## Happy 2nd Birthday!

Today is the 2nd birthday of “The Shining Stranger” blog!  A big thank you to all the readers out there! If you are new to the blog I recommend you begin at the beginning and follow from there.  We are working through the book chapter by chapter. It’s hard to believe that we aren’t even a third of the way through Preston Harold’s opus. There’s still A LOT left to explore and ponder.  In the meantime, lift a glass and toast to the second birthday and to yourself for journeying with us. Have a great weekend!

## Reconciling Science and Religion, PART 2

Second Law of Thermodynamics – Increased Entropy
“The Second Law of Thermodynamics is commonly known as the Law of Increased Entropy. While quantity remains the same (First Law), the quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time. How so? Usable energy is inevitably used for productivity, growth and repair. In the process, usable energy is converted into unusable energy. Thus, usable energy is irretrievably lost in the form of unusable energy.

“Entropy” is defined as a measure of unusable energy within a closed or isolated system (the universe for example). As usable energy decreases and unusable energy increases, “entropy” increases. Entropy is also a gauge of randomness or chaos within a closed system. As usable energy is irretrievably lost, disorganization, randomness and chaos increase.”

Today, the supreme law, the “iron law,” in the physical world is seen to be the second law of thermodynamics. But it gives rise to a view of the universe and entropy’s meaning that is seriously questioned by many experts in various fields who suggest, indeed insist, that this law is correct insofar as it is stated, but that as yet it is incompletely stated or its meaning is misunderstood.

The second law of thermodynamics began to come into being with the first theory of the conversion of heat into mechanical work in the early 19th century. Rudolf Clausius was the first person to formulate the second law in 1850. Yet Jesus intimated the law poetically, from an inner aspect, in his teachings:

Jesus spoke of an “iron law”-that is, of a law that could not fail, and He indicated that all in creation is involved with and rests upon its operation. In the view of this study, He realized that man cannot understand himself until he also understands the natural universe of which he is a part and in which life manifests itself. He saw that in the psychic working of man a parallel to nature’s supreme law operates, and he described this operation in His descriptions of the workings of the kingdom of God, setting forth what might be called “secondary psychic law” as well as describing in poetic terms the most important of the secondary laws of physics. The “secondary psychic law” He enuncidated complements the law of Moses, which Jesus upheld, and forces a synthesis or the higher law of love when it operates in conjunction with the Ten Commandments.

Let’s look at some quotes from Jesus on the idea of law:

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

-Luke 16:16-17

Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled.

–Matthew 5:17-18

Preston Harold continues:

Jesus did not come to destroy the promise of the high ethic inherent in Jewish law…He came to fulfill this promise which flowered in his teaching… But his words must have referred to more and something other than the mass of rules and regulations which comprised “the law” of His day, upon which time’s accretions bore heavily. For having said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus, Himself, repudiated more than a “jot and tittle” of the Jewish law… In short, Jesus sets up so large a contradiction as regards “the law” of which He spoke in conjunction with the working of the kingdom of God that one must seek beyond the explanation of His upholding Mosaic law to find the full and deepest meaning of His words. Not until one compares His descriptions of the working of the kingdom of God with descriptions of the operation of the second law of thermodynamics, as will be done in the following chapter, does the parallel between the two concepts become apparent, albeit Jesus’ description is poetical.

But before we move on to the next chapter, we will make a brief detour to explore how Jesus’ teachings reflect the scientific working of light. Until next time, peace.

## Reconciling Science and Religion, PART 1

As we finish up chapter 5 of The Shining Stranger, Preston Harold gives us a preview of what is to come in the next couple of chapters. He asks:

Will scientific knowledge prove itself saving grace to man – elucidating in time the answer to the question, who and what am I?… Will science take the place of religion?

In his “First Principles,” Herbert Spenser writes, “Religion ignores its immense debt to Science; and Science is scarcely at all conscious how much Religion owes it. Yet it is demonstrable that every step by which Religion has progressed from its first low conception to the comparatively high one it has now reached, Science has helped it, or rather forced it, to take…” So science doesn’t extinguish religion but rather helps to purify it. But it works the other way, too…

One might say that all religions are undergoing the refining fire of the Bunsen burner. But so is science. Something as far beyond man’s grasp as God emerges as the “stuff” that energy and matter is made of – the mystery of it deepens with each scientific revelation… Einstein saw that the new physics may justly be called a theory of life, “for the general laws…claim to be valid for any natural phenomenon whatsoever.” Progroff looks to the new physics to open a new road, a new view, for psychology. But the theologian as yet sees little hope of reconciling orthodox doctrine with this science. Samuel Miller asks if a Christian can talk to people of God “when they find God quite unimaginable in a …world scientifically structured in iron law.”

