Monday, 31 December 2007

Xenophobia, Racism, and Antiracist Hysteria

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female”, declared the Apostle Paul, some 2000 years ago; but to this day, few have taken notice of him. The bitter truth is that people love their racism. 

What is racism? Basically, racism means any distinction based on race or ethnic origin that results in the persecution or the restriction of human rights of groups that are discriminated against. 

The racist ideology or, rather, pathology, is abhorrent and condemnable under any circumstances and excuses. Unfortunately, there are still more subtle forms of racism, as e.g. against women - in certain cultures and religions more than in other ones - racism against old people, disabled people, the poor, the ugly, and even racism against people living in a particular locality of the same country. 
However, xenophobia, which is usually a reaction to mass and uncontrolled immigration, is not exactly racism, at least it is not the worse expression of racism. This is my opinion, anyway.

Xenophobia is an age-old universal phenomenon, as it stems from man’s basic animal instincts and/or simply from pure common sense. It has to do with the powerful instinct of self-preservation...

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Christianity’s slavish attitude

How many practicing Christians are conscious that their attitude towards God is one of slavery, beggary, pitifulness and unworthiness? By feeling totally inadequate and appealing to God as ‘Lord’, thereby reducing oneself to the status of a ‘servant’ – ‘doulos’ (slave) in the Greek N.T. – is not exactly an indication of humility before the Almighty. It is rather a symptom of helplessness and defeatism such as a slave feels towards a cruel master. 

In the liturgical texts of traditional Christian denominations, the phrase “Lord have mercy” appears innumerous times. “Lord have mercy”, plead the Catholics and the Protestants after every other phrase that is uttered during their liturgical services.
But even if that were the right way to be absolved from the guilt of sin, pleading once would be adequate. An over and over parroting repetition of the same request is unintelligent and hence useless. On the other hand, by reminding God some verses from the Bible, supposedly being his own words, in order to oblige him to show mercy is an attitude of distrust and doubt of his kindness.

Instead of getting on with working to put right what we have done, or has gone, wrong, whenever this is possible, Christians endlessly cry for Mercy! Mercy for what? Mercy to avoid the consequences of...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The Bankrupt Educational System

In the era we live in – an era of bankruptcy of ideas, principles and values – the educational system has been the first to be infected by the lethal virus of confusion as to what is right and wrong, logical or absurd, beneficial or harmful for individuals and society as a whole. 

Contemporary educational system is the great patient of our day, whether we admit it or not. And because our educational system is ailing, society is critically ill. 

The question now is: who is going to cure whom and how? One patient cannot heal another patient. How could a corrupt state transform a corrupt educational system? The puzzle is like the chicken and the egg. A sick chicken (state) cannot bear a healthy egg (educational system), and vice versa…
Any enlightened and wise individuals that might exist have been unfairly pushed into obscurity, as their words, sharp as a sword, are threatening to the corrupt political, economic and religious establishment of their country.

Instinctively, however, governments know that an effective educational system is a prerequisite for a just, orderly and affluent society, and occasionally make some feeble attempts towards its reformation and restructuring through new legislation and by diverting more money into the budget of the Ministry of Education. But alas, it is all in vain! Neither laws nor money can save the great patient…

Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Ultimate Art of Being Human

It is well known that the eccentric Cynic philosopher Diogenes, who had a passion for virtue and natural living, was walking around in the daylight with a lighted lantern. When asked why he was doing it, he used to answer, “I am searching for a MAN”. Apparently, even in Diogenes’ days, true men, i.e. human beings with a virtuous character, were something scarce. 

An anecdote about him says that one day he called out for men in order to teach them. When people gathered, Diogenes started hitting out at them with his stick, saying, “It was men I called for, not scoundrels.” 
What was Diogenes looking for? He was looking for people who had realized their true spiritual nature and had submitted their ego with its petty desires and carnal appetites to the dictates of their Higher Self.

Being born in the family of Hominidae, i.e. being a bipedal primate having language and the ability to make and use tools, does not automatically make one HUMAN. Far from it! Possessing humanoid features does not in itself guarantee that one thinks, speaks, feels and acts as a HUMAN...

