Barack Obama


the reality of the anti-Christ spirit

- what might happen if you begin to insert

reason into Christian discourse,

on questions of public life -

by Joel A. Wendt

The purpose of the following material is to help Christians, and others, appreciate that there are alternative views which might help our public life - our life of shared social and political discourse and action - alternative to those ideas that tend to dominate what is thought to be a Christian view of how to participate as a member or a citizen of any social order such as a State.  In order to lay out this alternative, however, it is also necessary to deepen the reader’s understanding of the potentials of true Christian practice - what actually happens when we take up the Cross and follow Christ, instead of just uncritically accept certain ill-thought out systems of belief.

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Among some right wing and fundamentalist individuals, claiming to speak as Christians, one can find the idea that the current president of the USA, Barack Obama, is the anti-Christ.   Their interpretation of the meaning of this biblical idea is in error, although by seeking the true meaning of this idea, that we know of through the Letters in the New Testament as John I and John II, can actually help us understand better political life through searching for the deeper understanding of: "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are Gods".  This is to say that if we deepen our appreciation of this idea of an anti-Christ spirit, we can at the same time deepen our understanding of our shared public life, which we call politics.

This will not be easy, for we have many confusions here, so we need to proceed carefully and look at the situation from multiple and flexible directions.  Here is what the Bible actually says about the anti-Christ spirit, for it appears in only one place - the first two Letters of John:

1 John 2:18-19 "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us."

1 John 2:22-23 "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also."

1 John 4:2-3 "By this you know the spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world."


2 John 1:7 "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist."

Biblical speculation by error-capable human beings has created an idea that conflates these passages in the first two Letters of John with images from Revelations, as well as certain ideas in the Old Testament.   It is amazing the number of supposed thinkers who don’t bother to find out that Revelations and the Old Testament never mentions the anti-Christ spirit in their wide ranging representations of prophecies of coming dark or evil spiritual influences.  It is then through this lame and undisciplined thinking that the anti-Christ spirit (a kind of attitude of the human soul, living in most human beings) is morphed into the picture of a single person or an evil Being.  This extreme exaggeration then disables us from actually appreciating what might be learned from this idea in the Letters of John, were we less inclined to want to find the world inhabited by  fearful and evil bogeymen.  As with much today that masquerades as Christian practice, this hysteria itself is of the anti-Christ spirit, for it denies the Son, not intellectually but by deed, by refusing to recognize, understand and practice the teachings and follow the deeds of the Son, and substituting instead of true practice a vain allegiance to ill-reasoned systems of belief.

In this article I have chosen to write of the anti-Christ spirit (small s), and not of the anti-Christ Spirit (capital S), hoping to make the following distinction.  In the latter case, with the use of the term Spirit capitalized, a Being is implied, as if these words anti-Christ Spirit were the name of someone, perhaps visible, perhaps invisible.   In using the term anti-Christ spirit (not capitalized) instead, my intention is to use the term small s spirit to refer to an attitude of soul.  So throughout this article the term anti-Christ spirit is to represent a general attitude of the human soul and not an evil Being.  This is fully consistent, in my view, with the basic idea in the letters of John.

Another principle example of this anti-Christ spirit in contemporary Christian thought is the idea that something, in order to be spiritually true, must be Biblical.  That is, for example, the idea that it can’t be true that human beings are immortal spirits experiencing a sequence of incarnations over long periods of time (the idea of reincarnation and karma).   As this idea of the cultural East came to the fore in America and elsewhere in recent decades, Christian religious thinking denied it, and based its denial on an absence of this idea in the Bible.  This idea is not absent from the Bible by the way, but those who oppose it force various possible biblical interpretations toward their own doctrines - that is, they make Bible passages fit the meaning they have already decided it ought to mean.

As regards the idea of reincarnation and karma, we need only realize the profound meaning hidden openly in Christ’s comment that we are forgiven seventy times seven.  Such a level of complete forgiveness, by the Divine Mystery, is most clearly manifested in those circumstances when we are allowed to return in the body again and again in order to have as many chances as possible to resolve our errors.  To believe that we can learn the lessons of Christ in just one life-time is to imagine that Christ has little patience for his Children and for whom  He has demonstrated so much Love.  The Divine-Father Mystery would not deny us all the time we need in order to learn what life has to teach.

God is the God of all, not just those living in Western culture.  In bringing the idea of reincarnation and karma from out of Eastern culture, to Western culture, is God not speaking: here is an additional idea by which to more deeply understand the Creation.  Yet, we deny God the capacity to speak to us from another quarter, by our limiting all that we can know and think to only what is taught in the Bible.

This fundamentally legalistic and theological practice of arguing about a truth, such that if it cannot be found in the Bible it cannot be true, is also a denial of the Father and the Son.   This is accomplished by the reduction and confining of the Divine Mystery to only what is contained in a book, clearly of human origin however inspired, and limited as well in time to the Past.   To rest our systems of understanding on a book is to deny the true Glory of the Creation, and to limit God to never being able to say anything more to us (that is we make God incapable of new revelation).   To look to a book, instead of to the reality of life as it daily surrounds us, is to deny the authentic presence of Christ in our lives (succumb to one of the temptations of the anti-Christ spirit).

Yes, many do assert a Christ presence in their lives, but only in the sense that it can be found first in a book - in the Bible.  Christ is not to be allowed by these views to appear to us as He wishes, but must only appear to us as error-capable human beings choose to interpret a text.  This is another form of hypocrisy.   Many claim to believe in the Divine Mystery as the Author of our existence, and at the same time limit that God to never being able to say anything new, or to never being capable of speaking to us from any other direction than out of a book, which we should never forget must be constantly interpreted by human beings.

