A Boy Meets the Angel Gabriel

Gabriel_from_Vysotsky_chin_(14c,_Tretyakov_gallery)

Angel Gabriel

archangel-gabriel2

Image of Gabriel courtesy of  Higher Density Blog

archangelmichael

earliest depiction of Archangel Michael 525-530 CE

Here is a beautiful account of a visit by an angel, which utterly changed the life of a teenaged boy. The boy comes to identify the angel as Gabriel. (See: Clancy, Robert. Soul Cyphers: Decoding a Life of Hope and Happiness. See also link below to interview).

During a period of anguish, when Robert’s will to live had slackened, a waitress soothed his distress by suggesting that he meditate and gave him a book on the topic. While meditating in his apartment, Robert saw a light, which emanated from no natural source.  The light transformed into an angel, which then touched his forehead, whereupon Robert entered into a timeless sphere. He knew that heaven is real and God is present.

Robert describes the angel: “She had the most Divine face I’d ever seen, beyond all the paintings and books I’d come across in my life—a pure, classic beauty. She was larger than a human—approximately six-and a half to seven feet tall, adorned in a thin, white robe, a simple braided rope around her waist, a delicate tiara seated on her head, and plain sandals wrapped her feet—exactly what you’d expect, but more. I could feel only pure love radiating through my body within her presence. The whole figure was ghost-like, shimmering white, and semi-transparent—almost as if she was made of light. She exuded a nobleness that made me feel like I was in the presence of royalty.”

He describes her wings and her kiss: “The perfectly formed wings stretched out nearly four feet from each of her shoulders. I focused on the details of every feather intimately as she slowly floated forward. I was nose-to-nose with her, and I leaned back as I became slightly cross-eyed to keep focused on her beautiful face. She then greeted me with a momentary kiss before backing up. I felt a love in my heart like no other I’d ever experienced in my life when she touched me.”

After the angel touches his forehead, between the eyes, Roberts dedicates his life to a path of service. The angelic figure disappears into a point of light.

Not everybody receives visits by angels in the same manner as Robert did — through the visual senses. Angels may make their presence known by other sensations, both subtle and ordinary,  by a pervasive sense of peace and joy, or by a euphoria that expands and uplifts one’s awareness.

While angels bring messages, as Gabriel brought a message to Mary, the mother of Jesus, likewise the very encounter of somebody with an angel will change him or her.  The angel offers love and protection as well as proof that heaven is real.

Here are some resources about angels: (see Links):

Article on Jewish Angelology

Angels in Literature

Angels: Encylopaedia Article

525 CE : Early Statue of Archangel Michael

Interview Robert Clancy with Karen Swain

Advertisements

Festival of Eternal Beauty (miscellaneous tributes)

On Christmas, we revere the Beloved, the Beautiful One  –

the Beloved God, adored by the the mystics:

Rabiʿa al-Basri (717–801), Muslim female mystic and poet,  composed this prayer, revered by Sufis:

Oh, my Lord, if I worship Thee from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,

and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me thence,

but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake,

withhold not from me Thine Eternal Beauty

(quoted in: Images of Jesus Christ in Islam)

*******************************************************

And our poets: (Dante)

“Heat cannot be separated from fire, or beauty from The Eternal.”

― Dante Alighieri

*************************************************

Aleksandr Pushkin

To the Beauty

She’s all just harmony and wonder,
Higher than passions and the world,
She rests, with her sweet shyness, under
Her beauty’s ritual abode;
She looks around self in silence:
There’re no contenders hers, no friends,
Our beauties’ circle, pale and blend,
Fades out in her dazzling brightness.

