October 10, 2017

Will God Survive Science?

Today I heard Dan Brown being interviewed on the CBC radio program "Q". He is the author who stirred up a lot of controversy with his book called The Da Vinci Code. Now he has a new one entitled Origin.

Mr. Brown commented that one of the big questions facing humanity is: "Will God survive science?"  I jolted at that question. Unexpectedly it brought to my attention, once again, how different the world seems to a mystic.

For me, it is a matter of whether religion will survive science, not God. Science is merely a tool used by human primates to get at the true nature of the reality in which we are situated. No doubt Homo sapiens has been able to use knowledge thus acquired in astounding ways. But, to entertain the idea that our species can actually escape from the Law governing our organic predicament is very revealing.

Don't you think it is about time for all of us to hold up a looking glass for honest self-inspection? We have got to stop coveting illusions about our omnipotence or face extinction. Technological advancement and character development are separate aspects of the human animal. If we dare to face the truth about our own humble position we get to see that humans are barely domesticated primates with lethal weapons.

Too many of us lack a conscious awareness of our own psychological processes. I am not saying that it is easy to escape the stranglehold of one's own subjective frame of reference. Nevertheless, an accurate assessment of one's own thoughts and actions is what is required of the human animal. And that, is what religion was meant to deal with. With this in mind we can see how far off course our religious institutions have taken us.

We have reason to be disappointed in our religious organizations. They have not been very successful at prodding Homo sapiens along the evolutionary ladder. And now, it really does look like our cognitive science has come up with some very effective tools to help the human primate turn his gaze inward so that he can deal with his inner beast.

Everything has its day. Maybe the religion we have known, and in some cases learned to distrust, has taken humanity as far as it can. But does this mean we should be throwing out the baby with the bathwater?  Can we re-purpose our religious institutions for the evolutionary task at hand?

Regardless of  the fate we choose for religion, let us refrain from imitating the folks of Genesis 11 in the Bible. In order to make a name for themselves they built the tower of Babel; and then, they watched as The Almighty made sure it crumbled to the ground.

Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks

                                     Pic: Badhoo/Dreamstime.com

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October 5, 2017

Man's Number is the Beast's Number

I wrote this poem about 20 years ago. My fond desire is for it to be worked into a reggae classic one day. It can be found in my book entitled Thoughts From A Contemplative Beast: The Paradigm Shift For The New Millennium.      Happy Thanksgiving Canada


Sheila Banks

                                                                                                                       Pic: Localist/Dreamstime.com

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August 21, 2017

Puniness in the Awesome Scheme of Things

Fortuitously the cosmos has lined up a celestial event that speaks to the puniness of humankind. Hopefully this amazing event will spawn a lot more humility on Earth. In recognition of the solar eclipse of August 21st I am posting a poem I wrote years ago. It gets at that feeling of puniness in the awesome scheme of things. It can be found in my book Thoughts From A Contemplative Beast.
Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks

In the Ever-flowing Universe

Exterior to all the clamour and the glamour
a sliver of a silvery moon hangs in the balance.
Where the hills kiss the night sky,
the crimson glow of the horizon
declares the position of the setting sun.

As the Earth turns,
that great ball of light and heat
suspended in a star-studded void,
plays out its part in the cosmic fire dance.


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August 3, 2017

Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt

" That repose (new world) which you are waiting for has come,
 but for your part you do not recognize it. "
                                  Jesus Christ - The Gospel According to Thomas

I am astonished at those who dismiss the importance of Thomas' gospels. I guess they don't know that scholars now believe these documents do in fact date back to the very beginnings of the Christian era. These gospels, along with other Gnostic scriptures, were tucked away safely in the Egyptian desert (Nag Hamadi region) for nearly two millennia. It was not until 1945 that jars housing these leather-bound papyrus codices were unearthed by a farmer.