Dilemmas in Praying for an Organ Transplant

Let me start by stating that if I believed human beings were just their bodies and that consciousness ceased at the moment of death, I wouldn’t be writing this article. There would be no ethical dilemmas with organ transplantation, and the donation – not the selling – of one’s organs to a fellow human being would be a highly altruistic gesture. I ought to mention this as an introduction to the following.

At times of crises and human tragedies or ‘trials’, believing in a personal, omnipotent and all loving God is comforting and soothing, while in many occasions is even saving. However, any unpleasant outcome leaves the praying Christian,...

The Magical Ritual of Transubstantiation

I had no intention of sparing time and energy to write an article on the blasphemous and provocative Orthodox doctrine and rite of the alchemy of ‘Transubstantiation'. Many researchers have already elaborated on this subject extensively. 

Besides, I used to believe that this ridiculous doctrine was but a harmless belief of pagan origin, which over the centuries had become embedded in the collective subconscious of the deceived “Christian” flock, and it was next to impossible to be uprooted from those who stubbornly refuse to reason. 
However, by reading the ailing Archbishop Christodoulos’ recent interview to the Greek paper “Ethnikos Kiryx” (“The National Herald of New York”) on the 29th of July 2007, I realized that the subject is more serious than what I thought, and thus I was prompted to write something about it.

It appears that even a well-educated and intelligent man, as is Archbishop Christodoulos, not just practices,..

Gems of Wisdom from M. Aurelius’ “Meditations”

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is one of my favorite readings. Every time I return to this book, especially when my heart is in turmoil over something, I find germs that pacify my soul and uplift my spirit. 
I sincerely believe that this philosophical work is invaluable – a source of spiritual energy – and it should be included in the curriculum of educational institutions. 

Recently I strongly felt the desire to devote an article to M. Aurelius’ Meditations in which to quote excerpts form the best – in my opinion – and most practical of his thoughts. To make his maxims more intelligible, I will classify them per subject and edit them so that they may speak directly to us. I have translated from the Greek edition of the book, published by I. Zaharopoulos – Library of Ancient Writers.

--There is one Universe made up of all things held together with a sacred bond, and one God pervading all things, and one material substance, and one Law, i.e. one Reason common in all intelligent beings. 

-- Constantly regard the Universe as one living Being, having one substance and one Soul; and keep in mind that everything which happens has reference to one Consciousness, that of the Universe; and all is done with one Energy, and all things are causes of everything that happens; observe also the interconnection of all things and the deeper interweaving of happenings. 

-- The intelligence of the Universe has a tendency toward social life. Therefore it created the lower beings for the sake of the higher ones, and it has fitted the higher for close cooperation with each other. 

-- The substance of the Universe is compliant and convertible; and the Intelligence that governs it has no cause in itself for doing evil, for it has no malice. 

-- Contemplate deeply on the close connection of all things in the Universe and their relation to each other. In a way, all things are interdependent and friendly to each other. 

-- In the Universe, the intelligent Power that made all things, and to which they conform being held together by Nature, is and remains within them.

-- The art of life is more like the wrestler’s art than...

Internet Forums: An Outlet for Hidden Bigotry?

Let me start with the question: What does ‘discussion’ or ‘dialogue’ literally mean? The Greek word for discussion is ‘συζήτηση’, which means ‘to seek together’. 
To seek together what? Obviously, the truth about a matter, what is wise, just and beneficial for all, or what is the best solution to a problem. 
Another Greek word for ‘discussion’ is ‘διάλογος’, a composite word formed by ‘δια’ (across) and ‘λόγος’ (logic). 
In other words, a healthy ‘discussion’ should be the exchange of logical arguments, opinions or beliefs, in order for two or more people to seek together the truth about an issue and, if possible, to agree on a course of action. 
In the ideal ‘διάλογος’ (dialogue), respectfully, unbiasedly and critically, two or more people exchange thoughts, verbally or in writing, so that they may help themselves and each other to get to the truth of a matter. 

