protect us from disease, illness, harm, unwanted burdens and so forth. Do you want to believe what feels good or sounds cool? Or do you want the TRUTH? With REAL love comes tough love, and truth. It isn’t easy, but truth sets you free. This is REAL love. In eternity, many people will wonder why people didn’t share the truth with them…let’s be the church, God’s bride and be REAL with people. Stop lying to people to make them feel good. This flesh is dying and the only thing that matters is their soul. Please…really love people in Jesus’ name.
10. You have religious actions, but no real relationship with Jesus: You can act like a believer and do “good” deeds to increase your self-esteem, but unless what you do GENUINELY comes from a place of REAL worship (not seen by men), then it is somewhat not WHOLE-hearted. God wants a real relationship with us, just like you want one with your best friend, parents and peers, amen? When I say you are “on fire” for Jesus or cold, I mean you are in love with Jesus and your life emulates this daily (not that you are perfect.) When I refer to being cold, it means you are anti-Christ. Do you seek the Lord with your heart or to impress people?
The Hebrew Israelite community – an umbrella term encompassing a variety of Black Jewish organizations and movements – has just selected Chicago Rabbi Capers C. Funnye as its official Chief Rabbi. The Forward has a good overview of this historic event and the current status of Hebrew Israelites in the United States.
Rabbi Funnye is a well-known figure in both the Hebrew Israelite and American (Ashkenazi-dominated) Jewish establishment (I was well aware of his congregation when I lived in Chicago during law school). He is also relatively unique in the Hebrew Israelite community for having undergone a “formal” (Conservative-overseen) conversion to Judaism. Many members of the Hebrew Israelite community do not do this, primarily because they already see themselves as Jews and they bristle at the suggestion that their Jewish pedigree needs validation or ratification from other (predominantly White) Jewish institutions. A similar controversy often exists in African Jewish communities, who frequently see conversion requirements as disrespecting their own historical identification as Jews.
Yet there is no doubt that Rabbi Funnye’s conversion has assisted him greatly in building bridges between his Jewish community and the “mainstream” one populated by people like me. Which got me thinking. There are not that many Jews, and there are not that many people seeking to identify as Jewish. Our default stance should be to embrace diverse populations which want to join our community, and at one level a “conversion” is a great formal ritual to make clear on all sides that regardless of what you look like or where you come from, we are all equal as Jews. Yet I am sympathetic to the notion that there is something askance about forcing a predominantly Black Jewish community, that has been practicing Judaism for multiple generations and fully identifies as Jewish, to submit itself to Jewish approval by predominantly non-Black institutions. What gives us the right to form that hierarchy? And what does “conversion” say about their prior status as Jews?
So it seems to me that it should be a Jewish priority to come up with an alternative. Not a conversion, but a unification – a ritual or practice whereby persons from Jewish communities that have historically been on the margins of normative Judaism, who perhaps have not always been recognized as Jewish by normative Judaism, can have the opportunity to declare themselves and be declared part of the broader Jewish family. Of course, this is not an open-door proposal – unification requires, if not agreement by all parties on all aspects of what Jewishness means, then at least consent by both parties that they mutually understand the other to be Jewish in a sufficiently robust way so as to be part of a single community.
Were I a Rabbi – and lord knows I’m not – this is what I would be spending my time developing. I think along the same lines regarding the children of interfaith couples where the mother is not Halakhically Jewish but the child has been raised Jewish and fully identifies as a Jew. For that child, it seems to me that the Bar or Bat Mitzvah could just as easily serve the role of a “conversion” as well: it is, after all, the moment where a young person assumes the responsibilities as a Jewish adult, and so a young person who was not born a Halakhic Jew but who is willing to assume those same responsibilities can, in my view, reasonably be said to have been accepted into the community as a Jewish adult.
Judaism is strengthened by our multiculturalism – the vast montage of human diversity and experience which is enveloped under the Jewish umbrella. We should be proud that we are a faith which for thousands of years (and through no small adversity) continues to exercise a pull on persons of widely divergent histories. I have no desire for Judaism to become a proselytizing faith. But in a world where different faiths and ethnicities interact and intersect like never before in human history, it is time for Judaism to adjust in how it embraces persons who – diverse though their heritages may be – are united in their identification as Jews.
(A table of contents will become available when the series is complete. You can find the rest of the series in the religion building tag.This series will remain open for additional posts.)
Part Eight: Varieties of Rituals
Ritual: an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite. (x)
Rite: a formal or ceremonial act or procedure prescribed or customary in religious or other solemn use. (x)
These two words get used sometimes interchangeably, however to get really nit-picky, the difference is that ritual is the patterned, recurring sequence of behaviors while rite is specifically ceremonial in nature. Ritual is the behavior, rite is the whole ceremony that is made up of ritual behavior. Okay, with that out of the way, my disclaimer is that I use them interchangeably and no one’s going to bite you for it. Rites and rituals are the crux upon which public and private religions are built, symbolizing beliefs and the values of the religious community. There are acts, manipulations of religious symbols, words, dance, sets, props, music, and “actors” that religions use to present the beliefs. Ritual is often based on myth, though arguments that myths are based on rituals, or that they are independent but interrelated. What can be agreed upon is that rituals can be classified in several ways:
why they are performed:
prescriptive rituals, which may stem from tradition or may be required by a deity and are performed on a regular basis
situational or crisis rituals, which are only performed as needed
when they are performed:
periodic/calendrical rituals, which are performed on a regular basis
occasional rituals (marriages, funerals, births, etc.), which are performed as needed
Types of Rituals
Technological Rituals: rituals attempting to influence or control nature, especially in situations which affect human activities and well-being.