Until this find these ancient manuscripts, that were buried about 45 years after the murder of Jesus, had not seen the light of day. What this means is that no one had a chance to put to flame the parts of this collection that they did not like. No one had the opportunity to censor any of the ideas that didn't fit with particular views. And most fortuitously, no one had a chance to send into obscurity important insights Jesus shared with Thomas.

Thomas, one of Jesus' apostles, has been portrayed as a skeptic of sorts. However, his doubts about the resurrection didn't stop him from making important contributions to our knowledge about Jesus. After all, it was through Thomas' gospels that I came to see that Jesus' take on things was very much in line with what I had a glimpse of during my mystical union.

During my encounter with the Almighty I came to the realization that the human body is in fact a domestic animal. In my mind's eye I could see that our species is barely domesticated and in need of an upgrade. So you can imagine my surprise to discover later that Jesus, two millennia ago, preached these facts to his inner circle. 

What astonishes me even further are those I meet who can't grasp the fact that we humans are primates. "I have been created in the image of God" or "I am an animal plus"say the many. There is this tendency to focus on how evolved our species is all the while ignoring the obvious about our bestial origins. We need to realize that we are animals in an ecological context.  

In fact, right now we need a global acknowledgment of our species' humble status within the scheme of things. If ever we are to emerge from our current chaos we must have a rethink about our place in the universe. There is no escape from the Law that governs our organic predicament. When we pollute the water there is nothing to drink. If we traumatize children we get maladjusted adults.

At this juncture in Homo sapiens' evolutionary ascent  we humans are being called to undergo a transformation of consciousness by making a shift in our paradigms. The peace and harmony we all long for will remain a pipe dream as long as we neglect to cultivate the kind of genuine humility Christ prescribed for us two thousand years ago. 

Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks

                      Pic:Chapel at Magdala, Israel

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July 27, 2017

A Call to the Flower Power

The Electric Church

One last shot of Jimi's finger magic,
poured out through his wailing guitar,
will alert the psychedelic zombies to
the spirit vibrating across the airways.

The voodoo hippies will awaken
to the call for a new renaissance strong,
but no longer graced with Janis
hot at the microphone.

The children of love will again
rise up, as they no longer need
a resurrection of John Lennon's
imagination to spur them on.

The slumbering flower power will awaken
to destiny and descend like an angel
to infuse one more hefty dose of love.

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June 19, 2017

Homo sapiens On The Brink

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight,
 let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number.
                                                                            Revelation 13:18
                                                                                                 The New Testament 

Apocalypse is a term commonly associated with end time scenarios. In ancient Greece it meant "an uncovering", a disclosure of knowledge or revelation. Well, we just have to tune into the 11 o'clock news to get a taste of what is being revealed these days: 
Chaos in American politics and plans for more war in the Middle-East. A trumped up hostility between USA and Russia despite the co-operation President Trump hoped for when he first took the job.  An insecure and immature leader in North Korea working on nukes while terrorizing his own people. Tribal wars ongoing in Africa and the Middle-East. Militant Islam holding the world hostage. Failed states in Central and South America. Corrupt politics everywhere. Women and children still seen as sex objects by the alpha males. And, this lengthy list doesn't even speak to the environmental disasters in our midst.
Really folks! What genius came up with the idea of reformulating liquid soap to include plastic micro-beads? And, the fact that such products are allowed on supermarket shelves says volumes about our regulatory bodies governing consumer products. Now that I know the fish are eating this plastic I don't think I will be ordering seafood any time soon. 

If ever we are to turn this ship around and put Homo sapiens on a more sane trajectory we need to reconcile with the facts about our species' humble status. We are primates and very deluded ones at that. Many of us just aren't seeing our organic predicament clearly. As a result, we have 
very insistent people intent on building an oil pipeline over an aquifer that nourishes millions of people and countless wildlife. I wonder what the folk suffering the consequences of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico think about this risky plan. 