My question now is whether the way most ‘discussion boards’ operate promotes reflective dialogue on various ideas and topics or if most of those ‘discussions’ have been reduced to a pitiful outlet of bone-breaking bigotry. From observation and personal experience, I am afraid the latter is the common practice, just as it usually happens with face-to-face discussions.
Let us see now what is the literal meaning of the English word ‘discussion’. The word comes from the Latin ‘discussus’, which is the past participle of the verb ‘discutio’ that means ‘to smash apart’, ‘to shake’, ‘to break up’.

It also means ‘to divide’, ‘to strike asunder’ and ‘to disperse’. Apparently, the term ‘discussion’ fits perfectly to what is usually happening in the ‘discussion forums’! Most people participate in those boards with the intention...

The Delusion of the “Second Coming”

I was stirred to writing this article when I came across an Internet site entitled, “The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, as revealed by the Spirit of God to Steve D. Pardue”. 

My dilemma was in which category should I classify such an article. It would suit perfectly to the categories of Entertainment (horror story), or Humor (black) and, of course, Religion. 
The modern prophet from Nederland of Texas, USA, warns: “It is time to prepare the Bride for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!” So, excuse me please, this article would also be suited to the category of Dating. Can you see my problem? 
Unfortunately, there are millions of Christians who suffer from the same illusion, i.e. expecting Jesus to come back and sort out the mess we have made in our planet by destroying the wicked (all of us except the “saved” Christians) and “binding” the “Devil” for one thousand years!
If you think about it, talking about a “Second Coming” implies that Jesus is absent and inactive since his supposed bodily resurrection, enjoying himself somewhere out there in “Heaven”. It also implies that Jesus in his resurrected body – which is also spiritual since, according to the Christian Creed, is of the same substance as the Father and the Holy Spirit, although he supposedly rose literally in the flesh – does not have the ability and power to intervene in human affairs,...

Messages Through Visions and Dreams

I very well know a lady, let us call her ‘Sofia’, who, at some point of her life, sincerely turned to God and consequently she had experienced a complete change of life, likes and dislikes. In the beginning of her transformation Sofia was a regular churchgoer, and she accepted as truth all that was preached by Evangelical ministers, although some of it halfheartedly. 

One thing that couldn’t easily go down her throat was the doctrine of Trinity and the worship of Jesus. She had a feeling that by worshipping Jesus as God through hymns she was committing a grave sin. She considered this as a direct violation of the first commandment and she wasn’t in peace when people in the Church prayed directly to Jesus. Needless to say, she did love Jesus and she wanted to follow his steps, but deep in her heart she would not accept him as equal to God. Yet, she had not found the courage to share it with anyone.

One night Sofia had a clear vision that carried a profound message with it. As she was asleep, her room was flooded with white light and Jesus with radiating countenance, dressed up in a white robe, came and stood by her bed. Sofia jumped out of bed and knelt down to kiss Jesus’ feet and worship him. But before she did what she intended to do, Jesus lifted her up with his hands and embraced her warmly, as two cordial friends would do. He smiled but said nothing to her, and in a few moments he disappeared from Sofia’s room as suddenly as he had appeared.

Soon afterwards an ugly monkey jumped on Sofia’s neck and grabbed her shoulders...

Is Morality a Universal Constant?

Are there such ‘things’ as absolute moral principles? Some say ‘YES’, some say ‘NO’! 
Is there such a ‘thing’ as objective morality? Some say there is, while others say that morality is subjective and relevant to culture. Who defines what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’? 
Religious people say that it is God; others say that it is society. 
Is morality a universal constant or is it an evolutional variable? Does morality have its origin in religious dogma, so that what is considered ‘moral’ in one religion could be labeled as ‘immoral’ in another one? And if this is the case, which religion is ‘right’ and which is ‘wrong’? 
Are, then, moral rules some cultural man-made ‘products’, i.e. subjective concepts, or are they universal values? In other words, are cultural rules and laws based on subjective or on objective morality?
The forgoing, and many other questions concerning morality, have been the object of discussion among philosophers and social reformers since the beginning of human history. However, there has not been a unanimous conclusion, and, I am afraid, there is never going to be a universal consensus on the crucial matter of morality. In my opinion, this is not because people are unable to perceive absolute morality, but mainly because they do not want to know the truth, lest their freedom be restricted and their selfish ephemeral interests be hampered. As a result, in our culture many immoral things have been labeled as ‘moral’ because it so suits people.