Wherever weren’t you hurry, yet,
Even to date with your beloved,
What sense with weren’t your heart upset,
Even with song of highest sound, –
But having met her in alarm,
You suddenly shall stop, embarrassed –
In ecstasy, like one of prayers,
Feeling the holiness of charm.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, December, 2001

***see end of post for recitation in Russian

**************************************************

Beauty takes the shape of Healing through Jesus:

On Jesus by Rumi

From the Masnawi (lines 298-363): by Rumi, mystical poet of Islam

(See blog post: Rumi and Jesus)

The house of Jesus was
the banquet of the followers of the heart
Oh, the suffering one! Don’t quit
his door.
From all sides people gathered
around his house
Some were blind, some lame,
and some insane.
Each morning they went to his door
So that their defects could be
healed by Jesus’ Breath
Jesus, that man of the good path,
would say his prayers
And would come out, seeing
many groups of sick and weak
people
Sitting and waiting at his door
of hope.
Jesus would say: Oh, the stricken
ones!
God has granted your needs and
cures.
The people would then walk,
with no pain and trouble,
Toward the blessings and mercy
of the Divine.
Like the camel whose chains
were lifted from their feet
The people would walk freely
and joyfully toward home.
They all were cured by the
prayers of Jesus.
And now, you, my friend!
Have you examined your own
defects?
Have you found a healthy state
of being
In the presence of the masters of
the good path?
Has your lame walking on the
spiritual path been cured?
Has your soul been free from the
sufferings and sorrows of this world?

***************************************

Beauty, which is God, shines through Christ and the beauty of soul, cherished and beloved by the lover, is contained within every human being:

“To love someone means to see them as God intended them.” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

” There is in the world only one figure of absolute beauty: Christ. That infinitely lovely figure is, as a matter of course, an infinite marvel.” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Letter to niece Sofia Alexandrovna)

(See Post on Dostoyevsky and Christianity)

***************************************

Look, too, at these beautiful Christmas cakes from India:

Christmas in Kerala, India —

Modern: Plum Cakes for Christmas in India

See Plum Cakes Christmas CelebrationKerala-Christmas-dish.jpg

Ancient Syriac Christians in IndiaMalabar_Christians_of_19th_century.jpg

***********************************************************

Russian Recitation of Pushkin Poem:

Here, at a technological school near San Francisco, a sculpture reminds us that Truth is Beauty too:

Truth is Beauty: sculpture  (See: Truth is Beauty Art)tib_about.jpg

 

 

Healing by Jesus and Reiki #2

 

japanese-madonna

Japanese Madonna

Hello Lightworkers,

According to Mrs. Takata, who helped to disseminate Reiki healing in the United States, the founder of Reiki, Mikaomi Usui, had been a Japanese Christian schoolmaster. He developed Reiki, in the late 19th century, at the prompting of a spiritual meditation upon the healing powers of Jesus. How did Jesus heal?

Mikaomi Usui pondered, also, the healing powers manifest among Buddhists. He prayed and fasted on a mountain in Japan, Kurayama, not far from Kyoto, in order to discover the secrets of spiritual healing.  There, a mystical experience occurred on day 21 of his retreat. He saw a bright light, which remained with him. Once he descended the mountain, his healing abilities were evident. He cured himself of a toe injury and a woman at a diner of a toothache.

Some historians of the movement say that Mrs. Takata, who brought Reiki to the USA after the second world war, in a climate of American prejudice against Japanese, created a legend about Reiki’s founder, so that it would appeal to Christian pieties. In fact, Mikaomi Usui had been scrutinizing Qigong methods, when he discovered Reiki healing modalities.5437109

Whatever the origins of Reiki, some Christians gain acquaintance with spiritual healing — including the healing powers of Jesus –through Reiki. These practices enable people to heal by “laying on of hands,” a technique practiced in the Bible by the early Christians.

Is Reiki a counterfeit version of authentic Christian healing? as some Christian evangelicals claim? See: Healing by Jesus and Reiki #1 Or: are Reiki and Christian healing both benign but only superficially similar? Again, does Reiki and energy healing come close to the kind of healing performed by Jesus himself and by Christians in his name?

12a4On the history of Reiki, see: History of Reiki and On the History of Reiki
For Christians who are beneficially influenced by Reiki or practitioners themselves, see : On Reiki and Christianity and Christian Reiki

Healing by Jesus and Reiki (#1)

Japanese Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Christians believe that the Japanese healing technique of Reiki is demonic. This judgment means (so I infer) either:

a) Demons give people the idea that something harmful (Reiki energy healing) is actually healing.

b) The use of Reiki healing methods invites demons into one’s life.