It is this ‘iron law” and Jesus’ approach to it we will broach in our next installment. Until then, peace.

## Which Life?

So what did Jesus mean when he said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth this life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal?” Preston Harold says:

In largest sense, Jesus spoke as symbol of Authority-Ego, and when He speaks as symbol He is speaking from a different level of being than that of the ego-group… Symbol of “I” in man cannot accept the insufficiency of Homo sapiens’ consciousness and all that ignorance and error cause to be manifest in life. If man’s growth into a larger structure of consciousness is to be insured, Authority-Ego must lead the ego-group to hate the mixture of love and lust its limited certitude expresses. An adjustment to, a reconciliation with, an acceptance of such insufficiency as is now exhibited in this world would hinder the growth of consciousness, evolution’s goal.

Different levels of life are automatically implied if we bypass the English translation and go right to the original Greek in which the gospel was written. There are 3 different words in Greek that mean “life.” The first is pneuma, which can also be translated as “spirit” and refers to the mental disposition or rational soul. The second word is psyche, which means the animal sentient principal. The third is zoe, which connotes vitality. In Jesus’ statement, both psyche and zoe are used. Here is the statement with “life” being used as it is in the Greek:

“He that loveth his psyche shall lose it; and he that hateth his psyche in this world shall keep it unto zoe eternal.”

It is important to note that in Biblical terms it is the psyche that is subject to death, and to the extent that we identify with it we identify with mere temporality which closes off our consciousness to further development. We must not identify with our lower self, for if we do we will not inherit eternal life.

But notice the paradox here. The goal is to keep the psyche unto eternal life; to make it endure in a highly vital, developed state. In consciously denying the psyche in this life, in not following it’s every whim and desire, we are intentionally subjecting it to the process of death and resurrection which it must undergo to enjoy abundant life in growth of consciousness. If we can hold this tension within ourselves, we are promised to reap an abundant harvest.  Delayed gratification, anyone?

Until next time, peace…

## Jesus: Life’s True Artist

Preston Harold takes us through Jesus’ approach to life; what He sees as essential to having life in abundance. In a private correspondence Henry Miller once wrote: “It’s not that I put the sage or saint above the artist. It’s rather that I want to see established the ‘artist of life.’ The Christ resurrected would be such, for example.”

Harold says…

No theology, acting on command of or by the example Jesus set, may prescribe a stern approach to life, prohibiting eating and drinking of any food of liquid except on the ground that it is offensive to the one partaking of it; what offends one must be cast out of his life, but nothing that enters a man defiles him. Jesus was called glutton and drunkard. He did not deny that He ate and drank as He chose – He stated that wisdom vindicates ascetic or nonascetic practices:

For John the Baptist has come, eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a devil”; the Son of man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of taxgatherers and sinners!” Nevertheless, Wisdom is vindicated by all her children. –Luke 7:33

Jesus provided wine at the wedding of Cana… The teaching and practice of Jesus, however, does not invite drunkenness or gluttony. He teaches that there is nothing in life that cannot be used to further its joy and abundance when man has learned to control himself.

The richness of life must be leavened, and Jesus says the working or coming of the kingdom of God is leavening it. He saw that men must grasp the art of play:

To what then shall I compare the men of this generation? What are they like? Like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “We piped to you and you would not dance, we lamented and you would not weep.            –Luke 7:31,32

Music and voices call men into action – life calls, nature calls: dance, laugh, weep, join us!

Jesus reveled in nature. Any living thing was precious to him. He sought the open beauty of mountains and sea, the solitude of far places. He came also to the cities, the marketplace, the feasts, and to the temple. He allowed the extravagant. He aided the poor, but He did not extol the mean bone of poverty. He respected the Sabbath, but employed it to His own pursuits. He despised exhibitions of piety, vain repetitions, brutality and self-debasement. His was a total empathy, a compassionate rendering, an exquisite edition of the art of life.