This anti-Christ spirit among those claiming to be Christian is also often of the same nature as the mob concerning which Christ said: He among you who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.  Finger pointing, and asserting that Christ will come at the End Times and destroy human beings is to be not in touch at all with the Creative works of the God of Love.  Here I do not have the time and space to deal with the confusions spread by these so-called Christians as to the true meaning of the deep symbolism of Revelations (that is dealt with elsewhere by others and mostly with great depth), and instead I here choose to work more carefully with a single idea - the idea of the anti-Christ spirit as appears in contemporary life; and, as may or may not relate to the deeds and ideas of our shared public life, which we call politics (which Christ referred to when he made the well known, but not well understood, distinction between the realm of Caesar and the realm of God).

It will help as well to note in passing the work of the Russian philosopher, Vladimir Soloviev.  He wrote a significant book near the end of his life, with the title: War, Progress, and the End of History: Three discussions, which included "A Short Story of the Antichrist".  Soloviev had unusual views on the relationship between thinking consciousness and experience which are well worth investigation in their own right, and which were at the time, being very advanced, quite controversial.  For example, he considered individual human cognition to be capable of direct knowledge of the spirit behind all existence, and given that approach, we might pay some attention to his thinking as expressed in this Story.

Soloviev basically tells the tale of a charismatic individual who rises to political and cultural power in an imaginary state.  He is very popular, and nearly everyone loves him, including all but a few religious leaders.  While this is an oversimplification, we could say that this individual's main flaw of character is his egotism.  He is not so much evil in a demonic sense, but rather evil in that he is more for himself and his own power than he is for anyone else.  He wraps himself in the mantle of the Good, through his words, but in his actions he serves no one but his own egotism.  This does not mean he is a dictator in the classical sense, ruling with an iron fist.  On the contrary, he seems to accomplish a lot, as long as we don't notice the texture and quality of his rule given that it is based in his love of his own self above all else.

To return to the two Letters of John (of the three that are in the New Testament), where the anti-Christ spirit is mentioned:

Clearly John means to point out to us what can live in people that is anti- or against the spirit of Christ - against the spirit of sacrifice and love (in I John 4:2-3 The spirit of God).  Christ is fully selfless, so much so that if we ask why Judas has to kiss him so that the soldiers could arrest him, we realize it is because when He and the disciples taught, it is clear that only His most intimate disciples knew which single individual was the center, for all, under his influence were capable of speaking and teaching.  Christ is the paragon of egolessness or lack of any self-centeredness, and it would seem that Soloviev wished to express his view that the anti-Christ spirit is not only in denial of the Father and the Son, but more in love with its own Being than any other.  There is no I and Thou for this anti-Christ spirit, there is only I.

Let us, at the same time, not fail to appreciate that while Christ's Life sets the bar high, He would not, as Charles Sheldon the author of In His Steps knew, put any task beyond human capacities.  While few attain any where near to the full expression of this yoke of love through selfless self-sacrifice, many express the essence without any need to preach to or condemn others.  So when we go about perceiving in modern culture the presence of this anti-Christ spirit, we need to see it as everywhere, not just isolated in those individuals, groups, ideas or processes we do not like because they are different.  In point of fact, that very psychological process of judging and labeling others, as wrong or evil because we do not like them, is itself a form of the anti-Christ spirit, denying as it does the core of what Christ taught about not judging in the Sermon on the Mount.

It should also be noted that these aspects of the Letters of John bear a critical resemblance to our time, in a peculiar way, because of his pointing out that "it is the last hour."  While he understands the existence of an anti-Christ spirit, he can't quite see it in himself - he can't quite notice that his act of judging is itself of the anti-Christ spirit.

Those today, who conflate this spirit with the images from Revelations, are often also filled with a dread of the present.   There is to this weak thinking so much perceived woe in the world, so much that they judge to be wrong and evil, that they think then how can it not be the last hour.  The problem is that this view, especially today, fails to appreciate the lessons of history, in which nearly every crisis of Western Civilization brought out the assumption that that particular crisis was the last hour - was the End Times.  What justification is there that makes modern End Times believers hold that they are the ones that have finally got it right?

The reality is that such a view is all beam and no mote, and sees the world not as it is, but only as something wrong because it is different from what we in our self-righteous vanity assume it should be.

The fundamental problem is one that has been true all along.   Lets call this problem: the absence of Christian practice.

Here is Christ from the end of the Sermon on the Mount: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."  Matthew 7: 24-27

The dominance of the need for systems of doctrine and belief, and their supposed importance over Christian practice, is what leads to all manner of errors.  Of significance here is an idea that I can’t find a source for, but which is as follows: The world cannot be cured of error by rational argument.  The world is not just rational, it is also irrational (emotionally impulsive) and trans-rational, that is capable of being transcended.

Partly the idea here is that when politicians compose what appears to be a rational argument for their view of what government policy should be, they act as if this argument should win in a contest or a debate.  A similar kind of event occurs in religion when supposedly rational argument is used to distinguish one set of beliefs from another set of beliefs.  People who do this professionally are often called theologists, and sometimes philosophers.  In the political world they are often called lawyers.

Yet the fact is that the idea of Christian practice is about the will, not about the intellect.  Although, ... one can come to experience that the substance and content of the intellect may be made to rise and transform through acts of the will applied to the mind.  Confusion often arises, however, in Christian practice when we hear someone make this kind of reference in an argumentative way against the importance of Christian practice: It is not by works alone, but only by the grace of God that we are saved.

First: ... it is significant for experience to make a distinction between the Four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament (including Revelations) if what one wants is to understand what Christ means in the Sermon on the Mount by practice.  For all that is valiant and righteous in the Letters of Paul and others, the true potential of the soul is to be found foremost through the efforts to practice Christ’s teachings directly from the Four Gospels, recognizing that these are not to be theologically interpreted away from their plain meaning, by the use of argument based on something in the rest of the New Testament, or even in the Old Testament.  Paul, for example, interprets Christs teachings, but he is clearly not Christ Himself.