Both explanations suppose  the reality of demons, i.e. unclean or evil spirits, which cause confusion, chaos, and morally debased actions.

In the Youtube video below, please find the testimony of a former Reiki master, who meets up with a Christian evangelical group in Denmark, led by Torben Sondergaard.  (For a critical article about this leader see: Torben Sondergaard Article.)

Apart from the question of the efficacy of Reiki — which I will not evaluate, here — the video raises a serious scruple about the Christian teaching of this Danish evangelical teacher and his group, called the “Last Reformation.” The theology, underlying this critique of Reiki, is an extreme variant of a common viewpoint. If we do not accept the theological premises, we need not agree with its repudiation of Reiki healing modalities.

Case Study re: Reiki and Christian Theology

The larger theology of this evangelical group, the Last Reformation, contain some dubious premises.  The leader of this group argues, in the video below, that the Fall of Adam into sin characterizes our lives unless we accept Jesus Christ as savior and our baptism by the holy spirit. So far his theology sounds like a standard evangelical Christian teaching.

If we listen more closely, however, it emerges that the God against whom we sin in our pre-saved predicament (i.e.  before accepting Jesus) resembles a tyrannical demon himself. This part of Sondergaard’s theology seems to promote a God who condemns us to guilt and fear.

For instance, Sondergaard says that when we come before God at Judgment Day, because God’s holiness is absolute and unparalleled — (infinitely grander and vaster than any human virtue or goodness)– our every sin will sink us. No matter how much good we have done, it will be our sins not our virtues, and our evil not our goodness, that will be measured and judged.

According to Christian teaching, however– so it may be urged — God is infinitely good and wise. He or She rewards acts with the greatest mercy. Those who love God and have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, will obtain mercy. Though our sins be scarlet, he will make them as white as snow. Would a good and infinitely wise God really judge sinners in the manner of a tyrant or demonically angry Despot — as Sondergaard’s theology of intimidation suggests?

Is God Good or Vindictive? 

Is God himself a vindictive, suspicious, angry deity ? Such a characterization approximates the personality of a demon, according to  Webster’s Dictionary, whereby a demon is:

a) An evil spirit angels and demons;

b) A source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin.

The Pseudo-God (advanced by the Danish evangelist) seeks our harm, evil , distress, or ruin, insofar as anybody who fails to be baptized by the holy spirit and to recite the proper creeds will be condemned because of the slightest sin, no matter his or her goodness and righteous deeds.

If God is good, so is Reiki

It is surely lamentable that a Reiki master should fall prey to such a distorted preaching of the Christian Gospel. This kind of theology can make one suspicious of practices, like Reiki, which are either benign or innocuous in themselves.  If reject such a theology of intimidation, however, we may grant that God, being good, will offer goodness and healing in a variety of modalities, including Reiki.

We know a tree by its fruits. If the fruit is good (healing),  so is the tree (Reiki). The one who owns the garden, the good God, is supremely good, too.

Happiness and Healing : the example of Martin Brofman (1940-2014)

A puzzle about the Gospels: how does spiritual healing actually work? Did healing take place as described in the Gospels? and if so, how does spiritual — or specifically Christian healing — apply for our own day? Occasionally, we post about healers and healing (by spiritual means), in order to probe this question.

Martin Brofman (not a Christian) was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, while he was still a young man. He decided that if he had only a small time to live anyway, he would live his remaining days in peace and freedom. He began a quest for happiness, to mold his life according to his deepest desires.

In the process, he healed himself — against all the odds — and taught others to do the same. Surely, this interconnection between happiness and healing follows from, and confirms, a spirituality of abundant life and love. That is good news.

 

Crossing Cultures: Algonquin Bible (1663): First Bible Printed in the USA

Hello Lightworkers, and other spiritual non-conformists,

How do cultures and religions mix, so that each party has an equal standing with the other? May such free exchanges occur? Or does religion tend to take hold and spread only through conquest and rank aggression? As I will indicate, certain figures play mediating roles, between cultures, even in times of strife or warfare. Such was the case in colonial America.