The construction of nuclear power plants over fault lines and the refusal to rethink vaccines now that our electron microscopy reveals mycoplasma contamination speaks to just how deluded this species really is. Right now, at this point in history, the facts about our humble status as primates are being uncoveredAnd, if the truth be known, the fate of our species is dependent upon our collective response to this revelation. It can only be the meek who will inherit the Earth just as Jesus the Christ revealed two thousand years ago.

Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks


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April 15, 2017

The Miracle Yet To Come

Recently I had the good fortune to travel to Israel. I went on an eleven day group pilgrimage across the Holy Land. Our itinerary was all about following in the footsteps of Jesus.

The pace was hectic but worth it. We saw one architectural marvel after another as we toured the many cathedrals that are now on sites known to have been touched by Jesus and/or his disciples. These "holy" spaces are filled with spectacular mosaics, stained glass and other priceless works of art. Words cannot relay the beauty that is there to be seen.

Another delightful aspect of our Israeli tour was the visits to a number of archaeological ruins. Excavations have made it possible to see what the towns and places, familiar to Jesus, would have looked like in his day. In the archaeological park at Magdala there is a first century synagogue in which Jesus actually preached.  These snapshots in time reveal just how rustic and physically demanding life was for Jesus and his followers.

Throughout the journey our extremely knowledgeable tour guide relayed copious amounts of information. Armed with a degree in theology, Peter did an outstanding job at showcasing the Christian history of Israel. And, he freely shared his knowledge about art, architecture, religion, archeology, geology, politics and geography. I must say by journey's end I felt as if I had taken a university course.

It should come as no surprise that in the Holy Land there is much ado about the miracles Jesus was said to have performed. Breathtaking shrines, ancient and modern, have been built upon the spots where the magic occurred; and, the tourists flock there. But, according to historical records Jesus was not the only rabbi stunning the crowds with a magic show. At that time there were many others vying for the title of best miracle worker. Why is it then that Jesus ended up in the history books instead of some other rabbi?

For centuries Christian leaders have claimed that Jesus' message is the superior one. Even when studies in comparative religion have revealed that Jesus' teachings reflect a perennial wisdom found in other cultures, some continue to hold up Christ's miracles as evidence of Christian superiority. I wonder how many of these people would change their tune if they realized that miracle-working was simply part of Jewish culture during the first century. 

Many of today's folk believe that there has been much ado about nothing when it comes to Jesus. With reason as their litmus test they balk at what they see as far-fetched tales of virgin births and resurrections of the dead. These fantastical fabrications, rather than bedazzling modern people into becoming a part of Jesus' flock, do just the opposite.

I am of two minds when it comes to Jesus' miracles. Like many scholars, I realize that there has been a lot of implausible attached to the this phenomenon. However, if the association to miracle-making is what it took to ensure Jesus remained an important historical figure, then I am glad of it. I am glad of it because humankind thus far has not been ready to hear the real message Jesus was intent on delivering. If the intrigue about Jesus had not been maintained how likely is it that we would still be talking about him these days?

Thankfully, the real deal about Jesus was not lost in the sands of time but rather preserved by Thomas, a disciple of Christ.  And now, Thomas' take on Jesus is available to be understood by all of humanity. His gospels, that date back to the earliest of times in Christianity, were tucked away in the Egyptian desert with a collection of other Gnostic manuscripts until 1945.

Through Thomas we find a Jesus who wants us to confront those bestial aspects of our human nature that cause so much ignorance and suffering.  "For the body is a domestic animal. Therefore, you must go about perfecting yourself." commands Jesus. Jesus is asking us to self-regulate in such a way as to weed out aggressive tendencies and delusional beliefs that operate by virtue of our animal origins.

Consequently no matter how mesmerized we remain by miracles and magic, without the acknowledgment of the dysfunctional aspects of our animal nature the ascent of humankind is not possible. Without our humility the human primate is sure to continue with war and rumors of more wars. The real miracle, then, is that Jesus knew this and was willing to be crucified so that the rest of his species, at some point in the future, could know this too.

Happy Easter 2017

Faithfully yours,
Sheila Banks

 Stained glass in Israel

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