We have more in common than we think, only if we knew.
This fraternal order pertains to the universe, the human race, and definitely religion, which is the beacon of hope for all—slave and master, oppressed and oppressor. For it sets free the mind of the enslaved. It gives the master the God given right to enslave. It mitigates. Even forgives Hitler. In it, one can hate themselves and love their enemies. But this depends on where one is born. Therefore religion is a product of ethnicity—which is the state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.
Lugubriously, language, culture, nationality, and context are every religions’ smoke and mirrors. Clarified this means that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, among others, though appearing to be each other’s nemesis are subcutaneously of the same family. But many would beg to differ that Christianity, for instance, has much in concert with any so called primitive religion, however, self awareness steps in to settle the debate, and when this occurs what was initially believed to be windows are unearthed to be, in fact, mirrors.
In humans, self awareness occurs at 1 – 3 years of age. “The child begins to know her own name and refer to herself by name. The child will begin to look in the mirror and realize she is looking at herself. She will also make clearer her own likes and dislikes, needs and wishes” (Psychology Today). Likewise, when one begins to mature—by in depth study—in the precepts and concepts of their religion, they’ll begin to observe obvious similarities in other belief systems. One such similarity is the antiquated practice of human sacrifice. So I hypothetically asked someone, “do you believe in human sacrifice?” Then silence was followed by cognitive dissonance. Then the creative excuse arose out of the need to reconcile such odious barbarism. This process involves romanticizing one version of human sacrifice but lambasting all others.
For instance, Gotquestions.org writes,
“The Bible makes it quite clear that God hates human sacrifice. The pagan nations that surrounded the Israelites practiced human sacrifice as part of the worship of false gods. God declared that such “worship” was detestable to Him and that He hates it (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10). Furthermore, human sacrifice is associated in the Old Testament with evil practices such as sorcery and divination, which are also detestable to God (2 Kings 21:6).”
But then they write,
“So, if God hates human sacrifice, why did He sacrifice Christ on the cross and how could that sacrifice be the payment for our sins? There is no doubt that a sacrifice for sin was necessary if people are to have any hope of eternal life. God established the necessity of the shedding of blood to cover sin.”
Necessary? If necessary, then not desired. That is to say, Christ—God’s word in human form and God according to John 1—was reluctant to go to the cross and consequently tried to pray himself out of it. This suggests that the Son of God considered human sacrifice unreasonable.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” ~ Luke 22
Like the self aware child, Jesus was able to make clearer his own likes and dislikes, needs and wishes to his father, but if I were him I would’ve reminded Yahweh of what he had said in Hosea 6:
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Part Two: More Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and mirrors plague historical narratives. For instance, to make U.S. slavery appear less heinous, many historians, that usually share the same hue with the enslavers, humanize them.
“Despite having been an active slave holder for 56 years, George Washington struggled with the institution of slavery and spoke frequently of his desire to end the practice”(Ten facts about Washington and slavery).
Similarly, preachers tend to justify the legitimate slavery in the Old testament’s Law. Let’s listen to Gotquestions.org again:
“What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics; it was a matter of social status.”
However, what follows will show Yahweh’s O.T. slavery to be just as harsh as slavery in the New World. He differentiates the Hebrew that sold himself to another Hebrew from the foreign slave that was purchased with legal tender:
“If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves…Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God. Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly” (Leviticus 25), but you can rule over foreign slaves ruthlessly? Hence Yahweh’s slave codes were just as harsh as the slave codes of the antebellum south, or Rio, or Trindad, or Spanish Florida.
Furthermore, I’m quite puzzled that in 2018 I’d have to write about the inconsistencies of human sacrifice and slavery. What kind of person makes sense of such institutions? They are A, the very filth of this world, or B, the deceived.
Part Three: Deception—When what you see isn’t what you get
Smoke and mirrors may entail an explanation or description that is not true or not complete and is used to hide the truth about a situation. In short, it is meant to deceive.
It is certainly sad that while we were yet innocent our peers unintentionally deceived us. —We’d learned to take the Bible literally before we were literate. Then as we aged we’d began to notice that society, in general, still believed in what I now call the metaphorical Biblical accounts that had failed to explain the so called metaphysical world, and as a consequence of them still believing we kept believing too, for we thought if they’d still believed then the scriptures, specifically those unbelievable verses, must’ve been true. This, coupled with society’s idea of an omnipotent God as the genie in a bottle, made the unbelievable morph to the believeable.
So we became Christians.
Subsequently some of us barely went to church or studied the Bible, while others, as myself, were devout. Then we, the devotees, questioned the validity of the scriptures, not so much verbally, but mainly in the mind. But God never replied. Because being without an answer brought us to the cliff of insanity, we made up few, and they were paltry, ludicrous and unsatisfying, and came along with even more questions. Frustrated, some of us became unbelievers or explored alternative religions, while others, willing to face many ubiquitous theological challenges, went on to become great preachers that, although remaining Christian, weren’t biblical literalist. For instance, on taking the Apostles’ Creed(i.e. the Divine Sonship of Jesus, his bodily resurrection, and virgin birth) literally, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes:
“It is this creed that has stood as a “Symbol of Faith” for many Christians over the years. Even to this day it is recited in many churches. But in the minds of many sincere Christians this creed has planted a seed of confusion which has grown to an oak of doubt. They see this creed as incompatible with all scientific knowledge, and so they have proceeded to reject its content. But if we delve into the deeper meaning of these doctrines, and somehow strip them of their literal interpretation, we will find that they are based on a profound foundation. Although we may be able to argue with all degrees of logic that these doctrines are historically and philosophically untenable, yet we can never undermind the foundation on which they are based”(What Experiences of Christians Living in the Early Christian Century Led to the Christian Doctrines of…).
In other words, those who’ve decided to listen to their inner voice aren’t alone.
In closing, I would like to express that it isn’t my intention to denigrate but uplift you, the reader. You are smart. Wise. Intelligent. And you may feel that something is questionable about your beliefs, for if you didn’t, then why read this? I suppose that you are searching for truth, but you and I both don’t have all the answers quite yet, if that were ever possible. So where do we go from here? I’d say we should continue to look in the mirror since in it we’ll see the commonalities between mankind, for it is much easier to love your neighbor as yourself if you see them as yourself.