To make this as clear as possible:  We make a great confusion if we place on the same level of importance any of that which is in the Bible that is not directly the sayings of Christ in the Four Gospels.  In those sayings, God clearly speaks if we but put into practice what is said.  Only through such practice will we find the way to rightly interpret the rest of the Bible.

If, for example, one were to try to invent a counter-argument of an intellectual nature against the importance of the practice of the teachings in the Four Gospels, we are then trying to modify what Christ taught by reference to the error prone interpretations of the disciples.  For all else that they do, and this includes the Letters of Paul, it is what is remembered and taught about what Christ actually said and did that is the most important.  Whatever else is in the New Testament must be measured against Christ’s actual words and deeds.   Raising up the idea, that works alone cannot lead to salvation, is to follow a human interpretation of the meaning of the words of God.  The teachings of Christ can only be fully understood when practiced - they are not matters of the intellect or lawyer-like theological or philosophical debate.

Keep in mind that what is being said here, is not argumentative and reasoning toward a different intellectual conclusion, but rather based upon what becomes understood of Christ’s teachings through a will which practices.  What the disciples understood was limited by their human nature, and this human nature can only be transcended through practice.   What you have here then is a confusion of different themes and realities that must be distinguished. 

The intellectual problems are many for the theological impulse multiplies possible interpretations of doctrine and dogma endlessly, while the way through their confusion is to focus on practice first.  The historical Arianism controversy, for example, was an argument about matters which someone who practices would realize has no real practical meaning if we are to follow In His Steps.  We follow as best as possible Christ’s clear teachings, and through the resulting life trials and experiences our ability to understand and know is enhanced.  From this enhanced state we then gain a better insight into the meaning of Christ’s teachings, and as well a better ability to appreciate the limits of what was later added by Paul and others according to their own interpretations. 

For example, the general tenor of Paul’s letters is often critical of others, whose Christian practice he judges as wanting.  We have to ask then to what degree did Paul practice the work of understanding the beam in his own eye first, before he tries to help someone with the mote in their’s.  Remember Paul was not only not a disciple, but at one time a rabid opponent of Christ and Christ’s teachings.  Once converted by his experience on the road to Damascus, he doesn’t lose his excess of zealotry (which true practice would moderate), but merely applies it in a different direction.

As a consequence, from outside the Four Gospels, the discussion of not by works alone focuses on two matters: one is the common practice at the time of people asserting they followed the law.  This boasting is rightly recognized as problematical in John’s letters, but even in that the John of these letters remains himself a hypocrite for not recognizing his own boasting (my words here are also colored with the temptation to boasting).   The second matter is Grace (or salvation).  Without doubt Christ’s love (or Grace) accepts us, whatever our practice, but this is not the meaning of the last verses of the Sermon on the Mount.  These last verses simply explain the consequences of an absence of practice - without practice the house we build in our souls and spirits will fail in any times of troubles.

We might consider that we will need less to be saved if we actually tried harder to practice.  What is it that protestant Churches do today, but in essence sell indulgences when they preach that simply by confessing to having had an encounter with Christ, we are saved from our errors, past and future.  Confess, join our church, give us money and lets all hate the unbelievers together.  What kind of message is that?  It is certainly not something Christ would say or do.

It is clear to the common and accepted examination of the history of Christianity, that the religion was built by Paul’s Letters, even though scriptural interpretation contains the idea that Christ authorized this creation of a church to be done by Peter.  Remember Paul was not even a disciple, but rather was an opponent of early Christians.  The newly converted are often excessive in their passions.   Also keep in mind that the verse about Peter uses the term rock, and the verse about practice as well uses the term rock.  Yet, the first actions of this supposed rock, Peter, is to deny Christ three times.  Clearly at the most crucial moment he wasn’t much of a rock in practice.  He saved himself, via an impulse rooted in the anti-Christ spirit - that is he denied the Christ.  This aspect of the Stories in the Gospels is itself an important teaching, worthy of much discussion.

The Roman Church, for example, borrowing from the historical ideas of a ruler’s succession, has used the idea of the laying on of the hands to maintain the fiction that all Popes are Peter’s successors, forgetting that when the time of testing came, Peter denied Christ.  Was he then the rock which Christ hoped for, or did the Roman Church built itself upon sand from the very beginning?

All of these kinds of actions, such as the wanting to link the Roman Church to Peter, failed because they are rooted primarily in the intellect - they are ideas first, and never entered deeply enough in the soul to become self-transformative acts of the will.

True Christian practice, however, trains the will.  We choose practice or not, according to our own insight.  If we don’t practice, that which results from practice will not arise in the soul and spirit.  Just as an athlete must exercise the physical body, so must the soul and spirit be exercised.   Our belief in one or another doctrine of so-called faith (an act of belief, but an act of belief is not the true act of the will and trust that is properly called: Faith) - our beliefs are of no meaning here, in the same way an athlete doesn’t get any change in his capacities for what he believes are his skills, but only for what he actually becomes capable of doing when the trial of performance comes.  Do not forget that we divide ourselves against each other most often over our passion for our personal beliefs, when every detail of Christ’s teachings, as practices - as efforts of will, would have us love, tolerate and forgive each other.

To make this discussion more concrete, let us return to the beginning, for we are here working with the idea of the anti-Christ spirit.  Most people in applying this term, apply it to others, not to themselves.   In this they are throwing stones.

The anti-Christ spirit appears in the soul as a sense of egotism and self-importance.  We all bear the anti-Christ spirit within, and the long long process of the elimination of this spirit is only possible through our own continuous activity.   We rid ourselves of the beam in our own eye first, before we can learn to make viable and useful any observations about others.

