The Joy of Jesus, by Doreen Virtue

Here are a few thoughts about Doreen Virtue’s book, The Joy of Jesus, which recounts her recent conversion to Jesus Christ, after having been a successful teacher (of new age spirituality), for some decades. I will list, first, what I find positive and admirable about her message. Secondly, I will make a couple of points in critique in light of Christian tenets.

Here’s what I admire about Doreen Virtue’s personal witness, her message, and her book.

  1. The Courage to Take a Stand: DV has fearlessly and courageously sought the truth. Upon realizing that Jesus is the savior — through a vision, prayer, and study — she has been willing to act upon her faith, even at risk to herself. She gave up her lucrative business, and her status, as a new age spiritual teacher in favor of a Christian evangelism for which she receives comparatively few rewards. This courageous example speaks volumes in favor of the life-changing reality of God that she describes.
  2. The Gospel is for Everybody (Finding/Seeking):  DV honestly and graphically recounts the emptiness (indeed, the torment) of a life that is dedicated to spiritual seeking, for its own sake. In her own career as a successful spiritual teacher (so, she confesses), she tirelessly tried to track down special or esoteric knowledge. Yet, if the prize was forthcoming, the pleasures were temporary and elusive.  She likens the promise of esoteric knowledge to Eve’s temptation: the shiny apple is the secret wisdom that will finally make one like God. Esoteric knowledge — or special wisdom — in new age circles can become a commodity and a badge of superiority.  By contrast, the gospel is at once fully satisfying and freely accessible– (the wisdom revealed to babes). If Christ exhibits the nature of God, then it is God’s nature to be generous, truthful, and forgiving.  We may touch God, in the here and now, and rather than searching, relentlessly and restlessly, for something to make us whole, we may find–and be found by–a limitless and loving God. Healed, we are whole.
  3. Joy: DV reveals, through her conversion, an encounter with Jesus Christ that fills the heart with causeless and boundless joy — no matter one’s trials and tribulations. We are all seeking such joy, aren’t we? As DV shows, through Christ, that joy is real.

Here are some points of critique.

  1. Guilt and Judgment: DV seems to believe that she was duped and deceived by the devil up until her conversion and her meeting with Jesus Christ. Yet, against this self-castigating narrative, it may be urged that the Christian gospel is about forgiveness, which releases one from guilt. In the light of forgiveness, one may see the beauty — and truth — that have been present, even while one has been hindered by various vices and sins.  Surely, DV had lots of good things to say, in her earlier books, even if she made some “mistakes,” when measured against her current standards of belief. While writing her books about angels, and portraying Jesus as an ascended master (rather than as the unique Son of God), DV showed an enthusiasm for spiritual things, and curiosity about various ideas, which inspired many.  These gifts ought not to be so sternly condemned. Guilt toward self, furthermore, gets transmuted into judgment toward others. For instance, DV believes that hell is real and that theological universalism is misguided. So, anyone holding these beliefs, so she judges, must be deceived and duped, just as she used to be. Surely, Jesus embraced theological pluralism, on a number of points, even if he also preached certain universals (such as the Great Commandment). Heterodox opinions do not amount to grave sins.
  2. Biblical Literalism: I honor DV’s respect for the Bible. Yet, to lapse into rote biblical literalism is to take the easy way out when faced by controversial or difficult passages. For instance, DV claims that God (through the Bible) condemns mediumship and witchcraft. Yet, Jesus himself was accused of magic and of being in league with demons. These accusations against Jesus were argued on biblical grounds –which draw upon similar passages (from Deuteronomy) as those on the basis of which DV derives her biblical prohibitions against mediumship. If Jesus (the Son of God)  “broke” such biblical rules himself — or if he was suspected of doing so– then perhaps the biblical rules, here, are liable to be misinterpreted. Could it be that the surface meaning of the Bible needs to be probed, more carefully, so that a deeper truth will emerge? Biblical doctrines about hell are equally complex and open to interpretation.

DV’s book, The Joy of Jesus, is available as a free PDF download on her website.

 

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Asia Bibi : Christian Jailed in Pakistan

Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian

The Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was arrested and jailed in 2009 for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammed. She was sentenced to death.

