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The Emerald Tablet of Hermes the Thrice-Great

1. True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true.
2. That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing.
3. And as all things were by contemplation of the One, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation.
4. The father thereof is the sun, the mother the moon; the wind carried it in its womb; the earth is the nurse thereof.
5. It is the father of all works of wonder throughout the whole world.
6. The power thereof is perfect, if it be cast on to earth.
7. It will separate the element of earth from that of fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and with great sagacity.
8. It doth ascend from earth to heaven; again it doth descend to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior. Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly far from thee.
9. This thing is the strongest of all powers, the force of all forces, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance.
10. Thus was this world created.
11. Hence there will be marvellous adaptations achieved, of which the manner is this.
12. For this reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I hold three parts of the wisdom of the world.
13. That which I had to say about the operation of sol is completed.

In praise to God for giving me to understand the Arcanum of which I sought, I pray as Hermes did to the Divine Poimandres (Corpus Hermeticum 1:30-32)

I have come, divinely inspired by the truth. Wherefore, I give praise to God the Father with my whole soul and strength:

Holy is God the Father of all.
Holy is God whose will is accomplished by his own powers.
Holy is God who wills to be known and is known by those that are his own.
Holy art thou who by the Word has united all that is.
Holy art thou of whom all Nature became an image.
Holy art thou whom Nature has not created.
Holy art thou who is stronger than all power.
Holy art thou who art higher than all pre-eiminence.
Holy art thou who suprasses praises.

Receive pure offerings of speech offered to you by inner mind and heart, thou who art unutterable, vast, beyond description, who art spoken of by silence.

I beg you that I may not fall from the knowledge that leads towards our essence, and endow me with vitality; by this grace, I shall enlighten those of the race who are in ignorance, my brothers and your sons. Wherefore, I have faith and I bear witness. I go to life and light. You are blessed, Father. He who is your man wants to share in your holiness, as you have given him all authority.

Fiery Souls

I keep being forcibly cheered-up. About two weeks ago, I was in a very bad mood as I was walking in to work. An elderly Hassidic man and wife were walking toward me on the sidewalk. I’m accustomed to the Hassidim of the area more or less ignoring gentiles like myself, at most exchanging brief nods to one another from across the cultural gap. On this occassion, though, it was not to be. The couple stopped in front of me and the gentleman looked in my eyes and pointed his curved finger at me imperiously while saying, “You have a good day. And that’s an order!” Then he and his wife gave me two of the most sincere smiles I’ve ever seen and kept on their way past me. I was not able to be grumpy for the rest of the day.

My fiancé and I were recently in a harsh conflict with one of her housemates who took it upon herself to be needlessly abusive. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that I was angrier than I have been in some years, and for several days in a row at that. On Friday night when everything was coming to a head and I was expecting a real conflict as my fiancé returned to the house to retrieve her more important belongings, I waited outside so as not to make things worse by my temper. I was vaguely aware at this point of a group of three Hassidic men walking up the street in the gloom. When they got close to me, they stopped, and out from behind the two younger men in front stepped a particular elderly man who pointed his curved finger at me and said, “And that’s an order!” He then chuckled and all three men continued on their way. I think the two younger men were quite taken aback by their elder’s mysterious gesture and words toward a strange gentile, but the old man and I shared a moment then which brought a smile to my lips, a laugh to my throat, and tears to my eyes.

On the Tree of Life, there are Holy Names, Archangels, and Angelic Choirs associated with each of the states of being known as the Holy Sephiroth. The sephirah at the bottom of the Tree, Malkuth (Kingdom), has associated to it the Angelic Choir called “Ishim” (AYShYM) which translates as “Fiery Souls”.

Who are the Ishim? Well, you are one of them. Or, at least, you can be. In Kabbalah, the Ishim are said to be the souls of humanity when we are inflamed with love for God and each other.

That Jewish gentleman improved my life, possibly forever. If I never see him again, I’ll always have the memory of his visits and I think that it’ll always make me smile. That’s what being a Fiery Soul is about. We all can be heavenly angels just by loving, and spreading the love. You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to improve lives in any way you can. The argument of “grace versus works” is solved: God is most active when we let His grace flow into the world through our works.

