SocioSphere Editorials

April 2002 - February 2009 Archive
Reflections on Religion, Current Events, and Other Subjects

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Friday,June 18,2004

In the New Testament, "Logos" is used for God speaking. Jesus is called the Word because God spoke through Him. What God said is recorded in the New Testament so it is the recorded Word of God.

posted at 04:57:25 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,June 17,2004

My friend, Molly, just invented a new sink. She calls it, The Unbrownable Molly's Sink.
-- From Bennett Cerf on What's My Line?

posted at 03:35:29 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,June 16,2004

Many premillennialists act like postmillennialists (working to make society better, etc.

Here is a wonderful passage which clearly says that works are necessary for salvation. Again, we have the often-repeated theme of self-righteous works being distinguished from righteous works:

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

-- Matthew 7:21-27

posted at 07:35:30 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,June 15,2004

Edited (mostly grammar) from a message posted on an email list:

When a Jew grows his beard, he is merely practicing his faith.

When a Muslim does the same, he is an extremist and a terrorist.

When a Nun is covered from head to toe, she is respected for devoting her life to God.

When a Muslim woman does the same, she is oppressed and her society is reactionary.

When a western woman stays at home to care for her house and children, she is often respected for her self-sacrifice.

When a Muslim woman does the same, many will say, “She needs to be liberated”

When a Christian or a Jew kills someone, religion is not mentioned.

When a Muslim is charged with a crime, Islam itself goes on trial.

posted at 02:03:36 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,June 13,2004

Moving on from Eckankar for now,I was wondering if you could give me an overview of Shri Rajneesh's teachings.I understand that he taught that through sexual relations spiritual energies could be released and that through the appearance of a "new man" could humanity survive but that's all I know of his teachings.

I attended several Rajneesh meetings during his lifetime (in New York City). They practice (or practiced) a form of free-form dancing. I was not, personally, comfortable with this technique at the time, and I remember this one woman who kept on "coaching" me, i.e., "You need to loosen up."

Rajneesh's approach was really a synthesis of Hindu tantrism (Kashmiri Shaivism) and Tasawuf (Sufism). From tantrism, he took the idea that spiritual power could be cultivated through the development of the second chakra (the gonads). This energy, the kundalini (coiled serpent) would then be channeled up the spinal cord until it reached the third eye (6th chakra) and the thousand-petaled lotus (crown chakra). The dance I mentioned was an example of this process of elevating the kundalini.

From Sufism, he adopted a kind of (almost Zen-like) dialectic. On some occasions he would say one thing. On others, almost precisely the opposite. For instance, I once heard Rajneesh say (on a tape at a Rajneeshis home) that Jesus was a complete and total failure, and that no serious person would ever pay attention to him. On other occasions, he would praise Jesus. Presumably, neither statement was expected to be taken seriously. The "truth" would lie in the relationship (dialectic) between the two statements - the synthesis.

The Rajneeshi movement was, IMO, the ultimate PoMo (postmodern) "religion." Everything was deconstruction.

The following entry is from:

Quaker Faith

But what is that faith, the treasure we have received? I’m glad you asked! This is where other religions may stumble, but Quakers need not stumble here. It is as breathtakingly simple in its formulation as it is powerful in its expression. And, it is simply this:

God gives to every human being who comes into the world—regardless of race, religion, gender, or station--a measure of the divine spirit as a living witness and an eternal Light to be inwardly guided by on a daily basis. That Inner Light is supernatural, personal, universal, saving, eternal, persistent, and pure. The chief end of religious life is to learn to listen to and act upon the promptings of this Light under the authority of God and within the bonds of human community. Those who learn to heed the promptings of this Light come to be "saved"--that is, they come into fullness and wholeness of life and right relationship with God, themselves, the universe and one another. Those who resist, ignore, or otherwise deny the workings of this pure spirit within them, though they profess themselves to be religious, are "condemned"--that is, they become alienated from God, from themselves, from the universe, and from one another.

That’s it. That’s the whole enchilada. There is no other requirement or belief that takes precedence over this core belief in the Religious Society of Friends. It is absolutely foundational. Some of our evangelical brothers and sisters will argue that Jesus Christ comes first, not the Light. I would not argue with them if by that they mean that Christ IS the Light and that it is He who witnesses universally in every human heart, whether He is known by that name or not. Unfortunately, that is not what they usually mean. They trample on the Truth and hide the treasure that has been received if they do not see that Christ is the Light and preaches the gospel in every human heart.

It is from this core belief of the universal, saving Light that all other beliefs and practices derive in the Religious Society of Friends, including our beliefs about human nature, the universal ministry, continuing revelation, the nature of true prayer and worship, the right conduct of business, the place of the Bible, God and Jesus Christ, the universal church, and our historic testimonies.