Hunting & Gathering Rites of Intensification: rituals attempting to influence nature in the quest for food. These rituals are most often connected with seasonal cycles, planting, regulating food gathering, conservation, and social statuses that govern who can eat which foods. First fruit ceremonies, fertility, and gratitude rituals are the most common varieties.
Protective Rituals: rituals performed at the outset–or during–a dangerous activity to protect the participant(s) or community against disaster. These are common responses to sudden threats like insects, animals, and drought, and are often cast on boats, cars, trucks, and other forms of transportation for long journeys.
Divination Rituals: rituals used for the purpose of divination, such as oracle bones, tarot cards, etc.
Therapy & Anti-therapy Rituals:
Therapy Rituals: ritual whose function is to cure. These are often performed by traditional healers and may include such things as setting bones and the use of herbs.
Anti-therapy Rituals: rituals performed to bring about illness, accident, or death. Cursing or hexing are the most common words used in conjunction with these rituals. They are not usually okay to cast on the group of people the caster identifies themself as, but are absolutely okay to cast on outsiders.
Ideological Rituals: rituals that detail codes of proper behavior, promoting community solidarity, community worldview, and assist the community in managing crises.
Social Rite of Intensification: functions to reinforce the belief system and values of the society. These rites can be performed as a periodic or occasional ritual, often manifesting in times of stress.
Rite of Passage: occurs when an individual changes status within the community, assuming new kinds of appropriate behavior, obligations, and new relationships to other kinds of statuses. The rite serves to legitimize the new status and imprint it on the community’s collective memory. Birth, puberty, and death are the most common of these varieties. Rites of passage generally have three phases: separation, transition and liminality (or being in-between), and incorporation.
Salvation Rituals: rituals in which an individual is changed in some way, whether temporarily or permanently. Sometimes alterations to the body accompany these rituals including tattooing, piercing, scarification (this includes purposefully preventing the clean-healing of a wound to create a scar [sometimes by rubbing ash in the wound] or branding), alterations of the teeth (including knocking them out, blackening or otherwise coloring them, or shaping them), and other body modifications.
Revitalization Rituals: rituals associated with a movement that attempts to deliberately bring about change in a society.
Pilgrimages: a journey to a sacred place or sequence of sacred places, at which rituals are performed. These may be viewed as rites of passage.
And it’s especially cool that it seems to be reconstructable to the Proto-Indo-European religion. I’m still a little skeptical that it can be, although I find it more likely after recently reading about the Irish ceremony recorded by Geraldus Cambrensis:
There is in a northern and remote part of Ulster, among the Kenelcunil, a certain tribe
which is wont to install a king over itself by an excessively savage
and abominable ritual. In the presence of all the people of this land in
one place, a white mare is brought into their midst. Thereupon he who
is to be elevated, not to a prince but to a beast, not to a king but to
an outlaw, steps forward in beastly fashion and exhibits his bestiality.
Right thereafter the mare is killed and boiled piecemeal in water, and
in the same water a bath is prepared for him. He gets into the bath and
eats of the flesh that is brought to him, with his people standing
around and sharing it with him. He also imbibes the broth in which he is
bathed, not from any vessel, nor with his hand, but only with his
mouth. When this is done right according to such unrighteous ritual, his
rule and sovereignty are consecrated.
One thing I find especially interesting about the Ashvamedha (perhaps we should calque the name into PIE as *eḱumeydʰos) is the “status reversal” aspect of it. Apparently the chief queen in the Vedic ritual (the one who was supposed to copulate with the horse) was supposed to ritually plead for pity from the other queens, and the other queens were supposed to utter ritual obscenities at her during the act (so I’m guessing that pity was not granted). Similarly Geraldus talks about how the king was to be “to be elevated, not to a prince but to a beast, not to a king but to
an outlaw”. I wonder if the Proto-Indo-Europeans did think of the sexual aspect of the ritual as shameful (as the Hittites evidently did, even if they didn’t punish people for it) and it was meant as a kind of ritual humiliation—maybe as a kind of King Canute-and-the-wave-style counterbalance to the general meaning of the ritual which is all about, “hey, look at me, I’m an almighty king who can conquer the world.”
 Unless the animal “leaps on [its victim] (in sexual excitement)”.
 As far as I know there is no IE etymology for Sanskrit medha- ‘sacrifice’; I’ve just naively projected the shape of medha- back into PIE as *meydʰos.
Our Mother loves you more than you can ever comprehend and She completely affirms, adores and encourages your love of women. A lot of Neopagans (often unintentionally) perpetuate this idea that same gender love is okay but m/f love is the most ~sacred~ because of ~divine balance union~ or whatever terms they use. Just remember that your love of women is sacred in its own right, and it is not ‘unbalanced’ or any other heterosexist idea some Neopagans/New Agers perpetuate.