Please note before we start that I am not an expert about this complicated and controversial episode in the history of North America. However, I am judiciously concerned to raise some questions about the history of missionary pursuits and intercultural religious exchange.

Throughout  US history, Indian culture and religion came to be curtailed and rudely suppressed by the government. There were massacres. Yet, episodes of equal exchange, mutual curiosity, and reciprocal aid, may have punctuated early Puritan history.  In the 1600’s, in fact, the English colonists in North America to the “new world” were often quite eager to find refuge, welcome, and hospitality among the Indians. In turn, the Indians may have been comparatively reluctant to assimilate to European ways. (See: Crossing the Cultural Divide: New Englander and Indians).

John Eliot, the 17th century Puritan, “apostle to the Indians,” who translated the Bible into Algonquin, an Indian language, undertook his work in collaboration with Indian allies. A biblical scholar, adept in translation and ancient biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek), Eliot had the linguistic ability to translate not only the Bible but also documents, called the Indian Library, which preserve Native culture for later generations and other cultures. Eliot may have served, also, to defend Indians against the more rapacious colonizers, among Eliot’s compatriots, who would seize and plunder their land. Eliot immersed himself in the culture of the Indians and learned Algonquin, a difficult language, so well that he preached in the Algonquin language, for the first time in 1647. He set up towns of Praying Indians, which governed themselves. He advocated for the Indians with the British King.

Many of the colonizers, and missionaries to the Indians, were exiles from their own homelands in England and the continent. They had lost their religious home. They were, themselves, deracinated.  Such was John Eliot. In the process of leading missions to the Indians, he was escaping religious persecution, directed at him as a “non-conformist” in his native England. If the colonizers knew persecution and violence first-hand, some of them – like John Eliot – refrained from inflicting the same on Indians in the new world –while others perpetrated such ills against them.

Indian figures like Squanto (who died in 1622), and Samson Occom (an Indian convert to Christianity and preacher during the Great Awakening), established concord with the Christian white people, although their peace and kindness were later repaid by betrayal–(at the hands of other men). According to the Life of John Eliot, the Apostle of the Indians, by John Wilson (1828), similarly one Indian named John, a Sagamore, requested of a Boston clergyman, on his deathbed, that his son might learn about the God of the English.

Conquest, kidnappings, and the cruel suppression of Native American cultures did occur in US History. Was the Algonquin Bible, however, a counterexample and a testament to amicable relations, across cultures?

Such questions cluster around the first printed Bible, in the Algonquin language, produced by John Eliot. The Indians he met in Massachusetts did not read or write. They relied on their spoken language.  Eliot taught them the English (Latin) alphabet. He then used this alphabet to transcribe, phonetically, the Algonquin spoken language.

Thus, the first translation into a Native American language of the Bible may exhibit a spirit of friendship, between the English and the American Indians, thus modeling a certain parity and amity. Some scholars do regard John Eliot as an inter-cultural mediator of beneficent impact (see: Eliot as Mediator). Eliot may have protected the Indians, and advocated for their rights, with his own more bellicose compatriots.

Below is a leaflet from the first edition of the Algonquin New Testament. Here is a reprint of the Algonquin New Testament: Algonquin NT. Dartmouth holds Eliot’s originals : Eliot Collection. Here is some information about religious persecution in Europe of the period: 17th century religious persecution

leaf_eliot1663

A Female Christ

Our devotional lives depend on the imagination. Through the imagination, God (or Spirit) appears to us in forms that arouse our yearnings and our curiosity. Why then is the contemporary imagination, pertaining to Jesus Christ, sometimes rather fixated on the maleness of Jesus? It was otherwise for early Christians.

This article discusses a report, from the second or third century CE, about a vision of the female Christ, which came to a female prophet. We learn of this vision from a church writer and heresiologist, Epiphanius. As I will show, while our historical sources are biased against female prophets and their visions, we may read between the lines or “against the grain” of the text. In doing so, based on partial and biased evidence, we may reconstruct the lives and beliefs of female prophets and visionaries in early Christianity.