This egotism can even happen (and most often does) to someone who likes to boast of how much they are serving the Father and the Son.  In many Churches we find the idea that this or that person is more godly than any other.   In Catholicism, the members of that belief-system are encouraged to call the Pope: His Holiness.  The denial of the Father and the Son described in the John Letters is not a doctrinal matter but a matter of will and of practice.  We deny the Father and the Son whenever we raise ourselves, or another, up in status over others (that is we refuse to practice washing the feet).  Recall that He said: Whatsoever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do so also unto me.

The use of Christian ideas and categories in politics will always be a failure of practice.  It is impossible to form a truly Christian political idea that is exclusive, or judgmental in its nature, without violating most of Christ’s teachings.  Which is why Christ gave us a great hint for our practice when he said: Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, and unto God the things that are Gods; and, why so many who strive today for Christian practice concern themselves with issues of social need and justice, without any need to assert this or that person is more godly and thus will be a better politician.

Our relationships with each other and our relationship with God are not the same, although Christ gives another great hint when He said upon being asked what was the most important commandment: The most important is to love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your spirit; while the second is like unto it, which is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Among those who struggle with these problems, such as Catherine MacCoun in her book On Becoming an Alchemist (a book concerned with practice above all else following the Kings stream of wisdom - see also my book The Way of the Fool) - in her book the human being can be described as living an existence at the center point of a kind of Cross.   The vertical element of this Cross is our relationship to the invisible Beings of what she calls the upper and lower vertical (who we are to love following the first part of the great commandment).  The horizontal element of this Cross concerns our social relations with each other (who we are to love following the second part of the great commandment).

The realm of Caesar is the social-political world of humanity, and this horizontal life operates according to different rules than does the vertical - the realm of God or the Divine Mystery.  Would that this could be stated in a very simple fashion - unfortunately human social life is exquisitely complicated.  All the same this next needs to be said:

Christ’s love manifests most strongly in human existence in the individual biography.  We are individuals and Christ loves each individual with the same Grace.  No so-called holy or godly person is more loved by Christ than even those who are most fallen (recall that Christ teaches to look after the lost sheep, not just the found ones).  Christ’s Grace is not even limited to only those who profess to believe in Him.  We do not love our children based only their profession of faith in us.   We love them as they are. 

The circumstances of our individual biography are embedded in a social-political context, however.  Whenever we pray (in secret) and seek contact with the Divine - that contact is available.  Christ is not somewhere in a kind of hyper-cosmic spiritual realm outside us, but rather, as was understood by the disciples, He was/is Imminent.  He says in Luke: the kingdom of heaven is inside you.

Here we can better understand the confusion of many when they thought that the coming of the kingdom meant a radical change in outer social existence.  The immediate coming of the kingdom, as taught by Christ, concerns what happens when we actually practice.  The narrow gate to the kingdom is inside us, and by cleaning out the inside of our own cup, we come through that gate to the kingdom.   Outer social life and life in the kingdom are two different things.  The nearness of the coming of the kingdom never was meant to be about Christ’s earthly world rulership.  Recall that He said: my kingdom is not of this world.

Contemporary Christian practice, in that we speak of letting Christ into our lives and the rich experience reported by those who manage to actually do this, is valuable and real.  The problems come from the errant sea of theological (argumentative) meaning in which this event of having a direct encounter with Christ is placed.   Ordinary Christian practice (social service, going to church, prayer etc.) does produce effects and can lead to experiences of Christ, but the biblical based interpretations of this personal event, colored with doctrines and dogmas that divide us into different sects and rites, - these idea-structures lead us astray in our thoughts.   Our heart finds the right place, but our mind is over-influenced by systems of vain belief everywhere at odds with each other, most of which were born in the judgmental beam in our own mind’s eye.   The multiplicity of Christian faiths or beliefs ought to cause us to ask questions about their validity, a worthy criticism many contemporary thinkers apply to what they perceive as a Christianity filled with systems and doctrines completely at odds with each other.

If we deepen our practice, we will come to know this Christianity of the heart (as against one of the mind or intellect) as an experience of the subtle and delicate presence of Fullness and the fullness of Presence - what in Acts is called Holy Breath.  As John the Baptist foretold: The one coming after me, I’m not big enough to carry his sandals.  While I baptize you in the waters of repentance, He will baptize you with Holy Breath and Fire.

Before going deeper into this quite accurate and prophetic statement of John the Baptist, let us make a small but significant digression.

In our age, particularly in America but common as well all over the world, there seems to many to be a new spirituality in the wind (so to speak).   As part of this new spirituality we can come upon websites and blogs and books and all manner of sources, where are quoted all kinds of wise sayings, mostly out of the cultural East, although other sources are used as well.   People will share these wise sayings with each other on the social networks such as Facebook, and then for a moment entertain these sayings as personal thoughts.  With such thoughts in mind (as a kind of background conceptual music in the soul - in the gateway to the true inwardness), people will go through their days believing that they are becoming more and more spiritual, and more and more spiritually developed as a personality.

Many who style themselves as Christian do a similar thing - they share what they believe are wise sayings.   Communities, in fact, tend to develop special individual vocabularies of such seemingly wise sentiments, which everyone is socially encouraged to accept as true.

From an objective point of view of the intimacy of soul life, we have to characterize such wise sayings as mere sentimental platitudes.   The world has been, especially through its fascination with Eastern cultural thought, occupied with these sentiments (which speak of kindness and love and oneness and such) as if by having such thoughts in the soul one has attained a kind of renewed spiritual grace.   This is not so, but rather is a kind of horrible illusion that is suffocating the individual human spirit in a kind of self-satisfying pretense that has been aptly recognized when one remembers this phrase from Western culture: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

These sentimental platitudes - these seemingly good thoughts, which often give us a nice warm feeling about ourselves, are a trap for the spirit.   The nature of the trap in the good intentions that pave the road to hell is that we can then believe, because our soul occupies itself with nice warm platitudes on a daily basis, that we have accomplished something in the realm of the spiritual.  This is not so, unless, we take hold of that warm thought in such a way that our will becomes different.  True spiritual development has little to do with the content of the mind, as a aspect of soul life by itself, without the good thought causing us to activate the will in such a way that we start to change our Way of Life, down to its most intimate core. 