In fact, Asia Bibi extended hospitality and friendship towards her Muslim coworkers by sharing water and conversation. Rumors then circulated, and false accusations, claiming that she had defamed the prophet of Islam.

Asia Bibi’s case has been appealed. She has been waiting (in jail) for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hear the case and render a final verdict.

Jesus fought for Spiritual Freedom : Lightworker

Jesus himself was accused of blasphemy for claiming to be united with God. No matter our religion, all of us have the right– like Jesus–to enjoy such intimacy with God. We ought to openly declare or speak about our faith, peacefully, without incurring retribution by a dogmatic orthodoxy or a strident majority.

Not Just about Religion but about Human Rights

While Asia Bibi’s imprisonment involves persecution on religious grounds, her case goes beyond sectarian differences between religions. Instead, the case puts on trial freedom of speech and basic human rights.

Pakistan, a country which claims to protect religious minorities, ought to uphold the freedom of a person (Asia Bibi) to speak and associate freely with Muslims even while practicing her own different culture and mode of faith.  Is one free, respectfully, to declare one’s own faith (as a Christian) without thereby being accused of allegedly insulting the religion of the Muslim majority?  The charge of blasphemy, if it should ever be legitimate, is illegitimate, here.

This case has not to do with protecting a Christian person, merely, but rather with the democratic right of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

More Information about the Asia Bibi Case 

A journalist risked her life so that she could get Asia Bibi’s story. The book can be found here: Blasphemy: A Memoir

Here are updates about her case:

Update Asia Bibi Appeal Pakistan

Prayer Support 2018

When Prophecy Fails (or Seems to)

2012 Prophecies: the Shift 

What ever happened to the golden age, which was supposed to be impending, long predicted by the Mayans and other ancient seers? On December 21, 2102, it was said, we would shift to a higher dimension or the 5th dimension. Suffering would dissolve, at least for those who cooperate with the process.

Since the world did not transform in an instant, in the aftermath of the shift predicted for 2012, many explain that no miracle had ever been predicted. A new heaven and new earth would not suddenly descend and be made real. Quite the contrary, the shift predicted would be an ongoing and gradual one.

Can’t you feel it? We are living in a new time, a quickening, aren’t we? The prophecy has come true, at least for those who have a heart to experience it.

A statement that can meaningfully be true, in logical terms, must be falsifiable, capable of being true or false. Prophecies are not always falsifiable which means that they cannot, necessarily, be verified logically.

It may be that prophetic speech is less like a prediction – which can be verified and falsified — than like a warning, which people may heed or ignore.

Biblical Prophets: No-Win 

Biblical prophets have faced a dilemma from at least the time of Jeremiah. If a prophet’s teachings are accepted because they prophesy good times and prosperity, they are likely to be false; the prophet has conjured an auspicious forecast in order to flatter the ruling establishment and to garner popularity for him or herself.

If the prophet forecasts doom, however, he or she may be regarded as a false prophet if the doom and disaster do not happen as planned. Under such conditions, it may seem that the only way a prophet can earn a reputation for accuracy is by forecasting a horrible fate that, in fact, transpires just as foreseen — (in which case, naturally, the prophet suffers because he or she will be assaulted and attacked for stating a dire predicament from which none can escape).

No wonder many prophets argue and protest when they are called to the office of  prophet!

Biblical Prophecy: Prediction or Warning?

The prophet’s fate may be rosier if he or she gives others the chance to repent and change their future.  Prophecies may be intended less as predictions than as warnings.  Does the prophet predict a future that will happen with undeviating precision? Or are prophecies aimed at moral reform, in which case the prophet serves to alert people that they ought to change their ways, lest there be unfortunate consequences?

The latter option — that prophecy aims at repentance and a change of heart — makes sense of the prophet’s role as a grim supervisor of morality.  If a painful outcome is avoided, the people may have been fairly warned and may have changed their ways in order to avert the negative outcome. Conversely, if the golden age has not yet arrived, perhaps people must change their hearts before being capable of receiving it.

