May We Be Beloveds

may we be beloveds

Deborah Koff-Chapin shared this image, titled “May We Be Beloveds” as a gift for the holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States.

800px-wampanoag2 may we be belovedsMay we be beloveds! The English pilgrims, led by John Carver, and the Wampanoag, led by Massasoit, enacted a peace treaty in April of 1621. It is something of a miracle that there were already fluent English-speakers among the Wampanoag, Samoset and Squanto. There were a number of provisions as to how peace might be maintained. The treaty was more than a peace treaty, it was a mutual defense agreement. Governor William Bradford wrote ““This treaty was scrupulously observed on both sides as long as Massasoit lived [until 1661]…”

May we be beloveds! Am I even allowed to say the word “Thanksgiving” without contemplating the war that erupted after the death of noble Massasoit? Is it a miracle that any treaty lasts between two nations after the individuals enacting the treaty have died?

Signing_of_Treaty_of_Ghent_(1812) May we be belovedsMay we be beloveds! The US and Great Britain have been at peace for almost 202 years.

EntenteCordiale May we be belovedsMay we be beloveds! England and France have been at peace for 112 years.

Camp_David,_Menachem_Begin,_Anwar_Sadat,_1978 May we be belovedsMay we be beloveds! Israel and Egypt have been at peace for 38 years.

May we be beloveds! Just getting along isn’t good enough for me today. Deborah Koff-Chapin’s image inspires me to pray.

May we be beloveds!
May the very word “alone”
Weaken with each heartbeat,
Grow tiny, dim, unknown.

May we be beloveds!
Forgiveness, fully flow!
May the fearful frown be
Forgotten, let it go.

May we be beloveds!
May ancient enmities
Melt into the dancing
Of newfound harmonies!

May we be beloveds!
Oh, may it be ever so!
Blessing of beloveds,
Oh, let it grow and grow!

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

I Wish To Recall Peace Much More Than War

Japan-2013-1008_web-lrg I wish to recall peace much more than war

The New Message from God teaches that our world is emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. Students of Steps to Knowledge, like me, are instructed to take an inventory of our thoughts and feelings regarding such an idea. As I pondered this, what came to me is that in order to make this transition successfully, humanity must overcome its divisions of ethnicity, nationality and religion. I’m not trying to say they should be erased, but I am trying to say they should not be considered worthy of killing people and breaking things. If I believe this, then I wish to recall peace much more than war.

I wish to recall peace much more than war

I have a modest proposal. I consider war memorials to be part of the problem. Even a victory is a funeral. Both China and South Korea condemned the recent visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine was condemned as a justification of war And yet, people need a way to remember the courage and gallantry of their countrymen who served in war.

I wish to recall peace much more than war. If it were up to me, I would put a statute of limitations on war memorials. I would require that war memorials be removed a certain number of years after the war began. For example, I would require that all American Civil War memorials be removed, as all the combatants are long gone. Why do we wish to look fondly on a failure? We should not celebrate a war, even if we won; we should rather regret that we were not able to prevent the war in the first place. Abraham Lincoln expressed this sentiment to a certain degree in his Second Inaugural Address.

“On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.”

I wish to recall peace much more than war. And yet, it has been brought to my attention that as an American, I have a certain interest in letting the past speak freely, without filtering or censorship. Therefore, perhaps my original proposal isn’t such a hot idea. I have a second proposal, and I hope this one is better. The proposal is to create memorials to peace treaties between nations. Here are some examples.

Signing_of_Treaty_of_Ghent_(1812) I wish to recall peace much more than warI wish to recall peace much more than war. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814, ending hostilities between Great Britain and the United States. The United Kingdom and the United States have been at peace for over 201 years. Now that’s something to celebrate! I would like there to be monuments to that peace in both London and Washington. Furthermore, I would like there to be memorials in places related to the war. Since the United States attacked Canada during the War of 1812, I believe the city of Detroit, so close to Canada, would be an excellent location for such a peace memorial.

entente cordiale 1904 - 3 I wish to recall peace much more than warI wish to recall peace much more than war. On April 8, 1904, the United Kingdom and France signed the Entente Cordiale (“cordial agreement” or “cordial understanding”) ending centuries of hostility and rivalry. The United Kingdom and France have been at peace for over 111 years. Now that’s something to celebrate! I would like there to be memorials to this in both London and Paris. I would like there to be memorials to this in Dover and La Havre. I would like for April 8 to be celebrated in England and France.