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The Pope flubs on AIDS in Africa

Old news by now, but I feel the need to weigh in. “You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” said Pope Benedict XVI to a group of reporters on his Alitalia flight to Yaounde, Camaroon; “On the contrary, it increases the problem.” (Wall Street Journal article here.)

That’s hilarious. I hate to devolve into mere sarcasm here, but how else am I supposed to respond?

On the level of common sense, this is patently ridiculous and false information. With leaders like this, I weep for the faithful.

Are condoms 100% effective? Of course not. Are abstinence and monogamy the only methods which are? Barring rape and the odd accidental needle-stick, yes. Given my druthers, I’d love to see more people in Africa and elsewhere slowing down on their sexual promiscuity and being more willing to commit themselves to one another in loving monogamy. Given the choice between giving out good information and the practical tools to protect oneself and others, and telling flat-out lies to remain within one’s religious moral confines, however, I’d never try to tell people that condoms make it worse!

In this Interfax article, the Russian Orthodox leadership of Moscow support the Pope’s position, saying: “It is incorrect to consider condoms as a panacea for AIDS.” Of course it is, but that isn’t what most health activists are doing. No thinking person can believe that dropping a crate of condoms in every village will suddenly make HIV/AIDS go away, but putting condoms into the hands of people who will be having sex with one another no matter what anybody else says and teaching them how to properly use them will at least stem the tide somewhat, saving lives and giving the world more time to come up with a real solution.

Quoth Fr. Vsevolod: “If a person lives a sinful, aimless and senseless life, uses drugs and is lewd, some disease will kill him one day, neither a condom nor medicine will save him.”

Well that’s Christian love right there, isn’t it? “If you’re a sinner, why should anybody bother trying to help?”

I have a great idea. Let’s do a background check on anybody attempting to enter a church; if they’ve ever committed a crime beyond traffic violations, if they’ve ever had an abortion for any reason, if they’ve ever attended a sex education class that mentioned birth control as an option, turn them away. The next time you meet somebody with cancer, tell them you’ll pray for them only on the condition that they’ve never touched drugs, never had sex outside of wedlock, and never even considered playing a violent video game or going to a nightclub on a Saturday. Then we can organize, incorporate, and call ourselves “The United Church of the Holy Inquisition” and begin fundraising for a “landmine the lawns of the mentally handicapped” event.

Who’s with me?

(With thanks to Jonathan Swift, who has gone where savage indignation can lacerate his breast no more.)

Happy Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day!

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (Mt. 25:40)

Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, “God loves you just the way you are.” Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists. (15 reasons Mr. Rogers was best neighbor ever, reason #5)

Once when she was in a deep depression, my fiance caught an episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on TV. He looked directly into the camera and said, with complete sincerity, “I love you just the way you are.” And she wept.

That’s the kind of power that Faith acting through Love (Gal. 5:6) can bring to this world. A man like Fred Rogers is a rare blessing, a man who is both worldly and holy, down-to-earth and saintly, a modern-day Francis of Assisi for whom every one of God’s creatures is of the utmost importance. Imagine on your worst day, hearing Mister Rogers himself saying to you, “I love you just the way you are.” Put yourself there. You feel worthless, useless, ugly, stupid, damned, and this beautiful man says that he loves you unconditionally just because you are.

My friend Gentry once said, “Mister Rogers was a better Jesus than Jesus.” To most people, Jesus Christ and other truly loving figures (from Siddhartha Guatama to God Herself) are very distant in time and space. That is why we sometimes see a person like Fred Rogers, to provide a walking, talking reminder, one whom we might see at the supermarket or naked in a gym locker room (true story; Gentry again).

Whether you do it in the name of God, Christ, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, anybody else, or nobody else, please make today and everyday a very special day for somebody special: you and everybody else!

Happy Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day to one and all. Be good to one another. God bless you and God bless Mister Rogers and his whole earthly neighborhood.

(WYBMND official website)

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