While our will can cause a change in the cognitive process itself, such that we learn to produce our own wisdom (no longer needing to immerse the soul in the sea of borrowed sentimental platitudes), the crucial matter is the change in the will itself, by the will itself.  This will is in fact the higher element of our spirit, and as long as we let it slumber in the warm bed of sentimental thoughts, it will not wake to any of the soul’s true potential spiritual capacities. 

In the light of these thoughts, let us now consider more carefully: The one coming after me, I’m not big enough to carry his sandals.  While I baptize you in the waters of repentance, He will baptize you with Holy Breath and Fire.

Most of us acquire our picture of the world in a mediated fashion.  We don’t experience it directly, but through the actions and communications of some other source.   World news, for example, we get through news sources.   We in fact call these sources: media.  We also get news (of a sort) about our family or our work place also through others.  We are given stories, which often are not so much truthful, but rather are gossip.   The story teller frequently has an agenda.

From these mediated sources we construct inwardly in our consciousness pictures of the meaning of the world.  In greater or lesser degrees this constructed inward collection of mental pictures is flawed, for both the story teller, and our own biases, infect the qualitative nature of this inner understanding (all beam and little mote).

This process of meaning-creation begins in our childhood and continues throughout the rest of our lives.  Some aspects are more formal such as are created by what we call education, and as well by that which we may or may not be taught through religious sources.  We swim in a sea of stories of the meaning of the world, and by reflection, the meaning of our selves.

In the present it has become particularly important to human beings to determine for themselves this meaning of existence.  We rebel against the control of our thoughts, although paradoxically we often feel so incapable that we turn to others in such a way as to give to them power over our own thoughts.  We do this whenever we succumb to a talking head on cable television, or the rantings of a preacher in our church, or the ideas of the priests of natural science.  Any where we feel a lack of personal or individual capacity, we are prone to surrender to others the creation of the mental pictures we hold regarding the reality of our own experience.  We let others tell us what our own experience means.

Basically we are then not very awake to the fundamental questions regarding this meaning-creation process.  All the same, certain characteristics of the world can be observed.

Each biography has an outward set of circumstances unique to it, and is as well inwardly individual and unique.  While we all, as human beings, have consciousness (soul) and self-consciousness (spirit) the content of those are unique to our individuality.  That certain aspects of what calls itself natural science tend to think our physical biology is determinative of this, that idea itself is a modern world view mediated by dominant aspects of the culture of natural science, which would unjustly impose its meaning on our free understanding.

If we survey the world carefully, without bias, we see many many different languages and cultures and social-historical circumstances.   One person grows up in South L.A., becomes a gang member and dies young.  Another grows up street poor in Bombay, finds a way to obtain an education of a sorts and ends up working as a telephone clerk serving Western businesses, all the while raising a family.   I could go on, but the important point it to recognize that each unique individual also lives within a unique set of social-cultural-political circumstances.  Yes, there are many similarities, but once we get into the details these assumed similarities fail to encompass the true nature of the totality of any individual biography.

Part of the inward mental pictures of each individual includes some kind of meaning of the world, both in a personal way, and as a recipient of media - that is, most of us live somewhere where we acquire, through mediated processes - that is through the stories of others, mental pictures of what the rest of the world is like, and how our part of that world fits into the larger whole - that is: its meaning.

Shakespeare took hold of this in a rather pithy (but one-sided) fashion when he wrote:  All the world’s a stage,  And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, ...

As we each have a different mental picture of the wider world and its meaning, and how that relates to our personal existence and meaning, we will behave in accord with those mental pictures and as well due to and out of our individual nature.  All the same we do share certain very special elements of this structure or order to and in the world.

The surrounding circumstances of each biography are a sea of troubles.  Again Shakespeare:  To be, or not to be--that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer  The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune  Or to take arms against a sea of troubles  And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--

Each unique individual is embedded in certain fires of experience (sea of troubles), which cause them to have to make certain choices (the sea of troubles doesn’t cause the choices themselves - we still choose, but the necessity of choosing - that is caused by the sea of troubles).  While often such choices can be seen to be similar, they are not the same, if we carefully observe the details as against the superficial similarities, - each choice is unique.  While all abortions and all murders seem to be similar acts, the context and meaning in which any individual carries out such actions is unique.

Yet, so-called Christians judge others, not having learned to practice the teaching of the beam and the mote, and form mobs as well and then throw stones having determined someone else is not as morally perfect as are they.  But even this flaw and the related mob action are also an example of the fire of all biographies today, because a major cause of this fire belongs to us.  Our actions (the consequence of our choices) produce effects and the effects on others come back toward us (the folk wisdom is: what goes around comes around).

The whole world burns in a sea of troubles, and seeing this rapidly destructive sea many Christians, with some small justification, believe this is the End Times.   The world does burn, but when our view of this burning lacks the skill and practice of mastering the beam and the mote, our mental pictures of the meaning of this burning will be distorted by our beam.  Acting on the world through this beam will contribute to the general social conflagration.  We only can come to the cognition of the truth of this situation by learning to overcome the beam in our own mind’s eye - overcome the semi-conscious judgmental feelings by which we see the world according to our own biases.

Everywhere we see, in the stories mediated by the news sources, the consequences of the beam of judgment of all of us as this judgment creates more problems than it solves.  The political life of America, with its blogs and its tea parties and its shouting heads on cable television and its Christian right groups and its liberal knee-jerk groups - all this chaos and confusion of different screaming voices of points of view is born in the beam of judgment.

How did this baptismal fire arise?

