A Buddhist Father Christmas

The Listening Project is a BBC Radio 4 initiative that offers a snapshot of contemporary Britain in which people across the UK volunteer to have a conversation with someone close to them about a subject they’ve never discussed intimately before.

Just before Christmas Fi Glover introduced a conversation between a Buddhist Father Christmas and a Baptist chaplain about how they spend Christmas morning in the hospice. Another in the series that proves it’s surprising what you hear when you listen.

Support for Bhikkhunis

As part of our recent series of posts on secular Buddhism and mindfulness I mentioned the following:-

“A while back I ran a series of stories on the plight of Buddhist nuns in various traditions who are denied full ordination. Many have now achieved this, “illegally” according to their parent traditions. But they have done this by side stepping the established protocols of the purely Asian schools of Buddhism. They have separated and moved away and formed their own monastic settlements here in the West where they can enjoy the liberal, progressive freedoms denied them within the traditional, Asian context of Buddhism.”

Coincidentally yesterday I received an email from the Alliance for Bhikkhunis about how one can help them in supporting the establishment and growth of training monasteries, hermitages and viharas for nuns.

It is striking how this contrasts with the Popes recent assertion on the subject of female ordination.

Pope Francis said that he believes the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women becoming priests is forever and will never be changed.

He was speaking aboard a plane taking him back to Rome from Sweden, in the freewheeling news conference with reporters that has become a tradition of his return flights from trips abroad.

A Swedish female reporter noted that the head of the Lutheran Church who welcomed him in Sweden was a woman, and then asked if he thought the Catholic Church could allow women to be ordained as ministers in coming decades.

“St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands, this stands,” Francis said.

Francis was referring to a 1994 document by Pope John Paul that closed the door on a female priesthood. The Vatican says this teaching is an infallible part of Catholic tradition.

Christianity “Cured”

bible-store-jokeNow here’s one you may have missed.

The Disciple Shoppe Bible Bookstore in Emporia, Kansas USA put this quote in their window: “The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.”

The quote is attributed to Mark Twain.

You might also recall that back towards the end of 2013 retailer Costco had to apologise for labelling copies of the Bible “fiction” at a store near Los Angeles. A local pastor saw the bibles while looking for a gift for his wife.

All that on top of the banner that Acomb Parish Church in North Yorkshire were going to display this Easter which read “CHRIS IS RISEN”

………..until the printer spotted the mistake.

 

Christian Group Protests Meditation in York Minster

Senior clergy at York Minster have quietly introduced Zen Buddhist zazen meditation sessions. They are now a regular fixture, listed among the Minster’s main “spiritual” activities, alongside its Sunday school and youth group, and have been enthusiastically supported by the Dean, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull.

The York Zen Sangha meets on alternate Fridays at the Old Palace, in Dean’s Park, for formal sitting meditation, led by the Canon Chancellor, the Revd Canon Dr Chris Collingwood and supported by Fr. Patrick Kundo Eastman Roshi, a Roman Catholic priest and Zen master in the White Plum Asanga of the lineage of Hakuyu Taizen Maezumi Roshi. All are welcome to attend the sessions, which run from 6.30pm to 8pm.

As you might guess this has not gone down well with everyone. Andrea Williams, chief executive of the pressure group Christian Concern, said: “Buddhism contrasts sharply with Christian teaching about God. The two are incompatible. To try to mix them is deceptive and dishonours Jesus Christ.”

“It is remarkable that this is happening at one of the country’s best known cathedrals. The Archbishop of York must take swift action. This type of confusion undermines the Church of England’s current initiative to encourage Christian prayer.”

“It is sobering that last year a Canon of this same cathedral blessed the city’s ‘Pride’ march. The Church of England must take decisive action to deal with this radical agenda.”

As usual there seems to be a complete inability to separate technique from teachings. Just as many church halls ban Yoga classes because it will turn people into Hindus and Mindfulness teachers dare not mention it’s Buddhist origins.

Zazen is the practice of stilling the mind through wholehearted attentiveness to the breath. This steady attention coupled with the stillness of the body frees the mind from normal activities. Yamada Roshi, a great Japanese Zen Master said to all his Christian Students, “I am not trying to make you a Buddhist, but to empty you in imitation of your Lord, Jesus Christ.”