Camp_David,_Menachem_Begin,_Anwar_Sadat,_1978 I wish to recall peace much more than warI wish to recall peace much more than war. On September 17, 1978, Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David Accords, ending 30 years of various levels of hostility between the two nations. Israel and Egypt have been at peace for over 37 years. Now that’s something to celebrate! I would like there to be memorials to this accomplishment in both Jerusalem and Cairo. I would like there to be a memorial somewhere along the border between Israel and Egypt. I would like this day to be celebrated with bourekas and rugelach, with roz bil-laban and qara’ ‘asali..

I wish to recall peace much more than war. I believe you get the idea. I realize this is a dream at this point. Of such I dream, my world! And yet, it is a beautiful dream. It is a little dream on the way to the greater dream of a unified humanity. I hope that when you see me, you will find me working on this dream.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Will We Repeat The Errors Of The Past?

The Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. Will we repeat the errors of the past?

At the time, it was called “the Great War,” or “the World War.” It is now called World War I. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo. The assassin was Gavrilo Princip, a young man obsessed with the Serbian national cause. This started a chain of events, assisted along by a number of bad decisions and miscalculations. The result was one of the deadliest and most destructive conflicts in the history of humanity.

Will we repeat the errors of the past?

Humanity is approaching the centennial of the start of World War I. A number of historians are taking the opportunity to re-examine various issues of that war. I am pleased to report that Oxford historian R. J. W. Evans (who has his own World War I book) has conducted a “reviewpalooza.” Evans wove his own understanding into a review of six different recently published World War I books. His article inspired me to look up information on certain details, and I came away with a few things to share.

Serbia was experiencing success on the battlefield. This was something that was not stressed in my education. In the First Balkan War of 1912-1913, Serbia and its allies (Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro) defeated the Ottoman Empire. The prize of that war was almost all the European territory of the Ottoman Empire. When Bulgaria demanded a larger share of the spoils, Serbia was on the winning side in the brief Second Balkan War of 1913.

Austria-Hungary was experiencing success in statecraft. This was another thing not pointed out in my education. Austria-Hungary took advantage of turmoil in the Ottoman Empire, and unilaterally annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. I looked for any negative consequences experienced by Austria-Hungary for this, without success.

Alliance is transitive. That is, when one country allies with another country, they also ally with the other allies of that country. I have mentioned the Entente Cordiale of 1904 between Britain and France as a good thing in this space. The Entente Cordiale became the Triple Entente in 1907 when Britain and Russia signed the Anglo-Russian Entente. In 1914, Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia. Russia came to Serbia’s aid. Germany declared war on Russia and France. I would really rather not say that the Entente Cordiale was one of the causes of Britain entering World War I, but there it is.

World War I was catastrophic for Serbia. Between late 1915 and early 1916, the Serbian army was forced to retreat to the Adriatic Sea, where they were rescued by British and French naval forces. At the time of that rescue, they were down to roughly 20% of their original strength. There was also a large number of civilian casualties. The minimum number people agree upon was 1,000,000 total casualties, or almost a quarter of Serbia’s population.

World War I was catastrophic for Austria-Hungary. The Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire was dissolved into a number of states which more closely matched the ethnic groups in its territory. As far as I can tell, the Habsburgs never ruled another nation.

When the shooting stops, the historical revisionism begins. All the major players (except Russia) engaged in creating accounts of the run-up to World War I. These accounts portrayed the actions of those nations as more reasonable and more justified than perhaps they really were. Has the war just moved to another battlefield?

Will we repeat the errors of the past? I pray that I will learn. I pray that we will learn.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Dreaming Of A Unified Humanity

Dreaming of a unified humanity

I have had a conversation with one of my children, who will be called “Child” for the purposes of this blog post.  This conversation took place over the past couple of years in various times and places.

Child: Dad, what would you do if you knew you could not fail? (I believe Child heard someone ask this as part of a motivational speech.)