Christ also said: I come not to bring peace but a sword, to separate father from son, and mother from daughter ...  He did this by giving us individuality, by creating us unique and supporting us in being unique.  By His sword of the gift of uniqueness He divides us into individuals, and by the fire born in our conflict generated by our individuality and its unredeemed judgments born in the beam, we are then faced with the trials of the times.

These trials are three-fold in their nature.  The first comes from our reactions to the nearby conditions of our biography - our work life, our family life, our economic life - all our intimate social relations.  This is the intimate element of our portion of the sea of troubles.

The second comes from our reactions to the Stage Setting in which our biography arises.  This perception of the Stage Setting - of the meaning of present day historical events - is rooted in our own judgments and understanding of the world.  We have created mental pictures of the world, about which we have deep feelings. 

In acting and choosing concerning what we see as modern historical events, as well as what we see of our intimate social relations, we tend to join groups - we seek like minded communities for mutual support.  We join churches, political parties, the army, - we give money to Doctors without Borders, we serve in helping the homeless, we join survivalist militias - the choices are endless.

The third trial concerns our inwardness.  We have thoughts about which we can be obsessive.  We have feelings to which we become attached and won’t let go.  We have impulses of will that we do not restrain.  The beam is rooted in this inwardness, with the same tenacity as the roots of a well formed and very vital tree.  It is no accident Christ speaks of this as a beam or a log - that as wooden.

The feeling judgment is part of the needed skills of our soul life.  We do not want to get rid of it, but we do very much want to master it.  The beam element or log comes from the thoughts, feelings and impulses of will that we let become old and rigid.   A young tree is growing, vital and alive.  Only a dead tree falls in the forest and needs to rot in order to serve the whole.  When we are children we do not possess this old soul structure - everything is vital and alive and magical when we are young.   Here is the clue to why Christ says: Lest ye become again as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

The more inflexible we let become our personality - the more we are burdened with dead logs in the soul - the more dead and dry this old timber is - and the more easily it can be consumed in the fires and trials of the biography. Wash out the inside of your cup, He said, if you want the outside to be truly clean.

To learn to deal with the beam is to undertake a house-cleaning of the temple of our own soul.  To recognize the beam and how it arises in the soul is to begin a great work - a work we do not have to do alone.   Remember: Wherever two or more are gathered; and, I will be with you to the ends of time.  It is no accident that 12 Step work requires a community, and that in America these are often oriented in a somewhat Christian Way (meetings end with the Our Father).

Since this work on the beam is within the inwardness - within the own soul, it is work of the spirit.  When we work out of our own spirit in the right way, seeking to actually practice what Christ taught, He then keeps us company.   In this company we now begin to know that other part of the baptism spoken of by John the Baptist - Holy Breath.   Not only are we to be baptized by the fires in our unique biography, coming toward us from the outside - from the social-historical community-family context in which we live our life - we are also to be baptized within by Holy Breath.

Now this deepening of our modern understanding of this baptism is accompanied by New Revelation, as this prophecy of the first John the Baptist recognized, because we live in the time of the True Second Coming.  Christ brings this Baptism as part of His coming again.  In other places I write in more detail of how Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was the second John the Baptist figure - the one announcing the True Second Coming - the voice crying in the wilderness of scientific materialism.  This True Second Coming in “clouds of heaven” - in the heaven within us as Christ points out in Luke - in the depths of our own conscious inwardness or soul life - leads to a Second Eucharist to accompany the Original.   This too is experienced by modern disciples who follow the practices.  See my essay/video on Saving the Catholic Religion from the Roman Church.

The experience of Holy Breath comes about this way, as is described in my essay: The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul, an essay that can be read for free in many places on my website, and which is the summa of my book: the Way of the Fool.  Here is part of what I wrote there:

Thus we are being truly and continuously born again today (each act of moral grace is another Second Ethereal Eucharist and birth), from out of our spiritual childhood and into our spiritual adulthood, baptized outwardly by the fires of the times in our biographies, and by holy breath within - a Second Eucharist where Christ gives of His own Substance that biblical knowing of the Good - His own Being. For us to truly know the Good, requires we join our own soul to the Good. Our yearning to author the Good out of ourselves is how we participate in the Baptism of being truly born again, and how we participate in the sacrament of the Second Eucharist. Christ also participates by giving to us, out of Himself, this very Good - this Moral Grace. When having received within ourselves this sacrament of the Second Eucharist, an act that only arises because we seek it and form its actual application, we remain free - we create moral law - we author the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Given to us within by Christ as a capacity, we then author its incarnate nature and pass it on to the world of our biographies, - from out of us thence into the outer world (or into the inner world), do we then ourselves author this Good: love engendered free moral grace.

But how does Christ do this? Is this Good offered to us in this Second Sacrament as if it was a thing, passed by hand from one to another?

No. Christ as holy breath breathes upon the slumbering burning embers of our own good nature, just as we breath upon a tiny fire in order to increase its power. He sacrifices His Being into this breath, which gives Life to the tiny ember-like fire of our moral heart. The holy breath becomes within the soul of each human being who asks, seeks and knocks - a gift of Living Warmth that enlivens our own free fire of moral will.

The Narrow Gate opens both ways, making possible thereby the intimate dialog and conversation of moral deeds and thoughts that is woven between the i-AM, the Thou and the Christ (wherever two or more are gathered...), which intimate conversation leads ultimately to the consecration - the character development - of the soul.

In this way our thinking can now behold the Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul: A macro-cosmic Rite, a Second Ethereal Eucharist, in which we give birth out of ourselves in the most intimate way possible, knowledge of the Good, not as mere thought, but as Life filled moral will, breathed into greater power by the sacrifice of the true ethereal substance of Christ’s Being in the form of holy breath. 