Nowadays personal choice tends to be the criterion of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. If one chooses to indulge in sexual perversion and hedonism, this automatically makes it ‘right’ and ‘moral’. If a woman chooses to abort her fetus, this makes abortion ‘right’ for her. She has the right to choose, so she claims, ignoring the right of her helpless fetus to life. When society produces things that harm the consumers’ health, and it does that for profit, this is considered to be ‘right’, providing that there is a feeble warning on the product, as with cigarettes. I could go on and on in the list of immoral things that our culture considers ‘right’, but I guess I have made my point.

It is my firm belief, on which I have concluded after a long, unbiased and painful personal quest, that absolute or universal morality does exist, and it is the sum total of all spiritual laws set up by the Creator since the beginning of creation. These spiritual laws,..

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Common Sense: The missing ingredient of our culture

There is no doubt that today all nations undergo an unprecedented unrest, violence, injustice and poverty, and people are plunged into fear, worrying about the dreadful "gifts" the future is speedily bringing upon them, due to man's rape of the environment and other self-destructive practices, in his endeavor to find happiness through the gratification of one's instincts and senses.

All this is stemming from man's confusion as to what is right and wrong, what is beneficial to individuals and what is harmful to them, and where true and lasting happiness is to be found. The once upon a time ethical values and principles that held families reasonably together are now questioned and often fought against vehemently.

In my opinion, the main reason for this chaotic and frightening situation to which we have arrived is the fact that human beings do not use their common sense, i.e. the basic function of our brain which would allow people to reasonably communicate with each other and societies to establish solidarity, abundance, peace, justice, law and order.We need look no further than common sense. And yes, we ought to judge the validity of attitudes and re-examine even age-old practices, whether political, religious or social, using our common sense.

Common sense means the reasoning that is common to all healthy minds; and it is only this common reasoning that could bring harmony to interrelationships, societies, nations and the world as a whole.
It is this common sense that will lead us to a universally acceptable morality, i.e. nearest to the absolute morality, which is indelibly written on man's conscience.

Instead of setting up one's own subjective morality, we should be seeking and conforming to the objective morality, i.e. to the universal age-old principles revealed to humanity through sages and philosophers - principles that are friendly to logic and common sense.

Old rusted religious and political beliefs that are partly responsible for today's chaotic situation in the world must be reviewed, modified or totally discarded. It is not easy, I know. But this is what humanity needs to do, if the world is to avert the worst that is coming...

Worship: The Ladder to Heaven

Worship is the noblest form of prayer, and the highest quality of worship is achieved in silence. To put words into praise, thereby submitting it to the limitations of human language, is to impede reaching the ultimate exhilarating experience of true worship. 

Indeed, there are no words to adequately express what the heart feels while the mind is contemplating the greatness of God and, in gratitude and admiration, it beholds the awesome beauty of Creation. 

True worship is to lose oneself in the vastness of the Universe; true worship is to feel one with everything that exists and be greatly grateful for it.

Genuine worship is an ideal state of being whereby the human spirit is merged with the Universal Spirit and all man’s desires cease to exist. There is nothing more to want, nothing better to dream for! True worship is a state of being, not an act of will. You cannot determine when and how to worship God in the right manner. There aren’t any effective rules and instructions about it. Real worship appears to be initiated by Grace from “above”. When, why, we don’t know. None of us is so holy as to deserve the mergence with God. This is why true worship is usually accompanied by a deep feeling of regret for the wrong things we have done – acts that harmed us and others, grieved our spirit, and broke the harmony of the Universe.

True worship is a joyful experience that lasts for a few minutes at a time, because the awesome energy...