Context

Epiphanius of Salamis in Cyprus (ca. 311-403) put together a book called Panarion (literally: Medicine Chest), in which he makes a collection of heresies (figuratively: diseases) and orthodox truths (figuratively: medicines).  He writes about the Montanists, a group which adhered to the teaching Montanus, a prophet, and Maximilla and Prisicilla, two female prophets. They lived in the mid-second century in the area of Phrygia (in modern day Turkey).

Their movement, at its inception, was called the “New Prophecy,” and it went through a number of iterations during the several centuries of its lifespan. Besides accepting females as leaders and prophetesses in their movement, the group were millenarian, who supposed that heaven would come to earth in the Phrygian city Pepuza. (See note for a link to more writings about the Montanist movement.)

In one report, Epiphanius argues against a certain off-shoot of this movement, called the Quintillianists. Their prophetess had a vision of Christ as a woman. Although Epiphanius does not favor this group – he conceives them to be heretics – we, as modern people, are free to examine the matter from their side. In any case, we have evidence, here, of the visionary richness of the early Christian movement.

To be clear, the vision of a female Christ that Epiphanius reports may not be a literal and accurate report. This church writer may have been defaming and slandering the group against whom he argues, by imputing to their female leaders a vision of the female Christ. Nevertheless, the passage is intriguing and may speak to the actual devotional practices of early Christians.

Text

Here’s the report from Epiphanius, Panarion 49.1:

.. The Quintillianists or Priscillianists say that either Quintilla or Priscilla (I am not sure which one, but one of them), as I mentioned before, slept in Pepuza and Christ came to her and he slept next to her and it happened this way according to the misled woman: “Christ came to me dressed in a white robe,” she said, “in the shape of a woman, instilled into me wisdom, and shared with me how that this place is holy, and that Jerusalem will come down from heaven here.” And, because of this, even down to this day, they say, that certain women and men also are initiated there on the site, so that those people can wait for Christ and see him [themselves]. They are women in this group whom they refer to as prophetesses.

Female Leaders and Scriptural Arguments

The female visionaries, described by Epiphanius, argued against the orthodox bishops of the period. The visionaries claimed that women should be ordained. They anticipated feminist arguments in later centuries by citing scriptural mandates for women’s ecclesiastical authority.

 Panarion 49.2:

  1. They use both the Old and New Testaments, and similarly say that they believe in the resurrection of the dead. Their founder is Quintilla, along with Priscilla who was also a prophetess of the Phrygians. The give many scriptural references which have no relevance and they give thanks to Eve because she was the first one to consume food from the tree of wisdom. They offer as scriptural support of their ordination of women as clergy the case of Moses’ sister being a prophetess. Beyond this, they say Philip had four daughters who prophesied.

The Bishop gives scriptural counterarguments.

Panarion 49.3:

Even though they ordain women as bishops and presbyters because of the example of Eve, they should listen to the Lord when he says, “Your resort shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over thee.” [Gen 3:16] And they have missed (perhaps on purpose) the command of the apostle which says, “I do not allow a woman to speak, or to have authority over a man,” [1 Tim 2:12] and again, “the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man,” [1 Cor 11:8] and, “Adam was not deceived, but Eve, deceived first, fell into condemnation.” [1 Tim 2:14 ]There is definitely abundant error in this world.

Conclusion

Even though Epiphanius portrayed the female prophets of the Montanist movement as if they were severely misguided—their beliefs were evidence for him of the “abundant error in this world”—nevertheless we are free to disagree with the Bishop’s opinion. Based on partial evidence and while correcting for biases not our own, we may surmise that these women spoke for a widespread and innovative variety of Christian spirituality, which flourished in the early Church. By considering their example, our own religious imagination may be enriched.

**Tertullian (155 – 240 CE), the North African Christian theologian, was an adherent to the New Prophecy. Later writers, of which there are a great number, argued voluminously against the Montanists.

For the text by Ephiphanius, and many others about the Montanist movement, see these archives: Montanist Archives

***For female Christ images see: Art that Dares