Beautifully stated! But then comes a wrench in the spokes:

Jesus knew the very glory of life – knew that even the stones would shout it, if men did not. And yet, the Gospel of St. John presents an enormous contradiction as regards Jesus’ love of life in this world. He says:

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth this life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. -John 12:25

Against these words are posed the example He set and the statement that He came “not to judge the world,” but that man might have life abundantly… What then could Jesus have meant [by this contradicition]?

It is this we will tackle in our next post. Until then, peace…

## Not Funny, Jesus

“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” – Charlie Chaplin

Webster’s Dictionary defines “laugh” as:

intransitive verb

1a :  to show emotion (as mirth, joy, or scorn) with a chuckle or explosive vocal sound

b :  to find amusement or pleasure in something <laughed at his own clumsiness>

c :  to become amused or derisive <a very skeptical public laughed at our early efforts — Graenum Berger>

2a :  to produce the sound or appearance of laughter <a laughing brook>

b :  to be of a kind that inspires joy

Preston Harold observes…

Out of man’s struggle to describe life’s good and evil has come this reward, this divinely human attribute: laughter, which Meister Eckhart projected to be the impetus that brought man into being: “When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs back at God, the persons of the Trinity are begotten.” There is no deeper mystery than laughter. Is it lust innocently expressed? Is it passion so sublimely warm that tears must cool it, do cool it? In the view of this study, laughter is an expression of empathy. Laughter comes as saving grace in a host of situations.

Yet if laughter is a saving grace to us, why don’t the Gospels ever record a situation in which Jesus laughed? Sure, many people (including myself) can’t imagine Jesus not laughing and enjoying life to the full. Many artists have even depicted a “laughing Jesus.” We know Jesus wept, but we do not have an account of Jesus even smiling, much less laughing. Why is this?

Jesus did not laugh – did not smile so far as the record is concerned. The Gospel of St. John states that Jesus knew “what was in man.” Thus, he would have known what prompts laughter and the mystery of why He did not laugh is resolved… Jesus could not laugh; He could not risk that a fragment of the profound paradoxes He posed would be taken in jest.

So any laughing that Jesus did was “off the record.” But although Jesus didn’t officially laugh, he did offer up…

…that which has come to be identified with humor: salt. He said, “Salt is good…” and “Let there be salt between you…” Jesus calls God love and good; He calls salt good; it must follow that aggression gentled through humor constitutes an essential ingredient of love, and that hostility will in time lose itself in laughter…Jesus said, “every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” These words give promise that man shall become immune to that which corrupts and that humor is playing a redeeming role in life.

Salt is also a preservative. I like to think that our laughter is what preserves our divine humanity. Until next time, peace…

## An End to Sin?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… -John 3:16

Through his death on the cross, Jesus saves mankind from their sin. How is this to be understood? If empathy is putting ourselves in another’s place, what might be the ultimate act of empathy? Could it be experiencing the death of the other? Every human being has to die, and in Jesus God enters into this inevitable human fate, experiencing death Himself. Preston Harold says that with total empathy comes an end to sin:

When through experience all mankind has evolved complete empathy, sin will no longer be possible, for man’s empathy will cause him to instinctively withdraw his mind and hand from abuse of another – his understanding will not permit him to err, for he will pay sin’s wage in his own being before he commits it.

Just as Jesus payed sin’s wage in his own being, we are called to do the same. We must experience the sorrow we would bring to another in our own being before we offend against them.

Empathy in man brings its joy or sorrow – enriches or takes its toll of him now, as now flowers into the present and plants the field of the future in reaping the harvest of past planting. Love’s eternal reward and punishment is given before it is grasped – now. Upon that infinitely small point between the past and the future that cannot be captured or measured eternity rests, for both now and eternity are beyond the grasp of consciousness. Eternal punishment of sin rests with empathy, which makes a man recoil with horror at the evil he has done when he comes to an understand it in his being, and thereafter he forever recoils with the pain at the prospect of repeating this evil, recoils now as it arises in the mind to do this evil again.

And here we grasp the meaning of “eternal punishment,” the “now” moment we truly realize and experience through empathy the hell of the horror of realizing the evil that we do to one another. Yet empathy has another face:

Empathy is saving grace to man – it frees his past, frees his future. It is acting now in his midst. Homo sapiens is an empathetic “animal.” He is no mistake on the part of evolution. Jesus’ words say to the belabored man of the twentieth century who has come to doubt nature’s wisdom in evolving his species: there is the living voice of truth, life and love within you, and as you begin to express its power, glory, and empathy, it will say unto you, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Until next time, peace.