I am still a Quaker today because of this faith, not because of our culture. The doctrine of the Inner Light is the most powerful, transforming, and universal religious insight I have ever encountered anywhere. It is the treasure we have received, and it is the only treasure that really matters. If we actually took this message out into the world, instead of burying it in the ground, there is no end to the increase we would see.

posted at 12:46:54 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,June 12,2004

To Paul, Christians are Christ's body. His Work is in the works of Christians.

posted at 11:21:40 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,June 07,2004

Faith is gnosis plus praxis (just thought of that!).Salvation is a process. It is through a dialectic of repentance (praxis) and Holy Spirit baptism (grace). What matters is accepting the Inner Light, the risen Christ, and living a life of repentance (praxis).

Wicca, neo-paganism, Thelema, and Creation Spirituality are all forms of paganism.

posted at 04:06:04 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,June 05,2004

"...It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

Guess who said that? George W. Bush? Dick Cheney? Don Rumsfeld? Condi Rice? Paul Wolfowitz? John Ashcroft?

No, actually that little pearl of wisdom was uttered by Adolf Hitler's right-hand henchman, Hermann Goering, shortly before Goering took his own life after he was convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.

Ecumenism is biblical. Modern ecumenism places orthopraxy over orthodoxy, as in the Bible.

posted at 11:15:46 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,June 01,2004

An alleged timeline of the "Jewish people" from an email list:

circa 3000

Kingdom of Egypt united


Migrations of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob between Mesopotamia and Canaan

circa 1700

Code of Hammurabi (old Babylonian Empire)


Exodus from Egypt, conquest of Canaan


Establishment of the Kingdom of Israel


David, King of Israel; foundation of Jerusalem as capital city


Solomon, King of Israel; building of First Temple in Jerusalem


Divided Kingdoms of Israel (north) and Judah (south)


Rise of Assyrian Empire


Fall of Israel (northern Kingdom), 10 Northern Tribes lost


Rise of (new) Babylonian Empire


Fall of Jerusalem; destruction of First Temple


Babylonian Exile


Rise of Persian Empire


Persian rule of Judea (Yehud)


Rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem; circulation of the Torah (?)


Alexander the Great conquers Mediterranean, Egypt, Persia


Alexander's Empire divided into three Hellenistic Kingdoms: Ptolemies (Egypt), Seleucids (Syria), and Antigonids (Greece)


Ptolemaic rule of Judea (Ioudaia)


Seleucid rule of Judea (Ioudaia)


Canonization of the Nevi'im (?)


Macabbean Revolt against Antiochus IV


Rededication of the Temple by Judah Macabbee (Hanukkah)


Hasmonean Kingdom of Judea


Roman conquest of Judea (Roman rule continues, in various forms, until 638 CE)


Assassination of Julius Caesar; Civil War in Rome


Herod the Great acts as client King of Judea; rebuilds the Temple Mount


Augustus becomes first Emperor of Rome

TURN FROM Before Common Era (BCE) to Common Era (CE)

6 CE

Judea made into Roman province


Ministry and crucifixion of Jesus


First Jewish War; Second Temple destroyed by Romans (70 CE)


Canonization of the Ketuvim, and the Tanak (?)


Second Jewish War (Bar Kokhba revolt); destruction of Jerusalem


Compilation of Mishnah by Judah Ha-Nasi (the Prince; also known as Rabbi)


Universal grant of citizenship to all inhabitants of the Roman Empire


Foundation of the Sassanid Empire in Persia and Mesopotamia; establishment of rabbinic communities in Persia


Roman Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity; Persian King of Kings Shapur II cements alliance with Zoroastrian priests

c. 380s

Jerusalem (Palestinian) Talmud closed


Christianity becomes official religion of the Roman Empire (persecution of Christians continues in Sassanid Persia)

c. 500

Babylonian Talmud closed


Heightened persecution of Jews in Rome and Persia

614 Persian conquest of Jerusalem

622 Foundation of Islam (hijra)

638 Islamic conquest of Jerusalem; Pact of Umar


Islamic conquest of Spain

c. 750 Baghdad founded; rabbinic academies move to new Islamic capital

c. 800 Karaite (anti-Rabbinic) movement

800 Coronation of Charlemagne as King of the Romans

c. 930s Masoretic text of the Bible established

969 Cairo founded

1066 Massacre of Jews in Grenada

1096 Massacre of Jews in Mainz (First Crusade)

1144 First "blood libel" against Jews (in Norwich, England)

c. 1150 Almohads (Islamic extremists) enter into Spain from North Africa; family of Maimonides flees from Spain to Egypt