The outer world is but a seeming, and what is brought by the Culture of Media mere pictures of the Stage Setting for the World Temple that is home to our biographies. When we think away this outer seeming - this logos formed and maya based sense world, and concentrate only on the Idea of the moral grace (Life filled holy breath) we receive and then enact out of the wind warmed fire of individual moral will - as individual law givers, as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets - we create this Meaning of Earth Existence. Every act of moral grace, given greater Life within in the deepest intimacy of our life of soul, is an ethereal communion with Christ, even though we may only experience it as what to us is a mere thought of what is the Good at some moment of need in the biography.

Christ gives us this Gift, by Grace, freely out of Love, and with no need that we see Him as its Author. We hunger inwardly to know what the right thing to do is, and when this hungering is authentic, we receive Christ’s Holy Breath. This does not come so much as a thought-picture of the Good in response to our questing spirit, but rather as the contentless breathing substance of Christ’s Being. We are touched (inspired) by Love, and at this touch we shape that Breath into the thought that we then know. The nature of its application and form in which we incarnate this thought is entirely our own. We shape the thought completely out of our own freedom - our own moral fire of will, for only we can apply it accurately in the individual circumstances of our lives.

As the Age of the Consciousness Soul unfolds accompanied by this Second Eucharist, the Social World of human relationships begins to light and warm from within. For each free act of moral grace rests upon this Gift of Christ’s Being to us - an ethereal substance received in the communion within the Temple of the own Soul, freely given in Love whenever we genuinely: ask, seek and knock during our search for the Good. Our participation in this Rite, this trial by Fire leavened by Holy Breath, leads us to the co-creation of new light and new warmth - the delicate budding and growing point of co-participated moral deeds out of which the New Jerusalem is slowly being born.

This co-creation is entirely inward, a slowly dawning Sun within the macro Invisible World of Spirit. Moreover, we do it collectively (as humanity). While each of us contributes our part, it is our collective conscious celebration of the Second Ethereal Eucharist (creating the Good) that begins the transubstantiation of the collective (presently materialized and fallen) thought-world of humanity into the New Jerusalem.

Thought is real, and it is as equally real as is matter. The Original Eucharist transforms the already divinely given now-dying substance of earthly matter into Life-filled Spirit through our ritual invitation of the active Grace of the Divine Mystery; and, our participation in the Second Ethereal Eucharist transforms dead thought into living ethereal Substance, through the mystery of our individual spirit’s active and embryonic grace, that becomes united into the collective co-creation of humanity.

In the Invisible World of Spirit, we co-participate, out of the own moral fire of will, in the Dawn of the New Sun that is to become the New Jerusalem.

Now that we know of the True Second Coming, of the meaning of the baptism by Fire and by Holy Breath, and the true meaning of the anti-Christ spirit, we can turn our thinking more directly and concretely to our public life, and its shared trials in the social realm of the social-political existence of humanity, and the mystery there of Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are Gods.

At the time that Christ taught, people were less intellectually sophisticated in some ways and naturally wiser in others.    The human impulse that was to produce natural science had not yet been born.  Yet, it was also a time that stood at a very important cross-roads.   We were in danger, not so much from Beings of Evil as the End Times folk obsess about, but from ourselves. 

We were ignorant and impulsive.  The Divine Mystery knew what was to come, as we began to shed this ignorance and start to learn to master the world of the Creation.  Yet, we were also deeply loved, and above all this love valued our freedom.  We don’t raise children to be copies of ourselves (unless we are flawed and don’t love them), but to be themselves.  So on the cusp of humanity’s journey, from out of its spiritual childhood toward its spiritual adulthood, the God came to live like us, to die like us, and to give Himself to us in the form of what teachings we might then appreciate and find helpful as we grew and matured.

Being God, the future was (in a way) an open book, so we were given a lot which was to prepare us for what was to come.   Our psychological nature and our moral nature and our flaws were obvious to Divine insight.   Deep guidance was offered and it was left to us to do with this, out of our own freedom, whatever we would choose to do.  It was assumed we would make errors of judgment.  Read once more the final words of the Sermon on the Mount: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."  Matthew 7: 24-27

Out of our freedom and maturation, among many things, we have produced various kinds of versions of social order, or what some call: the State.  This is what Christ referred to when he said: Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars.  He was not referring to a person, but to a common social necessity - for community life requires shared work and some degree of order.  Here Christ is pointing out to us that what this shared order becomes, depends upon what we give to it, or render it.  The State - our shared social order - is a human creation.

Some will assert otherwise, and even insist it must be otherwise.  If we listen carefully to these, however, we will hear that what they really assert is that the State be what they think it should be, and they claim in support of their view that this is what God wants.  We are fools to believe them, for what human being can know the mind of God, ever.

We can know parts of the mind of God, however.  We gain some of this knowledge the better we understand the Creation itself.  We gain other parts by better appreciation of ourselves - for we too are a part of the Creation.  Yet, our freedom grants us our own sphere of creativity, and this in it broadest sense is what we do that provides social order.  We do this in two ways.

The first way we do this is by self discipline.  We rule ourselves first.  I act in the outer world and I act there upon others.  I also act in my own gateway to the inner world - in my own soul.  There I create thoughts, meaning and understanding (knowledge in all its forms).  There too I can be free.

The second way we provide social order is through cooperation - or not.  We either work together or we do not.  This includes any one-to-one relationship, all family situations, and work situations, as well as larger more complex social forms, such as large local communities, and Nation States.  We participate in all these simultaneously and in complicated and differentiated ways.

Christ gave us teachings entirely directed towards self-rule.  There is no better advice than these teachings for the purpose of self-rule - not anywhere else in the world.  This is because of the Divine Love that is at the root of these teachings.