End of the World, Missed it Again!

Now just as I didn’t detect much in the way of World Peace on World Peace Day I’m not seeing much Apocalypse on End of the World Day.

You may remember that a week ago I quoted American christian activist Scott Lively’s homophobic rant about marriage equality legislation in the U.S. triggering the end of the world. It is all meant to start on Yom Kippur which actually started at sunset yesterday (ends sunset today). This all comes from the Book of Revelation in the christian bible which describes how an all loving, omniscient, omnipotent deity tortures and kills the vast bulk of the people and creatures on Earth, or allows this to happen (he’s got form, remember the flood).

And then makes it all nice for the chosen few who survive.

Trouble is Scott’s not the first to come up with the “we’re all doomed” scenario. The list is a very long one but here are some selected highlights……………

The first one, only 30 odd years after christ’s death, is 66–70 CE and comes from Simon bar Giora, an Essene. The Essene sect of Jewish ascetics saw the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66–70 as the final end-time battle before the arrival of the Messiah.

500 CE Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus and Irenaeus. All three predicted Jesus would return in
the year 500. One prediction was based on the dimensions of Noah’s ark (obviously).

992–995 CE Various Christians predicted that the end was nigh as Good Friday coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation; this had long been believed to be the event that would bring forth the Antichrist, and thus the end-times, within 3 years.

Now for the obvious one, the first Millenium on January the 1st, 1000. The Millennium Apocalypse at the end of the Christian Millennium. Various Christian clerics predicted the end of the world on this date, including Pope Sylvester II. Riots occurred in Europe and pilgrims headed east to Jerusalem.

Here’s a good one. 1284, Pope Innocent III (d. 1216) predicted that the world would end 666 years after the rise of Islam.

1346–1351, lots of people, time of the Black Death, obvious. (still didn’t happen)_

1555. Pierre d’Ailly, around the year 1400, this French theologian wrote that 6845 years of human history had already passed, and the end of the world would be in the 7000th year.

A familiar name, Martin Luther predicted the end of the world would occur no later than 1600.

And again, Christopher Columbus predicted in his Book of Prophecies (1501), that the world would end during 1656.

1736 Cotton Mather’s third and final prediction for the end of the world.

1836 John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, foresaw the Millennium beginning this year. He wrote that Revelation 12:14 referred to the years 1058–1836, “when Christ should come”.

Charles Taze Russell predicted the return of Jesus to occur in 1874, and after this date reinterpreted theprediction to say that Jesus had indeed returned in invisible form.

Charles Taze Russell, “…the battle of the great day of God Almighty. The date of the close of that “battle” is definitely marked in Scripture as October 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874.”

International Bible Students Association. In 1918, Christendom would go down as a system to oblivion and be succeeded by revolutionary governments. God would “destroy the churches wholesale and the church members by the millions.” Church members would “perish by the sword of war, revolution and anarchy.” The dead would lie unburied. In 1920 all earthly governments would disappear, with worldwide anarchy prevailing.

1972 Herbert W. Armstrong. The second of three revised dates from Armstrong after his 1936 and 1943 predictions failed to come true.

1982 Pat Robertson. In late 1976 Robertson predicted that the end of the world would come in 1982.

2000

Peter Olivi. This 13th-century theologian wrote that the Antichrist would come to power between 1300 and 1340, and the Last Judgement would take place around 2000.

Isaac Newton Newton predicted that Christ’s Millennium would begin in the year 2000 in his book Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.

Ruth Montgomery. This self-described Christian psychic predicted the Earth’s axis would shift and the Antichrist would reveal himself in this year.

Edgar Cayce This psychic predicted the Second Coming would occur this year.

Sun Myung Moon The founder of the Unification Church predicted the Kingdom of Heaven would be established in this year.

Ed Dobson This pastor predicted the end would occur in his book The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000.

Lester Sumrall This minister predicted the end in his book I Predict 2000.

Jonathan Edwards This 18th-century preacher predicted that Christ’s thousand-year reign would begin in this year.

2013 Aug 23. Grigori Rasputin prophesied a storm where fire would destroy most life on land and Jesus Christ would come back to Earth to comfort those in distress.