So what do you think, Lightworkers? Did we undergo a shift or turn of the ages with 2012? What does that prophecy mean to you? (Send along your thoughts.)

See this classic treatment of failed prophecies:

http://Book: When Prophecy Fails 1956 Online Full Text

See this article about the prophecies of Nostradamus at the millennium. The article discusses Delores Cannon, one of the prophets of the new age.

1996 article on failed doomsday prophecies

God and UFO’s

Dear Lightworkers,

In previous posts, we’ve delved into the testimony of a researcher whose conversations with extra-terrestrials (Arcturians) have resulted in a spiritual philosophy and even a new understanding of Jesus Christ.

Today, we go beyond such individual reports to look at how the Church as an institution is accommodating our galactic friends.

Now that the New York Times has produced an investigative report on the Pentagon’s UFO program (see: NY Times on Pentagon and UFO), it is thought-provoking to consider the theological implications of extraterrestrial contact.

The Vatican’s Br. Guy Consolmagno replies to such questions on his blog, The Catholic Astronomer (see: Vatican’s Brother Guy). See also this summary article (Summary Article on ET’s and Interdisciplinary Research).

Consider, too, whether Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus might have been caused by a falling meteor (see article: Falling Meteor on Road to Damascus).

Be like a Child

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14

What makes a beloved childhood adorable, to so many of us, may be the child’s exuberance, creativity, playfulness, and imagination. A child’s emotional honesty is also compelling. While adults harbor complicated infatuations, children respond to kindness with openness and generosity — from wherever it comes. Although children will shrink from cruelty,  usually they keep no record of wrongs (unless their trust is betrayed) nor do they play the victim.  Adults hold grudges, propelled by self-righteousness and victimization.

Feelings flow through children: sadness, anger, or boredom can give way, relatively rapidly, to joy, peace, and rapt interest. If only the hearts of adults were not so frozen over by despair, disappointment, and even (occasionally) deceit, they might regenerate their joy in life,  easily.  Children, attracted by a joyful heart, would visit them, unhiindered, to play games or to rest and to be renewed.

Besides the expressive and emotional qualities of children, which are enlivening and rejuvenating, the miracle of a child is that he or she enters the world already equipped with an intact personality and innate gifts. How do such well-formed persons emerge from invisible dimensions? Biology can trace the material foundations of life, and describe the human person in terms of DNA, without ever touching upon the mystery of the incarnation of life (in earthly and visible from) from a transcendent source (which is heavenly and invisible). Astonishing.

Children generally show a benign indifference to their own limitations — (at least until they are much older or until they are socialized to inhibit themselves). For instance, one child I know draws elaborate maps of neighborhoods in his native city. After doing so, every afternoon, he moves onto singing while making videos of his performances. After these activities, he has a snack and takes a rest. Next, this curious child mops the floor of the kitchen. Fascinated to experience this thing, too, he slides on suds of soap. What may be a chore to an adult is fun and a game for a child. The child reads or acts out a skit. At dinner time, he helps the adults to cook by cutting vegetables.

By way of contrast, consider how adults behave.  Clutching to their talents and contributions, adults develop an identity in the world from which to derive their  self-esteem. In the longer run, this identity may deprive them of spontaneity and joy.

Let us suppose that an adult proficient at maps becomes an engineer or graphic design specialist. Thanks to awards, this hypothetical person gets jobs based on such skills. Once commodified, however, the skill in question is liable to become something clung to for fear of loss. Furthermore, as the engineer in question compares his or her talents to those of others in the field, this act of comparison may tempt her or him to indulge in arrogance or envy.

Once talents are defined, owned, and commodified by people and economies, people can become burdened by their gifts by losing flexibility. The graphic designer with expertise at visual art holds him or herself back from performing songs: “After all, I’m a graphic artist not a musician. And by the way, I will hire somebody to mop my floor and cook for me since those chores are no fun.”

Let us as adults become like children. We shall move to the center of our being– to that spontaneous, creative place. Letting go of ideas of who we are, and who we should be, we dispense with limiting beliefs about our talents and our deficiencies. We explore our joys and interests. Experimental, playful: such are qualities of children. Freedom.