Now don’t get confused thinking I am putting the so-called Christian Religion as superior to all other religions.  Christ never suggested that.   For example, He said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.   He did not say I am the best way, or a certain belief, or a specific kind of life.  He also said: In my Father’s House are many mansions.  If we practice His teachings, we will see directly with our own mind that such statements are meant to be inclusive, not exclusive.  There is a Christian Religion because human beings created it. God did not create it.

If we follow a Way (in one of the included mansions or religions in the Father’s House), and if we follow the Truth (as against parochial institutional religious dogmas and doctrines), we will come to true Life.  That is: His Being encompasses, and is, all Ways, all Truth and all Life.  He never urged us to judge other Ways and other Truths, but rather He asks us to not judge at all.  Where conflict arises among people following different Paths and religious doctrines - that is a human problem created by the absence of self-rule.

To appreciate more this mystery: ... I have an acquaintance of deep and penetrating spiritual experience, and she relates that due to certain attitudes of the Greeks and the Hebrews, at the time of Christ’s Incarnation, neither group (as Paul almost noted) could fully bring to life. in the family and the community, the social teachings of Christ.  As a consequence, these were deflected into the future a bit, and arrived as an aspect of the coming into existence of the religion of Islam.  But because Western culture lives so lost in the beam in the mind’s eye, it sees only the most flawed and degenerate aspects of that religious impulse.  The true social life of members of the Islamic faith is invisible, in part because it is consciously protected (hidden).

Would that those who think of themselves as Christians could be more open minded and inclusive, the seeming clash of civilizations could take an entirely different course, for both the Muslim world and the Christian world have much to teach to each other.

The idea of Christ, as taught in most so-called Christian institutional religious systems, is not the Truth, as should be obvious by the exclusive nature of those systems.  We are here striving to come to a real idea of Christ, through participation and practice in the teachings He has given us.  We follow and build our house on rock and then we will learn how to truly see.  This is why these collections of videos and writings are all made in relationship to the Coming Metamorphosis of Christianity - this new Christianity will be completely unlike the former.

But this problem is a digression from the core question: What can the above do to help us appreciate what is going on in our present as regards our public life?

Everywhere in public life we see its domination by the anti-Christ spirit.  This takes the form of egotism, boasting, judgmentalism and all kinds of lack of self-rule.  That various so-called Christian sects assert a more righteous point of political view is even more disturbing and destructive of the needed harmony in social existence.   Cooperation for the purposes of a healthy social order is necessarily rooted in the impulse to moral self-rule. 

How often, recently, have we found out that the leaders, of a so-called Christian group that is really a mob - that through self-love throws stones at gay people - these turn out to be gay themselves.  Lost in the beam, in their judgmentalism of moral self-righteousness, individuals are unable to either learn to forgive themselves or others.   As a practice, it is self-forgiveness that is the foundation for all other forgiveness, by the way.  Remember, wash out the inside of the cup of the soul-life first.

This then helps us understand the state of the realm of Caesar today, for what is mostly rendered it is nothing less than the anti-Christ spirit.  Our public life burns in a conflagration of beams of judgment - beams of self-righteousness, mostly involved in the self-love of our own egotistical boasting of public virtue.  I’m right, he’s wrong is the basic refrain.   Nearly everyone needs to join a 12 Step group to deal with that addiction.

In this conflagration our civilization is falling.  Western Civilization is failing, and out of its dying there is to appear a new becoming.  The qualitative nature of this new becoming - this new civilization - will depend upon what is rendered it.  If we render unto Caesar, without at the same time rendering unto God, we will create one kind of civilization.

Now the rendering unto Caesar is a mixture - a totality of many actions across a wide spectrum of possible choices.  The social question in part is how does this mixture become a sum - what are to be the dominant influences.

Christian practice is the rendering unto God part of Christ’s teaching of the relationship between the Divine Mystery and the social realm.  When we actually practice, we change. To render unto God is to learn self-rule according to the teachings of Christ.  The teaching of the realm of Caesar and the realm of God reveals a reciprocal relationship.  By practice (rendering unto God what is Gods) we become capable of matters of which we were not capable before.  As we become - as we develop by our practice - so also increases our ability to render unto Caesar what is Caesars.  Learning to leave aside the beam (rendering unto God) enables us to better render unto Caesar, because we have changed from egotistical self-righteousness into a human being that now can clearly see the mote in the eye of the Thou and are thus better able to help them with their mote (instead of throw stones at them).

The qualitative nature of our shared social-political existence varies according to the degree that those who want to engage in Christian practice actually succeed in carrying out that practice.  The less self-righteously and hypocritically so-called Christians judge others, the more the heat of political discourse decreases.  The less heated (hateful) the rhetoric, the more accessible are workable compromises.   That so many in public life claim to be believers in Christ, yet at the same time fail at Christian practice, reveals how much hypocrisy still rules the lives of those who boast that they are followers of the law - that is how much the Letters of John still unveil to us the presence of the anti-Christ spirit in our lives.

Of course, as this act of judging is a universally human gesture of the life of the soul, all, including what I call Natural Christians in my essay of the same name, we all can raise the qualitative nature of what is rendered to our shared public social-political life by the same practice.   Many do, as we all know.  Would that many of our political leaders would be more willing to act as true Christians than to claim (boast) to be Christian, for the anti-Christ spirit that lives in such hypocrisy harms us all.

So is Barack Obama the AntiChrist?  No.  Is he, like most of us however, of the anti-Christ spirit - that is egotistical, judgmental and boastful?  Yes.

Should he be thrown out of office for being just like us?  The real questions of political discourse are, as I noted above, exquisitely complicated.  What is fundamentally true is that which Christ observed: What we render - what we give to our shared public life - that is what it will become.  If we are superficially judgmental, egotistical and caustic, then Civilization will continue to burn to the ground.  If we become the change we want in the world by striving for self-rule, and if we  are cooperative, we just might give birth to a Phoenix out of this growing pile of presently active fire, still burning embers and coals, and smoking ash we call the modern social world.