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar would tell you to believe in your dream.  Dreaming of a unified humanity

Me (without missing a beat): I would unite the warring tribes of humanity. (Out of all the times that question is asked, I believe that response is rare, but there it is.)

Me: Have I told you about Joan of Arc? (I have other children, and I forget which speech I have given to which child)

Child: No, what about her?

St. Joan of Arc dreamed of a unified France, living at peace with England.  Dreaming of a unified humanity

Me: Well, she lived in France in the early 1400’s, during a time when France was divided between different groups, and oppressed by England.  When she was 13, she began to experience inner voices speaking to her, whom she identified as St. Margaret, St. Catherine, St. Michael, and others.  I consider these voices to be the voices of Joan of Arc’s Teachers, who are first mentioned in Step 22, “I am surrounded by the Teachers of God” of Steps to Knowledge. (Child is aware that I am studying Steps to Knowledge, and also recognizes that it is a relatively unknown, out-of-the-ordinary text at this time.  Out of filial piety, Child regards my study of Steps to Knowledge with polite, inquisitive skepticism.)

When she was 16, the voices encouraged / insisted / commanded her to help Charles VII of France.  She demonstrated instances of inexplicable knowing which caused people to take her seriously.  She was well-known for helping the French lift the siege of Orleans in 1429.  About a year after that, she was captured, tried for heresy and witchcraft, and burned at the stake.

(The instances of inexplicable knowing included (among other things) her awareness of the French defeat outside Orleans in February of 1429, her knowing the location of the sword buried behind the altar at the church of St. Catherine, and her communication to Charles VII which conclusively settled the question of the legitimacy of his birth.  No, I didn’t say all these things to Child on this one occasion.  I believe the term for this is a “composite.”)

Child: Couldn’t the angels have put out the flames and broke the ropes when she was being burnt at the stake?

Me: Maybe, but instead they helped her to be brave, forgiving to her killers, and faithful to what she knew to be true. (I blew the chance to say “If the angels put out the flames and broke the ropes, what would they have to do after that?”)

Dreaming of a unified humanity

Me: Joan of Arc had a dream.  Her dream was that of a unified France, living at peace with an England that respected its borders.  It didn’t happen in her lifetime.  It took a little less than 500 years for it happen.  In 1904, England and France signed a peace treaty, the Entente Cordiale.  They have lived at peace with each other for the past 109 years. (It was 476 years between the time Joan’s voices directed her to come to the aid of France, and the signing of the Entente Cordiale.)

Britain and France have been at peace for 109 years.  Dreaming of a unified humanity

Child (with facial expression of realizing something): Well, maybe in the same way that it took 500 years or so for Joan of Arc’s dream to come true, it might take 500 years for your dream of a unified world to come true. That doesn’t make it any less wonderful of a dream. (I hope it will happen faster, but I took great joy in those words. I take great joy in sharing them with you.)

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

St. Joan of Arc and Knowledge

St. Joan of ArcDuring the time I studied step 37 of Steps to Knowledge (“There is a way to Knowledge”) and step 38 (“God knows the way to Knowledge”), I entertained some thoughts as working hypotheses: 1) There have been Christians from time to time who have reached Knowledge, the great mystery of a person’s life, their True Self which is not apart from life, 2) those who did so considered their Teachers as saints and angels, and 3) St. Joan of Arc is an instance of one of those individuals.

The story of St. Joan of Arc is told in many places, and has touched the hearts of many people.  But there are certain aspects of particular interest to me. It has an instance of inexplicable knowing (Joan asking for the sword her voices told her was buried behind the altar at the church of St. Catherine).  It has an instance of someone declaring the mission in their life (Joan declaring as she embarked on her mission “I am not afraid, for God is with me.  I was born for this!”)  I realize someone is going to read this and think “Well, maybe France deserved to be divided and subjugated by foreign powers.”  I consider that a conversation for another time.

No one remembers Bishop Pierre Cauchon, the leader of the ecclesiastical kangaroo court which sentenced Joan to death.  No one remembers the person who lit the flames.  I believe that Joan would be pleased at the long-lasting peace between England and France, the Entente Cordiale of 1904.  I believe Joan would be pleased to see a unified France.  One day there will be a saint of whom someone will say “I believe St. So-and-so would be pleased to see a unified world.”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.