What will actually happen……………..

The sun will slowly expand into a red giant, pushing the Earth farther out into space, but not far enough.

Our home planet will be snagged by the sun’s outer atmosphere, gradually plunging to its doom inside the fiery stellar furnace.

“The drag caused by this low-density gas is enough to cause the Earth to drift inwards, and finally to be captured and vaporized by the sun,” explains astronomer Robert Smith of the University of Sussex.

Previous projections had all figured that the Earth would avoid falling into the sun, even during our star’s red-giant phase.

The good news: This won’t happen for another 7.6 billion years.

The bad news: Life on Earth will end long before then.

In fact, we’ve only got a billion years left before the slowly expanding sun boils off the oceans and reduces our planet to an uninhabitable cinder.

It’s the End of the World – AGAIN!!

American radical anti-gay activist Scott Lively is warning that if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favour of marriage equality, it could literally bring about the end of the world and the rise of the Antichrist in just a week’s time!
As Lively sees it, if gay marriage becomes legal we can all “expect some sort of severe judgement to fall on America in conjunction with this process” but the “coming calamity will almost certainly be a part of some larger act of God’s punishment on the entire world, most likely the Great Tribulation prophesied by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse,” signalling the “End Times”.

He warns that gay marriage will unleash the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which will take the form “gay theology,” war, famine, and a “massive harvest of the grim reaper” of the souls of all who have died in the chaos. That, in turn, will give rise to the Antichrist by late September, which will result in full-scale persecution of Christians and the end of the world:

According to the bible’s book of revelation after weeks or months of global chaos, when the nations are sufficiently broken and the peoples of the world desperate for a return to order, a hero will step upon the world stage to end the crisis. In the human context he will secretly represent the globalist elites who have planned and prepared for this opportunity to impose a new world order: a new global government with a new economic system.
In the spiritual context he will be enacting a Satanic plot to usurp the role and identity of the Messiah and gain the adulation of the world.

Wielding great military power this self-aggrandising human Saviour will force an end to war and impose a secular humanist paradigm and religious pluralism as a remedy to the various forms of “discrimination” which he will blame for the world crisis. Everyone will be given the choice (at first) to join the new order and gain immediate integration into its cradle-to-grave socialistic bounty. “Just sign this oath to reject and renounce all divisive and discriminatory beliefs and “supremacist” theologies,” he would say, “and take this mark of membership on your hand to receive free food, housing and medicine and all other benefits under our enlightened new order of tolerance and inclusiveness.” (Could this be someone we know?)

Now according to Scott Lively, the date on or around which this false messiah would emerge is,  Yom Kippur, September 23, 2015, the first day of the Jubilee — the day/year of liberation.

“Just as Christ began His earthy ministry by declaring the Jubilee in Luke 4:17-21, the false messiah would do the same, but in modern terms: “I hereby declare a global Jubilee of all debts, both public and private,” he would proclaim, “We are wiping the slate clean to start over on a foundation of social justice and cooperation.” He would not yet be exposed to the world as the Antichrist, but the Biblically literate would recognise him.


The fifth stage of the end-time chronology is persecution of the believers (Matthew 24:9), who, in this scenario, would be characterised as “black marketers” who refuse to support the new economic system and are thus blamed for its many inadequacies and hated by its adherents. Even as the rest of the world lauds its “saviour” and embraces his government, the Christian believers (and Torah-faithful Jews) would be increasingly reviled and hunted.
Under the Antichrist kingdom, Jerusalem (the centre of the universe for prophecy study) is described in Revelation 11:8 as “mystically called Sodom and Egypt,” implying in part that both homosexuality and pantheism (religious pluralism) define its culture.



I don’t think there is any question, Biblically, that the cultural celebration of “gay marriage” portends judgement from God. The only real question in my mind is whether it truly signals the imminent “beginning of sorrows” or is just another step in the path leading to God’s wrath at a later time. God is long-suffering, even to the most wicked of societies and He does not act until their iniquity is “full” (Genesis 15:16). 

If we are on the verge of “birth pangs” we will likely know it by Passover, but in either case we should brace for serious judgement on the United States in the form of natural and/or man-made disaster if the Supreme Court established sodomy as a basis for marriage under our constitution”.