1215 Fourth Lateran Council in Rome (Jews subject to stricter regulation under Christianity)


Baghdad sacked by the Mongols; Nahmanides active

1290 Expulsion of Jews from England

1306-1394 Expulsion of Jews from France; settlement of Western European Jews ("Ashkenazim") to northeastern Europe begins

1453 Islamic sack of Constantinople by Ottoman Turks

1492 Expulsion of Jews from Spain; settlement of Spanish Jews ("Sephardim") in Ottoman Empire; Columbus "discovers" North America

1497 Expulsion of Jews from Portugal

1516-1517 Jewish ghetto established in Venice (Italy); beginning of the Protestant Reformation

1570s Kabbalists active in Safed (Ottoman Palestine); Jews expelled from the Papal States (Italy)

1618-1648 Thirty Years' War; first pogroms of Jews in Eastern Europe (Chmielnicki massacres in Poland)

1656 Excommunication of Benedictus (Baruch) Spinoza

1665 Shabbeti Zevi declares himself "messiah" (apostasy in 1666)


John Locke's "A Letter Concerning Toleration"

1718 John Toland argues for enfranchisement of British Jews

1729-1786 Moses Mendelssohn

1760 Death of Baal Shem Tov (founder of Hasidism)

1772-1795 Partitions of Poland between Russia, Prussia, and Austria

1776 American colonies declare independence from Britain

1782 Joseph II of Germany (Holy Roman Empire) issues first Edict of Toleration for Jews (later rescinded)

1789 French Revolution

1791 Enfranchisement of French Jews; Enfranchisement of U.S. Jews with passing of the Bill of Rights; Catherine the Great (Russia) established Pale of Settlement in which all Russian Jews must live


Enfranchisement of French Jews extended to Prussia after defeat by Napoleon (later rescinded)

1818 Foundation of first Reform Temple (Hamburg, Germany)

1824 First Reform Temple founded in United States (Charleston, South Carolina)

1840s Abraham Geiger active in German Reform and Haskalah

1850s Samson Raphael Hirsch spearheads Modern Orthodox movement in Europe; Zacharias Frankel breaks with reformers, eventually leading to Conservative Movement

1861-1865 United States Civil War

1870 Reunification of Germany and Italy; emancipation of German and Italian Jews

1873 Isaac Mayer Wise founds the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union of Reform Judaism)

1881 Assassination of Czar Alexander II leads to increased violence against Jews, and new waves of immigration to the United States

1882 "May Laws": Jews expelled from villages, restricted to tiny towns in the Pale of Settlement

1890s Gradual full emancipation of British Jews

1893 Alfred Dreyfus (Jewish French military officer) charged with treason; trial covered by Theodor Herzl

1896 Theodor Herzl writes The Jewish State

1897 First World Zionist Congress

1905 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion begin circulating in Russia

1906 Height of Jewish immigration to the United States

1913 Solomon Shechter founds the United Synagogue of America (now the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism)

1914-1918 World War I; end of Ottoman Empire; partition of "middle east" (British receive Palestinian mandate)

1917 Russian (Communist) Revolution; Balfour Declaration

1925 Publication of Adolf Hitler's My Struggle (Mein Kampf)

1933 Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

1935 Nuremberg Laws begin to strip German Jews of civil rights

1938 Kristallnacht

1939-1945 World War II (United States enters war in 1941); Shoah

1946 Nuremberg Trials of German war criminals

1947 United Nations votes to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states; discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Judean desert (outside of Jerusalem)

1948 Israel declares independence; immediately goes to war with surrounding Arab nations (armistice signed in 1949)

1958 Elie Wiesel publishes Night (U.S. publication: 1960)

1961 Trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem (executed in 1962)

1967 Six-Days' War

1972 Reform movement ordains the first female rabbi (Reconstructionists ordain a woman rabbi in 1974; Conservatives in 1985)

1973 Yom Kippur War

1975 United Nations adopts resolution equating Zionism with racism and racial discrimination (rescinded in 1991)

1978 Camp David Agreement between Israel and Egypt

1983 Reform movement overturns principle of matrilineal descent

1987 First Intifada (uprising) begins

1991 First Gulf War

1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin assassinated at peace rally

2000 Arial Sharon (future Prime Minister of Israel) visits Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem with armed police officers; new Intifada (uprising) begins in response

2001 Islamic terrorists attack the U.S., crashing passenger airliners into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center (NYC)

2003 Second Gulf War

posted at 12:40:35 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Copyright © 2002- Mark A. Foster, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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